Incidents of cybercrime are on a rise year after year – there seems to be no slowing down for internet criminals.
With the rise of cryptocurrencies, these cybercriminals now have new aspirations and new motivations for their criminal activities on the internet.
Moreover, the rise of cryptocurrencies has led to the creation of new types of criminal activities as well. Cryptojacking, Ransomware and various other similar actions have a direct correlation with the rise of cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency traders are soft targets too – because a number of them are first-time traders, enticed by the massive price rise that the crypto markets have to offer.
New age cybercriminals are now making use of tactics sometimes as simple as Twitter impersonations to age-old phishing techniques to steal cryptocurrencies.
Sometimes, these attacks are of a more advanced level such as cryptocurrency exchanges getting hacked or ransomware attacks.
Let us take a closer look at how cryptocurrencies are a threat to cybersecurity:
Cryptocurrencies and Cyber Crime
Following are some of the most common cyber criminal activities surrounding cryptocurrencies.
A new-age crime, crypto jacking is basically when websites are injected with a malicious code which mines for cryptocurrencies using the processing power of the CPU of the visitors of the site!
Cryptojacking has been surging, and recent high-profile cases include a Google Chrome extension with hundreds of thousands of users being infected.
Specific YouTube ads too were caught running this script – causing mining operations to run when the ad plays.
Ransomware has been around for a while – but with cryptocurrencies, it has picked up the pace. A ransomware attack encrypts all your files and the key to decrypt these files is with the criminals.
You cannot decrypt and access the files on your computer till the key is entered. These cybercriminals often demand a ransom, which is to be paid in cryptocurrencies – and they give away the key after they get the cryptocurrencies.
These attacks have been on the rise, the most infamous of which crippled some hospital systems in the US.
Hackers are also targeting cryptocurrency exchanges with an increasing frequency.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are being hacked since quite some time now – the first being the Mt. Gox hack back in 2014 and the most recent being the Coincheck hack, which is the most significant cryptocurrency hack of all times, where hackers ran away with $500 Million worth of cryptocurrencies.
Countries around the world are setting up stricter standards for security and are ensuring that exchanges comply with these standards.
While this may sound a bit old-school, but phishing attacks too – are causing a lot of damage.
Users who do not have a proper 2FA system set up can end up giving them access to their exchange or wallet passcodes to hackers – who can easily walk away with the cryptocurrencies.
A recent attack on Binance, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world saw the use of a Phishing attack – however, in this case, hackers ended up losing money, but not everyone is as lucky!
In one of the most low-effort crimes meant to attract first-time users and gullible internet users, Twitter conmen impersonate popular accounts such as those of Vitalik Buterin, Charlie Lee and Elon Musk among others – asking 0.2 ETH from users and promising to send them 2 ETH in return.
While this is an obvious scam to most pro users – it is surprising to see how many people fall for this when you look at the conmen’s wallet transaction details!
How to Stay Protected?
In a time when cybercriminal activity is peaking, there is a strong need for proper safety measures in place.
These are some simple tactics that one can follow to ensure that they do not fall prey to these online predators looking forward to tricking novice users.
Here are some tips that one can follow to stay protected from cryptocurrency driven cybercrime activities:
Don’t download attachments from an unknown sender
Age-Old advice – never download attachments from senders you do not recognize or trust. In the past, these files carried spyware, virus or malware.
Ransomware is now a growing threat.
These attachments could contain harmful files bound into them – sometimes even an innocuous-looking jpeg image could have ransomware attached on to it.
A majority of ransomware spreads via mail, making it critical to only download attachments from people you trust.
Remember, There is no FREE Money
As essential as this sounds – so many people fall victim to those con-men on twitter pretending to be Elon Musk or Vitalik Buterin.
There is no free money, and no one is giving away any money!
Even guaranteed returns on investments scams entice users like this – asking them to contribute some amount and get guaranteed returns in exchange.
Anyone asking you for some money to give you back more money is conning you!
Setting up 2FA Security
A necessary security precaution – setting up a system ensures that even if your password is compromised, hackers cannot access your account and transfer your currencies without having access to another device that you possess.
This second form of authentication could be in the form of Google Authenticator, an e-mail or even a text message.
After entering your password, this second authentication needs to be provided before logging in.
Don’t forget to Backup your Data
Precaution is better than cure!
Regularly backing up your data is essential for its safety, especially files which are of high importance.
Even in the case, a ransomware attack infects your computer; all your data remains secure because of these regular backups.
Use Hardware Wallets
While the security measures of a cryptocurrency exchange or any online storage platform aren’t really in the hands of a user.
The best way to keep your currencies secure is by having them stored in a hardware wallet.
Hardware wallets are actual physical devices which store cryptocurrencies on them – and they can remain disconnected from the internet when not in use – keeping them safe from any attacks.
Apart from Cyber criminal activities, cryptocurrencies have also been associated with other illegal activities such as funding terrorists and promoting illicit trade – something which many nations have criticized cryptocurrencies over.
Stay updated with the latest crypto news with websites like Cryptoguard.
Cryptocurrencies have been the chosen method of payment in the darknet markets for years now.
In addition to that – another primary concern that international governments have with the rise of cryptocurrencies is that this is also leading to an increase in corruption as well as money laundering – due to the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, money can be stashed up across various cryptocurrencies without proper disclosure.