Cryptocurrency has been a prime target for criminals for quite some time now. This trend has only intensified over the past few years. A new study by the Anti-Phishing Working Group claims that close to $1.2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies have been stolen since early 2017. It’s a very worrisome number that warrants some clarification.
Criminals are Crazy for Crypto
It is no secret that criminals all over the world have been paying extra attention to cryptocurrencies over the past few years. In the minds of most criminals, this form of money is anonymous and will help them cover their tracks. In reality, however, most (though not all) cryptocurrencies are anything but anonymous or privacy-oriented. Given the rise of blockchain analysis firms, using Bitcoin for criminal purposes is less favorable now than ever before.
Even so, there have been numerous thefts of various cryptocurrencies in the past year and a half. As it turns out, researchers claim that close to $1.2 billion worth of crypto has been stolen since early 2017. This is simply an educated guess, as it is nearly impossible to gauge the exact impact of all of these cryptocurrency-related heists.
Even though criminals have seen their fair share of success in the cryptocurrency world, theft is a relatively new trend. To be sure, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been associated with money laundering, drug trafficking, and other illicit behavior for some time now. Stealing tokens and assets from users is only the proverbial icing on the cake.
It is also worth noting that the Anti-Phishing Working Group is confident that nearly 20% of stolen funds have been recovered. That is an interesting figure, even though it means close to $1 billion worth of stolen funds are still out there somewhere. Additionally, tracking down criminals remains an ongoing challenge despite the rise in popularity of blockchain analysis firms.
The study also touched upon Europe’s recently-implemented General Data Protection Regulation:
GDPR will negatively impact the overall security of the internet and will also inadvertently aid cybercriminals. By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud and crypto-jacking.
It is a bit unclear what steps are being taken to recover the remainder of the stolen funds. Although it’s a major struggle, it seems some progress has been made. Even so, cryptocurrency enthusiasts will have to remain vigilant in order to thwart further heists from happening. This also means users will need to stop relying on centralized trading platforms which offer custodial services. So far, it seems those services remain extremely popular despite their obvious drawbacks.