Hackers demand payment in crypto, participate in scams that lead to crypto theft directly, or target crypto trading companies.
What can individuals and businesses do to protect their crypto assets?
Here, we’ll go over some of the most prominent cyberattack techniques targeted at crypto that every user and company should know about in 2023 and what you can do about it.
Crypto Scams to Watch Out For
As an individual with funds in crypto, you’re likely to encounter attempts of fraudulent investment schemes, giveaways, phishing attacks, and more.
At the heart of most investment scams is the promise of incredible financial gain if you send the person in question a certain amount in crypto.
While most phishing attempts happen via email, there are also instances of SMS phishing. For example, the recent data breach that occurred at the crypto trader Coinbase’s premises started with SMS phishing.
An employee received an SMS that urged them to click on a link and log in using their credentials. With that action, cybercriminals were given all the data they needed to gain illicit access to the company’s systems.
Solution: Work on Your Personal Cybersecurity Hygiene
Individuals looking to avoid scams and subsequent crypto theft should:
● Steer clear from crypto giveaways
● Avoid linking traditional bank and crypto accounts
● Know the signs of a scam message — time pressure and big promises that sound too good to be true are often just that
● Avoid clicking any links that lead to the login page
● Never disclose your key — even if the request seems to be coming from the legitimate trader
Extortion and Ransom in the Name of Crypto
Since the majority of cybercrime is financially motivated, it’s common for criminals to demand crypto (which is more difficult to trace) during ransom and extortion attempts.
For example, it recently came to light that an Australian citizen attempted to extort an unnamed emergency service for $5 million worth of crypto by threatening to start a bushfire. The service didn’t meet his demands, and the man was charged as a result.
Ransomware cases (in which cyber criminals lock documents and demand ransom in crypto in exchange for access to files) are on the rise — and putting affected users and businesses in a difficult situation.
Many businesses have paid a ransom to get back access to important files.
Solution: Don’t Oblige to the Hacker’s Demands
We understand that this is easier said than done — especially when you’re locked out of your entire infrastructure or don’t have access to sensitive files following ransomware.
While in many countries it’s not illegal to pay up to hackers demanding ransom, this decision can:
● Backfire once the public finds out that you’ve paid the ransom — thus affecting your reputation
● Give criminals monetary funds for further activity — they can do the same to someone else or threaten you again
● Go wrong since there is no guarantee that the hacker will give you access to your system
Zero-Day Threats Going After Crypto Companies
Now, we’re in the territory of more sophisticated hacking attempts. In cybersecurity, this can refer to zero-day weaknesses or flaws in the system that IT teams haven’t yet discovered.
A company with critical flaws that aren’t patched is open to possible hacking exploitations.
For example, a trojan dubbed Parallax RAT has been discovered recently. Its main target is cryptocurrency firms.
As with any other trojan malware, this one hides in different documents to sneak in the “gift horse” to targeted devices. This malicious software (AKA malware) can record keystrokes and take screenshots.
This means that it can remember the password and username that a victim types in, as well as the key used for the account.
Solution: Robust Security For Crypto Companies
Users don’t have a lot of power when it comes to fighting such advanced attacks. Crypto trading companies are responsible for securing assets as well as protecting their clients.
What can you do?
Be careful when you choose a crypto company. Check if they’re reputable and whether they’ve already experienced major cybersecurity incidents in the past. Pay attention to how they resolved the issue and communicated with the public about the data breach.
Advanced black hat (illegal) hackers and hacking groups typically go after companies that already have strong security, multiple solutions, and teams to manage it. But can they handle more sophisticated techniques such as Parallax RAT?
How can businesses prepare? Start with:
● Setting up layered security
● Testing the existing security solutions
● Strengthening the security daily
A data breach that compromises crypto wallets could be prevented if the company has multiple security points and protocols that cover the complete attack surface (any software and device that could be attacked).
Besides setting up a strong defense strategy, it’s vital to continually improve it with tools such as automated breach and attack simulation that test the security an organization has in real-time.
It then updates the findings on the dashboard — guiding the teams to uncover and patch up critical weaknesses.
This AI-based testing solution is also paired with MITRE ATT&CK Framework – the knowledge base that lists the latest hacking tactics and techniques, all the while offering solutions on how to fix the issue at hand.
Final Two Crypto Cents
Today, cryptocurrency firms are up against more damaging and dangerous threats than ever before — from new versions of viruses that can get into the system undetected to persistent phishing attacks.
However, the method on which the hackers rely the most is social engineering. Phishing is also the technique that individual users can do most about.
On a personal level, learning how to recognize scam emails, avoiding links designed to collect your sensitive data, and choosing a trusted crypto entity can save you a lot of money in the long run.