The cryptocurrency market continues to be extremely lucrative for cyber criminals. Through the first five months of 2018, they managed to steal roughly $1.1 billion worth of digital assets, according to a new study conducted by Carbon Black.
Dark Web Targets Crypto
In a newly released study, analysts at Carbon Black estimated 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings targeting crypto theft. Their weapon of choice: malware.
“As was the case during the physical gold rush in the mid-1800s, there are criminals looking to exploit innocent parties of their earnings,” Carbon Black security strategist Rick McElroy said in a statement. “Carbon Black has found that modern-day cybercriminals are increasingly using the dark web to facilitate cryptocurrency theft on a large scale.”
McElroy later told CNBC in an interview that malware costs an average of $224, though it can be had for as little as $1.04. Although small on the surface, the malware market has grown to become a $6.7 million economy.
The crypto universe, which includes initial coin offerings and exchanges, is being ever more targeted by cyber criminals. Although dark web elements have been exploiting digital assets for several years, their efforts have increased since the bull market began in January 2017.
Earlier this year, hackers made off with $530 million worth of NEM tokens in a coordinated attack on Coincheck, a Tokyo-based digital currency exchange. The attack is the second largest on record in terms of monetary value.
The first high-profile attack on an exchange occurred in 2014 when thieves stole 750,000 bitcoins from Mt. Gox, another Tokyo-based platform. The exchange filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.
Privacy Coins and the Dark Web
While bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency on the market, the dark web would much rather deal with privacy coins such as Monero.
A recent study by Recorded Future found Monero to be the most popular cryptocurrency on the dark web. Dash was second, followed by Ethereum, Litecoin and bitcoin. Coins like Dash have attracted a larger following for their ease of use and low fees.
Despite Monero’s popularity, it is accepted only by a tiny minority of dark web vendors. Interestingly, Litecoin had the highest acceptance rate for coins other than bitcoin. Virtually every dark web vendor accepts bitcoin as a method of payment.
When it comes to absolute privacy, Zcash is considered one of the best cryptocurrencies on the market – at least, when compared with other major assets. However, when it comes to fungibility, Zcash is said to have limitations relative to bitcoin, Monero and others.