Cybercriminals Capitalize on Bitcoin’s Boom, Attack Mining Marketplace NiceHash

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We’re seeing it everywhere: Bitcoin is booming. The cryptocurrency’s value has shot up 181 percent the past month. Everyone seems to be scurrying to get in on the newest gold rush – especially cybercriminals. Last week, hackers carried out a “professional” attack against Slovenian-based bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash intended to capitalize on this trend. By conducting an advanced attack on the organization, cybercriminals were able to steal approximately 4,700 bitcoins ($63.92 million dollars).

Beyond the staggering monetary amount, details about the attack are still emerging. Here’s what we do know: a hacker or a group of hackers was able to infiltrate NiceHash’s system through a compromised company computer. The NiceHash head of marketing Andrej P. Škraba has stated this was “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering.”

NiceHash is collaborating with law enforcement as “a matter of urgency.” It briefly suspended operations, with its website still inactive at this time. It also urges users to change their passwords in the meantime until more details are revealed.

The biggest takeaway from this attack isn’t just for NiceHash users, however, as it acts an important reminder for all those eager to get involved in the cryptocurrency market. With the world’s reshaped focus on Bitcoin, the market for cryptocurrency will be caught between growth and security. As cryptocurrency marketplaces and exchanges surge in popularity, the targets on their backs will widen. Given they act as digital wallets, cryptocurrency organizations essentially double as a one-stop shop for cybercriminals wishing to line their pockets. They don’t have to encrypt and extort as with ransomware, or sell stolen info to third party data warehouses – they just have to hack one marketplace to potentially get their hands on millions of dollars.

It’s crucial NiceHash and all other cryptocurrency organizations prioritize online security immediately. That means extending the right solutions and training from the top down; supplying employees with security know-hows; locking down individual devices with tailored endpoint security; and protecting massive databases with large-scale solutions. That way, Bitcoin’s growth won’t create unintended consequences, and the cryptocurrency market will be more secure and stable.

To learn more about this Bitcoin data breach and others like it, be sure to follow us at @McAfee and @McAfee_Business.

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