The use of so-called cryptocurrencies in global finance are likely to come under increased scrutiny after the Justice Department announced indictments Friday against 12 Russian military intelligence officers whose alleged conspiracy used bitcoin to set up and maintain hacking activities designed to undermine U.S. elections in 2016.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday announced the indictments, the first brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in his collusion probe that target Russian government officials for election-hacking activities.
The 29-page indictment detailed how the Russian intelligence agents laundered the equivalent of $95,000 “through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of crypto currencies such as bitcoin.”
“It is a backbone of the criminal universe, and the shift happened in less than five years. Right now, nothing happens without bitcoin. It is the default currency of pretty much every cyber criminal in the world and by definition intelligence operatives as well,” said Andrei Barysevich, who leads a research team at Recorded Future, a Somerville, Mass., cybersecurity firm.