“People need to be more aware and educated about identity theft. You need to be a little bit wiser, a little bit smarter and there’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. We live in a time when if you make it easy for someone to steal from you, someone will.”
24 million Euros were stolen
Six people suspected of stealing cryptocurrency wallet credentials have been arrested in the Netherlands and the UK at the end of June 2019. The arrest was the result of a 14-month investigation conducted by the Dutch police, Europol, the UK’s South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SW RCCU) and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
According to investigators, more than 4,000 people became victims of fraudsters. They lost cryptocurrency worth a total of 24 million Euros.
The detainees are suspected of conducting phishing attacks and a deliberate registration of domain names similar to the names of cryptocurrency services. With an error or a misprint in the address bar, the user was taken to a fake website that looked like a real one and tried to enter his personal account. Once on such a site, the user enters their credentials, and those get to the intruders.
This method of fraud is called typosquatting and is often used in cryptocurrency scams. Attackers also use other methods of gaining access to digital wallets, from creating fake applications to stealing credentials using Trojans.
The threat of typosquatting is so serious that the largest trading platforms and cryptocurrency wallets ask customers to verify the authenticity of the site which they are using.
The problem of phishing attacks was especially relevant for Bitcoin owners in December 2017 when the rate of this cryptocurrency sharply increased along with the interest in it.
Binance is a stock exchange with a headquarter located in Hong Kong where many types and units of cryptocurrency are stored. And within a couple of minutes hackers robbed it of about $41 million. After the news of the theft, the famous American economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz said that the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem must be closed in order to save millions of hard-earned money.
On May 7, 2019 thieves got 7,000 Bitcoins out, and all operations on the exchange were suspended. According to Binance hackers used various hacking techniques: they launched a virus and phishing attacks to obtain security information. Ultimately, they managed to access the “hot wallet” where Bitcoins were accessible to transactions – there was about 2 percent of the entire cryptocurrency held by Binance. All other wallets are safe and secure.
Hackers were well organized, showed patience, attacked the exchange at the most beneficial time. The crackers managed to withdraw the cryptocurrency without causing suspicions in the transaction security verification system.
How serious may this be? At first sight, it may be not too bad. Forty million is a fairly large number, but this is only a small percentage of Binance funding, and users will obviously return their money. The company assured that users’ losses would be covered from a special security fund SAFU (Secure Asset Fund for Users). This fund reserves 10% of the commissions “to protect users in extreme cases.”
It took Binance a week to restore and update the security system, so the exchange resumed its work on May 14, 2019.
NiceHash is a Slovenian company that helps crypto miners buy and sell compute capacity. Transactions are made in Bitcoins. Miners pay step by step, without prepayments, so they have no big risks. Sellers also get paid in Bitcoins.
One day, the company’s servers were attacked. Initially, Reddit users reported that they could not access their funds and make transactions. As a result, it became known that the service underwent a large-scale cyber attack, during which a wallet with 4,736.42 Bitcoins was hacked.
As in most cases, this money will probably never be back to the owners. Nevertheless, despite heavy losses, NiceHash was able to continue working, but its CEO and founder Marco Cobal had resigned, making way to a new team. The company managed to preserve the credibility of investors and began to strengthen the protection of their systems.
As soon as you begin to use cryptocurrency and work with it, you need to realize that different operations and transactions are associated with risk. We don’t talk about the unpredictability of markets here. The Internet is a breeding ground for fraud, and cryptocurrency exchanges are no exception. When considering options for investing in various startups and currency exchange platforms, always try to be careful not to lose your cryptocurrency investments.