The recent frenzy of Bitcoin – and other cryptocurrencies as well – has made this topic incredibly trendy. If only a year ago only geeks knew about “crypto,” now literally every Internet publication is talking about it – and even radio and television have a day with updates from crypto-exchanges.

Of course, scammers of all sorts were not left out either. This includes those who engage in phishing – creating fake sites that steal credentials from careless users.

Simpler cryptocurrency phishing

The simplest variant of cryptocurrency phishing is good old spam emails supposedly sent by some web-service. In this case, the emails are sent on behalf of cryptocurrency wallet sites or exchanges.

Such fake emails look noticeably more detailed, neat and cleverly written than the average phishing email. Let’s say it could be a security alert saying that someone recently tried to log into your account from such-and-such address and such-and-such browser – click the link to check if everything is okay. The user could have configured themselves to receive such messages on the wallet site – and they won’t notice anything unexpected or all the more wrong.

 

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Or it can be an invitation to take part in a survey dedicated to certain events in the world of cryptocurrencies – for which they promise not a fabulously large, but very generous reward (0.005 Bitcoin at the current exchange rate – about $50-70). Again, “click the link to start the survey.

 

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In general, it feels good that the stakes are high: stealing a wallet with at least a couple of tenths of a bitcoin is not like stealing some pathetic email account that sells for 20 cents a bag on the black market. Criminals see a quick and direct profit, so they put more effort into creating phishing emails than usual – and the messages are noticeably more believable.

Cryptocurrency phishing with a twist
Recently, a more elaborate phishing scheme was discovered, directly related to cryptocurrencies and some, shall we say, interesting features of Facebook’s interface and how it works. Here’s how the scheme works.

Scammers find a particular cryptocurrency community and create a Facebook page with the same name as the official community page, as well as an identical layout. The address of the fake page is very similar to the real one, differing by just one letter. It’s not easy to see, because on Facebook the names of organizations and people (which can be made any way you want) are always displayed much larger and more prominently than the real addresses.

How to protect yourself from cryptocurrency phishing

  • What’s going on in the cryptocurrency market lately is very similar to the ride of unprecedented generosity. However, cryptocurrency services are not charities, they don’t give out money left and right. And if they promise you cryptocurrency for free, there’s probably something fishy going on.
  • Always check all links carefully. The best thing to do is not to click on links from messages from online services at all: instead, manually type the address of the desired service into the address bar of your browser.
  • To avoid fraudulent schemes on Facebook, set up your privacy carefully. Here’s how to do that in this post. It’s also helpful to set up Facebook notifications – we have a post about that, too.
  • Use an anti-virus that has special protection against phishing. For example, our Kaspersky Internet Security has such protection.

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