McAfee underscores cybersecurity risks detrimental to blockchain adoption in new report
In a new report, cybersecurity firm McAfee has detailed the various cybersecurity risks associated with cryptocurrencies and emphasized on making cybersecurity a top priority.
With blockchain technology market expected to reach $9.6 billion by 2024, McAfee sees very high potential for cybersecurity risks that could threaten the technology’s rapid growth and its quickly expanding pool of adopters. It underscores the security risks associated with cryptocurrencies – the area where blockchain technology has been most extensively implemented and used at large scale by millions of people.
According to the McAfee report, bad actors have aggressively sought to leverage the rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies and the early adopters who use them. McAfee sees this activity in four key attack vectors:
The report cites examples of how phishing scams and malware attacks have been draining millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies from unsuspecting users. It also illustrates the growing trends of malicious miners and cryptojacking, which create a vector for infection (via malware) and monetization (via mining). Recent McAfee Labs research in this cybercrime category found that total coin miner malware grew a stunning 629% in Q1 2018—from around 400,000 samples in Q4 2017 to more than 2.9 million samples in the first quarter of this year.
In addition, the report also noted that a number of cryptocurrency exchanges themselves have been attacked – Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck lost $532 million, affecting 260,000 investors earlier this year. This suggests that cybersecurity measures must be an important consideration in the development of blockchain technologies and the critical implementation and operational processes upon which they rely.
McAfee’s researchers illustrate that there are detrimental costs to rapid implementation of blockchain technologies at the expense of proper cybersecurity measures.
“Given blockchain’s potential for creating value, and the tremendous enthusiasm to implement it, cybercriminals will seek every opportunity to strike at all available technical and human vulnerabilities in the emerging blockchain ecosystem. Governments, cybersecurity vendors, and businesses must be diligent in understanding the threats and minimizing the risks. Without adequate education for users and industry, secure implementation best practices, and strong technical security standards, the widespread adoption of blockchain by major industries and governments could end up costing billions of dollars and impacting millions of people,” said Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee.