Date of Award

Fall 12-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department/Program

Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity

Language

English

First Advisor

Adam Wandt

Second Reader

Lawrence Kom

Abstract

This thesis will examine the ways in which various cryptocurrencies have impacted certain traditional crimes. While crime is always evolving with technology, cryptocurrencies are a game changer in that they provide anonymous and decentralized payment systems which, while they can be tracked in a reactive sense via the blockchain, are seen by criminals as having better uses for them than traditional fiat currencies, such as the ability to send money relatively fast to another party without going through an intermediary, or the ability to obscure the origin of the money for money laundering purposes. Every week there are new cryptocurrencies flooding the market, and it doesn’t look like it will abate any time soon. Blockchain technology, the underlying technology behind all cryptocurrencies, has uses that far surpass just the currency aspect. Criminals also see the potential that sending money anonymously, without a middleman beholden to regulations and tracking those transactions has. Any new technology while being revolutionary, will always trickle down to seedier elements of society who will always find a use for it. This paper will look at how cryptocurrencies have impacted drug trafficking, money laundering, and ransomware. I will also explore a new kind of crime called cryptojacking that has become possible because of cryptocurrency mining. Law enforcement may be playing a reactive and not a proactive role in the age of cryptocurrencies, but this paper will provide information that can be useful for law enforcement and applicable to their investigations.

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