CSH President Stefan Thurner signed cooperation agreement with Bavarian Ministry of Justice
In the fight against Internet criminality, Bavaria’s criminal investigators rely on the latest findings from science. Yesterday, Bavaria’s Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich announced the cooperation with the Hub to trace criminal activities in the darknet that are using cryptocurrencies.
Cybercrime is booming. “Criminals operate transnationally and are increasingly shifting their trade in prohibited goods such as stolen data, drugs, weapons or child pornography to the darknet,” said the minister during a press conference in Munich on Wednesday. “To keep up, criminal investigators need to work transnationally. And they have to be technically prepared.”
Because criminals often use cryptocurrencies, the criminal investigators now put an effort to use special computer software to track down the flow of Bitcoin & Co. This is where the Hub comes in.
“A compass for the cryptocurrency world”
Cryptofinances expert and CSH team leader Bernhard Haslhofer together with colleagues from CSH member AIT Austrian Institute of Technology developed GraphSense, an open source tool to analyze cryptocurrency flows.
Recently, Bernhard co-founded a company that will provide tailor-made solutions for authorities such as the Bavarian public prosecutors, based on the GraphSense algorithms. Additionally, with his Cryptofinance team at the Hub, Bernhard will also refine existing methods and develop new approacheds that can be used to combat Internet criminality.
In his statement in Munich, Stefan yesterday called these techniques “a compass to find the way in the increasingly complex cryptocurrency world”.
Criminals move fast. Technological innovation is on their heels
The internet constantly evolves, Stefan said. “Bitcoins were only the beginning. We now see that criminal transactions are increasingly being channeled through anonymous decentralized finance (“DeFi”) products, such as UniSwap or SushiSwap.” That allows criminals to quickly switch from one cryptocurrency to another without middlemen – which makes it literally impossible for individuals to trace the money back to its sources.
“Transactions nowadays have a technical complexity that is almost impossible to manage with existing forensic tools,” Stefan continued. The Hub with its expertise in cryptocurrency and network analysis is able to provide such methods.
“Together with the ‘Dark Web Monitor'” – kind of a search enginge for the darknet developed by the Bavarian cybercrime unit and the Dutch research company TNO –, “we give criminal investigators a powerful tool at hand to successfully fight internet criminality.”
Two major problems were singled out in the past weeks and will be addressed in this cooperation: the prosecution of child pornography and investigations in the area of cybertrading.
“I am always happy when science becomes directly applicable,” Stefan concluded. “This requires innovative, solution-oriented, unique partners. And we have them here!”
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