Key points to remember
- The percentage of phishing attacks for which cryptocurrency is responsible has more than tripled to 6.6% in 2022.
- The percentage of phishing attacks that cryptocurrency is responsible for is lower than that of other industries relative to the overall market capitalization.
- The payments industry has suffered a 6.1% increase in phishing scams compared to 2021.
- Regulators will review these studies with the aim of developing legislation for the still-nascent industry, but the SaaS, social media and payments sectors all have a proportionately higher phishing record.
Everyone knows someone who has fallen for a phishing scam. These scams seem to be becoming more and more widespread, but I was curious to see what the distribution is between industries and which sectors are suffering more and more from them. Moreover, with cryptocurrency often brandished as a playground for criminals and fraud, do the figures really confirm this preconceived idea?
Phishing attacks in 2021
In 2021, cryptocurrency was responsible for only 2% of phishing attacks, as shown in the chart below. The dominant sectors were financial services, social networks and SaaS/webmail, which together contributed to more than 68% of the attacks.
However, the first quarter of 2021 is a thing of the past in the cryptocurrency world. The market capitalization of the industry started this quarter just below $800 billion (it closed it at almost $2 trillion after explosive growth).
So how do these figures compare over a year – to Q1 of 2022? The market capitalization of the cryptocurrency was $2.2 trillion at the beginning of the quarter (then $2.1 trillion when it came out, it was actually relatively stable – the bloodbath began in the second quarter). Thus, with the cryptocurrency market much larger and more established, as the market capitalization was 2.8 times larger in 2022 than at the beginning of 2021, this helps to provide context to the fact that phishing attacks as a percentage have increased by more than 3 times, from 2% to 6.6% over the past year.
The full chart showing all the industries is below, showing the updated position of how cryptocurrency compares to other industries.
Evolution compared to other industries
Another conclusion from the figures is the fact that phishing attacks targeting the payment industry have increased by 6.1%, although the industry has not moved much in terms of overall size.
This gives an additional context to the growth of the cryptocurrency market figure, since the sector is no different from payments, which perhaps suggests that it is increasingly becoming a target for phishing attacks. Nevertheless, seeing payment attacks jump so abruptly is much more shocking than the cryptocurrency movement, which has a very real reason to point out the growth in the size of the industry and the fact that regulation has not yet caught up.
However, with the size of the cryptocurrency industry now exceeding several industries in the study, this must be taken into account – the size of the market obviously affects the frequency of phishing attacks.
Indeed, the SaaS/webmail industry has a much bigger problem, with 20% of attacks, but an estimated value of less than $ 200 billion, well below cryptography. The prevalence of attacks on social networks also eclipses cryptography with a value of $ 200 billion, but 12.5% of attacks (and this figure was north of 20% the previous year). The payments industry, too, as the graph shows, compares unfavorably with cryptography.
Assessing what all this means, firstly, the change from 2% to 6.6% over the past year more or less corresponds to the growth of the industry and this is to be expected. In addition, compared to other industries, cryptocurrency does not seem to be an outlier, as the number of attacks relative to the size of the industry is much lower than others such as SaaS, social media and payments.
So the data suggests that cryptocurrency is somewhat unfairly tainted by its Wild West reputation, despite the fact that it remains a problem.
There is no denying that space definitely has a dark side, if only a tiny proportion of all the innovations and progress made elsewhere. And it is this dark side that, hopefully, will begin to be mastered, and what regulators will have their eyes on – however, looking at the numbers and comparing with other industries, crypto is not alone, and the good far outweighs the bad.
Online payment market -> Fortune