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Snowden-backed leak reveals the NSA's Bitcoin tracking operations

In a new report, Edward Snowden has revealed the surprising scope of the US National Security Agency (NSA) 's Bitcoin monitoring operations – showing that the agency has collected its own information for its blockchain monitoring activities.

Published by the Intercept, Bitcoin to transact. Bitcoin to transact. Bitcoin to transact.

Reportedly, the NSA has collated its Bitcoins monitoring operations under several purports codenames – including OAKSTAR and a sub-program dubbed MONEYROCKET – since 2013.

OAKSTAR, specifically, is an initiative which has received the Agency team up with several 'covert corporate partnerships' to monitor communications and to harvest internet data, while MONEYROCKET served to tap network equipment and acquire data from the Middle East, Europe, South America , and Asia.

More broadly, MONEYROCKET allegedly was described as a "non-Western Internet anonymization service" which targeted users in both Iran and China. Specifically, the initiative reportedly based on its long-term strategy on attracting "targets engaged in terrorism" – including al-Qaida.

The intercept posits that the NSA might be leveraging. XKeyScore – a secret computer system which the agency itself designed to search and analyze.

Interestingly, despite the several cryptocurrencies – try to introduce try anonymity to global transactions, rather than simple pseudonymity – the NSA has flagged its Bitcoin monitoring operations as a "# 1 priority".

Weaponizing the blockchain

The emergence of reports illustrating the breadth of the NSA's Bitcoin tracking activities in the wake of several moves from the United States to closely study – and potentially weaponize – blockchain technology.

Shortly after the White House confirmed that it was actively monitoring cryptocurrencies, US President Donald Trump authorized a new $ 700 billion USD

Specifically, the study would investigate "Potential offensive and defensive cyber applications of blockchain technology and other distributed database technologies", and comes as part of the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT).

Recently, Juan Zarate – a former deputy assistant to US President George W. Bush, a former deputy national security advisor – warned that cryptocurrencies could pose a major threat in undoing financial embargoes that have stemmed the tide of terrorism; blockchain technology could ultimately be weaponized to fuel all the activities all over the world.

In the wake of Zarate's comments, the first piece of legislation that would offer rewards to information yielding convictions of cryptocurrency-supported terrorism.

Cold war footing

The NSA's activities may only become more prolific in the near future, as North Korea has continued its overt cryptojacking to circumvent the tight noose of economic sanctions.

North Korea hacked coalition dubbed 'Lazarus Group' (known to US Agencies as') Hidden Cobra ') is behind the various attacks that have befallen numerous South Korean exchanges and custodial services.

North Korea 's operations first shifted to target financial institutions in 2016 in the United States and United Nations.

Cryptocurrencies from February 2017 – croreocurrency from South Korean exchange Bithumb.

The NSA has been declined to comment – and it remains to be seen as the agency might respond to its broader cryptocurrency monitoring operations.

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