• Tracers in the Dark

  • The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency
  • By: Andy Greenberg
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Tracers in the Dark

By: Andy Greenberg
Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning author of Sandworm comes the propulsive story of a new breed of investigators who have cracked the Bitcoin blockchain, exposing once-anonymous realms of money, drugs, and violence.

“A gripping, stranger-than-fiction tale of how a small team of geeks and federal agents cracked what was once thought to be untraceable cryptocurrency.”—Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Plane in the Sky and Watergate

Over the last decade, a single innovation has massively fueled digital black markets: cryptocurrency. Crime lords inhabiting lawless corners of the internet have operated more freely—whether in drug dealing, money laundering, or human trafficking—than their analog counterparts could have ever dreamed of. By transacting not in dollars or pounds but in currencies with anonymous ledgers, overseen by no government, beholden to no bankers, these black marketeers have sought to rob law enforcement of their chief method of cracking down on illicit finance: following the money.

But what if the centerpiece of this dark economy held a secret, fatal flaw? What if their currency wasn’t so cryptic after all? An investigator using the right mixture of technical wizardry, financial forensics, and old-fashioned persistence could uncover an entire world of wrongdoing.

Tracers in the Dark is a story of crime and pursuit unlike any other. With unprecedented access to the major players in federal law enforcement and private industry, veteran cybersecurity reporter Andy Greenberg tells an astonishing saga of criminal empires built and destroyed. He introduces an IRS agent with a defiant streak, a Bitcoin-tracing Danish entrepreneur, and a colorful ensemble of hardboiled agents and prosecutors as they delve deep into the crypto-underworld. The result is a thrilling, globe-spanning story of dirty cops, drug bazaars, trafficking rings, and the biggest takedown of an online narcotics market in the history of the Internet.

Utterly of our time, Tracers in the Dark is a cat-and-mouse story and a tale of a technological one-upmanship. Filled with canny maneuvering and shocking twists, it answers a provocative question: How would some of the world’s most brazen criminals behave if they were sure they could never get caught?

©2022 Andy Greenberg (P)2022 Random House Audio

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Highly recommend

Greenberg has another hit here. Engaging and exciting work on another area of cyber-sleuthing. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating

When “true crime” stories announce that they read just like novels, I am skeptical. This book, however, is more interesting than most novels. The narration was
Perfect with no words misspoken (at least the ones I’m familiar with). I could not easily put it down.

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It's been worth the hype

I've had this audiobook wish listed ever since it got announced back in March. I think? really quality book and I enjoyed my time with it

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Bitcoin isn't as private as some think it is

This is a great book from an amazing technology journalist -- specifically covering the tools and procedures used to trace cryptocurrency transactions (e.g. Bitcoin) for law enforcement purposes.

Despite the public protestations of law enforcement (and some Bitcoin advocates) Bitcoin isn't even as private as regular banking systems -- it's a global public transparent ledger of pseudonyms, fully linkable through connections to external systems, patterns, and "metadata" analysis. We're currently living in a privacy dark age valley of "too late for physical bearer assets, too soon for Zero Knowledge online assets". Cryptocurrency has an edge in being permissionless and censorship resistant in many cases, but it's far from private as deployed today.

This book shows through tracing dark net markets participants (Silk Road, AlphaBay, and others), exchanges, and other bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions what the true state of privacy on the blockchain is. A major element is the founding and history of Chainalysis, one of the first dedicated tracing firms, from the tracing of loss Mt Gox exchange assets, but there's also extensive coverage of various law enforcement agencies and how they use traditional forensic accounting techniques, as well as chain analysis tools and subpoena and other investigatory powers, to find undesirable activity.

It was a little disappointing that de-anonymizing Monero transactions and other more privacy focused transactions wasn't more of a focus, but this is probably not covered as much in open forums.

The book and writing style focuses on personalities and events, rather than technology, so it's approachable and interesting for a general audience, but as an expert in the field (I work for a cryptoasset insurance company and have been involved in anonymous electronic cash since the mid 1990s), it's technically accurate as well.

Strongly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-28-22

Amazing book and narration

If you’re into Darknet markets then this book is for you. I couldn’t stop listening