A recent study from Cybersecurity firm Carbon Black claims that criminals have stolen about $1.1 billion of cryptocurrency since January 1, 2018, according to a report from CNBC. Countries like the United States, China, and the UK were reportedly prime targets for crypto criminals.
The thefts were executed using a variety of means, including direct hacks of digital currency exchanges and ransomware attacks. Exchange hacks accounted for 27 percent of all 2018 attacks, while 21 percent of attacks targeted businesses using ransomware and other nefarious tactics.
Carbon Black’s analysts found that most of the ransomware attacks involved coins other than Bitcoin. Monero appears to have been the most popular ransom demand option. In 44 percent of attacks, criminals demanded that payment be made using the privacy-focused coin. Ethereum and Bitcoin were less popular choices. Ransomware attackers demanded Ethereum in only 11 percent of attacks. Bitcoin was demanded in 10 percent of attacks.
According to Carbon Black security strategist Rick McElroy, such thefts are easy to pull off:
"It's surprising just how easy it is without any tech skill to commit cybercrimes like ransomware. It's not always these large nefarious groups, it's in anybody's hands."
McElroy also noted that the threat is broader than concerns about organized crime rings, as almost anyone can access the tools needed to execute an attack. He stressed the need for investors to be proactive about the security of their crypto funds:
"Usually we rely on banks, the tools are out there but investors need to know how to do this. A lot of people are unaware in this new gold rush, people are using cloud wallets and not securing their money."