Op-Ed

Guidelines to Avoid Hacking Attempts on Your Digital Wallets

Earlier this year, cybersecurity companies discovered that in a span of 12 months, hacking attempts on exchanges and businesses resulted in a loss of about $1.1 billion.

After some research, Kaspersky lab found out that the main ways, using which the scammers got access to users’ cryptocurrency were ransomware, phishing and fake offers. While the solutions for having secure wallets are being provided by multiple websites, hackers and scammers are also excelling in their game. One of the lead experts from Kaspersky stated that the phishing ways are continuously evolving and it is almost impossible to stop or provide easy protection against them. Lead web content analyst of Kaspersky Lab, Nadezhda Demidova said in a press release;

The success criminals have enjoyed suggests that they know how to exploit the human factor, which has always been one of the weakest links in cybersecurity, to capitalize on user behaviors.

Earlier this month, Bleeping computer also detected a suspicious activity and threat of 2.3 million Bitcoin wallets being targeted, but this time, the hackers used a different approach called clipboard hijacking.

Clipboard hijacking operates in such a way, that hacker gets access to the user’s clipboard on their device. This is used to change the destination addresses stored on the clipboards, to those of the hacker’s desired ones. Sending cryptocoins require users to send the money to long and hard to remember addresses, hackers identified the fact that users cannot remember the addresses for all the transactions. They simply copy the address from one application and paste it on the other to send coins. Hackers exploited this simple human algorithm and monitored the clipboard of the devices for any destination addresses. This address, once detected, is changed by hackers to the addresses they desire. If the users are vigilant and cross check the addresses for any mistakes, they have the chance of staying safe from a major loss.

Many blogs and cyber security agencies offer access to basic rules that can help with improving the security of users cryptocurrency significantly. One of them, Ouriel Ohayon, an investor and entrepreneur, places emphasis on the personal responsibility of users in a dedicated Hackernoon blog:

Yes, you are in control of your own assets, but the price to pay is that you are in charge of your own security. And since most people are not security experts, they are very much often exposed  —  without knowing. I am always amazed to see around me how many people, even tech savvy ones, don’t take basic security measures.

According to the blog, there are multiple ways in which the crypto wallet of users can be attacked and the ways to prevent them.

Hacked mobile apps:

There are multiple android phones which do not support Two Factor Authentication https://www.securenvoy.com/two-factor-authentication/what-is-2fa.shtm, this helps the hackers to produce apps which require the username and passwords and a piece of personal information, for example information regarding tokens.

In order to avoid this situation, phones should be cross checked if they use the 2FA. People should avoid buying apps on the app store that they don’t need.

Slackbots:

Slackbots are being used by hackers to steal cryptocurrencies. They create a slackbot that notifies users talk about the problem in their cryptocurrency. This bait forces readers to open the given link and enter their private key, which is then accessed by the hackers.

The solution to the problem is to ignore bots activities and if any suspicious activity is found, report it directly to slack.

Public WiFi:

In public WiFi networks, when the user connects with the same WiFi as the hackers. The device keeps pinging data to the device of the hackers and the information can be easily downloaded when private keys are accessed on public WiFis.

To avoid this, users can avoid crypto transactions on public WiFi, apart from that, they can regularly update the firmware of your own router, as hardware manufacturers are constantly releasing updates aimed at protecting against key substitution.

Phishing:

Phishing is by far the most common method used by hackers where they send links to the users to open and enter their private keys in.

Avoiding this also requires diligence but the basic for maintaining a high level of security in phishing domain is to never interact with cryptocurrency sites without HTTPS protocol. In case of a suspicious window, close the window and delete the letter from your inbox.

Authenticating by SMS:

Many users choose to use mobile authentication because they are used to doing it, and the smartphone is always on hand. Positive Technologies, a company that specializes in cybersecurity, has demonstrated how easy it is to intercept an SMS with a password confirmation, transmitted practically worldwide by the Signaling System 7 (SS7) protocol. Specialists were able to hijack the text messages using their own research tool, which exploits weaknesses in the cellular network to intercept text messages in transit.

Similarly, the solutions for these problems exist, call forwarding can be turned off so that the access of our data to hackers is pretty much impossible. The second way is to give up 2FA via SMS when the password is sent in the text and use a two-factor identification software solution.

Add-ons for crypto trading:

As simple as this may seem, this is also a widely used source of hackings and theft. To avoid such thefts, crypto add-ons should be avoided. A separate device can be used for trading and an antivirus can be installed to avoid malware. Apart from that, make use of the incognito mode IN THE browsers to avoid any add-ons.

The good news is that the users are educating themselves in the matters of cyber security, but it is still to be understood that the basic security of digital wallets and cryptocurrency is based on the little precautions taken by users themselves. As the hackers continue to learn new techniques, users should keep an eye out for them and learn different ways of addressing the security issue.

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