Criminals have already stolen over $100 million from blockchain projects in 2021

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Wit Olszewksi)

Cybercriminals hunting for victims in the blockchain space have had a successful start to 2021, and have already managed to steal almost 50% more money than in the same period last year. 

According to new figures from Atlas VPN, hacked dApps (decentralized applications built on the Ethereum network), cryptocurrency wallets and exchange accounts have brought criminals around $108.3 million in the first quarter of 2021 (46% more than in Q1 2020).

DApps are the most popular targets nowadays, Atlas VPN says, being affected by a total of 11 breaches and five scam events for the period. In total, more than $86 million were lost.

There were also nine blockchain wallet breaches reported, as well as one scam event and two blackmail cases, which saw victims lose roughly $19.3 million.

On exchanges, there were four breaches and one scam event, resulting in losses of $2.9 million.

More hacks expected

2020 was a slow year for blockchain-related breaches, as they declined for the first time in half a decade. In 2021, however, these incidents seem to be picking up again. In total there were 33 blockchain breaches in the first quarter of the year, Atlas VPN says, up 154% year-on-year.

Compared to 2019, on the other hand, there are still almost two times fewer breaches. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, there had been 62 blockchain breaches. 

“Due to their nature, blockchain projects remain profitable targets to cybercriminals because fraudulent transactions cannot be reversed as they may be in the traditional financial system,” commented Ruth Cizynski, the cybersecurity researcher and writer at Atlas VPN.

“With cryptocurrencies continuing to boom, it is safe to say that we can expect more hacks to pour in by the end of this year. ”

Bitcoin’s last bear market was at its peak in Q1 2020. In early May last year, Bitcoin experienced its third halving event, triggering the bull market which brought its price up to the current $58,500.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.