More and more Americans are buying and spending cryptocurrencies, leading to a big spike in crypto-crime.

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

it’s time to add an extra layer of security as the feds report a significant spike in crypto crime over the last 12 months.

It has been a turbulent year for the cryptocurrency, with prices fluctuating wildly and crypto crime on the rise. In 2021, thieves stole about $11 billion worth of bitcoin and other online currencies — five times more than in 2020. At the same time, criminals are increasingly targeting both large companies and infrastructure. For example, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack resulted in a multi-million dollar payout. “Ransomware is a huge problem, and last year we saw huge demand. You know, we’ve seen demands escalate, and that’s part of the extortion,” said cybersecurity veteran Tony Anscombe, chief cyberthreat specialist at digital security firm ESET.

Individual scammers are also on the rise: Roughly 34 million Americans own cryptocurrencies and its payment value is expected to rise by about 70 percent this year alone, prompting officials to urge users to beware of scammers, ignore unwanted emails and messages, and if you own *large amount * of cryptography, create yourself a vault – or “cold vault” as it’s called in the cyber world. “Keeping it offline, so the key to this investment is essentially you putting it in your home safe,” Anscombe said.

Ultimately, cryptocurrencies will not disappear, and neither will cryptocrime. Experts are predicting a big surge in regulation as lawmakers work to bring crypto out of the shadows. And last Tuesday, the Justice Department released a new report urging the US to share more information about cryptocurrency-related crimes. Anscombe says that this is both an advantage and a curse of cryptocurrencies, noting: “They are anonymous to a person. And, unfortunately, because of this anonymity, it is the currency of choice for cybercriminals.”