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Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency

This is a black book cover with the title "Tracers in the Dark" going vertically down the book. The words are in orange, and there are random strips of green letters going vertically down the book.

Book written by Andy Greenberg

Book review by Larry Pesce

Bottom Line

I recommend this book for the Cybersecurity Canon Hall of Fame.


"Tracers in the Dark" by Andy Greenberg is an adventure into the shadows of the cyber underworld, shedding light on the techniques used to track down the so-called untraceable transactions of cryptocurrency. With a narrative as gripping as any detective novel, Greenberg's account of the pursuit of cybercriminals all over the world reveals the intricate dance between those who exploit the blockchain's anonymity and the law enforcement officers dedicated to upholding justice.

The book starts by dismantling the myth of the inherent anonymity of cryptocurrencies. Greenberg introduces us to the world of blockchain forensics, a field where savvy investigators turn the blockchain's transparency against those who would use it for illicit purposes. Through meticulous research and interviews with key players in law enforcement and cybersecurity, Greenberg provides a front-row seat to the cat-and-mouse game of tracking digital footprints across the blockchain.

Greenberg's storytelling prowess comes to the fore as he narrates the real-life cases where "following the money" takes on a new digital twist. The reader is taken through various investigations, with each chapter unraveling a new layer of the complex, globalized network of cryptocurrency crime. From the Silk Road to the takedown of dark web marketplaces, the book is rife with tales of ingenuity and perseverance. Who would have thought that the most valuable federal agents, taking down the world’s most despicable criminals, work for the US Internal Revenue Service?

One of the book's most compelling aspects is its deep dive into the technicalities of cryptocurrency and its tracing methods without losing the lay reader. Tracking the evolution of the tracking technology was quite amazing, and Greenberg clearly did volumes of research. Greenberg demystifies the technology with clear explanations, making the subject accessible and engaging. He portrays the intricacies of blockchain technology not as insurmountable barriers to law enforcement but as tools that, when understood, can be turned against those who operate in the digital underworld. Some of that technology that is revealed is how exactly supposedly anonymous transactions can be tracked and does so in an easily understandable manner.

The narrative culminates in a discussion of the broader implications of cryptocurrency in law enforcement and the banking industry. Greenberg does not shy away from the ethical and privacy concerns raised by the power to trace blockchain transactions. These powers are wielded by private companies, law enforcement officers and sometimes even together. He presents a balanced view, pondering the future of financial privacy in an age where every transaction can potentially be followed.


In conclusion, Andy Greenberg's "Tracers in the Dark" is an essential read for anyone fascinated by the intersection of technology, law, and finance. It is a testament to the fact that even in the age of cryptocurrencies, the age-old adage of 'follow the money' remains relevant. The book is not just a story of technical triumphs; it is a narrative about the relentless pursuit of justice in the digital age. For its gripping storytelling, its educational value, and its timely subject matter, "Tracers in the Dark" is undoubtedly a candidate for the Cybersecurity Canon Hall of Fame. It is a book that will leave readers with a deeper understanding of the potential and pitfalls of the financial revolution that is cryptocurrency.