Since the internet has become mainstream, we have been told to stay safe online. We have been taught to not click on unfamiliar links sent to us and to never give out our personal or financial information on the web. This has become even more essential since net banking and the crypto industry have taken off. Phishing scams have existed for a long time. However, rapid innovation in the blockchain sector has made crypto customers prime targets.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of scam that tricks you into giving up your private information. In crypto, it involves your private key or other passwords to exchanges and wallets. Scammers act as genuine companies to persuade you into paying fake “fees” or giving them your login credentials. Once they receive the information, they can enter your account and empty the funds.
As the crypto space is rapidly expanding, scams are also proliferating. Some may target you as an individual, while others will send mass emails hoping someone gives up their information. Some ambitious attackers even set up fake companies or coins to cheat people out of their money.
How are Phishing attacks carried out?
Typically, a phishing attack involves sending out an email or a text message. The attackers might try to impersonate a genuine company or create a fake company of their own. Sometimes, the emails present a new investment opportunity with unbelievable returns. However, in most cases, the scammers use excuses of problems or suspicious activity in your account which require your action.
Read about: Crypto Scams, and How to Avoid Them
The messages come with links attached. These links are presented as ways to alter your account settings to fix the issue, but they actually direct you to fake websites. These websites may even look identical to the real ones, which makes it harder to detect the scam. Once you enter your account details, the scammers have all the information they need to hijack it.
While this is the most common method of phishing, there are many others that hackers can use to defraud you.
Types of Crypto Phishing Attacks
This attack redirects you to a fake website even if you access the correct link. This is done by hijacking the Domain Name Server(DNS) of a website. The DNS is responsible for converting the link you type into the IP address of the website.
When the DNS is hacked, entering even the correct link can send you to the fake website, since it takes your link to a different web address. This website may look and feel identical to the original and prompts you to enter your private information.
Spear phishing is similar to general phishing attacks, but it involves using specific information about you. Instead of being a generic email, the attackers include some publicly available information about you like company roles or phone numbers to make it seem more authentic.
This may prompt you to believe that the email is from an acquaintance or colleague. If you receive unfamiliar emails from people who seem authentic, always be sure to double-check the email address and details of the message before entering information.
This is identical to spear phishing, except for its targets. Whale phishing targets high-ranking personnel in organisations, such as CEOs or directors. It is also known as CEO fraud as they are usually the targets.
Unlike credentials from a lower-ranking official in a company, obtaining the CEO’s credentials may mean control over every aspect of the company’s systems or accounts. This enables attackers to obtain larger sums of money or personal details of users and employees than other targets.
This is the process of using your system’s resources to mine crypto tokens. While it may not always be the result of a phishing attack, sometimes downloading from unfamiliar links may install such crypto miners on your computer.
You may notice slow and sluggish performance or lower battery life on your system. This is a result of the mining app running in the background. It enables attackers to profit from your resources. This may not even be detected until much later.
Some attackers may take complete control of your system. This is also known as ransomware. Hackers lock you out of your computer or mobile device, preventing you from using it. This also gives them access to all data held on your computer. The attackers may then threaten to delete this data or post your private information publicly.
In exchange for giving up their control over your system, the hackers may demand large sums of money in crypto.
Read about: What is Crypto DDoS Attack?
How To Prevent Phishing Attacks?
- Double-check every email before clicking on a link or attachment
- Use strong or randomised passwords for each account you use
- If you are redirected to a website, ensure the link is legitimate and not a duplicate
- Never give out your passwords or private keys on email, text or phone calls
- Enable multi-factor authentication to ensure a randomised code is required for new logins
- Avoid untrustworthy wallet services or exchanges
It is essential to stay safe on the internet, especially when it comes to your financial information. Phishing in the crypto world doesn’t just mean hackers gain access to one service, but they might also obtain your linked bank accounts or other services. Taking necessary precautions and being careful of unfamiliar messages can ensure your accounts stay protected.