Story image

Cybercriminals reap benefits of cryptocurrency hype

17 Jul 18

 Cybercriminals are reaping the benefits of the cryptocurrency hype, bringing in millions of dollars through fake exchanges and fake ICO offers.

New research from Kaspersky Lab found that cybercriminals netted almost US$10 million worth of the Ether cryptocurrency in 2017, and this year’s scams are proving to be just as prevalent.

During the first half of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products apparently blocked more than 100,000 triggers related to cryptocurrencies on fake exchanges and other sources such as initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“The results of our research show that cyber-criminals are adept at keeping up to date and developing their resources to achieve the best possible results in cryptocurrency phishing,” comments Kaspersky Lab lead web content analyst Nadezhda Demidova.  

“These new fraud schemes are based on simple social engineering methods, but stand out from common phishing attacks because they help criminals make millions of dollars.”

ICO investors are some of the most popular targets. These investors seek to invest their money in startups with the aim of gaining a future profit.

However criminals are taking full advantage of ICO scams. They create fake websites that mimic official ICO projects. Generally well-known ICO projects work well, Kaspersky Lab says.

 Criminals can also use phishing emails to trick investors into putting their cryptocurrency right into the criminal’s e-wallet.

“For example, by exploiting the Switcheo ICO using a proposal for the free distribution of coins, criminals stole more than $25,000 worth of cryptocurrency after spreading the link through a fake Twitter account.”

“Another example is the creation of phishing sites for the OmaseGo ICO project, which enabled scammers to earn more than $1.1m worth of the cryptocurrency. Of equally great interest among criminals were rumours surrounding the Telegram ICO, which resulted in the creation of hundreds of fake sites that were collecting ‘investments’.”

Cybercriminals also use cryptocurrency giveaway scams. These scams ask people to send a small amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for a larger payout in future.

Criminals also create fake accounts that mimic high profile people such as Elon Musk.

“By creating fake accounts or replying to tweets from legitimate users through fake accounts, criminals are able to confuse Twitter users into falling for the scam by clicking on replies from fraudulent accounts.”

To protect their cryptocurrencies, Kaspersky Lab researchers advise users to follow a few simple rules:

·         Remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch and treat offers that seem too tempting to be true with skepticism.

·         Check official sources for information regarding the free distribution of cryptocurrencies. For example, if you see information about the distribution of coins on behalf of the recently hacked Binance blockchain ecosystem, go to the official source and clarify this information.

·         Check if any third-parties are linked to the wallet transaction to which you plan to transfer your savings. One way of doing this is through blockchain browsers such as etherscan.io or blockchain.info, which allow users to view detailed information about any cryptocurrency transaction and identify if the particular wallet may be dangerous.

·         Always check the hyperlink addresses and data in the browser address bar. It should be, for example, “blockchain.info’, not “blackchaen.info”.

·         Save the address of your e-wallet in a tab and access it from there – in order to avoid making a mistake in the address bar and accidentally going to the phishing site instead.

“The success criminals have enjoyed suggests that they know how to exploit the human factor, which has always been one of the weakest links in cybersecurity, to capitalise on user behaviours,” Demidova concludes.

Disruption in the supply chain: Why IT resilience is a collective responsibility
"A truly resilient organisation will invest in building strong relationships while the sun shines so they can draw on goodwill when it rains."
Verifi takes spot in Deloitte Asia Pacific Fast 500
"An increasing amount of companies captured by New Zealand’s Anti-Money laundering legislation are realising that an electronic identity verification solution can streamline their customer onboarding."
Businesses too slow on attack detection – CrowdStrike
The 2018 CrowdStrike Services Cyber Intrusion Casebook reveals IR strategies, lessons learned, and trends derived from more than 200 cases.
What disaster recovery will look like in 2019
“With nearly half of all businesses experiencing an unrecoverable data event in the last three years, current backup solutions are no longer fit for purpose."
Proofpoint launches feature to identify most targeted users
“One of the largest security industry misconceptions is that most cyberattacks target top executives and management.”
McAfee named Leader in Magic Quadrant an eighth time
The company has been once again named as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Information and Event Management.
Symantec and Fortinet partner for integration
The partnership will deliver essential security controls across endpoint, network, and cloud environments.
Is Supermicro innocent? 3rd party test finds no malicious hardware
One of the larger scandals within IT circles took place this year with Bloomberg firing shots at Supermicro - now Supermicro is firing back.