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Blockchain hype exploited by spammers and phishers

Hackers are exploiting the popularity of blockchain technologies in spamming and phishing campaigns, warns Kaspersky Lab

Multiple blockchain-themed fraud schemes exploiting the hype around the technology have been spotted in recent months, according to security researchers.

This proves cyber attackers are monitoring the latest trends and global developments in cryptocurrencies, said Kaspersky Lab’s third quarter spam and phishing report.  

Based on blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies have become an attractive target for cyber criminals, who have been targeting their victims through web-mining, the report notes.

However, the report warns that alongside this, there has been an increase in spam activities related to cryptocurrency in the past three months.

Fraud schemes, based on cryptocurrency trading, have been prevalent, the report said. In one such scenario, users receive an email invitation to install special software for trading in the cryptocurrency market, but when they click on the link, they are redirected to different websites promoting investments options, including binary options trading.

By doing this, cyber criminals hope users will be enticed to invest more and more money, and transfer currency to a trading account which they own. However, for the victim there is no guarantee that it will lead to something, or they will get their money back, the report warns.

More primitive, but no less effective tactics used to exploit victims include the distribution of emails offering to transfer money to a specific crypto wallet, with fake promises of returning the money with interest.

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Another fraud scheme involves duping victims into paying high prices for educational workshops the criminals claim will help recipients learn more about cryptocurrencies and how they could benefit from them, but no such advice is received after payment is made.

“While in the second quarter of the year we observed the WannaCry spam and phishing attacks, in the past three months we have witnessed criminals actively exploiting the popularity and interest around cryptocurrency,” said Darya Gudkova, expert spam analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

“This once again shows the most reliable way to target victims is by exploiting current trends and cashing in on an emerging market which users are still getting to grips with and keen to explore,” she said.

According to Gudkova, it is “extremely important” to raise awareness about these schemes because this kind of fraud is likely to continue.

The report also reveals the average amount of spam has increased to 58.02%, which is 1.05 percentage points higher than the previous quarter, and that cyber criminals are increasingly focusing on using messenger applications on mobile devices to carry out popular, online scams.

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