With more than 420 million cryptocurrency users, more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies worldwide and an estimated value of US$2.2bn by 2026, the digital currency marketplace is growing rapidly. This rapid growth, however, has made it a target for cyber attackers looking to defraud victims. With Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether having market caps of $330.6bn, $152.6bn and $68.2bn respectively, cryptocurrency traders and wallets can be an attractive target to hackers. In September 2022, malicious actors compromised cryptocurrency market maker Wintermute’s hot wallet to steal $162.5mn. The term hot wallet refers to a cryptocurrency wallet that is available online and can facilitate transactions between the owner and others’ wallets. To do this, the hackers exploited a vulnerability in private keys generated by the Profanity app. Private keys are a secure code proving ownership of a cryptocurrency wallet and allowing the holder of the wallet to make transactions. If these keys are unsafe, however, it can allow malicious actors access to a cryptocurrency wallet. While the first cryptocurrency, eCash, was created in 1990 by Digicash, cryptocurrency did not reach the mainstream until the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009. With around 100 new cryptocurrencies created and minted each day, the urge to join the market may mean so-called cryptopreneurs are more focused on creating and launching their cryptocurrency over protecting their business.
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