The cryptocurrency segment is one of the most talked about, but compared to the major references – currently, bitcoin and Ethereum – there is a large group of tokens and altcoins, alternative cryptocurrencies among which lately prominently heard: Monero (XMR).
This cryptocurrency was born in April 2014 with one purpose: to contribute an alternative focused absolutely on privacy and that it was not based (like many others) on the bitcoin code. This has made it an increasingly attractive alternative in various fields, but above all in a disturbing one: that of cybercrime.
How to buy Bitcoins safely and without risk
A different and very, very private cryptocurrency
We are seeing it in those botnets that have been discovered in recent months and that are responsible for mining Monero without users knowing. Not at least unless they watch the Resource consumption of your processors.
But why Monero and not any other cryptocurrency? The reason is simple: Monero is characterized by offering impossible to follow payments and transactions without links between them.
What does it mean that a payment cannot be tracked? Well, for each transaction that reaches a user all possible senders are equally likely. Similarly, unlinking these transactions implies that if two outbound transactions are analyzed, it is impossible to prove that they were sent by the same person.
At official announcement From the appearance of Monero, the bases of this cryptocurrency were detailed, which instead of being derived from the well-known bitcoin took as a reference the CryptoNote protocol (PDF) and the cryptocurrency Bytecoin (BCN), precisely highlighted by those properties of null traceability and privacy.
The disadvantage of bitcoin in this area is evident: all transactions between members of the network are public, so any of them can be traced and their unique origin and destination identified.
Security due to darkness
In the case of Monero, the funds we receive or generate are not in the direction of the digital wallet that we give to other users: instead every time we receive a payment those XMR end up in an address unrelated to everything and that is generated with random numbers. If we decide to spend the funds in that one direction, that amount will be divided or broken down into different parts and the components will be indistinguishable from outflows of the same amount on the blockchain.
In those transactions use is made in addition to the signature ring, which allows demonstrating that the signer belongs to the group but does not allow “mapping” and identifying who signs that transaction by validating it. These techniques propose the security by obscurity or concealment (Security by Oscurity / Obfuscation) model that “hides” both the amounts and the origins and destination of the transactions, even though all of them are registered in the blockchain of this platform.
As in other cases, yes, that chain of blocks raises a decentralized cryptocurrency and in which those transactions are confirmed through a distributed consensus that, we insist, is registered in the blockchain. Unlike other implementations of the blockchain, this public information does not make it possible to identify the participants of the transaction or the amount of the transaction.
Many advantages for criminals, but also for other areas
The privacy and anonymity provided by Monero have made this cryptocurrency one of the most interesting for those who are dedicated to monetize your efforts in the field of cybercrime.
In fact, Monero gained popularity and listing in 2016. thanks to its adoption by AlphaBay, that black market for goods of all kinds that ended up being closed in July 2017 by the security forces.
Its use by other cyberattacks appears to be increasing, as evidenced by discovered botnets that use the resources of millions of PCs, laptops and servers to mine Monero without the users of those machines noticing.
The advantages are obvious, but they are also for those who want to protect their privacy and the anonymity of their transactions (totally legal) for the simple reason that they do not feel watched. While with bitcoin you can always find out how much money is in a digital wallet, and then try to trace the identity of its owner, with Monero it is almost impossible: not disclose how much we pay or receive to whom or from whom it can be an important value in numerous settings, not only among end users but also in companies (although suspicions are inevitable here).
Monero, of course, has its downsides. In debates like this one from reddit in which several users of this cryptocurrency participated, the high transaction fees were cited, the lack of a graphical interface (the developers are working on it) that facilitates the management of the currency or the fact that it is quite complex to check the balance of our XMR in our digital wallet, something quite simple with alternatives such as bitcoin thanks to blockchain.info or Ether with myetherwallet .com.
The absence of a wallet for the mobile phone – which makes it difficult to operate with XMR from our smartphones -, the large size of the transactions and, of course, its limited use (especially in some regions of the planet, such as South America or Asia) They are some additional difficulties for the future of a cryptocurrency which, of course, has remarkable strengths.
In Engadget | Away, bitcoin: other tokens raise the next revolution in the world of investments
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This is Monero, the preferred cryptocurrency of cybercriminals for two reasons: anonymity and privacy