The state of cryptocurrency cybersecurity is being shaken up. As the cryptocurrency craze grips the world more than ever, cybercriminals are using the opportunity to scam people and increase their profits through fraud and cyberattacks. Bitcoin’s price climbed by nearly 400% between October 2020 and April 2021, and cyber scams followed closely, growing by 192% for the same period.
How are these attacks being carried out? Criminals have primarily been impersonating cryptocurrency applications and issuing fake security signals to attempt and steal login details from cryptocurrency holders.
But not all users are faced with the same risk. Some users are more exposed just because their fellow countrymen are also buying into the crypto craze.
As Bitcoin’s usage grew around the world, so did its price. More and more businesses announced that they accept Bitcoin as a mainstream payment method. So, as Tesla, Visa, PayPal, and JPMorgan announced that they were adopting Bitcoin, the price of this “digital gold” grew.
Naturally, cyberattacks followed, growing by 192%. India had one of the highest numbers of drive-by download attacks and mining activities, according to Microsoft’s findings for 2020. Criminals in India and broader find cryptocurrency attacks enticing since the decentralized nature of virtual coins makes criminal activities a bit easier.
That led to a booming ransomware economy worth billions, cyber-extortion, and phishing. Not only are private individuals targeted, but essential infrastructure, as well. Such things mean that a country’s defense can even be at stake.
A hacker contacts the potential victim, claiming to have compromising video or details on the person. The gist is – if you don’t pay me the sum I’m asking for, I’m going to make this information public. This type of extortion is as old as time itself. Still, as Bitcoin began growing in popularity and price, cyberattacks became more rampant, and criminals became more sophisticated in their methods.
We have already mentioned that phishing scams are on the rise, as well as compromising business emails. Over the last eight months, they have been on the rise. Hackers are imitating e-wallets and similar cryptocurrency applications. Just as criminals used to mimic banks to get your financial information, they are now stealing login details with the help of fake applications.
Cybercriminals have been eagerly using Bitcoin (BTC) as part of their business email attacks, compromising them and impersonating workers of different businesses. The criminals target and personalize emails to lure victims into buying BTC, donating Bitcoins to non-existing charities, and paying a fake vendor invoice using crypto!
And while awareness of cryptocurrency cybersecurity risks is at record-high levels, we are still facing many challenges in preventing attacks. One can say that we are all just patching up a leaking pipe. There are unlimited chances for making an attack, and many attackers face no repercussions for their attempted fraudulent actions. And in time, some successful attacks are bound to happen.
Making ransomware a criminal activity is not enough, which we know from the example of the Colonial Pipeline that occurred recently. This company was forced to pay a 5 million ransom in US dollars after its IT network got hacked. While the investigative forces could recover a part of the Bitcoin sum used in the payment, the attack still left a mark, signaling that the cryptocurrency cybersecurity sector has a long way to go.