Bitcoin gets all the press these days, but there are other cryptocurrencies that keep narrowing the gap in market capitalization. With features aimed at different audiences and tech aimed at fixing various issues discovered in Bitcoin, these up-and-comers are hoping to make an impact.
What’s more amazing is that Bitcoin has managed to hang on to the lead for years now. With all the lessons learned and thousands of alternative currencies seeking market share, the network effect of Bitcoin is starting to lose its halo.
This is nothing new in the digital world: remember Myspace? The digital road is littered with projects that couldn’t or wouldn’t evolve in ways that continued to satisfy the market and the public’s mind space. While the network effect of a well-established alt-currency makes it difficult to dethrone, there certainly are competitors nipping at Bitcoin’s heels.
Monero in particular has some compelling features from a malware perspective, not least of which is that it has more of a privacy focus, with specific technology that provides stealth addressing and unlinkability based on ring signatures. With this implementation, it is far more difficult to infer the true identity of the transactor, which is clearly important to those engaged in dirty deeds. And while there have been vulnerabilities and fixes, the community seems quick to respond and the Monero project has implemented a vulnerability reporting/bounty process.
Additionally, Monero is still practical if you don’t own a hydroelectric dam or nuclear power plant to provide the cheap, enormous power needed to mine Bitcoin cost-effectively. Monero is still a relative newcomer, meaning it’s early on the mining difficulty curve, but still hovering around the top ten alt-currency list according to Coin Market Watch. And while power plants and utility companies will continue to feel the strain from running big mining rigs, Monero uses a proof-of-work based on CryptoNight, which can be mined as a malware payload on commodity hardware that many users run at home, work, or in the datacenter.
Bitcoin is still much more widely accepted by vendors, but many vendors are experimenting with accepting other currencies. Initially viewed as little more than a techno-publicity stunt, cryptocurrencies are now featuring more prominently in value-exchange conversations, malicious or not.
Add up the wild speculation and froth associated with steep rise (and subsequent steep drops, but still solid value thus far) in the marketplace. Consider also the general public consciousness centering around the phenomenon (even if the accompanying understanding level is low) and you have a compelling recipe that is trending upward in coming years – in whatever iteration and currency will be the “killer app”.
Along the way, some malware seems aimed at stealing crypto-wallets, regardless of what denomination is contained therein, so there are multiple facets in focus with malware authors. This is nothing new, as malware scammers have always focused on Return On Investment (ROI), and prefer stealing whatever value they can easily turn for a profit.
In that respect, transacting in Monero offers a reasonably compelling value proposition, and one that is gaining prominence in the malware world. We’ll see if the rest of the market agrees and some Monero holders become cryptocurrency millionaires by simply riding the wave they stole from someone else to begin with.