LONDON (Reuters) – The amount of cryptocurrency stolen globally in hacks in the first six months of 2024 more than doubled from a year earlier, blockchain researcher TRM Labs said on Friday. The low number is due to large attacks and rising crypto prices.

Hackers stole $1.38 billion worth of crypto as of June 24, 2024, compared to $657 million in the same period in 2023, TRM Labs said in a report.

The average theft was one and a half times higher than the previous year, the report said.

“While we haven’t seen any fundamental changes in the security of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, we have seen significant increases in the value of various tokens – from Bitcoin to ETH (Ether) and Solana – compared to the same time last year, said. Ari Redbord, global head of policy at TRM Labs.

That means cybercriminals are more motivated to attack crypto services, and can steal more when they do, Radbord said.

Crypto prices have rebounded from a general downward slide in late 2022 following the collapse of Sam Bankman Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX. Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $73,803.25 in March this year.

Among the biggest crypto losses so far this year was the theft of about $308 million worth of bitcoin from Japanese crypto exchange DMM Bitcoin, in what the company called an “unauthorized leak.”

Cryptocurrency companies are frequent targets for hacks and cyberattacks, although losses of this scale are rare.

Redboard said that the amount of stolen cryptocurrency in 2022 was about $900 million, partly due to the theft of more than $600 million from the blockchain network connected to the online game Axi Infinity. The US has linked North Korean hackers to the theft.

The United Nations has accused North Korea of ​​using cyber attacks to fund its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea has previously denied allegations of hacking and other cyber attacks.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Tommy Rigory Wilkes and Kim Coghill)

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