Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis revealed that just two hacker groups are responsible for stealing a staggering $1 billion in cryptocurrency.
The design of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is truly innovative, but a few flaws concerning the ecosystem have surfaced over the years. One of the most notable is the hacking of various cryptocurrency exchanges. Such hacks cause a great deal of anguish, and far more often than not, those who had their coins stolen have little to no recourse open to them. While one would think that such attacks have been the responsibility of a large number of hacker groups, recent analysis says otherwise.
Hacker Groups Alpha and Beta
Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis has done extensive research on the many hacks of cryptocurrency exchanges. Their conclusion is rather startling – just two hacker groups are responsible for 60 percent of all hacks, netting a billion dollars in cryptocurrency for their efforts.
Chainalysis spent three months tracking the stolen crypto, and they were able to identify two hacker groups, which they dubbed Alpha and Beta. Both groups used phishing, the exploitation of security soft spots, and ransomware to acquire their loot.
What is interesting is that there are distinct differences between the two hacker groups. Alpha is “a giant, tightly controlled organization at least partly driven by non-monetary goals.” However, Beta “seems to be a less organized and smaller organization absolutely focused on the money.”
To hide their tracks, both groups use a network of crypto wallets that is huge in size. The hackers transfer the crypto an average of 5,000 times before they convert it into fiat. Again, the two groups show some differences as Alpha starts the money laundering process as soon as they steal the crypto while Beta prefers to wait until the furor over the theft dies down.
Still at Large
Chainalysis offers no other names for the two hacker groups, but they do point out that the two groups have not been caught and are still active.
Such a report will likely send a cold shiver down the backs of cryptocurrency exchange executives. Hacks have been an ongoing issue since the notorious Mt. Gox hack back in 2014.
Some countries, such as Japan, are working to prevent such hacks by requiring very stringent security protocols to be put into place. The hack of Coincheck (to the tune of over $500 million) prompted the country’s watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, to begin cracking down on exchanges with lax procedures. It was just last December that Coincheck finally got their license back, nearly a full year after the hack.
Exchange hacks are an ongoing source of concern. It was just two weeks ago that Cryptopia, a New Zealand-based exchange, suffered “significant” losses due to a breach.
What two hacker groups do you think Alpha and Beta are? Let us know in the comments below.
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