Cryptocurrency theft: Will it stop or will it increase?

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The popularity of cryptocurrencies is increasing like a forest fire. Every day we read or hear this word somewhere or another. But along with this, the crimes concerning cryptocurrencies are also rising. The world of Blockchain technology is full of roughness and lawlessness. The times have changed, and thieves now carry gadgets and software instead of guns. 

As we all know, cryptocurrencies are virtual or digital tokens that can be used for trading. Since they resemble money, they capture the attention of technoid thieves. 

According to a recent approximation, not less than a billion dollars of cryptocurrencies are stolen every year, and the numbers keep increasing. The crimes concerning cryptocurrencies include hacks, scams, frauds, and crooked initial coin offerings. Hackers have even robbed cryptocurrency exchanges, stealing more than 500 million dollars in one instance. Cybercriminals can be taken to court under prevailing laws for grand theft, computer crimes, and other crimes if law implementing authorities cope with catching them.

Even though the police will probe and prosecutors will bring charges if felons can be pointed out and seized, various state and local governments are not keen to approach the preventive regulations. But there are exceptions like New York State. It levies a licensing requirement on cryptocurrency exchanges and other cryptocurrency businesses. 

Watchdog agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC have falteringly started to paddle into regulating some characteristics of this emerging financial sector, for example, the commencing sales of new digital currencies. The feds have also given customers warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrencies, specifically from an investment point of view.    

There have been a lot of cases of bitcoin theft. More than five per cent of all Bitcoin that is in circulation has been stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges. 

There are various viruses and malware that eventually lead to cryptocurrency theft. Certain viruses or malware can thieve private keys for bitcoin wallets that allow the bitcoins to be stolen by themselves. The most common kind of malware hunts computers for cryptocurrency wallets to connect to a distant server where they can be solved, and their cryptocurrencies are stolen. Most of these do keyboard capturing to save passwords, consequently avoiding the requirement to crack the keys. There have also been instances when the address of bitcoin is copied to a clipboard and is rapidly substituted by a different address. It tricks people, and they often end up sending their coins to the wrong address. Since Bitcoin transactions cannot be reversed, this method proves effective for criminals. 

There are also various types of ransomware that demand payment in Bitcoin. One program commonly expanded through genuine-looking email attachments enciphers the hard drive of an infected computer, then shows a timer showing countdown and demands a ransom in bitcoin to crack it. Another variant of ransomware defuses access to the internet and demands information from credit cards to reinstate it while they mine bitcoins secretly. 

In one case, the malware used the parallel processing abilities of Graphics Processing Units or GPUs constructed into various contemporary video cards. Though the normal Personal Computer or PC having an integrated graphics processor is digitally futile for mining Bitcoin, a huge number of such computers loaded with malware of mining can bring good results for criminals. Various instances of people, usually employees or students, have been witnessed using computers of university or research to perform bitcoin mining. 

A phishing website to produce private cryptocurrency wallets descends authentications, gathering wallet keys, with cryptocurrency worth 4 million US dollars stolen approximately. This spiteful website operated for some time. 

With rising crimes, employment in this sector is also increasing. More than 40 per cent of organisations confirm that they don’t have enough people who have cybersecurity skills. Cybersecurity professionals are in demand in commercial, government, and non-government organisations. Various professions in cybersecurity include security analyst, security engineer, security architect, security administrator, chief information security officer, etc. 

For investors, it is a tricky task to avoid cryptocurrency scams. The first and foremost sign of cyber fraud is when someone asks you to pay through cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency theft will keep increasing unless regulations are imposed seriously by the governments of all countries.