Criminals are estimated to have stolen about US$1.2 billion in cryptocurrencies since the beginning of 2017, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).
The estimates from the non-profit group’s research on cryptocurrency include reported and unreported theft, Reuters reports.
“One problem that we’re seeing in addition to the criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering using cryptocurrencies is the theft of these tokens by bad guys,” Dave Jevans, chairman of APWG, was quoted as saying.
Jevans, who is also chief executive of cryptocurrency security firm CipherTrace, told Reuters that of the US$1.2 billion estimated stolen crypto units, only about 20 percent or less has been recovered.
Gobal law enforcement agencies have their hands full tracking down the cybercriminals, he said.
The investigations of criminal activity will likely take a step back with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect on Friday, according to Jevans.
“GDPR will negatively impact the overall security of the internet and will also inadvertently aid cybercriminals,” he told Reuters in an interview.
“By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud and crypto-jacking.”
GDPR, which passed in 2016, aims to simplify and consolidate rules that companies need to follow in order to protect their data and to return control of personal information to EU citizens and residents.
The implementation of GDPR means that most European domain data in WHOIS, the internet’s database of record, will no longer be published publicly after May 25.
Jevans noted that WHOIS data is crucial in performing investigations that allow for the recovery of stolen funds, identifying the persons involved and providing vital information for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute criminals.
“So what we’re going to see is that not only the European market goes dark for all of us; so all the bad guys will flow to Europe because you can actually access the world from Europe and there’s no way you can get the data anymore,” Jevans said.
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