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Why the cryptocurrency market crash portends bad times for cybersecurity

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Ever since the Luna-Terra stable coin crisis surfaced, the global cryptocurrency market has been on a freefall. To give you an idea of the decline, the global crypto market cap has fallen below the $1 trillion mark and is currently resting at $970 billion. The market cap is expected to fall further as more investors exit. Crypto lost almost $30 Bn in just under 24 hours since Monday (it has lost almost 60 percent of its value so far this year). The crash has impacted many investors who have lost interest (many investors have simply not looked at their crypto portfolios since the crash began) in the crypto universe and the fallout of this event is still playing out as I put this blog post together.

Connecting Bitcoins(Cryptocurrency) and cybersecurity

Now coming to the title of this post, an analyst told me late last evening that anyone who has invested in bitcoins in the last 18 months would have lost some investment value in this crash. In addition to legitimate investors, Bitcoin was also a favorite investment ground for criminals of all hues including cybercriminals and even APT groups that pumped in almost 300 million USD in the last 3 months of 2021 alone.

Also Read: Why IoT Security is important in today’s network?

So how does the crash impact cybersecurity you ask? With their ill-gotten wealth parked in crypto investments, many hackers, script kiddies and APT-backed players were taking it easy. They were taking turns attacking targets across geographies. The motivation was two-pronged. One – they shouldn’t be caught due to greed and two, they wanted to also bring in new players into the game who would share their ransom revenues with them by giving them access to their tools and stolen credentials. Some of the hackers had even retired from the game drawing from their Bitcoin investments periodically to finance their lavish lifestyles including yachts and extended sunny vacations.

But with the crypto crash, the bubble has burst and the money has disappeared (almost vaporized into thin air without even a trace). This crash couldn’t have come at a worse time for these hackers as many are based in countries that are reeling from high inflation and a cost of living crisis. Many hackers are now waking up to the reality that a big chunk of their wealth has simply eroded away and that the lifestyle that they were used to is no longer feasible or even affordable.

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So the logical next step will be to restart hacking operations, get back into the ransom game and scale up to make up for the lost money. Going by the experience of 2008 when the number of phishing attacks rose significantly in the months following the recession, we could be staring at a steep rise in cyberattacks in the months to come. This could also mean that more stolen data, especially credentials could change hands as hackers start looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, and July and August will be months to watch for cyber defenders.  

Many APT groups in China, Russia, and especially North Korea are already under orders from their state handlers to ramp up their activities. Sectio’s team has already reported an increase in the footprint of North Korean APT groups in the financial services sector.

So there you have it. Sectrio advises all businesses, especially those running IoT and OT devices to be vigilant over the next few months. Get a demo today: Request a demo

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Prayukth K V has been actively involved in productizing and promoting cross eco-system collaboration in the emerging tech and cybersecurity domains for over a decade. A marketer by profession and a published author, he has also proposed and promoted critical infrastructure protection strategies that rely on in-depth threat research and deflection strategies to deceive hackers and malware. Having been at the frontlines of cyber securing infrastructure, Prayukth has seen cyberattacks and defense tactics at close quarters.

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