Last year (2017), around $1.2 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen by hackers and cyber-criminals. So far, in the first half of 2018, around #1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency theft has been reported. It appears that each consecutive year it is becoming easier and easier to snatch digital tokens from the hands of their owners.
The reason why the numbers are so large is that most cryptocurrency criminals are not small-time thieves looking to score a thousand dollars or less. They are creative and clever hackers looking to profit off of an unregulated form of tender that has some real-world value.
Most cyber-criminals employ the “dark web”, a network which can be accessed through a specific form of software, to commit their crimes on a massive scale. It is estimated that this dark web network currently has access to over 12,000 exchanges and marketplaces and can hack into roughly 34,000 token offerings.
Many of today’s cryptocurrency thefts are coming from organized criminal organizations who employ hackers to commit cyber-crimes. However, a lot of this year’s cryptocurrency theft is coming from the common unemployed software engineer who is in desperate need of cash. While they may not be part of a crime cartel, they no less have the skills and aptitude to break into all these cryptocurrency marketplaces through the dark web and extract what they need.
As was earlier mentioned, a large portion of last year and this year’s stolen digital currency came from cryptocurrency exchanges. It is estimated that almost 30% of the total amount of stolen cryptocurrency in 2018 has come from exchanges of all sizes, even large ones like Tokyo’s Mt.Gox.
Other popular targets include businesses, where hackers extort money from their owners, and wealthy individuals who hold a large number of digital coins in their cryptocurrency wallets.
If you trade or invest in any form of cryptocurrency, you should definitely take precautions on how you guard your digital assets. As we can see from the above information, it is not that hard to get into an exchange or private wallet and become the new owner of someone else’s digital tokens.
With large cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, it is almost impossible to get access to one’s private key and password. However, hackers use clever ways to obtain personal data in order to break into people’s wallets and steal their coins.
Here are some ways you can help reduce this risk:
Employ a 2-step authentication process to access your personal email account(s).
Store your private key off-line and put it somewhere safe.
Whenever transferring cryptocurrency to someone else, always confirm their identity and address beforehand.
Choose wisely when doing business with any cryptocurrency company. Try to only use big-name and proven services with at least some history of security and safety. There are a lot of “here today, gone tomorrow” scams being propagated through the dark web, so be very wary of opening a new account with any new cryptocurrency-related company you have never heard about before.