Cryptocurrency theft has become a lucrative enterprise for cyber-criminals, with a reported $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and Ether being stolen in the last decade.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on January 19, 2018

Digital currencies have become a highly lucrative target for cyber-criminals.

Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP, told Bloomberg hackers have stolen $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and rival currency Ether over the last 10 years.

And considering the currencies’ steep rise in value over the last couple of years, that figure today would be much higher.

“It looks like crypto-hacking is a $200 million annual revenue industry,” Sokolin said.

He estimates hackers have compromised more than 14% of the Bitcoin and Ether supply.

Susan Eustis, chief executive officer of WinterGreen Research, says cryptocurrency theft has cost companies and governments more than $11 billion, through lost potential tax revenue from coin sales and illegitimate transactions.

Experts warn companies and investors not to enter the crypto-market without taking measures to safeguard their information and investments.

While blockchain records are shared making them more difficult to alter, their weakness is in their immaturity and that there are so many of them, says Matt Suiche, head of blockchain security company Comae Technologies.

“Each implementation is going to have its own problems,” he told Bloomberg. “The more implementations, the harder it is to cover all of them.”

The more implementations, the harder it is to cover all of them.

Andras Cser, an analyst at Forrester Research, says hacking a blockchain is not easy work for cyber-criminal but they pursue it because “the rewards are greater… You have much more information you can steal.”