A third of crypto-crime victims are in the US, along with 56% of botnets

A third of victims from cryptocurrency-related crime are in the United States, as the rate of hacks increases rapidly in 2018.

The figures come from an international study by cybersecurity firm Group-IB into the number of compromised accounts that its seen since 2017. The number has risen a massive 369 per cent, with 720 accounts across each of the main exchanges having been hit.

Ruslan Yusufov, director of special projects at Group-IB, said: “Increased fraudulent activity and attention of hacker groups to the crypto-industry, additional functions of malicious software related to cryptocurrencies, as well as the significant amounts of already stolen funds signals that the industry is not ready to defend itself and protect its users.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, malicious activity spiked alongside periods at which the market was at its highest – such as January 2018 when at least five of the 19 exchanges suffered attacks, losing $80 million in cryptocurrency between them.

There are 50 active botnets, the study reveals, and more than half (56.1 per cent) of this traffic comes from the US while The Netherlands comes just behind with 21.5 per cent.

These statistics are certainly worrying, and Group-IB attributes some of the hackers’ success to an ignorance around security among exchanges and users alike.

According to findings, a fifth of the 720 compromised accounts used a password that was shorter than eight characters – well below the recommended length – and two-factor authentication is underused.

The firm also warns about social media activity, warning users against leaving any clues or traces online that would suggest they own cryptocurrency, and using public wi-fi networks to carry out exchanges or other transactions.