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Phone Numbers Becoming Backdoor to Crypto Accounts


Hackers have discovered that the easiest and most direct way to steal cryptocurrency is to first steal phone numbers.

Hijacked phone numbers are used to drain crypto accounts

A growing number of online crimes begin with hackers persuading cellular phone companies to transfer a victim’s number to a device of their own. In many cases this allows the hacker to reset account passwords that use the phone number as a backup security measure gaining access to email, social media, and cryptocurrency accounts.

Though many who have been hacked this way are reluctant to admit the crime even highly successful, technical savvy investors have been targeted. Case in point Joby Weeks lost control of his phone number and subsequently, a million dollars worth of cryptocurrency was drained from his accounts. This despite requesting that his phone company add additional security measures after his wife and parents had their numbers stolen.

“Everybody I know in the cryptocurrency space has gotten their phone number stolen,” said Joby Weeks.

Hackers seem to home in on those most active on social media platforms related to trading crypto-currency. Experts giving advice on forums and even consultants that appear on mainstream media talking about investing have been successfully targeted through this method.

Bump up your security

This rash of phone porting is the unintended result of what was supposed to be a security upgrade known as two-factor authentication. Many email providers and financial services require phone numbers to be added to passwords in order to verify a users identity not seeing how easily the system could be reversed.

Service providers have taken it upon themselves to upgrade their own security measures by including more complicated PIN’s and adding complex security questions as a requirement for making changes. The problem is that customer service agents still have leeway to allow changes on a case to case basis.

“These guys will sit and call 600 times before they get through and get an agent on the line that’s an idiot,”

Mr. Weeks said.

There are many measures anyone can take to make their accounts more hack proof.

  • Add a password to mobile phone accounts.
  • Create an email address specifically for use with cryptocurrency accounts.
  • Use a phone number for cryptocurrency accounts that you don’t use for anything else.
  • Enable two-factor identification using google authenticator, not SMS text messaging.
  • Change passwords frequently and never use the same one on multiple accounts.

Probably the two most important ways to secure cryptocurrency is to first hold it in a secure (offline) multi-signature wallet and to keep a low profile online and in life about your trading activity.

In the end, no amount of precaution can stop dedicated hackers if they really want to access information. The goal is to become a less inviting target. It’s like the line about meeting a bear in the woods while hiking, it’s not necessary to outrun the bear just the other people.

The post Phone Numbers Becoming Backdoor to Crypto Accounts appeared first on NewsBTC.

Protect Yourself And Your Cryptocurrency From Real Criminals


Security experts advise on how to keep yourself and your digital coin safe from  thieves that focus on the crypto-wealthy.

Criminals targeting cryptocurrency investors

Cases of thieves targeting those who have gotten wealthy from the boom in Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies are on the rise worldwide. From Phuket, Thailand, to Manhattan to the Ukraine, stories of kidnappings and even killings for access to peoples Bitcoin is becoming a staple in the world news.

Fiat currency accounts in traditional banks and other holding systems have elaborate checks and countermeasures developed over a long time against thieves. The anonymous nature of cryptocurrency though assures criminals that once they have access to and can transfer the information to their own wallets it is nearly impossible to track down their identities.

Chainalysis is a company that specializes in tracing criminal activity on the Blockchain. Jonathan Levin the founder of the company has assisted law enforcement all over the world to try and track down stolen Bitcoin and its like.

Even when a transaction can be tracked through the Blockchain ledger though the anonymous design of cryptocurrency allows criminals not to have their true identities linked to their accounts. This is where the trail goes cold and not much more can be done.

“For this [crime], the advantage of Bitcoin is that it’s hard to verify,” said Chanut Hongsitthichaikul an investigator with the Chalong Police Station in reference to the extortion case in Thailand that involved a young Russian couple who were held in their apartment by armed assailants until $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency was transferred.

The police were able to track the victim’s laptop to Kuala Lumpur where it was discarded and that was where the investigation ended.

“This is now becoming more pervasive and touching more law enforcement divisions that deal with organized crime and violent crime on a local level,”

Jonathan Levin, founder of Chainalysis.

New security being developed

Recently a group of about 170 leaders in the crypto world held a panel discussion about security in Cancun Mexico. Calling the meeting the Satoshi roundtable the group discussed how individuals could protect themselves and their holdings from crypto thieves.

One measure that came from the meetings was having a ‘duress wallet’. That is a wallet with a small amount of currency to throw thieves off the trail of larger holdings.

Overall security advisers agree one the best measures presently is to keep your holdings in a multi-signature wallet. That is a wallet that requires at least two people to sign in for a transaction to be completed and for one of those people to be off location, perhaps an attorney.

Programmers are also in the process of creating wallets with built-in stress codes. Like duress alarms in banks, these codes can be triggered to inform either private security or law enforcement directly while a person is forced to make a transaction.

Perhaps the best and easiest way to protect yourself and your crypto-currency is to keep a low profile. In at least one high profile case the robbery was perpetrated after the victim had told his friend about his newly acquired crypto-fortune.

The post Protect Yourself And Your Cryptocurrency From Real Criminals appeared first on NewsBTC.