Ad-hoc Analytical Framework of Bitcoin Investigations for Law Enforcement

Hiroki KUZUNO  Giannis TZIAKOURIS  

Publication
IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E101-D   No.11   pp.2644-2657
Publication Date: 2018/11/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2017ICP0007
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Information and Communication System Security)
Category: Forensics and Risk Analysis
Keyword: 
digital forensics,  cryptocurrency,  investigation,  

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Summary: 
Bitcoin is the leading cryptocurrency in the world with a total marketcap of nearly USD 33 billion, [1] with 370,000 transactions recorded daily[2]. Pseudo-anonymous, decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash systems such as Bitcoin have caused a paradigm shift in the way that people conduct financial transactions and purchase goods. Although cryptocurrencies enable users to securely and anonymously exchange money, they can also facilitate illegal criminal activities. Therefore, it is imperative that law enforcement agencies develop appropriate analytical processes that will allow them to identify and investigate criminal activities in the Blockchain (a distributed ledger). In this paper, INTERPOL, through the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, proposes a Bitcoin analytical framework and a software system that will assist law enforcement agencies in the real-time analysis of the Blockchain while providing digital crime analysts with tracing and visualization capabilities. By doing so, it is feasible to render transactions decipherable and comprehensible for law enforcement investigators and prosecutors. The proposed solution is evaluated against three criminal case studies linked to Darknet markets, ransomware and DDoS extortion.