The most common schemes used by cybercriminals included:
• creating fake cryptocurrency exchange websites: in this case, the user is allegedly given a coupon for replenishing an account on a crypto exchange. However, to use it they must carry out a verification payment of usually no more than 0.005 bitcoin (about 200 US dollars), which becomes the cybercriminals’ profit
• sending messages about fake sales of video cards and other equipment for mining: to purchase equipment, the user needs to make an advance payment. After providing it, the author of the ads stops communicating
• creating phishing pages with various content to steal private keys, which allow cybercriminals to gain access to all digital assets associated with a crypto wallet.
Typically, cybercriminals locate sites in popular domain zones: .com, .net, .org, .info, as well as in zones where domain acquisition is cheap: .site, .xyz, .online, .top, .club, .live. A distinctive feature of phishing and other types of cryptocurrency fraud is the high level of detail on phishing websites. For example, on fake crypto exchanges, real data, such as bitcoin rates, is often loaded from existing exchanges. Attackers understand that people who are investing or are interested in this area are often more tech-savvy than the average user. Therefore, the cybercrooks make their techniques more complex in order to get data and money from these people.
An example of an ICO phishing page
“Lately, many have become interested in cryptocurrencies, and attackers would not pass up the opportunity to use this to their advantage. At the same time, both those who want to invest or mine cryptocurrency and simply the holders of such funds can find themselves on the fraudsters’ radar. For example, one of the schemes we discovered went as follows: users received a message about the sale of an exclusive coronavirus vaccine earlier than official schedules and only for those who have bitcoins. This type of fraud was especially prevalent when the vaccines just became available. The user went to the site where the contact indicated, to which it was necessary to write to pre-order the vaccine. The target then needed to make an advance payment in bitcoins, with the money going to the cybercriminals' account and the person receiving nothing in return," said Alexey Marchenko, head of the Content Filtering Methods Development department at Kaspersky.
A fake offer to get vaccine in exchange for cryptocurrency
To avoid becoming a victim of cybercriminals, Kaspersky recommends that users:
• do not follow dubious links from letters, messages in messenger apps and social networks
• be critical of extremely generous online offers
• download applications from official stores only
• use a security solution that protects against phishing, scams, and prevents the installation of malicious applications
• take extra precautions before purchasing a product in an online store if the company is unknown. It is better to study on special WHOIS-sites information first about how long the domain has existed and who its owner is: if it is completely fresh and registered to a private person, you should not purchase from them;
*Data based on anonymised statistics of detections by Kaspersky solutions from January to July 2021.