While fraud seems present in every financial domain, the cryptocurrency sector attracts a lot of criminals in particular due to a lack of strict security practices and negligible regulation. The funds stolen are no child’s play either, as recent research suggests a staggering value.
Cryptocurrency Crimes Surging
According to estimates provided by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), cyber-criminals have infiltrated the cryptocurrency market for $1.2 billion worth of digital assets in 2018. The group further attributes the augmented crime levels to bitcoin’s price rise in December 2017, along with the presence of over 1,600 unregulated cryptocurrencies.
The APWG is a global body that tracks cyber-criminal activities for governments, law enforcement, and security products. They released the estimates as part of a study on cryptocurrency theft. The report tracked both reported and unreported stolen funds.
Dave Jevans, the chairman of APWG, believes that only 20 percent of the efforts to recover the stolen $1.2 billion have been successful thus far, with enforcement agencies around the world collaborating on tracking the criminals. Jevans added:
“One problem that we’re seeing, in addition to the criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering using cryptocurrencies, is the theft of these tokens by bad guys.”
Interestingly, Jevans is the founder of CipherTrace, a security firm wholly focused on digital assets.
New GDPR Rules to Affect Investigations
Jevans expressed his worries over the criminal investigations getting affected after the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) on May 25, 2018, as the security researcher feels that the new laws can hinder access to relevant information. Jevans said:
“By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud, and crypto-jacking.”
Furthermore, Jevans believes that the new rules could indirectly benefit the criminals, subsequently leading to higher security fears in the coming years. The GDPR is a part of EU’s efforts to consolidate and simplify regulations that companies need to enact for protecting their customers’ data while ensuring the return of control of personal information to EU residents.
(Source: The Grocer)
However, the GDPR’s implementation will sound a death knell for WHOIS, an internet database that publishes global IP addresses, server locations, along with other private information. More importantly, anyone can access this database.
Jevans notes that WHOIS records are accessed by numerous security firms across the globe, as the obtained information identifies the person/s involved in a crime, and provides vital information for law enforcement to act upon immediately. In conclusion, Jevans notes that while the GDPR laws solely pertain to the EU, criminals are sure to make a beeline to the territory, as their secrecy will be guaranteed.