Thieves Have Stolen $1.1 Billion in Crypto So Far this Year–And it Was Easy

June 8, 2018

The cryptosphere has exploded into an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the past year and a half. While tons of people have made tons of money off of the boom, not all of them did it with clean hands. In fact, an estimated $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen so far just this year.

What’s more is that Carbon Black, a cybersecurity company based in Massachusetts, said that it was pretty darn easy to do.

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Carbon Black Security strategist Rick McElroy told CNBC that “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.”

Anyone Can Purchase Malware on the ‘Dark Web’

Why is it so easy? A study by Carbon Black found that criminals used the so-called ‘dark web’ to purchase pieces of malware capable of orchestrating cryptocurrency heists of any size. Supposedly, there are 34,000 offerings spread across 12,000 dark web marketplaces related to the business of crypto theft. These offerings include malware and other nefarious digital tools.

“You just have to able to log in and be able to buy the thing,” McElroy said. “You can call customer support and they’ll give you tips.”

Carbon Black found that a piece of malware capable of crypto theft costs an average of $224–some examples cost just a few cents over $1; some pieces of malware even come packaged with customer service. Carbon Black’s study revealed that crypto malware itself has blossomed into a $6.7 industry.

McElroy also pointed out that while it’s easy to imagine that most of the individuals and groups behind crypto theft schemes are nefarious members of cartels or other crime groups, it’s likely that a good deal of the individuals who employ the malware are simple folks in need of a few extra bucks.

“You have nations that are teaching coding, but there’s no jobs,” McElroy said to CNBC. “It could just be two people in Romania needing to pay rent.”

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