As cryptocurrencies have quickly grown in prominence, skeptics have pointed to concerns about security. With no physical currency to speak of, could virtual money be stolen by hackers and thieves, then used to fund criminal businesses or other illicit activities? A string of well-publicized thefts has fueled the fire. However, a recent report by the European Union, reported on by Econotimes, suggests that criminals are having a difficult time using cryptocurrencies after they've stolen them.

Anonymity is Attractive, But Spending is Hard

The report suggests that criminals may be particularly drawn to Bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency, with an astonishing number of transactions occurring every day. The fact that the transactions can be done anonymously is likely a significant enticement to criminals. However, "while they may have a high intent to use due to [virtual currencies'] characteristics (anonymity in particular), the level of capability is lower due to high technology required," the report suggests. The report suggests that the criminal elements most commonly involved in cryptocurrency thefts are hackers and terrorist organizations. Organized crime syndicates, on the other hand, are having a difficult time getting an upper hand on the market because of the advanced technical capabilities required to beat the existing security systems.

Not Everyone is Having a Hard Time

That being said, there are plenty of people who aim to use cryptocurrencies legally and who are not having a difficult time applying these monies to their regular lives. China and Japan in particular have been significant drivers of the cryptocurrency boom in the past several months, according to a report by Futurism.

Does this mean that there is nothing to be concerned about when it comes to cryptocurrency safety? Hardly. Opportunities still exist for thieves to steal your tokens and coins. A recent string of hacks cleverly altered the destination addresses of several transactions. The result was that Bitcoin disappeared into a mystery wallet that was controlled by the hackers. While the victims were able to see the log of the transaction thanks to the blockchain ledger, they were unfortunately not able to ascertain where the money had ended up. This is one of several recent stories involving the theft of digital currencies. Investors everywhere are best off being cautious with their cryptocurrency transactions. To maintain the safest possible grasp over your digital money, make sure that you make use of reputable exchanges, that you store your currencies in a safe virtual wallet, and that you keep careful watch over your passwords and account information. This may not make a theft impossible, but it will deter thieves.

And if your cryptocurrency is stolen, perhaps take some comfort knowing that the thieves may not even know how to spend it.