Election Hacking and the Roles of Russia and Cryptocurrency

The midterm elections are around the corner, and with close to zero evidence of election meddling from Russian hackers, the question on everybody's mind is unchanged - are they gone for forever? The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD LinkedIn) experts maintain there is no reason to get your hopes up. More on these

The controversy related to the 2016 Presidential election hacking has indeed brought about key changes in the government's policy against foreign-based hackers. According to National Security Adviser John Bolton, the US is engaged in offensive cyber operations with the objective of preserving the integrity of the whole electoral process.

Most details of such efforts are classified, but it has been reported to be part of the Trump administration's approach to form a US cyber command that targets Russian hackers. This type of tactic is called "persistent engagement" and experts opine it demonstrates a crucial shift to a more encompassing and aggressive approach against online adversaries.

Without a doubt, this change of policy is a step in the right direction, but the prevailing sentiment is that the United States needs to do more to stop Russia from meddling in succeeding elections. Right now, the US' major area of vulnerability is its understanding of cryptocurrency.

Indictment filings by Robert Mueller show that Russian hackers operated in the United States using bitcoin. The main advantage of bitcoin compared to standard financial institutions is that it allows users to maintain anonymity and is mostly unregulated.

Russian hackers were free to purchase domain names, rent servers and use virtual private networks (VPNs) without any form of identification, all under the mantle of cryptocurrency,With the cover provided by cryptocurrency, Russian hackers freely rented servers, bought domain names, and utilized virtual private networks (VPNs) not providing identification of any kind. It must be known that cryptocurrency isn't inherently illicit, but it can be used in beneficial or harmful ways just like any other technology, such as the Internet itself. learn more

In the last few years, bitcoin and other blockchain technologies have been increasingly used in crime, terrorism, and espionage. The US has made taken bold actions against hackers, but with cryptocurrency, the enemies still get the chance to enlist third-party hackers to hatch their plot untraced. Professionals in the field agree that the U.S. is unprepared to face the worst eventuality.

Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) led to as much as $95,000 laundered for the operation's completion. This was meant to hide the agents' links to Russia.

U.S. investigators successfully uncovered this detail with the use of cryptocurrency analysis software created by the private developer, Elliptic. Information documented in Bitcoin ledgers is mostly anonymous, but the perpetrators left a trace that was enough for investigators to identify them.

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