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Poll
Question: Have you ever had bitcoins stolen from you? If so, how?
No - 63 (69.2%)
Yes, wallet.dat stolen from personal computer - 0 (0%)
Yes, stolen from online service - 19 (20.9%)
Yes, physical wallet / keys stolen from person - 0 (0%)
Of course not, I am a Technomage - 9 (9.9%)
Total Voters: 91

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Author Topic: [Poll] Have you lost any bitcoins to theft / hacking?  (Read 1179 times)
cpt_howdy
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March 01, 2012, 09:16:57 AM
 #1

There is so much talk of security, theft and paranoia in the Bitcoin community, but what proportion of people have actually been the victims of theft? Is the likelihood greater than carrying cash in the street?
This is just an exploratory poll, but I think it would be excellent if something more comprehensive could be conducted across all the users of Bitcoin, so that there would be some concrete evidence to assess the risk of holding Bitcoins (has this already been done?).
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March 01, 2012, 11:56:58 AM
 #2

I don't think Bitcoin security is a major problem for most of the current userbase, especially the ones active in this forum, because most of them know what they are doing. The problem is that if Bitcoin wants to get bigger, it needs more security features for users and convenient ones at that. I really don't think that people are afraid in regard to their own security, there are plenty of ways to secure your coins, but there are common reasons to be afraid for the so called regular people.

My conclusion therefore is that this poll is entirely useless. Smart users don't generally lose coins to theft/hacking, that is obvious. Another question that is much more relevant would be can Bitcoin itself made so conveniently secure without 3rd party trust that it actually helps the not-so-smart users?

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cpt_howdy
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March 01, 2012, 12:11:49 PM
 #3

You're right, I've added a new option to the poll.

I don't think Bitcoin security is a major problem for most of the current userbase, especially the ones active in this forum, because most of them know what they are doing. The problem is that if Bitcoin wants to get bigger, it needs more security features for users and convenient ones at that. I really don't think that people are afraid in regard to their own security, there are plenty of ways to secure your coins, but there are common reasons to be afraid for the so called regular people.

My conclusion therefore is that this poll is entirely useless. Smart users don't generally lose coins to theft/hacking, that is obvious. Another question that is much more relevant would be can Bitcoin itself made so conveniently secure without 3rd party trust that it actually helps the not-so-smart users?
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March 01, 2012, 12:28:11 PM
 #4

Cheesy

Seriously though, I think it's important to define what kind of theft or hacking it was and how many coins were lost, if someone lost something. For example, I have coins in my mobile phone which are backed up but if someone steals my phone and manages to gain entry to the files in it faster than I can access the backup and send them away, I could lose those coins. That's why I don't keep more coins in my phone than I would keep euros in my wallet so the loss is acceptable in any event.

Another possibility which is even more likely is a theft from mining pool wallets. This has happened to many people and probably qualifies as theft from an online service. That has very little to do with Bitcoin itself though and it is common sense to only keep a small amount of coins in your pool wallet and withdraw them frequently. That's why nobody actually loses large amounts of coins from pool thefts, unless they were really stupid users.


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March 01, 2012, 12:35:42 PM
 #5

While I agree that security is not currently a huge risk, that doesn't mean it isn't relevant.  As said above, this becomes a much bigger deal when adoption grows, especially less-savvy folks.  You get both:  less-knowledgeable users, and more-determined attackers.  To suggest otherwise is like saying "Well I never use my airbag.  I guess I don't really need it."

There is also an aspect of perceived security.  One of the reason I made Armory Offline Wallets, was so that people had the tools to secure large amounts of Bitcoin without all the uncertainty and complexity of hacking the Satoshi client to do it.  People holding thousand of dollars in Bitcoins can do so with confidence that they don't have to worry about theft, which may have been a barrier for some users pondering a large investment... and hopefully business owners will feel comfortable adopting Bitcoin -- they already have enough risks associated with integrating Bitcoin into their business model, hopefully the huge boost in security can remove one dimension of uncertainty.

The fact that lots of people have identified they lost money through online services (loss & theft, sometime indistinguishable), is what I hoped to solve with Armory.  Give people the tools to manage their own Bitcoins, without relying on someone else -- which appears to be a non-negligible percentage of voters reporting loss.


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March 01, 2012, 12:36:05 PM
 #6

Cheesy

Seriously though, I think it's important to define what kind of theft or hacking it was and how many coins were lost, if someone lost something. For example, I have coins in my mobile phone which are backed up but if someone steals my phone and manages to gain entry to the files in it faster than I can access the backup and send them away, I could lose those coins. That's why I don't keep more coins in my phone than I would keep euros in my wallet so the loss is acceptable in any event.

