Although Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies have fallen seriously out of favor with the criminal underworld, certain government agencies went on to lump them together with coins known for their shadier associations.
In an attempt to handle employees investing in coins that might permit them a degree of anonymity, the Pentagon is faced with making a decision on how it should treat people who own cryptocurrencies.
“There are a lot of good things about cryptocurrencies, but at the same time, there are these security risks. Think about a knife: It could be used for good things and it could be used for bad things as well,” Param Vir Singh, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s PNC Center for Financial Services Innovation, told Bloomberg.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) now has under half a million employees. It’s highly likely that some of them have dally in Bitcoin, Ether, Monero, or the like.
Chief among this agency’s interests is the prospect of some employees engaging in illegal activities under the cloak of anonymity provided by these digital currencies. The sale of state secrets to an organization in exchange for Monero would be one example. Done correctly, this would adequately mask the perpetrators’ identities and make it extraordinarily difficult to investigate the issue.
The problem is provoked by the sheer scale involved. About four million people in the US now have some level of security clearance, making them aware of the information that should not be in the possession of state enemies.
Another problem that crops up is the complex screening process for government employees. Any added step in such investigations could throw a wrench in the Pentagon’s hiring efforts.
“If we’re going to say that if you’ve got a Bitcoin or another digital currency account that could be a signal or shoot up a red flag for a security clearance, guess what? Those people aren’t going to sit around waiting to try to onboard for a government job. It would grow the backlog considerably, in my view,” said Greg Touhill, the country’s former federal chief information security officer and the first person to fill the role developed by the Obama administration.
If the DoD wants to apply a speedy screening process while still checking for cryptocurrency holdings, it could begin by refining its search for cryptocurrencies that are actually in link with potential criminal activity.
Bitcoin isn’t the “big bad wolf” it is often seen to be. Eben Europol’s executive director affirmed that criminals are abandoning it for coins that stretch the limits of what authorities can track.
While it is in every nation’s best interests to make sure that individuals with security clearance are checked out properly, there is little in the way of evidence that someone who owns Bitcoin is more subjected to risky behavior and could put operations in danger.