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Chief scientist, Forcepoint

December 8, 2017


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$60m bitcoin theft: Unless bubble bursts we can expect many more of these attacks

Two Bitcoin thefts – Nicehash and the ecommerce-driven Quant malware exploit – in the last four days and thieves are just getting started.

In Forcepoint’s 2018 Security Predictions we highlighted the risk of attacks against cryptocurrency. As Bitcoin values soar beyond US$15,000, its attractiveness to attackers will increase in proportion, both to hackers and nation-state level attacks.

While the Bitcoin valuation is incredibly tantalising, investors need to recognise that cryptocurrencies are not magic – they can be stolen just like regular money and are comparatively easy to launder.

How can you protect a cryptocurrency renowned for its anonymity?

So how can you protect a cryptocurrency renowned for its anonymity?

Users and companies need to take precautions commensurate with the value of the asset they are protecting, implementing not only traditional security but also watching out for malicious insiders or compromised third-party partners who have access to a vast pool of liquid assets.

Our prediction remains: we’re just seeing the beginning of these attacks – there will be many more to come in 2018.

Key insights

  • More than U$60m worth of bitcoin stolen after hack on Nicehash cryptocurrency site.
  • This is the second bitcoin theft exploit in four days – following the Forcepoint Labs-uncovered ecommerce driven Quant malware exploit
  • Timing for this is curious as The Cboe Futures Exchange plans to offer trading in bitcoin futures beginning 6pm. ET Sunday (10 December). This is eight days before CME, the world’s largest futures exchange, which will also launch bitcoin futures.
  • In Forcepoint’s 2018 Security Predictions, we highlighted the risk of attacks against cryptocurrency, and the Nicehash attack seems to be an example of exactly that.

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