February 12, 2018 By David Bisson 2 min read

Litecoin is the second-most popular cryptocurrency among vendors that operate on the Dark Web, according to recent research.

Recorded Future analyzed 150 message boards, marketplaces and illicit services on the Dark Web and determined that 30 percent of these vendors currently accept Litecoin as an alternative payment system. Not far behind is Dash, another form of cryptocurrency, which is accepted by 1 in 5 digital underground merchants.

Meanwhile, bitcoin still enjoys universal acceptance among Dark Web vendors.

Litecoin Gaining Ground on Bitcoin

According to the report, bitcoin’s rise in popularity has strained the blockchain network, resulting in larger payment fees and rendering these payments “economically infeasible.” In addition, some criminals abuse the blockchain to try to double-spend their bitcoins.

Most vendors have responded by requiring three confirmations before marking a transaction as complete. Such a policy makes Dark Web bitcoin users jittery, especially if they’re purchasing illicit goods such as drugs or weapons.

Litecoin’s code increases the speed of transactions. As a result, transaction fees are low and miners can generate a larger number of coins. Recorded Future asserted that these benefits could ultimately make Litecoin, or a similar cryptocurrency such as Dash, the top choice on the Dark Web within the next year.

Ryan Taylor, CEO of the Dash Core team, told SC Magazine he disagrees with that assessment, noting that the criminal underground doesn’t use his cryptocurrency. “Currently, less than 1 percent of transactions on the Dash network utilize the PrivateSend feature,” he said, “which contradicts the assertion that Dash is on the rise as a Dark Net payments alternative.”

The Growing Risk of Cryptocurrency Mining Attacks

If Litecoin continues to grow in popularity, ransomware authors will surely adopt the cryptocurrency. Bad actors could begin using cryptocurrency mining attacks to generate new Litecoin, which may increase the number of organizations that will be affected by such incidents in the coming years.

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