Randsomeware and blackmail crimes to be solved in the future like DNA genetic finger prints can help now?
Having recently become away of an egregious cyber crime incident where a criminal gang attempted to extort a large sum from an organisation via blackmail using a crypto wallet as the money drop; I was musing about the possibility that this crime might one day be solved, and the culprits apprehended in the same way that sex criminals have been apprehended many years after their crimes by DNA matches to evidence left at the scene.
Over the past years there have been many successful prosecutions of criminals who committed crimes against innocent people, during the assault they have left bodily fluids or matter that at the time of the assault would have been unable to identify the assailant. The clothing of the victim had been stored however by the police, and as time and technology has moved on so have advanced in DNA matching.
Subsequently the criminal, often many years later, has been apprehended as for some reason, often suspicion to do with another crime, they have given a DNA sample and this has been run against the historic database.
Currently crypto wallets are secure, as the computing power required to brute force entry into them makes it an unviable task.
However with the advent of quantum computing tasks like this will become a walk in the park for these powerful computers.
Whilst I'm not supposing that the money will remain in the wallet, but it might be feasible to trace the movement of the crypto to other wallets and eventually to fiat currency and a bank account or a transaction that can be tied to a real identity.
The most used encryption algorithm in cryptocurrencies is the SHA-256 hash function, which is used to create a digital fingerprint of each transaction that is added to the blockchain. The SHA-256 algorithm is a one-way function, meaning that it is easy to compute the hash of a message, but it is very difficult to reverse engineer the message from the hash.
However, quantum computers have the potential to use an algorithm called Shor's algorithm, which can efficiently factor large numbers and solve the discrete logarithm problem. These mathematical problems form the basis of many of the cryptographic algorithms used in cryptocurrencies, including the RSA and ECDSA algorithms used to secure transactions.
If a quantum computer with enough qubits is developed, it could use Shor's algorithm to efficiently factor large numbers and break the encryption used to protect the information on the public ledger. This could reveal the real identities of the parties involved in a transaction by linking their public keys to their actual identities.
Additionally, quantum computers could potentially be used to trace the flow of funds through the blockchain by analysing the patterns of transactions and the addresses involved. By linking together multiple addresses associated with a single user, a quantum computer could potentially reveal the identity of that user.
Judging by the text of the blackmail email in question; it’s clear that the criminals don't speak English as their mother-tongue, most likely the hackers are Eastern European or Asian.
Many of these countries are safe-havens for criminals, but this situation can change, especially considering the time horizon on the block chain reading quantum computing technology leaps I'm presupposing.
Even if the home country of the criminal doesn't transition, people wind up in places they didn't intend due to flight diversions for example, or external factors such as political unrest, natural disasters, or terrorism might cause the criminal to wind up somewhere he didn’t want to be.
This is a notice to the lazy, arrogant (and most probably young and stupid) cyber criminals out there - your crimes may come back to bite you in the backside. You have been warned.