One of the primary drivers of the hype around blockchain technology has been its ability to bolster the security of transactions. Now, a new report by cybersecurity firm McAfee appears to poke holes in that theory.
According to the McAfee report, titled Blockchain Threat Report, crimes linked to blockchain have spiked sevenfold in the last three months.
The report said that the number of cryptojacking samples jumped to 2.9 million in the first quarter of this year from 400,000 in the previous quarter — an increase of 629%.
Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack in which a hacker hijacks a target's processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker's behalf.
“There were new revelations this quarter concerning complex nation-state cyber-attack campaigns targeting users and enterprise systems worldwide,” said Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee. “Bad actors demonstrated a remarkable level of technical agility and innovation in tools and tactics. Criminals continued to adopt cryptocurrency mining to easily monetise their criminal activity.”
Cryptocurrencies, which are based on blockchain's digital ledger technology that uses cryptographic tools , have been increasingly falling prey to cybertheft.
On Wednesday, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb said 35 billion won ($31.5 million) worth of virtual coins were stolen by hackers, the second local exchange targeted in just over a week as cyber thieves exposed the high risks of trading the digital asset.
On June 11, another South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said it was hacked. The cyber attacks come after a high-profile theft of over half a billion dollars worth of digital currency at Japan's exchange Coincheck earlier this year.
The McAfee report listed four key types of cyberattacks associated with cryptocurrencies — phishing or fraud schemes, malware, implementation exploits, and technology vulnerabilities.
The revelation about higher attacks comes at a time when blockchain is widely being implemented by major companies across sectors such as finance, retail, and healthcare, among others.
In addition, the government’s policy think-thank NITI Aayog has separately been working on building the country’s largest blockchain network called IndiaChain with a view to reduce fraud and increase transparency in the system.
The McAfee report goes on to emphasise the importance of cybersecurity in industries that look all set for the full-fledged implementation of blockchain technologies.