Skip to Content
Blockchain

Just two hacker groups may have stolen $1 billion in cryptocurrency

January 28, 2019

Just two teams of sophisticated cybercriminals appear to have been behind $1 billion worth of cryptocurrency thefts from online exchanges in recent years.

Alpha and Beta: Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis spent around three months tracking funds that had been stolen in known hacks. It was able to link much of that money to two groups, which it dubbed Alpha and Beta. If the group’s analysis is correct, then the two groups would account for 60% of all publicly reported crypto-heists.

The researchers suspect that Alpha is “a giant, tightly controlled organization at least partly driven by non-monetary goals.” Beta, on the other hand, “seems to be a less organized and smaller organization absolutely focused on the money.” 

Crypto laundering: Chainalysis told the Wall Street Journal that both Alpha and Beta used extensive networks of cryptocurrency wallets to cover their tracks, transferring the stolen funds an average of 5,000 times before cashing out. Whereas Alpha tends to start the elaborate process immediately, Beta is known to sit on the money until the publicity around the hack fades.

Undermining trust: The cryptocurrency industry, and especially the exchange scene, has been under increasing scrutiny from regulators who say it can’t yet be trusted to secure customer funds. Revelations like this support that conclusion.

(Also see “Criminals thought Bitcoin was the perfect hiding place, but they thought wrong.”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

open sourcing language models concept
open sourcing language models concept

Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free

Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.