With cryptocurrencies gaining popularity at a rapid pace, there has also been an increased number of digital asset theft cases, both foiled and successful. Since the beginning of this year, Russian antivirus manufacture Kaspersky has thwarted over 100,000 attempts by hackers to steal virtual currencies. Lately, the software development company issued a detailed report outlining some of the most popular methods used by cybercriminals in their heinous acts.
Notably, Kaspersky established that the malicious individuals are aiming to capitalize on the ongoing cryptocurrency craze. These criminals are not choosy, as their attacks target both experienced and seasoned crypto traders. For instance, Kaspersky experts found out that the attackers had created over 1,000 fake Ether wallets which they used to receive ETH from unknowing investors. During the survey period, these scamming accounts received a total of 21,000 ETH, equivalent to $10 million at the prevailing exchange rates. This amount is not inclusive of the funds acquired through hacking of vulnerable digital wallets.
Another preferred method for cryptocurrency thieves is targeting Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). This is because of the ease of obtaining investor details such as email addresses. After acquiring such confidential information, the criminals usually send fake messages to the investors, masquerading as the startup’s ICO team.
The messages are often sent before the commencement of the presale event, and require the traders to send funds to the scammer’s wallet address. This approach is similar to phishing, where cybercriminals sent fake message to clients with an aim of obtaining their private details. Alternatively, the swindlers may create an entire ICO website, including comprehensive information and whitepapers, and go on to advertise the event on popular platforms such as Google and other social media.
Additionally, fraudsters may use lucrative offers and bonuses to lure potential victims. Typically, these offer promise to give free tokens to investors if they deposit a specific amount of funds. The criminals often create counterfeit accounts of prominent individuals such as Elon Musk to make these promotions even more alluring. Unfortunately, a substantial number of investors often fall for such schemes.
Fundamentally, the Kaspersky report shows that cryptocurrency thieves leverage traditional social engineering techniques. They seek to exploit the human factor to actualize their objectives. Earlier this year, Kaspersky warned that the hackers were using state-of-the-art software that targets personal computers and transforms them into mining rigs without the owner’s knowledge.