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Cryptocurrency Danger, US Warns of Rise in Hacker Attacks

Cryptocurrency Danger, US Warns of Rise in Hacker Attacks

Several US federal agencies have issued a joint warning about an increase in cryptocurrency-related attacks. Issued as an alert by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Treasury Department.

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US government agencies have noted the “cyber threat associated with cryptocurrency theft and tactics” used by malicious actors with suspected ties to North Korea. The rogue nation may be sponsoring these activities as early as 2020, according to the alert.

The malicious actors have been identified as Lazarus Group, APT38, BlueNoroff, and Stardust Chollima. US federal agencies said:

The US government has observed North Korean cyber actors targeting various organizations in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry, including cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, the games to win cryptocurrency videos (…).

According to the document, malicious actors use social engineering attacks across different “communication platforms” to introduce malware onto victims’ computers. Once the bad actors take control of the computer, the alert says, they steal your private keys or exploit other vulnerabilities.

These North Korean-backed malicious actors are behind some of the biggest attacks in the crypto space. Attacks have increased in recent months with major projects such as the NFT-based game Axie Infinity losing up to $600 million to these attackers.

Malicious actors could incentivize targeting of these projects due to their open source nature, low risk compared to a bank or centralized entity, and high rewards. The alert added:

Since April 2022, the North Korean actors of the Lazarus Group have been targeting various companies, entities and exchanges in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry (…). These actors are likely to continue to exploit vulnerabilities in cryptocurrency technology companies, gaming companies, and exchanges to generate and launder funds to support the North Korean regime.

How North Korean Bad Actors Might Try To Steal Your Crypto

The agencies went into more detail about the tactics used by the bad actors. As mentioned, these include phishing attacks targeting company employees.

The target receives a message via social media with a well-paid job offer. This tricks the victim into downloading the malware that contains malicious code.

Once installed, the software performs “an update” on the program that executes a malicious payload. This starts a process that compromises the victim’s computer in no time. The alert says:

Post-compromise activity is tailored specifically to the victim’s environment and is sometimes completed within a week of the initial intrusion.

US federal agencies have recommended that users and businesses implement two-factor authentication, program monitoring, application whitelisting, endpoint protection, and other actions that can mitigate a potential attack.

MyCrypto CEO Taylor Monahan has compiled a list of examples to visualize the tactics used by these malicious actors. Monahan advised caution as these actors could “shock you.”

Here is a list of examples of sneaky malicious phishing emails and messages and sites designed to trick you.

mostly crypto. or used to target cryptocurrencies. mainly Lazarus/Bluenoroff/APT from North Korea. 🎣

these will ruin you. all of you. pic.twitter.com/MLdugEgv4r

— Taylor Monahan 🦊💙 (@tayvano_) April 19, 2022

Related Reading | Cryptocurrencies can be used to finance terrorism, says India’s finance minister

At time of writing, Ethereum (ETH) is trading at $3,100 with a 6% gain in the last 24 hours.

ETH with moderate gains on the 4-hour chart. Source: ETHUSD Tradingview

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