One of Monero’s key selling points is that it allows anonymity for its users. While it sounds good in principle to use a digital currency that can’t be easily tracked, and high minded people might take to that, the reality is much grimier.
A recent research paper from Sergi Pastrana and Guillermo Suarez-Tangil, from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and King’s College London, respectively, finds that Monero is the most popular cryptocurrency amongst hackers. Of the 16.6 billion Monero currently in circulation, their paper estimates that 4.32% of that, or approximately $33 million at current prices, has gone to criminals.
Getting hacked by these crypto criminals can sometimes be hard to detect. Crypto-mining software is secretly installed on the victim’s device and mines Monero quietly in the background, consuming processor power and electricity, but asking for no ransom.
The paper estimates that there are currently 2,218 mining malware campaigns, with a single campaign bringing in 163,000 Monero. Because of the electricity consumption of the mining process, they suggest that there can be environmental impacts to these crimes as well.
While these numbers are shocking, it’s not shocking that Monero is popular with bad actors in the crypto space. In November, McAfee Labs found the WebCobra Malware, which allowed criminals to mine malware on victims’ machines. Hackers have even gone so far to hack the Indian government to rake in their profits. The criminality of the coin has made exchanges question if it should even be listed.
Dr. Craig Wright, a leading mind in the cryptocurrency space, has argued that the days of the Wild West for digital currencies should be over. If the industry as a whole is to grow up and gain the adoption that it craves, privacy coins like Monero, with their devoted user base of hackers, need to be left to the dustbin of history. The only way forward is with grown up solutions, like for example Bitcoin SV, the only crypto that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision, and the only one that is ready to scale massively for the future.
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