A report on cryptocurrency theft published by cyber security firm CipherTrace found that hacking of exchanges and trading platforms has jumped 250 percent in the first nine months of 2018 on a year-over-year basis, reaching $927 million.
$2.5 Billion Laundered on Top 20 Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Says CipherTrace Report
Smaller thefts within the digital currency space, ranging from $20 million to $60 million, have totaled $173 million in Q3 2018. Dave Jevans, chief executive officer of CipherTrace and chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, claimed there are likely 50 percent more criminal transactions than those that were traced for this report.
The cyber security specialist has gathered enough information to conclude that over $60 million in digital currency has been stolen, but not reported. Governments across the world must boost their regulatory framework, namel anti-money laundering (AML) rules, to tackle the phenomenon of digital currency theft, Javens said.
“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.”
Countries with weak AML requirements have allowed the laundering of $2.5 billion worth of Bitcoins since 2009 using some of the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges. The report analyzed money-laundering volumes of the top 20 operators, but kept the names undisclosed.
CipherTrace estimated the $2.5 billion by analyzing around 350 million transactions, 100 million of which with counterparties. The firm then cross-checked those transactions with other criminal activity data.
“All exchanges get these money-laundered funds. You really can’t stop them. And here’s the reason why. We learn about the criminal stuff often times after it actually happened. So there’s no way to know in real time. You can know 80-90 percent of the time, but it’s impossible to know 100 percent.”
The top 20 cryptocurrency exchanges were found to facilitate the purchase of 236,979 Bitcoins worth of criminal services, according to the CipherTrace report. That amounts to about $1.5 billion at current prices.
While CypherTrace estimates that the hacking of exchanges and trading platforms resulted in the theft of $927 million in the first three quarters, other cyber security firms have reached different numbers in their reports.
In June 2018, a research published by Carbon Black stated that cybercrime was responsible for the theft of $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency in the first half of the year, the largest category of crimes being exchange hacks. These have accounted for up to 27% of attacks in 2018.
Regular businesses came in second, usually through ransomware attacks, made up of 21% of the total crimes involving digital currencies. The WannaCry attack influenced companies to stock Bitcoin in case of another hack.