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More Americans are buying and spending cryptocurrencies, leading to a huge increase in crypto crime.

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Do you have your money in crypto? Are you ready to protect that digital money? Experts say it could now be a

It’s time to add an extra layer of security as the feds reported a huge increase in crypto crime in the last 12 months.

It has been a turbulent year for cryptocurrencies, with prices fluctuating wildly and crypto crime on the rise. In 2021, thieves stole around $11 billion worth of bitcoin and other currencies online, five times more than in 2020. And criminals are increasingly targeting both large businesses and infrastructure. For example, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack resulted in a multi-million dollar payout. “Ransomware is a big problem and last year we saw some massive lawsuits. We’ve seen, you know, an escalation of lawsuits, and that’s the extortion part,” according to cybersecurity veteran Tony Anscombe, director of cyberthreats ESET digital security signature.

And individual scams are also on the rise: An estimated 34 million Americans own cryptocurrencies, and their payment value is expected to rise about 70 percent this year alone, prompting officials to urge users to have watch out for scammers, ignore unsolicited emails and messages, and if you own *a lot* of crypto, get yourself a vault, or “cold storage” as it’s called in the cyber world. “Keeping it offline, so that the key to that investment, in effect, is in your safe at home,” according to Anscombe.

Ultimately, cryptocurrency is not going to go away, and neither will cryptocrime. Experts predict a huge increase in regulations as lawmakers work to bring cryptocurrencies out of the shadows. And last Tuesday, the Justice Department released a new report calling on the US to share more information about cryptocurrency-related crimes. Anscombe says that’s the benefit and curse of crypto, noting that “it makes itself anonymous to the individual. And unfortunately, because of that anonymity, it’s the currency of choice for cybercriminals.”

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