Another possibility which is even more likely is a theft from mining pool wallets. This has happened to many people and probably qualifies as theft from an online service. That has very little to do with Bitcoin itself though and it is common sense to only keep a small amount of coins in your pool wallet and withdraw them frequently. That's why nobody actually loses large amounts of coins from pool thefts, unless they were really stupid users.



Absolutely, a more considered and detailed poll is what's needed to establish baseline rates of theft/criminality and so quantify the level of inherent insecurity in different aspects of Bitcoin's usage. I set this poll up in a couple of minutes!
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March 01, 2012, 01:28:36 PM
 #7

I assume selling scams count as "online services"? If so, yes, I've gotten scammed for several hundred dollars worth of btc. Sad
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March 01, 2012, 01:30:23 PM
 #8

While I agree that security is not currently a huge risk, that doesn't mean it isn't relevant.  As said above, this becomes a much bigger deal when adoption grows, especially less-savvy folks.  You get both:  less-knowledgeable users, and more-determined attackers.  To suggest otherwise is like saying "Well I never use my airbag.  I guess I don't really need it."

There is also an aspect of perceived security.  One of the reason I made Armory Offline Wallets, was so that people had the tools to secure large amounts of Bitcoin without all the uncertainty and complexity of hacking the Satoshi client to do it.  People holding thousand of dollars in Bitcoins can do so with confidence that they don't have to worry about theft, which may have been a barrier for some users pondering a large investment... and hopefully business owners will feel comfortable adopting Bitcoin -- they already have enough risks associated with integrating Bitcoin into their business model, hopefully the huge boost in security can remove one dimension of uncertainty.

The fact that lots of people have identified they lost money through online services (loss & theft, sometime indistinguishable), is what I hoped to solve with Armory.  Give people the tools to manage their own Bitcoins, without relying on someone else -- which appears to be a non-negligible percentage of voters reporting loss.
Good points. I will be looking at Armory more closely. Being able to setup offline Bitcoin storage wallets conveniently is a big deal and that will boost security significantly. Another great advancement will be P2SH/Multisig, which will enable a whole bunch of neat security features.

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cpt_howdy
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March 01, 2012, 01:45:26 PM
 #9

Has no one had their wallet.dat stolen? Really? This is the most common cause of Bitcoin paranoia, but it wouldn't surprise me if it turns out to be extremely rare.
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March 01, 2012, 01:48:13 PM
 #10

Has no one had their wallet.dat stolen? Really? This is the most common cause of Bitcoin paranoia, but it wouldn't surprise me if it turns out to be extremely rare.
It only appears to happen to people who hold others' money, like A1Bitcoin and MyBitcoin. Makes sense, but I will post this in a snarky manner, anyway.

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March 02, 2012, 12:22:10 AM
 #11

I haven't ever had anything stolen (knock on wood), but the security issues scare the hell out of me.  Having my computer crash = losing all my bitcoins doesn't sit well with me either.  It is a lot to learn for someone just interested in Bitcoin.  I know there is a way to print your wallet in case of loss, and you can do backups, but honestly, these should be buttons to push in the bitcoin client.  NOT something you'd have to research and try to figure out.
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March 02, 2012, 12:28:07 AM
 #12

I haven't ever had anything stolen (knock on wood), but the security issues scare the hell out of me.  Having my computer crash = losing all my bitcoins doesn't sit well with me either.  It is a lot to learn for someone just interested in Bitcoin.  I know there is a way to print your wallet in case of loss, and you can do backups, but honestly, these should be buttons to push in the bitcoin client.  NOT something you'd have to research and try to figure out.
The official Bitcoin wallet that you can download from bitcoin.org is not the most advanced client out there. They did add encryption a long while ago and now in the next release (0.6) there will be a "backup" option as well. A lot of other wallets have easy backup features already. I think there should be more Bitcoin portals out there that actually show people, step by step, what different clients are out there, how to use Bitcoin safely, where to use it etc.

This is the approach I'm taking with my Bitcoin portal, it's directed at Finnish language users only but anyway. Bitcoin is not going to get much bigger unless we start providing information for non-geeky types. Smiley

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March 02, 2012, 12:36:30 AM
 #13

What option should I use if the only bitcoins I had stolen were for an order that was never delivered?

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March 02, 2012, 12:43:01 AM
 #14

The "lost due to a scam" option is missing, so there is no option for that.

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March 02, 2012, 01:52:28 AM
 #15

"scammed" and "vulnerable bitcoind" options are missing.

Why the frell so many retards spell "ect" as an abbreviation of "Et Cetera"? "ETC", DAMMIT! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Et_cetera

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