Cryptocurrency theft through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms totaled US$927 million in the first nine months of this year, an increase of nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017, according to a US-based cyber security firm.
Reuters cited CipherTrace as saying in a report released Wednesday that in the third quarter there were a growing number of smaller thefts in the US$20-60 million range, totaling US$173 million.
Digital currencies stolen from exchanges in 2017 totaled just US$266 million, according to a previous report from CipherTrace.
Bitcoin’s popularity and the emergence of more than 1,600 other digital coins or tokens have drawn more hackers into the cryptocurrency space, expanding opportunities for crime and fraud.
“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,” Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace, told Reuters in an interview.
Jevans, who is also the chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a global organization that aims to help solve cyber-crime, said there are likely 50 percent more criminal transactions than those that were traced for his firm’s latest report.
For instance, CipherTrace is aware of more than US$60 million in cryptocurrency that was stolen but not reported.
The data also showed that the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges from countries with weak anti-money laundering regulations have been used to launder US$2.5 billion worth of bitcoins since 2009.
The top 20 virtual currency exchanges in terms of volume were analyzed for the CipherTrace report, which looked at criminal activity and money laundering in the digital currency market.
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