Kaspersky Lab: Bitcoin Closing in on Conventional Banking
The research “Financial cyber threats in 2013” prepared by Kaspersky Lab proves that the amount of cyber-attacks and malware targeting Bitcoin has palpably increased during the past year. 

Observations of the denoted period have shown attacks happening 2.5 times more often than before. The tendency expressed in absolute numbers equals 8.3 million incidents during 2013. 

The reasons behind these numbers are pretty straightforward as the rise of Bitcoin’s price from $13.6 to its peak of $1,200 with subsequent (and relative) stability in recent months have attracted new users. Hence, it’s not surprising that the increased value, demand, capitalization, and overall popularity of cryptocurrencies have attracted their fair share of people wanting to take advantage of unwary users. 

Inexperienced users neglecting simple security rules become an easy prey for attackers. Inappropriate storage on the computers without corresponding encryption simplifies the task of the hackers, who only need to obtain the wallet file. 

Kaspersky Lab has reduced all possible finance-related malware leaving 30 samples for acquisition. Nine out of thirty are designed to steal cryptographic currencies and were responsible for 29% of all financial cyber-attacks during the given period. 

Further research determined that there are two main types of malicious software. The first group is designed to steal wallet files, the second – to install mining software on the infected computer. Of course, the first group has performed twice the number of attacks. 

Sergey Lozhkin, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab provided an official statement: 

“During 2013 the value of bitcoins increased more than 85 times, and of course that attracted the attention of cybercriminals. By the end of the year the number of users attacked with malware targeting bitcoins was starting to close in on the number of those who faced more conventional banking cyber threats. Crypto-currency holders should be especially careful because it is almost impossible to recover any stolen money. This is the inherent risk in using a crypto-currency like Bitcoin that circulates without any government control.” 

The Internet security expert Kaspersky Lab advises to perform all precautions to avoid possible intrusions. Basically, digital asset users should store their coins on encrypted media units or, even better, using the offline “cold storage” method. 

But cybercriminals have been targeting bank websites and stealing credit card information from conventional financial institutions for decades so the increasing number of cyberattacks on crypto currencies should only be interpreted by the public as a sign of their increasing popularity and profit-potential. 

While security is certainly one the biggest roadblocks for Bitcoin’s push into the mainstream, it is not specific to this technology by far as almost the entire Internet was recently found to be vulnerable to attacks. 

Hopefully as more and more solutions from escrow services from counterparty to cold storage wallets the size of a credit card to more universal solutions such as Maidsafe are being released, average people will feel safer and more confident about making payments and sending money with cryptocurrencies.

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