Sheriff Department Mining Its Own Bitcoins to Fight Cyber Crime

In a unique attempt to stop cyber criminals, an Arkansas County Sheriff’s Department is Mining its own Bitcoins.

While Benton County, Arkansas may be famous for being the home for mega retailer Walmart, its Sheriff’s Department is about to put the small town on the map for a completely different reason. It’s readying a program to mine its own Bitcoin in an effort to deal with cyber security.

Officials recognize that the Dark Web and Deep Web are where criminals go to pull off some of their worse deeds, including the sexual exploitation of children. Officials also recognize that Bitcoin is the anonymous payment of choice used in these underground worlds.

To catch these criminals, Benton officials see entering the depths of these worlds without raising red flags by not just using Bitcoin, but by mining their own Bitcoins.

Let’s discuss.

The underworld

In what may be a surprise, authorities say that the use of Bitcoins for Dark and Deep Web activities are prevalent in the Arkansas area. In fact, they told Arkansas Online the only place in the mainstream where it’s not prevalent is with law enforcement agencies.

That’s why “joining them” by using their own tools is imperative. Benton County’s cybercrime detective said:

“No question whatsoever that those activities are happening, and criminals are using bitcoin,” he said. “The problem with it is the anonymity behind the Tor network and the expense we will go through to reach a dead end. There are easier ways of catching people who are actively hunting children.”

The mined Bitcoins will be used for undercover online operations.

Mining for cryptos the Sheriff’s way

Benton County’s efforts are part of a pilot program it launched in the spring. It entails the creation of a mining pool.

This pool combines various miners who can share their processing power over a single network. As noted by Arkansas Online, the miners in the pool split the reward according to the amount of work they contributed.

The cryptos mined and accumulated are then stored in a hard wallet. Officials say they are not trying to mine a large amount of tokens, and have only spent a small amount so far.  

The choice was made to mine Bitcoins instead of buying them because it’s cheaper. Also, by mining the tokens themselves, they know the money hasn’t been used for illegal purposes.

Arkansas officials reportedly say the process will create a slow, but daily stream of tokens that will look less suspicious to other users.

Zach Steelman, a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, assistant professor of information systems told Arkansas Online:

“If you buy $10,000 of [Bitcoin], someone may see that. That might not be the same process a criminal would do. Mining the bitcoin is a better way to enter that market without throwing up red flags.”

No word yet on how successful Benton has been with its program, and the Sheriff has been adamant that he will shut it down if there are no quantifiable.