Group-IB: Cryptocurrencies and hackers

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So far this year we have seen how cybercrime has taken a toll in protecting the anonymity of cryptocurrencies, as well as attacks on crypto currency services that have resulted in million-dollar losses.

Group-IB is one of the world’s leading providers of high-tech crime and online fraud and the first Russian provider of threat intelligence solutions included in the Gartner, Forrester and IDC reports. And is a permanent member of the World Economic Forum. Group-IB has the largest crime laboratory in Eastern Europe.

According to the Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2017 annual report submitted by Group-IB at CyberCrimeCon, the total damage caused by hacker attacks targeting the cryptocoin industry amounts to more than $ 168 million, and attack revenue to cryptocurrency stock exchanges range from $ 1.5 million (Bitcurex) to $ 72 million (Bitfinex)., while a successful bank attack has given criminals only about $ 1.5 million on average. In addition to greater profitability, hackers are attracted to anonymity as one of the basic principles of the cryptocurrency industry.

Cryptocoins and related services represent an extremely dynamic and high-performance market. With a rate of development and a cash inflow of this type, blockchain startups believe that security issues are of minor importance, which has been and is a fatal mistake. And hackers take advantage of this. The more successful a fintech project, the greater its financial presence or ICO. This makes it more attractive for attacks. In each case, attackers can use a wide range of existing techniques, from the usual phishing and control interception on domains to vulnerabilities in source codes and targeted attacks with the goal of gaining access to the companies’ local networks.

According to Dmitry Volkov, Director of the Department of Threat Intelligence, co-founder of Group-IB, “The number of threats to cryptocurrency and blockchain projects registered by our threat intelligence system skyrocketed along with the bitcoins rate. Vulnerabilities in the source codes of smart contracts, gained access to secret wallets of changes in the cryptocoin and organized leaks of user databases and the sequestration of domain names. Botnet owners monitor infected devices that access web applications and the creation and promotion of phishing websites to intercept access to customer accounts is already being implemented.

Adds Volkov: “The fact that attacks are” redirects “of popular banking trojans like TrickBot, Vawtrak, Qadars, Tinba, Marcher to collect login data and user passwords from cryptones, suggests that they have found a new niche and could focus outside the traditional banking sector.”

In addition to greater profitability, pointing to crypton coins offers additional advantages to attackers, since anonymity is the basis of the entire industry, as well as simpler and safer mechanisms for the laundering and liquidation of stolen money.

“The increased interest in cryptocoins will likely result in a situation where more attacks will be carried out not only by financially motivated hackers but also by government-sponsored groups that will try to use this new financial instrument to exert influence on the economy world “, predicts Volkov. In any case it is a scenario that is taking us in real time.


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