Virtual currencies make it easy for cybercriminals to transfer money instantly. International money transfers require a verification process that can take from one to eight days, the McAfee researchers said. Cost is also a factor, with virtual currency transfers far less costly than international transfers.
Using virtual currency, cybercriminals that connect anonymously in an underground forum can quickly conduct a transaction and provide the goods or services that were bought or sold. In 2009, researchers at security firm Finjan, now part of Trustwave, uncovered a platform called Golden Cash that was used to buy and sell botnets used by cybercriminals to conduct attacks or spread malware and spam. The network sold batches of infected machines to the highest bidder. Prices ranged from $5 to $100, depending on location.