Cryptocurrencies can be stolen without any hope of tracing or recovering the funds. Here is a rundown of how cybercriminals operate.

In recent years, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin experienced a tremendous boom, reaching a maximum historical economic value of US$20,000 per coin. This of course piqued the development of crypto mining malware to steal a share of the crypto pie.

Crypto-jacking involves the stealing of computer resources such as processor computer time and graphical processing units (GPUs) to mine cryptocurrency. It remains one of the main trends in malware attacks on speculators, corporations and cryptocurrency exchange platforms.

Cybersecurity firm Check Point notes that four types of cryptocurrency-linked hacks have been most used in recent times:

  1. Phishing: This type of hacking basically cheats cryptocurrency owners. To do this, cybercriminals create fake websites with an appearance that is almost identical to that of an official cryptocurrency purchase or exchange page to impersonate their identity and make anyone believe that they are accessing a trusted page or site. In addition, this practice is usually accompanied by a campaign to send emails with special offers to entice users who receive this information to click on the link that comes within the mail. Once the victim uses credentials and passwords to log into the fake website, the hackers will get to work on transferring funds out quickly.
  2. Ransomware: Along with phishing, this is one of the types of cyberattacks with the greatest history in the world of cybersecurity. In this case, a computer virus is downloaded and activate on any computer (mainly desktops and laptops) and that encrypts all the files it stores, thus preventing access to information. The only way to regain the data is through the payment of a ransom, which in this case is done by transferring cryptocurrencies to the cybercriminals behind the attack.
  3. Keyloggers: This type of threat, which is more modern than the previous ones, is much more difficult for the victim to detect, and therefore much more dangerous. Keyloggers are computer programs that are downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge. The malware detects keystrokes and movements of the keyboard and mouse. In this way, a cybercriminal can find out the user data and password to access a cryptocurrency purchase or exchange service without the victim noticing.
  4. Banking trojans: This threat is a type of malware that is generally presented as legitimate software, but once downloaded it offers cybercriminals full control of the equipment via remote access, and thus access to all the information in the device. In this way, attacker can spy on victims and, thus, have access to cryptocurrency keys and passwords with which to steal funds.

These four forms of hacking have a common objective: to gain the credentials of their victims and obtain a great financial benefit. In addition, the ways in which cybercriminals tend to disseminate this type of computer virus are usually through emails that contain malicious files, or via websites that, in reality, are not what they seem. For this reason, it is essential that users become aware of the need to increase the levels of caution when they receive an email from a suspicious recipient, so they should not click on any link or download attachments.

Check Point also warns of the need for cyber security tools that monitor background computer processes and warn users of unusual or recognizable fraudulent software activities.