As most of you may already know, cryptocurrencies have been growing strong within the white supremacy market as of late, offering the possibility for criminals to make money off extremist political ideologies without being kicked out of other banks and/or services like PayPal, Patreon and more.
While Nazis have been using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin a lot, some alternatives have been used by white supremacist groups online to receive monetary support. One of them is Monero.
Monero is an open-source cryptocurrency focusing primarily on privacy, aiming to improve on existing cryptocurrency systems like Bitcoin, by offering some extra features to keep transactions hidden, making it almost impossible to trace information on transaction senders and receivers. Surely a feature well sought-after by criminals trying to make a few bucks. It's also one of the few cryptocurrency supporting CPU mining, giving them the ability to let their users mine Monero in their stead.
Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen is a neo-Nazi movement acting in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Their official website offers a page where their supporters can "mine" Monero by using some of their CPU time. This method has been used in the past by various types of companies, political movements and media organizations, but has received backlash from users who just don't want their computing power used for cryptocurrency mining.
Following the removal of Coinbase accounts of notorious neo-Nazis by the platform itself, Monero's focus on privacy is one of the main reasons for neo-Nazi groups to encourage their supporters to use such a platform. By using Monero, white supremacists make sure that the authorities will have a harder time determining whether or not crypto-transactions made with the service are illicit, rendering any policy violation hidden.
However, although white supremacists seem to rely on Monero as a fail-proof service, it isn't exactly impossible to retrace transactions made with the service. John Bambenek, VP of the cyber security company ThreatSTOP, published a partial list of Monero deposits of a notorious neo-Nazi, and was later banned from said Nazi's subreddit for sharing the list on there.
Bambenek declined to describe the methods he used to identify the deposits, but said that even some of the most financially successful neo-Nazis aren't raising a substantial amount of money through cryptocurrencies.
But even by using each website visitor's CPU power, Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen wouldn't be able to generate a lot of funds. Last month, the biggest cryptocurrency mining hack was set up using a web plugin created by a group of hackers, and despite the large number of impacted victims, the hackers only made a whopping $24 worth of Monero out of it.
Cryptocurrency mining has made a lot of impact across multiple fields, from graphics cards pricing to currency regulation, and has even had some observable environmental impacts. Let us hope that it does not become a way to fund dangerous extremist ideologies.