As we know, two of the most prized traits of blockchain technology, specifically when one is talking about the bitcoin blockchain, are its anonymity and its immutability.
Unfortunately, those traits also lead to a fair amount of fraud; which is why Terbium Labs, a “dark web intelligence provider,” has teamed up with Skry, a blockchain analytics company, to better secure the bitcoin cryptocurrency for the legitimate anonymous users against the criminal anonymous users.
“We’re approaching this from the data angle, and Skry is approaching it from a transaction angle,” says Tyler Carbone, the chief operating officer of Terbium Labs. “We’ve started with bitcoin but the tech and partnership really applies to any distributed ledger technology.”
While some of the rhetoric surrounding the criminal element of bitcoin is over-hyped, the unfortunate fact is that anonymity and immutability appear to be a winning combo for fraudsters, hackers, and other kinds of sophisticated adversaries. Anonymity has been a criminal’s best friend forever, and while one might initially think immutability does not lend itself well to illegal activities, you are invited to research Ethereum to see how it can be a huge benefit for a hacker.
Skry is combining its end-to-end data analytics platform with Terbium Labs’ Matchlight, an intelligence system tuned to the dark web which will integrate data feeds into the platform. In turn, this data—monitored and collected by Matchlight—will be analyzed by Skry’s risk assessment tools to provide intelligence and analytics in real-time in order to best detect fraud on bitcoin.
“The final goal is to extract an association to an entity that’s acting [illegally] in a regulated environment,” says Fabio Federici, the chief executive officer of Skry, which is a graduate of the 500 Startups accelerator program. “We are interested in helping to make cryptocurrencies like bitcoin legitimate.”
Specifically, Matchlight will be searching for the appearance of bitcoin wallet addresses throughout the dark web—which it does by continuously scanning these sites for this kind of sensitive data—and Skry’s analytics platform is then alerted to that appearance, enabling it to collect pertinent information that can then accompany an investigation on or shed light into a crime. In other words, according to Federici, Skry takes care of the forensic investigation side of things, while Terbium provides the relevant data.
“We’ve definitely seen bitcoin wallet addresses [frequently] just since working with Skry,” says Carbone, in terms of whether this kind of data appears with regularity on the dark web. “Both we and Skry want to make an effort to support the folks who are trying to track down these kinds of activity.”
While Skry and Terbium are just monitoring bitcoin at the moment, both expressed that the partnership could be applied to other exchanges in the future. Making these cryptocurrencies more secure is a necessary first step towards legitimacy. After all, money is money — isn’t it?
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