Crypto Thefts Triple in Japan in the First Half of 2018

Cybercrimes related to virtual coins totaled $540 million, mainly due to the Coincheck hack attack in January, a police report revealed.

Japan, home to one of the largest cryptocurrency markets, has experienced a significant rise in cyber attacks on virtual coin assets during the first six months of 2018, local media reported on Thursday. The number of registered incidents was three times more than the same period last year, newly published statistics of National Police Agency (NPA) showed.

The total number of reported cases was 158 compared to less than 60 in the first half of 2017. Bitcoin (BTC) was the most targeted coin, with 94 registered cases, equivalent to 860 million yen in stolen BTC. The second position was for XRP with 42 reports or 1.52 billion yen in losses, followed by Ethereum (ETH) with 14 cases (61 million yen). The eight remaining reported incidents targeted various virtual coin, including NEM (XEM) which was subject to one report, the massive Coincheck hack.

“More than 60 percent of all cases, or 102 incidents, involved individuals who used the same ID and password for their e-mail account and other Internet services, such as online shopping, for cryptocurrency dealings,” the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said by quoting the police report.

Cybercriminals stole more than 60.50 billion Japanese yen ($540 million) in cryptocurrency in H1 18, a number that exceeded the thefts significantly in all types of cyber attacks for the whole 2017 (662.4 million yen or $5.52 million). However, most of the stolen cryptos were related to the Coincheck exchange hack in January when criminals illegally took 58 billion yen worth of NEM tokens.

The remaining 2.5 billion in the NPA report was related to individual crypto accounts and not exchanges. Most of the incidents in H1 18 happened in the first three months as the reported cases significantly decreased after March due to increased state control, according to the police.

After the Coincheck incident, Japan’s authorities tightened their grip on the cryptocurrency market by introducing stricter rules. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) inspected several exchanges and issued improvement orders. The NPA strengthens the confirmation of user IDs.

However, on Wednesday, the Japanese exchange Zaif lost $60 million in a hack attack.