Recently, Chainalysis company presented a report denoting that two groups of expert hackers have committed most cyber-attacks in the field of cryptocurrency. This report was made by gathering and analyzing cyber incidents at the institutions and organizations such as trade centers which are active in cryptocurrency. These incidents include grand thefts up to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Based on the estimations of Chainalysis, these two expert groups have succeeded in stealing approximately $1 billion in cryptocurrencies in their attacks, which accounts for at least 60% of published public reports. In Chainalysis report, these two groups are called Alpha and Beta.
The first groups, Alpha, is an organized and conservative group which has aims beyond merely getting rich! Though, its aims have not been elaborated in Chainalysis report.
The second group, called Beta, is less conservative toward hiding its illicit activities, and smaller as well as less organized compared to Alpha. This group interred here just for profit.
In order to make their hacks obscure, both groups transfer the stolen assets among various wallets so to make it hard to trace. For instance, in a hack by Alpha, the stolen cryptocurrency was moved 15 thousand times, and then quickly changed to cash. Alpha group usually liquidates the stolen cryptocurrencies thirty days after the theft, but Beta tends toward keeping it. Beta usually keeps the stolen assets for months and most of the times for more than a year and then changes it into cash.
Chainalysis has announced that it has gained no more information about these two groups, and it is even possible for the current information to be incorrect. These findings proposed a new and threatening view about cryptocurrencies. Although one of the threats to the cryptocurrency networks is the dominance of one group who has the most mining computing power, called the 51-percent attack, but it seems that the activities of these two groups are not necessarily limited to this type of attack. These results show how a small group can influence the entire field of cryptocurrencies by its activities.
According to statistics published by CipherTrace in December 2018, cryptocurrency theft has had a significant rise compared to that of two previous years. In the third quarter of 2018, hackers stole about $927 million from its related trade centers and platforms, while in 2016 and 2017 it was $152 and $226 million respectively.
In the report published by Group-IB last year, the source of some of the prominent attacks in the field of cryptocurrencies is said to be North Korean hacker group, Lazarus. It is stated in this report that Lazarus group has stolen an approximate amount of $571 million during 2017 and 2018 from cryptocurrency trade centers such as Yapizon, Coins, YouBit, CoinCheck, and Bithumb. It seems that in the face of international sanctions, the field of cryptocurrencies has been a more suitable target for this hacker group. By putting these two reports together, it can be deduced that one of Alpha or Beta groups in Chainalysis report can be Lazarus group.
This and other similar reports show that the field of cryptocurrency is vulnerable against cyber incidents and it requires security provisions more than before. Inattention to this important matter can harm the credibility of companies active in cryptocurrency, and this would leave no choice for these companies but to abandon it.