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Bitcoin Bandits Have Big Pockets in 2019

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The idea that the cryptocurrency ecosystem is losing it’s ‘Wild West’ persona may be a little premature. A report from Blockchain security company CipherTrace shows that cryptocurrency crime is still big business.

It claims that a whopping $4.3 billion has been pilfered in cryptocurrency by cybercriminals, this year alone. 

There are many different ways for crafty criminals to get their hands on ill-gotten coins, and the report breaks down how these thieves have been successful. Exchange hacks, cryptocurrency scams, and pyramid schemes, malware, and ransomware, as well as individuals that have been hit, all make up this concerning figure. 

It appears that perhaps it is not yet safe to let one’s guard down when venturing into the cryptocurrency space, and as an advert to mainstream adopters and regulators, this is a pretty poor one. 

The SEC, for instance, will look at figures like this while it mulls over a decision on Bitcoin ETFs and wonders what has changed since 2017 when it first denied and ETF application citing the market was challenging to survey. 

The irony of it is that an ETF allows for traditional investors to take part in trading on the Bitcoin market without having the hold Bitcoin, use cryptocurrency exchanges, or be part of this ongoing Wild West arena. 

Still, there have of course been improvements to security and safety for cryptocurrency users, especially in hot zones such as exchanges. Japan, as an example, has been clamping down on shoddy cryptocurrency exchanges, issuing out stern business improvement letters forcing these businesses to buck-up their security. 

More so, there has even been a collaborative sentiment building between exchanges who are hit by hackers as they start to look out for one another. An excellent example of this is ChangeNOW coming to the aid of hacked exchange, GateHub, and stopping the transfer of stolen coins to the hackers.

And to further blunt the naysaying, the figure of $4.3 billion for only eight months of this year is pretty inflated due to one, pretty savage, pyramid scheme – PlusToken – which purportedly defrauded users and investors of $2.9 billion.

Moreover, it was reported by the UN that North Korea has been busy too when it comes to the theft of cryptocurrency. Their report also brings up a pretty substantial figure of $2 billion stolen so far. 

 The examples are seemingly endless; there was the QuadrigaCX mystery, where the CEO who held all the private keys suddenly died; numerous exit schemes – EtherDelta being the latest noteworthy one; and even the 7,000 BTC hack of Binance, the supposed pinnacle of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The point of the matter is, even as the cryptocurrency space matures and evolves, it continues to have criminals hanging on, looking for scraps. This report from CipherTrace is shocking, in its figure, but not surprising, and that is a little bit sad. 

Darryn Pollock

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