Bitcoin

Bitcoin Tracker: How Secure Are Bitcoins?

Security in the digital age is a goal for most retailers and consumers — and nearly everyone else in the business world.

When it comes to personal information, especially data linked to payment accounts, the level of privacy and accuracy of security are key in keeping the retail world spinning. Once bank accounts or credit cards are hacked, either online or at big box stores, trust in the payment processing system can dwindle — and that trust can become difficult to build back up.

With 64 percent of Americans having experienced some level of a data breach, Pew Center Research confirms these instances result in a lack of public trust for both institutions and social media sites.

From Target to Citigroup, Home Depot and Michaels, retail and financial data breaches have been going on for years. In addition to losing some public trust, vast amounts of money have been stolen in the process — and unraveling and repairing all of it takes time and resources away from businesses’ core goals and strides towards improvement.

And, as if he possibility of personal and payment information being hacked wasn’t disconcerting enough, consumers and retailers may be soon adding Bitcoin woes into the mix.

When it comes to making purchases online, there are so many options available. From Venmo and PayPal to Apple Pay and Android Pay, new digital payment options are seemingly always on the rise. In contrast, both physical checks and cash appear to be on their way out the door. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were created to help add an additional layer of security to rising digital transactions.

While cryptocurrencies have been around since the 1980s, it wasn’t until 2009 that the first decentralized version was born. Bitcoin has since been relegated to the finance industry with European countries as its most notable experimenters. However, as PYMNTS recently reported, Bitcoin has started making its way into more mainstream conversations.

Although most U.S. mutual funds have not yet jumped onto the Bitcoin bandwagon, universities are adding classes covering the digital currency to their curriculums and companies like American Express and Ernst & Young have reportedly dabbled in it.

Bitcoin is not without its flaws, as seen earlier this month when the South Korean Bithumb Bitcoin exchange, which is said to be the largest in the world, was hacked. The breach exposed more than 30,000 customers’ personal information. After customers reported lost money — a still unverified amount, as of July 26 — and its shares plummeted from $320 to $0.10, Bithumb reported it would devote time and resources to getting the correct amounts owed back to those impacted by the cyber attack.

If the largest global Bitcoin exchange can be hacked, it brings up the issue of the cryptocurrency’s security level.

While there are many instances of hackers seeking Bitcoin as ransomware payment, people looking for more details on how to invest in the cryptocurrency — or a recent $30 million theft of it — will find the discussion of its security has not been a major focus of debate. Bitcoin’s encrypted nature may be the root cause for the few hacks into the currency to date, as well as the few reports of finding hackers.

Many Bitcoin and blockchain experts have confirmed that as long as there are financial incentives, there will always be those that look for security weak spots to hack in and gain access to sensitive information. As technology and security continue to advance and enhance, the sophistication of hackers’ abilities will also improve over time.

In other U.S. cryptocurrency-related news, the SEC recently announced its plans to include security law applications when it comes to digital coin interactions. This, along with the baby steps into mainstream companies integrating it, may see Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency offerings heading into consumers’ everyday lives in the next few years.

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