The volume of cryptocurrency thefts as a result of hacking Bitcoin-exchanges and trading platforms in just the first nine months of 2018 totaled $927 million, an increase of almost 250% more than in all of 2017 when $266 million was stolen in the aggregate. This is stated in a recent report by CipherTrace company which specializes in cybersecurity.
The authors of the report draw attention to the steady increase in thefts for relatively small amounts of $20 to $60 million. Cases in the third quarter of this year in total accounted for about $173 million.
According to researchers, hackers see ample opportunities in the cryptocurrency space, where, in addition to Bitcoin, there are more than 1600 different digital assets. In addition to directly stealing funds, various forms of fraud are becoming increasingly popular.
They also noted that criminal transactions related to cryptocurrencies may be 50% more than indicated in the company’s report. So, CipherTrace is aware of more than $60 million that was stolen from the exchanges but were not included in the report.
The authors of the study say that since 2009, the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, which are based in countries with weak anti-money laundering laws, have washed out $2.5 billion in bitcoin. CipherTrace claims that it has analyzed 20 exchanges with the largest trading volumes, but their names are not disclosed.
“The regulators are still a couple of years behind because there are only a few countries that have really applied strong anti-money laundering laws,” said Dave Jevans, CipherTrace CEO, in a commentary to Reuters.
Jevans is also the chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a global organization that aims to help solve cybercrime.
The report also says that through these exchanges have used 236,979 bitcoin for criminal activities. At the current rate of Bitcoin, this is about $1.5 billion.
“All exchanges get these money-laundered funds. You really can’t stop them. The reason, however, is clear: we will find out about the crime after it was committed, it is impossible to track this in real time,” added Jevans.
In September, The Wall Street Journal announced that over the past two years, $9 million, allegedly related to criminal activity, was laundered through the popular ShapeShift cryptocurrency exchange platform. This makes it the largest platform among the other 46 cryptocurrency exchanges, through which the total of $88.6 million was laundered.