2017 was a great year for cryptocurrencies in terms of higher prices, many newcomers and heavy media coverage, resulting in an increasing popularity and expansion of global market capitalization by more than 350% - AMOW Global Market Cap. is $669,847,708,392.
Increase in popularity demands its sacrifice. In 2017 we have seen many cyber attacks on coins and exchanges also various speculations and ever-lasting prediction of global financial institutions that "BitCoin is a bubble and it will burst next year... Trust me I am a financial guy who has no idea about benefits of technology".
I don't know if BitCoin is a bubble, but choose to believe that it is not. Bubble or no-bubble, the fact is that blockchain technology is incredible, motivates many developers to push boundaries and explore new challenges, positively affects global markets, creates new millionaires and some of the coins even serve a common good for humanity.
To get back on a track, here are the threats to cryptocurrencies that I think we should expect in 2018:
Cyber Attacks on Exchanges
Crime follows money. Since the prices on coins are rising quickly, cybercriminals will be more organized in targeting exchanges, which might lead to shutdown or bankruptcy of some. This should be expected from state-funded criminals, cyberterrorists and other cybercrime syndicates. Most attempts would be initiated by exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications, phishing attempts and probably even DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) by demanding a ransom. It is not impossible that organized ransomware attacks encrypt wallet storages of thousands of customers, preventing exchanges from normal operations. Remember, always store all your cryptoassets in official wallets.
Major vulnerabilities discovered in modern processors, undermining layers of security features introduced by applications on your system, resulting in leakage of ANY data in clear form (encrypted/not encrypted). This discovery endangers not only exchanges, but also local wallets. Hardware wallets are most likely not affected
Cyber Attacks on Coins
Since currencies are becoming more popular and most projects are open source - hackers and cyber criminals will concentrate more on discovering 0-day vulnerabilities in cryptocurrencies, exploiting them or selling on dark markets.
Negative Media Coverage
In case of major cyber attacks, whether on exchanges or currencies, global media will be fully mobilized to cover those stories. Negative media coverages will definitely affect prices (remember what happened with BitCoin when MtGox FAILED? Pepperidge farm remembers...). Since prices of most coins are still influenced by BitCoin, in case of negative PR on latter, other coins will be immediately affected.
Let's face it, fast transactions, minimum or no fees and ease of use present a threat for global financial institutions - an ancient machine stuck in time. Today if you want to send € 100 outside EU it will 1) cost you approximately € 18 per transactions and 2) a 2-3 days, 3) additionally this will be immediately linked to you with almost 100% precision. Cryptocurrencies try to change one of those features and some of them even change all of them with additional benefits. There is a possibility that financial institutions will try to lob government official and authorities to push laws against cryptocurrencies, which will affect some of the coins and a market in general. However on the bright side, in 2017 we witnessed that some of the leading banks started exploring blockchain technology which is a very good sign.
There are probably other threats as well that I did not think about. This topic is open to suggestions, feel free to comment below.
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