As Bitcoin value soars, look for cryptocrime to follow suit

Fame has a price and so does fortune. As Bitcoin was reaching $1 trillion in value, the U.S. Department of Justice was indicting three North Korean military hackers for stealing and extorting more than $1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies. That indictment spurred a warning from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security: Hackers are upping their games to steal cryptocurrency.

In an article published February 20 on Yahoo News, authors Alexis Keenan and Daniel Howley assess the growing assault on cryptocurrencies from both nation state actors and cyber criminals. The article includes a number of quotes from cybersecurity professionals, including Dr. Justin Cappos, associate professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Cappos, whose Secure Systems Laboratory specializes in designing resilient systems, observes that the rise in cybercrime is a natural byproduct of the currency’s growing popularity. “Whenever you have something like this that is valuable, now all of a sudden more people are going to be willing to do things like…put little Trojan software and other things like this on people’s computers to mine this cryptocurrency,”he states.

So what types of risks should be anticipated? On a smaller scale, Cappos cautions that cryptojacking could mean a slowdown in computer performance, or an increase in their electricity bill as hackers force victims’ machines to operate at full throttle to mine cryptocurrencies. However, he points to large businesses that rely on cloud platforms, like Amazon’s (AMZN) AWS or Microsoft’s (MSFT) Azure to mine cryptocurrencies, as the most likely prospects for hackers moving forward.