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Europol: Bitcoin (BTC) remains the most popular for cybercriminals, but the popularity of anonymity-focused altcoins will rise

According to Europol’s new cybercrime report, Bitcoin (BTC) remains the most popular form of crypto for illicit uses, but the popularity of anonymity-focused altcoins such as Zcash (ZEC) and Monero (XMR) will rise. The report, the fifth edition of Europol’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) to date, was published on September 18.

Europol said that even as Bitcoin’s market share dropped as low as “35 percent in early 2017,” it remained the most “commonly encountered” crypto in cybercrime investigations across the European Union.

Europol anticipates that while Bitcoin for now dominates the landscape, anonymity-focused altcoins that offer the protection of “stealth addresses” are likely to gain traction and potentially make “current [crypto] mixing services and tumblers obsolete.”

Among jihadist networks, Europol found that mass donations in the form of Zcash were popular among those who donated to campaigns in Islamic State (IS)-affiliated websites, although it noted that the use of crypto by terrorist groups has so far been limited to “low-level transactions,” and does not account for a significant share of their funding stream.

IOCTA outlines a range of crypto-related phenomena on the cybercrime landscape, including cryptojacking, crypto-targeted phishing, and an increasing number of attacks on crypto exchanges or other crypto depositories, which Europol argues are viewed by criminals as a “soft target” in comparison with corporate banks or other traditional institutions.

Europol notes that not only exchanges, but mining services and other wallet holders are facing hacking attempts as well as extortion of personal data and theft.

According to the report, crypto has for several years offered the advantages of a decentralized infrastructure and pseudonymous transactions for laundering criminal proceedings, but suggests that as the large crypto industry players fall under the purview of regulators, decentralized exchanges may soon become a more advantageous channel for launderers.