The Intersection of Cryptocurrency and DNS Data Part 1: Cryptocurrency Trends
by Serena Raymond on Jun 30, 2021 12:00:00 AM
Crypto: The pandemic hobby of choice
Over the last 18 months, the world has rekindled its interest in cryptocurrency. In a report from summer 2020, it was estimated that 15% of adults in the U.S. owned some form of cryptocurrency. During the initial summer surge, Fortune predicted that cryptocurrency would “finally go mainstream.” There were a few reasons for this thought:
- Major banks started getting behind crypto
- The pandemic created a moment of financial change, with the value of the dollar dropping
- Americans sick of the stock market were looking for other ways to invest
Like in our previous articles about TikTok, Parler, and streaming services, we’ll look at how the growth of cryptocurrency is impacting traffic across our DNS network. But cryptocurrency holds a unique position compared to other trends we’ve examined in the past. Because of the nature of cryptocurrency, we have seen it leveraged for all types of scams. We’ll focus on scams and deceptive crypto sites in part 2 of this blog. Until then, let’s look at the trends.
How popular is Dogecoin really?
Dogecoin started as a joke. And in a way, its surge in popularity in 2021 began as a joke too. According to CNBC, the subreddit SatoshiStreetBets decided to turn Dogecoin into the “cryptocurrency equivalent of GameStop”—a short squeeze of the GameStop stock was instigated by WallStreetBets at roughly the same time as the interest in Dogecoin .
Also around this time, Elon Musk made a Twitter post that investors took to mean Musk was “throwing his support” behind the Doge.
Unlike the GameStop short, Dogecoin seems to have a bit more longevity according to the Google Trends graph above. However, looking at our network, you wouldn’t know it.
The spike to dogecoin.com between the end of January and early February was so high and then it almost immediately died off. I was wary of this. Knowing that Dogecoin uses multiple domains (including dogecoinfah.com), I decided to broaden my search and look at any domains that include “dogecoin” in the URL. But the results were similar.
While there was some amount of traffic to the Dogecoin community site between April and May, there was otherwise not that much traffic on our network. Dogecoin’s price peaked in mid-May of 2021 and then crashed 40% as of June 12. Cryptocurrency has always been a volatile investment. Despite a positive start to 2021, the interest in Dogecoin may be exclusively ironic—fitting, as it seems to be a joke lasting over 8 years that has made some people a lot of money.
It should be noted that obviously many investors will use crypto exchanges like Coinbase. So many investors may never visit the actual domain of the cryptocurrency they’re investing in. But as you’ll see, these next two cryptocurrencies I’ll discuss have maintained domain visits over the previous 6 months. For whatever reason, our users aren’t visiting Dogecoin’s website. But they are visiting...
Bitcoin and Ethereum
Maybe it’s not fair to compare Dogecoin to bitcoin. As of writing this, a single bitcoin is worth $35,878.87. Dogecoin is only worth $0.2741. Ethereum is not quite at bitcoin’s level, but doing a little better than Doge at $2,181.85.
Traffic to bitcoin’s website spiked at the beginning of the year before dipping around the time the spotlight was on Dogecoin. There were spikes around the end of March and end of April. The March 28 spike follows a 500% “bitcoin boom” and coincides with who else but Elon Musk chiming in to say Teslas are now available for purchase via bitcoin.
The April traffic to DNSFilter peaked on April 21, roughly a week after the currency plunged and the same day Bill Gates said he was “betting on the total collapse” of bitcoin.
Bitcoin has stayed in the news consistently in 2021, with market watchers keeping a close eye and making predictions. Based on our network traffic, interest has (for the most part) stayed persistent since May 2021.
Now let’s look at Ethereum, another cryptocurrency that has maintained momentum when solely looking at DNS traffic.
There are fewer surges with Ethereum. Instead, the currency has seemed to gain steady momentum. However, on March 16 we did see a bump in traffic. It’s harder to find large stories about Ethereum around this date, though there were plenty of articles speculating that Ethereum could be worth more than bitcoin, including a statement from Ethereum’s co-founder intimating they could go head-to-head with bitcoin.
As of the end of May, traffic to Ethereum seems to be dropping off. But many are still adamant that Ethereum has actually outperformed bitcoin in 2021. However, for the last month interest on our website to Ethereum is actually below January interest.
What this really serves as is another reminder that the crypto markets are volatile.
Before we move onto crypto-related threat domains, let’s give a quick shout out to Chia.
Chia’s rise and fall on our network almost identically mimics the interest prior to its launch on May 3, and then its immediate obsolescence.
Chia markets itself as a green cryptocurrency, and the announcement of its launch alone sparked price increases at hard drive and solid state drive manufacturers. But once it actually went live (at a value of $1,600 per unit), it lost half its value in just a few hours and was named a “flop” just a few days later.
It’s current value is $312.79 and its all-time high was $1,714.25. But since its launch, there have been few happenings with Chia. Investing experts have waffled over whether or not it’s a good investment. It seems after its controversial entrance, there just isn’t enough room at the cryptocurrency table for it. But of course, time will tell.
In part 2 of our investigation into cryptocurrency trends on our network, we’ll focus on deceptive domains.
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