Cryptocurrency thefts have risen to hit nearly $1 billion over the course of 2018 as the economy continues to mature, new figures have revealed.
A study by cybersecurity firm CipherTrace reports that around $927 million worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen in the first nine months of this year – an increase of nearly 250 percent compared to the whole of 2017.
The majority of thefts come from cryptocurrencies and trading platforms being hacked, with smaller, more frequent attacks becoming increasing common.
Last month, Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange Zaif was hacked, with around $60 million worth of Bitcoin stolen, just one of multiple attacks to take place this year.
CipherTrace noted that this stolen money is commonly laundered fairly soon after the theft takes place,
Its figures show that digital currency exchanges across the world have laundered around 380,000 Bitcoin this year- worth around $2.5 billion at today's prices.
The company revealed that 97 percent of direct bitcoin payments from criminals went to exchanges in countries with weak anti-money laundering laws, and that nearly five percent of all bitcoin sent to poorly regulated exchanges comes from criminal activity before the money is moved, undetected, into the global financial payments system.
“This extensive research shows that regulation does have a direct correlation in hindering criminal activity, and we are on the right track to instill further trust in the crypto ecosystem,” commented Dave Jevans, CipherTrace CEO and co-chair of the Cryptocurrency Working Group at the APWG.org.
“We will see the opportunities to launder cryptocurrencies greatly reduced in the coming 18 months as cryptocurrency AML regulations are rolled out globally.”