Stan Higgens reports in CoinDesk that “Bitcoin Becoming Less Attractive Target for Trojan Malware”. He is referring to studies from Symantek and others reporting statistics about digital crimes, which show that malware attacks on Bitcoin wallets are down, possibly for the second year in a row.
Financial crimes (theft, fraud, etc.) are up in general, but down for Bitcoins, at least for certain MOs. One reason may be that Bitcoin’s exchange rate has dropped from 2013, so
“As the prices of Bitcoins have decreased by around 60 percent over the year 2014, it seems that attackers’ interest in this cryptocurrency has dropped as well.” Symantec pp. 18-19
Much as I would like to tell that story, (Har har! BTC is not even worth stealing!) ,I have to doubt that this is the only or even the biggest cause.
First of all, we have to wonder how good the statistics are. Crime statistics are iffy in general, and digital crimes must be particularly difficult to track. Many are not noticed, or misunderstood. Even when uncovered, it may not be clear what jurisdiction, if any, you might report the crime to. And if your business is extralegal, you may not be able to report it at all.
The specific report concerns “Trojan malware”, which is only one method of stealing, and indeed, is a “retail” crime: one computer and user at a time. We know there have been quite a few significant Bitcoin heists recently, but they have been from servers. One break in, but lot’s of users at once.
There is growing incidence of fraud and extortion, which are very old games indeed. This doesn’t count as “malware” (usually), and isn’t directly related to cryptocurrency per se. I’m sure these attacks are under reported, as victims may have many reasons to keep quite.
Second, Bitcoin software is getting better. It is a lot harder to steal from wallets these days, and (legitimate) servers are getting much more secure. This is probably why attention is turned to alternative methods, as noted above.
Third, a very significant amount of Bitcoin activity is extralegal. Thefts in this sector are going to be unreported or under reported. To the degree that this dark sector is growing, its invisibility may distort all the statistics about Bitcoin.
The conclusion has to be, “who knows?” We have, what, a few years of data on a relatively tiny economic sector. We can’t really lean too heavily on such statistics at this point.
However much I might want to.