The dark web tool that checked dirty bitcoins shuts down

In short

  • Antinalysis shut down today after anti-money laundering software AML Bot, from which Antinalysis extracted data, shut down its third-party service.
  • AML Bot confirmed to Decrypt that addresses that used the tool have been reported to law enforcement.
  • Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic told Decrypt that law enforcement could now also identify the creator.

This weekend, Blockchain security analysts discovered a dark web tool called Antinalysis that produces criminal risk reports that can be used to identify criminals. Bitcoin.

The sudden attention, however, forced the tool to shut down as one of its service providers, AML Bot, cut off access.

AML Bot confirmed Decrypt in a statement today that the company, which unwittingly provided Antinalysis with access to its service, “conducted an internal investigation and [shut down] the Antinalysis account. AML Bot is itself a reseller of Crystal Blockchain, another blockchain analysis tool.

“We would like to assure you that we are working on smart measures to prevent such recording in the future,” the statement from AML Bot reads.

The company also confirmed that it reported all relevant addresses that used Antinalysis to law enforcement. It may provide leads that could help identify the creator of Antinalysis, Tom Robinson, co-founder of London-based blockchain investigative firm Elliptic, said. Decrypt.

At the same time, an anonymous tech administrator from Antinalysis described the crackdown by AML Bot as “justified unlawful seizure” of their data source, which they blamed on media exposure.

“We consider ourselves [sic.] activists who don’t like state agencies conducting mass surveillance in the name of national security and criminal investigations,” Antinalysis’ technical administrator, who calls himself pharaoh, said in a statement to the BBC.

A tool that once checked for dirty bitcoins

Anti-analysis allows users to check whether a specific bitcoin can be traced to a crime. Once a Bitcoin wallet was linked, the tool would break down where the Bitcoin in that wallet came from and how risky it was to hold it.

The ability to conduct such analysis is partly due to the inherent transparency of blockchain technology. Blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereumrecord an immutable transaction history, making it easy to determine if a specific cryptocurrency has ever been used for illicit activity.

The tool categorized Bitcoin earned from darknet markets, ransomware, and theft as “extreme risk,” while Bitcoin from exchanges and freshly mined coins were categorized as “risk-free” assets. “.

The purpose of the tool was to perform checks on wallets before cryptocurrency exchanges did the same. When illicit bitcoin entered a platform like Binance Where Coinbase, for example, the tool would raise a red flag. At this point, a platform could then stop the Bitcoin in question.

In the event of a stoppage, these Bitcoins can be handed over to the authorities.

US government auctions seized Bitcoin, often at a high price, and so dirty Bitcoin finds its way back into circulation. In 2014, venture capitalist Tim Draper acquired 30,000 Bitcoins confiscated from the Silk Road dark web market at an undisclosed price. Presumably, Draper’s Bitcoin is acquitted in the eyes of detection tools, so it won’t be flagged as a criminal.

But that may not be the case for many other wallets that unwittingly hold Bitcoin with a dirty track record.

Antianalysis and the incognito market

But tech administrator Pharaoh says the tool wasn’t just for criminals.

“Our team believes that, in the current democratic world, every human being down to the last has the right to do what he wants and owns [a] full insight into their privacy without violating the individual rights of others,” they said.

“It is true that the tool could be used by anyone, not just criminals. However, it was created by one of the administrators of a darknet market,” Robinson said. Decrypt.

In his analysis last week, Robinson identified the creator of Antinalysis as one of the developers of Incognito Market, a dark web marketplace for narcotics, now confirmed in the tech admin statement that identified links with Incognito.

Launched in late 2020, Incognito accepts payments in bitcoin and privacy-focused Monero.

The launch of a crime control tool is a sign that criminals are struggling to cash in their Bitcoin earnings, Robinson said in his analysis last week.

But it also made crime-focused blockchain analytics available to the public for the first time.

Well, not for long.

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Esther L. Gunn