Maintaining a bitcoin address repository through focused web crawling
Macharia, Caroline Wanjira
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There has been an increase in the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC). Bitcoin allow for cross-border payments, for large and small items at little or no transaction fee. It is a groundbreaking technology that is not restricted by the current Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT). The decentralised nature of Bitcoin provides for anonymity through possible use of multiple identities that are not linked to personally identifiable information. Bitcoin offers a convenient solution for criminals who are restricted by the conventional money transfer systems. Bitcoin has been linked to drug dealers, gold bugs, fraudsters, terrorists, whistleblowers, pornographers, Internet freedom activists and unregulated gaming enterprises (Simser, 2015). Other cybercrimes that are facilitated by Bitcoin include ransomware. This research identified a gap in acquiring digital evidence related to Bitcoin transactions. The data was obtained from case laws and secondary materials relating to Bitcoin forensics. We suggest a solution of maintaining a Bitcoin address repository through regular crawling of cryptocurrency sites. A web crawler that visits a list of user defined cryptocurrency sites was developed to solve the identified problem. The crawled sites include websites of interest to investigators. Results are stored in an XML file which can be exported to any database. The addresses and metadata collected from webpages can be used by investigators when building a case for Bitcoin related crimes. Transaction data about the collected addresses is available on the Bitcoin blockchain.