Within the first half of this year alone, an estimated $1.1 billion in cryptocurrency was stolen, much to the dismay of owners, Carbon Black, a cybersecurity company has revealed. Some industry experts have said, much of the fraud that occurs in relation to cryptocurrency are neither difficult nor expensive to perpetrate.
Rick McElroy, the company`s security strategist has said, it`s surprising just how easy it is without any tech skill to commit cyber crimes like ransomware. It`s not always these large nefarious groups, it`s in anybody`s hands” (CNBC). The required malware, which periodically come with customer service, is said to cost an average of $224; one can purchase this same malware on the “dark web” for as low as $1.04.
The dark web is the major facilitator of cryptocurrency theft. It has grown into a $6.7 million economy and is expected to grow much bigger in the next couple of years. Statistics available on the dark web is staggering.
In a study released by Carbon Black yesterday, it was disclosed the dark web has an estimated 12,000 marketplaces and 34, 000 offerings linked to cryptocurrency theft. It stated that these marketplaces and offerings provide hackers with a significant number of options; the dark web is in essence the hacker`s go-to-place to secure every possible capability for defrauding unsuspecting owners of cryptocurrency – engendering ‘business’ boom.
Now, this is how the dark web basically functions. It is only accessible online through a special software and offers users the added benefit of appearing as anonymous (no identity disclosure required) and untraceable for the most part. In this regard, McElroy stated: “you just have to be able to log in and be able to buy the thing – you can call customer support and they`ll give you tips” (CNBC).
Cryptocurrency thefts are both perpetrated and perpetuated mainly by two classes of hackers: organized crime groups that busy themselves defrauding/hacking exchanges and firms, and well trained engineers with the requisite coding expertise who perhaps need to make some extra income.
The expansion of the crypto market, characterized by skyrocketing prices of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin and an influx of new buyers as a consequence presents a juicy opportunity for criminally-minded hackers to quickly get to work, outwitting many a buyer.
This has been aggravated by the fact that unlike banking institutions, cryptocurrency is not usually neither protected nor insured by a third party. Buyers are left to their own fate for the most part, as it were.
Reports indicate exchanges were the worst hit by the activities of hackers, being victims of as much as 27% of all cyber attacks in the first half of 2018.
The first ever high-profile hack in the history of cryptocurrency befell Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, arguably the largest bitcoin exchange as at the time of the theft. This theft crippled the then crypto exchange giant, leading to it filing for bankruptcy in 2014. The exchange reported it had lost as much as 750,000 of its users` bitcoins and 100,000 belonging to the company.
Hackers generally demand payment in cryptocurrency. Surprisingly however, the most widely known cryptocurrency, bitcoin does not seem to be topmost in the preference scale of hackers; it is reported bitcoin accounted for only 10% of the cryptos targeted by hackers; a lesser known crypto, ethereum has seen a surprising 11% rise.
Images from Hacker Noon, Carbon Black