A 23-year-old Australian woman was charged with stealing $450,000 worth of Ripple (XRP). According to Business Insider Australia’s article published on October 25, 2018, the stolen Ripple is considered one of Australia’s largest cryptocurrency thefts.

Arrest Follows Nine-Month Investigation

Business Insider Australia reported that, on October 25, 2018, NSW Police arrested the woman at 8 am in her home in Epping, Sydney’s NorthWest. During the search warrant, NSW Police seized the woman’s computers, hard drives, documents, and mobile phones. The woman was arrested and taken to Ryde Police Station where she was charged with “knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.”

The NSW Police and detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad have been investigating the stolen Ripple (XRP) for over nine months, ever since its disappearance from the victim’s wallet in January 2018. The woman is currently under strict conditional bail. On November 29, 2018, she will appear at Burwood Local Court. Police, however, mentioned that investigations are continuing.

During January 2018, Ripple’s XRP tokens value was at $3.18. Unfortunately, throughout nine months, the token has lost almost 90 percent of its value when compared to its peak in January at $3.39. The 100,000 XRP tokens lost are currently valued at $65,000 as opposed to their $450,000 worth back in January. While XRP’s value fell significantly, according to Coinmarketcap, Ripple (XRP) has, however, maintained its popularity as the third most popular cryptocurrency token with a market capitalization of $18.36 billion.

Importance of Protecting Personal Information

The 56-year-old victim mentioned to NSW Police and investigators that someone might have stolen his personal information when they hacked his email. The victim was then locked out of his account for two days during the middle of January. When he regained access, he had lost almost all of his cryptocurrency tokens.

The Police and State Cybercrime squad believe that the woman hacked and compromised the man’s account and locked him out by changing the password and enabling a new two-factor authentification device like a new mobile number. The woman took advantage of the situation by then retrieving information from his cryptocurrency wallet. She then transferred the 100,000 Ripple (XRP) tokens from his account into a Chinese cryptocurrency exchange and converted the Ripple (XRP) into Bitcoin.

According to Arthur Katsogiannis, the Detective Superintendent and Cybercrime Squad Commander, everyone should enable multi-factor authentication on multiple accounts to protect them from hackers and scammers. “An email account is more valuable than people realize – scammers are increasingly targeting emails as they link the individual to financial accounts and other personal information,” said Katsogiannis.

“There is often valuable information saved in sent items or the trash, and scammers will look for anything that will assist in taking over your identity or accessing your finances.”

Katsogiannis added that gaining access to an individual’s email is the modern day equivalent of going through someone’s household rubbish or stealing their mail. Since we shred our documents, the same should be done with email accounts. The Superintendent warned that any email containing personal and financial information should have at minimum, a two-factor authentication. Since personal information is extremely valuable to criminals, it’s essential to treat personal information as we treat cash.

Cryptocurrency Hacks On the Rise With Exchanges

Unfortunately, with regulatory gaps and insufficient levels of defense, cryptocurrency hacks are rising. Even if individuals do secure their accounts and personal information, they, however, are still at risk if they keep their cryptocurrencies in a hot wallet at an online exchange. According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers that manage to gain access to cryptocurrency exchanges, gain access to thousands of accounts and tokens.

Unlike stock exchanges which facilitate the trading process but do not hold onto investors’ securities, cryptocurrency exchanges charge fees for the trading and storage of cryptocurrencies. Today, cryptocurrencies are “easy to breach, with minimum effort and expense from the attacker and with maximum return on investment,” said Robert Statica, the president of BLAKEX, a New York-based cyber security firm.

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