Everyone remembers the global WannaCry ransomware attack. During that incident, thousands of computers and servers around the world were impacted. The developers of this malware also collected a fair amount of bitcoins from their actions. It now appears all of the money collected has been converted to Monero. After all, Bitcoin lacks privacy and anonymity traits. Monero, on the other hand, provides exactly that.
It is always strange to note how ransomware developers demand a Bitcoin payment. It is normal they want digital cash of sorts that can be converted to fiat currencies around the world. However, Bitcoin does not provide the necessary anonymity to make this a successful venture. Anyone in the world can track down Bitcoin payments in real-time. That is unless you use a coin mixer of some sorts. However, finding a reputable service is quite challenging, to say the least.
WannaCry Proceeds Converted to Monero Through ShapeShift
Instead, the WannaCry ransomware developers emptied the Bitcoin wallets and converted the funds to Monero. These are the findings of Italian cryptocurrency intelligence firm Neutrino. Monero has a lot more benefits compared to Bitcoin. Especially in the privacy and anonymity department. Many people see Monero as a “powerful anonymization tool”. Tracking an XMR address is very difficult, if not impossible, according to the security firm.
It is not the first time Monero is tied to debatable online activity. The Shadow Brokers, a notorious syndicate of hackers, accepts XMR payments in exchange for their services. It seems some darknet markets are leaning toward integrating XMR payment gateways as well. One could argue the anonymity-oriented cryptocurrency simply makes more sense for people who have something to hide. There is a lot more to the project than just that, though.
What is rather interesting is how the bitcoins were converted to XMR. It appears the criminals used ShapeShift to do so. The company confirmed their services were utilized for this specific purpose. That is not a good sign for the company by any means. They are collaborating with law enforcement officials regarding the WannaCry proceeds, though. Very few people would’ve expected ShapeShift to aid law enforcement agencies. Then again, when push comes to shove, it is difficult to refuse the request.