From Hodl to Heist: Analysis of Cyber Security Threats to Bitcoin Exchanges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bitcoin is gaining traction as an alternative store of value. Its market capitalization transcends all other cryptocurrencies in the market. But its high monetary value also makes it an attractive target to cyber criminal actors. Hacking campaigns usually target the weakest points in an ecosystem. In Bitcoin, these are currently the exchange platforms. As each exchange breach potentially decreases Bitcoin's market value by billions, it is a threat not only to direct victims, but to everyone owning Bitcoin. Based on an extensive analysis of 36 breaches of Bitcoin exchanges, we show the attack patterns used to exploit Bitcoin exchange platforms using an industry standard for reporting intelligence on cyber security breaches. Based on this we are able to provide an overview of the most common attack vectors, showing that all except three hacks were possible due to relatively lax security. We also show that while the security regimen of Bitcoin exchanges is not on par with other financial service providers, the use of stolen credentials, which does not require any hacking, is decreasing. We also show that the amount of BTC taken during a breach is decreasing, as well as the exchanges that terminate after being breached. With exchanges being targeted by nation-state hacking groups, security needs to be a first concern.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (ICBC)
PublisherIEEE
Pages1-9
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-6680-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-6681-0
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2nd IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, ICBC 2020 - Virtual, Online, Canada
Duration: 2 May 20206 May 2020

Conference

Conference2nd IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, ICBC 2020
CountryCanada
CityVirtual, Online
Period2/05/206/05/20

Keywords

  • attacks
  • bitcoin
  • cryptocurrency exchanges
  • cyber security
  • cyber threat intelligence

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