NewsJune 12, 2018 @ 10:07 AM

Thriving Cybercrime Economy Contributes to More Than $1 Billion in Stolen Cryptocurrency

Users lost $1,148,763,000 in cryptocurrency to cyberthieves during the first half of 2018, a recent study found. The researchers explored various illicit forums on the Dark Web and uncovered a $6.7 million cybercrime economy that revolves around the theft of bitcoin, Etherem and other digital currencies.

In total, the report revealed more than 12,000 such marketplaces containing over 34,000 offerings for would-be crypto-thieves. These products range in value from just over $1 to $1,000, with an average cost of $224. The researchers identified $10 as the “sweet spot” price for the malware samples being sold in these Dark Web forums.

You Get What You Pay For

The authors of the report, titled “Cryptocurrency Gold Rush on the Dark Web,” noted that those prices reflect the purchaser’s level of technical expertise and the degree to which a given sample can evade detection.

“The average listing is likely relatively unsophisticated, and detectable with proper endpoint security,” the report stated. Higher-priced listings, the authors wrote, “enable a more technically proficient user to compile their own malware. While these are still detectable, they are capable of defeating common indicators of compromise (IOCs) and signatures.”

Of the offerings the researchers uncovered, cryptocurrency stealers were the most prevalent at 65 percent of total listings. Cryptojacking malware comprised around 10 percent of offerings on the Dark Web, while mining botnets and mobile malware packages represented just 3.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Combating the Cybercrime Economy

The study’s authors advised businesses to protect themselves by deploying an endpoint security solution equipped with prevention and detection capabilities. They also recommended deploying an ad blocker on all endpoints to reduce the risk of attackers hijacking devices to harvest cryptocurrency and restricting access to important financial resources and bank accounts.

Basic security best practices also apply. For example, users should conduct extensive research before participating in a cryptocurrency exchange and create strong, unique passwords across services, the report noted.

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David Bisson

Contributing Editor

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.