From billionaire Elon Musk to Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan joining the crypto space, the hype around cryptocurrency is growing and the prices of these digital coins are seeing a spike as well. But while the crypto coins do give a high rate of returns, they are equally susceptible to cyber attacks.
Cybercriminals are now taking advantage of the ongoing craze around Bitcoin to trick potential victims and steal their digital money, reveals research by Barracuda, a provider of cloud-enabled security solutions. At least 7,000 people lost more than $80 million in crypto scams between October 2020 and March 2021 — a 1,000% increase from a year ago, according to the US Federal Trade Commission.
Meanwhile, blockchain hackers are not only targeting crypto holders but also crypto exchanges, according to Atlas VPN. Their study showed that $3.78 billion worth of digital assets were stolen across 122 attacks in 2020. More recently, in one of the biggest cryptocurrency heists ever, a group of hackers in August stole $613 million in digital coins from token-swapping platform Poly Network. While the company claims that hackers behind the heist have now returned nearly half of the tokens they stole, but in the world of cryptocurrency, there are no guarantees.
How are cybercriminals using crypto as a scamming tool?
Fueled by the craze around Bitcoin, the value of cryptocurrencies increased by almost 400 per cent between October 2020 and April 2021. The growing value of cryptocurrencies also saw an increase in email compromise attacks by 192 per cent between October 2020 and May 2021, reported Barracuda.
It is worth noting that the digital format of cryptocurrencies makes them decentralised in nature and without any regulations, and thus the currency has become a safer choice for cybercriminals. Hackers use Bitcoin to get paid in extortion attacks where they claim to have a compromising video or information that will be released to the public if the victim does not pay.
Cyber hackers now target and personalise fake emails to get victims to purchase Bitcoin, donate them to fake charities, or even pay a fake vendor invoice using cryptocurrency.