Cyber crooks are increasingly launching attacks on lucrative cryptocurrency exchanges, according to research published by ThreatMetrix.
An exchange, also known as a marketplace, is an online site where people can trade digital currencies such as Bitcoin - but they are increasingly falling victim to hackers.
ThreatMetrix said that these sites are moving away from being "the playground of the criminal underworld to be a prime target for attacks on legitimate transactions".
Criminals are stealing personal data and synthesised identities in order to set up fraudulent accounts and hijack large sums of digital cash, said the security firm.
They are also hacking into legitimate accounts to make fraudulent payments and withdraw cryptocurrency balances when they reach peak values.
Vanita Pandey, vice president of product marketing at ThreatMetrix, said that this is becoming a real and grave problem for cryptocurrency traders:
"Cryptocurrency marketplaces need a more accurate way to verify the identity of new customers who open an account in order to prevent the infiltration of criminals," she said.
Attacks coming from Russia were highlighted as particularly on the rise. The report found that Russian cyber crooks are turning to automated bots and location spoofing tools to attack victims.
'In fact, for the very first time, Russia emerged as a top attack originator, with the majority of incidents targeting ecommerce retailers in the US,' said ThreatMetrix.
During the holiday season, an estimated 2 million bot attacks originated from Russia.
Last quarter, ThreatMetrix identified 251 million attacks. It said the overall attack rate has risen by 50 per cent year-on-year.
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