Industry Trends

Managing Securely Around Crypto Scams

By Aamir Lakhani | November 15, 2022

It’s no secret that cybercriminals will continue to rely on tried-and-true attack tactics, particularly those that are easy to execute and help them achieve a quick payday. In fact, given the success of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) will evolve in the immediate future in a big way. CaaS will be a very attractive business model for threat actors and a growing number of additional attack vectors will be made available as a service through the dark web. Crypto and digital wallets will be high on that list.

Crypto Credentials and Digital Wallets Are Legit Attack Vectors

Crypto exchanges and digital wallets will be top of mind as CaaS expands. It comes down to “money.” Bank transactions and wire transfers used to be prime targets for cybercriminals. Yet as banks increasingly enhance their security measures, encrypt transactions, and require multi-factor authentication (MFA), it is more difficult for hackers to intercept these transactions. This has criminals looking for other opportunities.

What Are Crypto Scams?

Crypto scams are just like other financial scams, but scammers are interested in crypto assets rather than just cash. These scams use some of the same techniques are other scams. The goal is usually to manipulate someone to give up personal data, transfer digital assets like NFTs, steal crypto, etc.

Recovering Stolen Funds Is Not Easy Given LaaS

As CaaS expands in the coming months, Money Laundering-as-a-Service (LaaS) is on the horizon. This could quickly become part of the growing CaaS portfolio. And for the organizations and individuals that fall victim to this type of cybercrime, the move to automation means that money laundering will be harder to trace, decreasing the chances of recovering stolen funds.

Looking Back at 2022

Last year, FortiGuard Labs predicted more instances of malware designed to target stored crypto credentials and drain digital wallets. Digital wallets are easy targets for hackers, as they tend to be less secure. There were examples of non-fungible token (NFT) hacks that occurred in 2022. Several NFT hacks occurred on the popular social platform Discord also made headlines. That said, the risks and further exploitation in these blockchains are still yet to be widely exploited, which means new opportunities for cyber adversaries.

Five Tips to Avoid Crypto Scams

1) Manage Software Wallets: Keeping crypto wallets safe, starts with the wallet owner. Keep a smaller amount of crypto in software mobile wallets for everyday exchanges and transfers. Any significant amount should go into a hardware wallet. Use exchanges for minimal, time-based transactions. If an exchange doesn’t support immediate withdrawals, consider other options. If a hardware wallet is lost or stolen, use the seed file to synch directly with the blockchain to recover assets. Seed files should be protected at all times.

2) Don’t Advertise Yourself: Anyone who engages in crypto should not be talking or advertising about it on online forums, social media, or other platforms. This is an invitation for criminals to want to target you.

3) Secure Endpoints: Regardless of work-from-anywhere or crypto-trading-from-anywhere, real-time visibility, protection, and mitigation are essential with advanced endpoint detection and response (EDR) to protection and remediation. Cybercriminals know endpoints are the target.

4) Do Your Own Research: Looking outside an organization for clues about attack methods can be helpful. DRP services are critical for external threat surface assessments, to find and remediate security issues, and help gain contextual insights on current and imminent threats before an attack takes place.

5) Educate: An important method to defend against these developments is cybersecurity awareness education and training. Everyone needs to be prepared to defend against the more sophisticated and intelligent phishing techniques of criminals today.

Learn more about how Fortinet delivers innovative endpoint security with real-time visibility, analysis, protection, and remediation with FortiEDR