In the first nine months of 2018, hackers stole $927 million from cryptocurrency exchanges and other platforms, according to a report from blockchain security firm CipherTrace. CipherTrace estimates the total figure will reach over $1 billion by the end of 2018. Last year that figure was $266 million.
The major hacks of the period include Japanese exchange Coincheck, with $530 million worth of cryptos stolen, Italy’s BitGrail ($195 million), Japan’s Zaif (around $60 million) and South Korea’s Coinrail (over $40 million), among many others.
What happens to that digital currency after it’s hacked? Ciphertrade did a quantitative analysis of the transactions on the 20 top cryptocurrency exchanges globally between January 2009 until Sept. 20, 2018. It found 97 percent of direct bitcoin (BTC) payments from “identifiable criminal sources” were received by unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges. That works out to 380,000 bitcoin, or about $2.5 billion at the current rate.
However, that should be changing soon.
“Different geographies are competing on regulations and trying to become ‘trusted’ digital currency hubs in order to grow their economies,” Dave Jevans, CEO of CipherTrace, said in a press release. “We will see the opportunities to launder cryptocurrencies greatly reduced in the coming 18 months as cryptocurrency [anti-money laundering] regulations are rolled out globally.”