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Global cryptocurrency thefts surge amid rising crypto prices

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The amount of cryptocurrency stolen in hacks globally more than doubled in the first six months of 2024 compared to the previous year, driven by a small number of large attacks and rising crypto prices, according to blockchain researchers TRM Labs.

Hackers stole over $1.38 billion worth of crypto by June 24, 2024, a significant increase from the $657 million reported during the same period in 2023, TRM Labs revealed in their latest report. The median theft size was also one-and-a-half times larger than the previous year.

“While we have not seen any fundamental changes in the security of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, we have seen a significant increase in the value of various tokens—from bitcoin to ETH (ether) and Solana—compared to the same time last year,” said Ari Redbord, global head of policy at TRM Labs.

This surge in crypto value has made cybercriminals more motivated to target crypto services, leading to larger thefts, Redbord explained.

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Cryptocurrency prices have generally rebounded from the lows experienced in late 2022 following the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX. Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $73,803.25 in March 2024, further incentivizing cybercriminal activities.

One of the most significant crypto losses this year was the $308 million worth of bitcoin stolen from the Japanese crypto exchange DMM Bitcoin, which the company described as an “unauthorized leak.” Such large-scale losses, while infrequent, highlight the vulnerability of cryptocurrency companies to hacks and cyberattacks.

In 2022, stolen cryptocurrency volumes were around $900 million, including over $600 million taken from a blockchain network linked to the online game Axie Infinity.

The United States has attributed that theft to North Korean hackers, who have been accused by the United Nations of using cyberattacks to fund their nuclear and missile programs. North Korea has consistently denied any involvement in hacking and other cyberattacks.

The escalating scale of cryptocurrency thefts underscores the need for enhanced security measures within the crypto ecosystem as prices and the value of digital assets continue to climb.

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