Cryptocurrency theft hits nearly $1 billion in first nine months

Digital currencies stolen from exchanges in 2017 totaled just $266 million, according to a previous report from CipherTrace. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2018
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Cryptocurrency theft hits nearly $1 billion in first nine months

  • Digital currencies stolen from exchanges in 2017 totaled just $266 million

NEW YORK: Theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of the year, up nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017, according to a report from US-based cybersecurity firm CipherTrace released on Wednesday.
The report, which looks at criminal activity and money laundering in the digital currency market, also showed a steadily growing number of smaller thefts in the $20-60 million range, totaling $173 million in the third quarter.
Digital currencies stolen from exchanges in 2017 totaled just $266 million, according to a previous report from CipherTrace.
Bitcoin’s popularity and the emergence of more than 1,600 other digital coins or tokens have drawn more hackers into the cryptocurrency space, expanding opportunities for crime and fraud.
“The regulators are still a couple of years behind because there are only a few countries that have really applied strong anti-money laundering laws,” Dave Jevans, chief executive officer of CipherTrace, told Reuters in an interview.
Jevans is also the chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a global organization that aims to help solve cybercrime.
He said there are likely 50 percent more criminal transactions than those that were traced for this report. For instance, CipherTrace is aware of more than $60 million in cryptocurrency that was stolen but not reported.
The data also showed that the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges from countries with weak anti-money laundering regulations have been used to launder $2.5 billion worth of bitcoins since 2009. The top 20 virtual currency exchanges in terms of volume were analyzed for the report.
The CipherTrace report declined to name those exchanges.
These money-laundered funds represent transactions that CipherTrace was able to directly monitor and designate as criminal or highly suspect.
In estimating the $2.5 billion, CipherTrace looked at about 350 million transactions from the 20 exchanges and found 100 million of those with counterparties. From there, the firm was able to cross-check the 100 million transactions with its own data on criminal activity.
At the same time, these exchanges have also been used to purchase 236,979 bitcoins worth of criminal services, equivalent to approximately $1.5 billion at current prices, the report showed.
“All exchanges get these money-laundered funds. You really can’t stop them,” said Jevans.
“And here’s the reason why. We learn about the criminal stuff often times after it actually happened. So, there’s no way to know in real time. You can know 80-90 percent of the time, but it’s impossible to know 100 percent,” he added.


Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

Updated 24 March 2019
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Abu Dhabi aims to lure start-ups with investment in new technology hub

  • The initiative will help Abu Dhabi reduce reliance on oil
  • Mubadala hopes to attract Chinese and Indian companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi will commit up to $272 million to support technology start-ups, it said on Sunday, in a dedicated hub as part of efforts to diversify its economy.

US tech giant Microsoft will be a strategic partner, providing technology and cloud services to the businesses that join the hub as the capital of the United Arab Emirates continues its push to reduce reliance on oil revenue.
Abu Dhabi derives about 50 percent of its real gross domestic product and about 90 percent of central government revenue from the hydrocarbon sector, according to ratings agency S&P.
The emirate launched a $13.6 billion stimulus fund, Ghadan 21, in September last year to accelerate economic growth. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. The new initiative, named Hub 71, is linked to Ghadan will also involve the launch of a $136 million fund to invest in start-ups, said Ibrahim Ajami, head of Mubadala Ventures, the technology arm of Mubadala Investment Co.
The goal is to have 100 companies over the next three to five years, Ajami said. “The market opportunities in this region are immense,” he added.
Mubadala, with assets of $225 billion and a big investor in tech companies, will act as the driver of the hub, located in the emirate’s financial district.
Softbank will be active in the hub and support the expansion of companies in which it has invested, Ajami said, adding that Mubadala is also aiming to attract Chinese and Indian companies, among others.
Mubadala which has committed $15 billion to the Softbank Vision Fund, plans to launch a $400 million fund to invest in leading European technology companies.
Incentives mapped out by the government include housing, office space and health insurance as part of the $272 million commitment, Ajami said.
Abu Dhabi will also announce a new research and development initiative on Monday linked to the Ghadan 21 plan, according to an invitation sent to journalists.