After the May 12, 2017, WannaCry ransomware attack that left computers in 150 countries gridlocked, EU authorities have announced the establishment of a 15 member consortium from seven EU countries in order to curtail criminal use of the dark web and virtual currencies.
The initiative, called TITANIUM (Tools for the Investigation of Transactions in Underground Markets), which along with researchers includes four EU law enforcement agencies and INTERPOL, aims to develop technical solutions for investigating and alleviating the risk of crime and terrorism within the darknet markets and virtual currencies. TITANIUM Project coordinator and senior scientist at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH Ross King states the project won’t jeopardize the privacy of European citizens.
“The consortium will analyse legal and ethical requirements and define guidelines for storing and processing data, information, and knowledge involved in criminal investigations without compromising citizen privacy.”
According to the release, the consortium will be receiving 5 million euros from the European Union. These funds will be used to develop and implement tools that detect features common in criminal transactions, distinguish inconsistencies of criminal usage, and pinpoint key money laundering techniques. In addition, the researchers will hold training activities to further develop skills and disseminate knowledge among EU law enforcement agencies.
Furthermore, the researchers will test and authenticate their tools and services based on the guidance of those agencies to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the project. This step is especially important, as the virtual currency community is consistently evolving at the persistent rhythm of innovation. According to King:
“Criminal and terrorist activities related to virtual currencies and dark-net markets evolve quickly and vary in technical sophistication, resilience and intended targets.”