It has definitely been a rough ride for cryptocurrencies in 2018, and Bitcoin in particular. The controversy really started in 2017 when South Korean and Japanese crypto exchanges were assaulted, and hackers managed to hightail it with a fair bit of crypto assets. It wasn’t long before it was reported that Bitcoin is, in fact, a sweetheart to criminals from all over the world. A report has pointed out that the Bitcoin’s price was high for one specific reason – criminals used it to do their dirty deeds.
Of course, it stands to reason that when faced with a currency which bestows complete anonymity on its owner, it would be unwise to make it accessible to all and sundry. Some of the activities Bitcoin has been funding is quite appalling in fact, and range from trafficking in human beings to selling arms to terrorist organizations. None of this is good news and the proponents of Bitcoin, savvy as they may be, are not really concerned with that aspect of the industry – which is all the same – there.
North Versus South
Before we step into our account of the misdeeds registered in 2018, let’s recall what happened in 2018. Coincheck, a leading crypto exchange in Japan, was hacked. The proceedings, some said, had gone to the North Korean regime, which had been helped by Chinese hackers to break neighbouring states’ crypto operations.
It’s a probable scenario and one that can very likely be true. But in the case of Coincheck, it has been a human error that allowed the breach. We have repeatedly stressed the importance of cold storage for your crypto assets. It turned out that Coincheck did not have a multi-sig wallet, which allowed the infiltrators to simply enter and pick clean the coffers. It was a bitter experience.
South Korea is Next on the Menu
Youbit, a South Korean Exchange, was also hacked at the end of 2017, Reuters reported. Not only that, but the crypto exchange was affected so hard, that it needed to file for bankrtupcy, an unprecedented move by any crypto organization so far. However, South Korea has a legalized crypto industry, and it would be unthinkable to let any operator just enter the country willy-nilly. What is more, South Korean exchanges are regulated and monitored by the government?
The hacking of Youbit has definitely not been emboldening for anyone. The fact that everyone’s virtual currencies can be syphoned off so easily has given Japan and South Korea both reasons to doubt their digital currency future.
Youbit is just one of the stories that if left unsupervised and unprotected, such ventures are likely to fail. Both countries have explicitly warned their citizens to avoid investing in assets that are insecure and volatile, meaning cryptocurrencies. It’s unlikely to see the two legislation let-up in their determination to stamp out any illegal practices. However, the problem at hand is that the citizens of both South Korea and Japan will probably continue to invest copiously in the digital assets, unaware of the dangers that lurk.
Hackers Having a Field Day in 2018
And so we come to 2018, and hackers have already stolen $530 million worth of NEM at the Coincheck exchange. But that’s hardly all there is. According to a research firm Carbon Black, the cryptocurrencies that have been stolen this year soar well to $1.1 billion a whopping amount.
Cryptocurrency hacking is now estimated to be an international business for gifted coders that generates $6.7 billion every year! The attacks are proliferating on all fronts. You wouldn’t be at risk just from a sophisticated device to quite the old-fashioned devices that are easy to tackle.
So big is the frenzy surrounding hacking people for their cryptocurrencies that hackers will try anything. The Dark Web is also the place where people, who are not coders themselves, can actually go ahead and purchase malware and then propagate it in the hopes of obtaining winnings. There are about 34,000 products, experts say, that has been designed to do just that – steal people’s cryptocurrencies.
According to Rock McElroy from Carbon Blck: “As was the case during the physical gold rush in the mid-1800s, there are criminals looking to exploit innocent parties of their earnings. Carbon Black has found that modern-day cybercriminals are increasingly using the dark web to facilitate cryptocurrency theft on a large scale,” writes McElroy. According to the report, malware can cost as low as $1.04 and go up in price to as much as $1,000. The average price, according to the report, is $224. It can use to slow down processing speeds to evade or delay detection software.”
How Likely Are Hackers To Hack?
McElroy has not been so flagellating about cryptocurrency hackers, in all honesty. He said that most of those people are just trying to make a living, albeit some may indeed be driven by ideology. In any event, he said that there are many developing countries where coding has been taught, but nobody has really created jobs where these people can ploy their skills leading to hubs of talented young men and women, who may just as well go ahead and push with a few crypto hacking tricks to make ends meet.
In other words, individuals who sell their products are unlikely to be millionaires. They are simply getting some bits and bobs for their efforts of developing a product that people buy and then try to deploy to people’s computers in a great bid to steal their funds.
Bitcoin is not the most popular cryptocurrency any longer, however. You have Monero which now accounts for 44% nefarious transactions on the internet but which nonetheless maintains its prices fairly stable. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that we see as many people deftly navigating between both cryptocurrencies, although it would be difficult to pinpoint the exact culprits on this occasion.
Future Past the Hacking?
You may be asking yourself if these attacks are slated to see at any one point? We don’t think so in the slightest. Until Bitcoin is regulated completely and identities of owners exposed, nothing will stop the money-strapped expert to make a quick killing. It may be argued that if people are such adept coders they can easily get a job with a company, even remotely or relocated for business.
Sadly, the realities of everyday life are a bit different. Many brilliant people do not have a chance to indeed relocate and remain stuck where they live. They do not turn to online jobs either, because they may not suspect that those existed. Or when they do turn to ways of making money, they get sucked into the crypto craze. And it’s rather easy too. Write a malicious piece of software and sell it for an immediate mark. It’s a good business for people who are trying to make a living and even hone their skills as hackers and developers.
However, their deeds have many real-world effects, which are pernicious and they ought to be pursued with the full force of the law. We ourselves believe that crypto fraud should be punishable by law, as any other form of illegal activity which threatens individuals’ well-being, monetary or otherwise. However, this increasingly appears as wishful thinking.