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Kaspersky: Cryptocurrency Scammers Stole $2.3 Million in Q2

Cybercriminals earned more than $2.3 million from cryptocurrency scams during the second quarter of 2018, according to a new report from Kaspersky Lab.

In its Spam and Phishing in Q2 2018 report, the company reported that it had prevented almost 60,000 attempts by users from visiting fraudulent web pages featuring popular cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges from April to June 2018. The intruders earned the funds by inducing their victims to send their coins to fake ICOs and token distributions, Kaspersky explained.

And it’s not just token sales. As CoinDesk has previously reported, malicious websites masquerading as popular cryptocurrency services have also targeted would-be victims.

“The permanence of attacks targeting financial organizations reflects the fact that more and more people are using electronic money,” Nadezhda Demidova, lead web content analyst for Kaspersky, wrote in the company’s news release, adding:

“Still, not all of them are sufficiently aware of the possible risks, so intruders are actively trying to steal sensitive information through phishing.”

Looking more broadly, the Kaspersky report also demonstrated the global reach of phishing scams, with South America and Asia seeing the most activity in this area.

Brazil alone saw 15.51 percent of all phishing attacks during that period. China shared the second position with Georgia (14.44 percent), followed by Kirghizstan (13.6 percent) and Russia (13.27 percent).

Image via Shutterstock

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Cisco: Bitcoin Phishing Scam Bagged $50 Million Over 3 Years

Security researchers at Cisco have released new information about a bitcoin phishing scam that involves websites masquerading as Blockchain.info, the popular online wallet service.

In a blog post published Wednesday, Dave Maynor and Jeremiah O’Connor detailed the Coinhoarder phishing scam, which they said Cisco has been investigating in the past six months in partnership with the Ukrainian Cyberpolice. All in all, they said that those behind the scam had netted $50 million in cryptocurrency over a three-year period.

“The campaign was very simple and after initial setup the attackers needed only to continue purchasing Google AdWords to ensure a steady stream of victims,” they wrote. “This campaign targeted specific geographic regions and allowed the attackers to amass millions in revenue through the theft of cryptocurrency from victims. This campaign demonstrates just how lucrative these sorts of malicious attacks can be for cybercriminals.”

As shown in the blog, those behind the attack would create websites similar to Blockchain but with different domain names – “block-clain.info” and “blockchien.info” among them – that the casual user may not notice. They then “leveraged Google Adwords to poison user search results in order to steal users’ wallets,” thereby directing more traffic to those pages.

Cisco traced the group’s activity back to as early as 2015 and estimated that “tens of millions of dollars” in cryptocurrency had been stolen since that year. They indicated that as much as $50 million had been stolen, including $2 million in less than 4 weeks during one period last year.

“What is clear from the COINHOARDER campaign is that cryptocurrency phishing via Google Adwords is a lucrative attack on users worldwide,” the firm concluded.

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South Korea: North Korea Stole Millions From Crypto Exchanges Last Year

South Korean officials believe that North Korean hackers stole tens of millions of dollars’ worth in cryptocurrencies last year, according to local reports.

Kyodo News reports that the National Intelligence Service (NIS), briefing the country’s lawmakers on the cyber attacks, said that phishing scams and other methods had yielded tens of billions of won in customer funds. The news service notably reported that authorities in South Korea are probing whether the same hackers were behind last month’s attack on Coincheck, which led to the theft of more than $500 million in cryptocurrency.

Last year’s attack on cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb resulted in roughly 8 billion won being stolen, along with the personal information of some 30,000 customers, as previously reported by CoinDesk.

South Korean parliament member Kim Byung-kee further noted the impact of phishing emails in scamming users, according to Reuters, saying:

“North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won.”

Reclusive North Korea has been implicated in exchange hacks and scams on numerous occasions, as well as unsuccessful attempts at stealing cryptocurrencies from trading sites, as previously reported. Last year, police officials claimed that North Korean attackers attempted to trick 25 employees at four exchanges with spear phishing attacks, though none appeared to have fallen for the ruse.

The attempted thefts were first reported by cybersecurity firm FireEye, and later confirmed by government officials.

The rogue nation seems to be going after cryptocurrencies as a way to evade financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations, particularly sanctions voted in after the country’s recent nuclear missile tests.

North Korean wall image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.