Cryptocurrency, one of the most widespread topics of today, was designed as a medium of exchange that uses strong security for transactions and transfers of decentralized money. In human terms, cryptocurrency is a form of unregulated money. Or at least, that’s how their various creators want you to think of it. It’s digital money. That so-called “money” has no “group” or “central” control and is produced at rate defined when a system is created and publicly known, using strong cryptography (scrambled up computer information that is hard to decode). It’s confusing by design! The United States has been desperate since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009 to unmask the creator of the first cryptocurrency, known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Upon looking back at the government-released documents by Edward Snowden in 2013, there is speculation that the government worked alongside Bitcoin or (tinfoil hats, activate!) even created it to gain intelligence on criminal activity. The prominent suspicions of intelligence and security throughout all cryptocurrency supports a vast range of conspiracies including that the government was or is heavily involved with cryptocurrency.
In short, we believe that what we know and don’t know about cryptocurrency in general, and Bitcoin specifically, is both by design, and by maintenance. That is, if it started out confusing, it is being kept confusing for national interests at home and abroad.
Political Suspicion of Nakamoto’s Identity
The creator of Bitcoin is still unknown to the public; however, discovering said person would drastically change the world’s viewpoint of the digital currency. It’s like the ultimate game of “Where’s Waldo?” but Satoshi Nakomoto probably isn’t hiking around in a red and white striped sweater! Knowing the creator of the first digital currency would reveal to every nation who is in control. Right now, nations are hesitant to support it, but also do not want to fall behind the cryptocurrency trend. Over 4,000 variant cryptocurrencies have been created since Bitcoin and many promise to one day push Bitcoin out of the spotlight. What does this have to do with security? Well, countries are afraid to invest in an anonymous currency or even permit the usage of cryptocurrency because there is a high likelihood they will be supporting a currency under the jurisdiction of another country.
Daniel Oberhaus, a writer for Motherboard, directly emailed the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act to request any documents that contained Satoshi Nakamoto’s name. Instead of never hearing back or just receiving a vague email, the CIA responded with, “request has been rejected, with the agency stating that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the requested documents,” speaking about themselves in the third person. With a Glomar response neither confirming or denying Nakamoto’s existence, that was the end of that.
Known Government Use of Cryptocurrency for Investigations
In a ploy to target the Silk Road, an online black market, two members of the multi-agency federal task force seized Bitcoins in order to conduct investigations. They successfully apprehended Ross Ulbricht, as the owner of the Silk Road, who pleaded guilty for money laundering, obstruction of justice, and extortion. In addition, U.S. Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges, an investigator on the task force for Ulbricht’s case, plead guilty to transferring $800,000 of Bitcoins to his personal account during the investigation and later admitted to money laundering.
Although Bitcoin is an “anonymous” digital currency, there have been a variety of investigations using cryptocurrency as a tool to target criminals; it is not surprising at all to know that the National Security Agency (NSA) could have used Bitcoin in earlier investigations. In addition, websites that cash-out or store Bitcoins are targets for criminal investigation agencies because they tend to become holes in the “anonymous system.” They make it easier to track criminals!
Failed Security of Cryptocurrency
Numerous cryptocurrency hacks have occurred since the initial creation of Bitcoin in 2009. Between 2011 and 2014, Mt. Gox, suffered a loss of $473 million, about 7% of all Bitcoins in existence, likely due to theft. Coincheck, a Bitcoin exchange service in Japan, suffered a loss of $530 million due to 19 cryptocurrency accounts being hacked. These are only a few examples of the dozens of incidents that have occurred within the cryptocurrency world. Although marketed as a “secure” and “anonymous” money system, there are many signs that say otherwise! Perhaps the creation of Bitcoin is secure, but its usage (purchases, transfers, transactions) is decidedly not. Moreover, MIT is talking about how quantum computers pose a threat to cryptocurrencies because of their strong cryptography and security abilities! The pressure is on for cryptocurrencies to stay on top of their security, as quantum computers have already become a reality!
Only the Paranoid Survive
Government involvement with cryptocurrencies has proven itself to be true! We are not sure of how deep the rabbit hole goes yet, but we’ll know soon enough. Nothing created in cyberspace ever goes away, and that goes for the NSA too. Maybe someday Satoshi Nakamoto, aka Where’s Waldo, will come out from the shadows and completely confuse everyone! We will just have to wait and see. The mysteries of cryptocurrencies will likely prevail into the future, until technology is powerful enough to break down the securities in play. Now it’s your turn to do some research and come up with some wacky conspiracy theories about the truth of cryptocurrency!