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How cybercriminals are exploiting SEO and SEM to facilitate crypto scams: Report

How cybercriminals are exploiting SEO and SEM to facilitate crypto scams: Report

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TL;DR

  • Bitrace reveals an increase in cryptocurrency scams involving fake wallet applications and fraudulent Telegram versions, facilitated by advanced SEO and SEM techniques.
  • Record-breaking losses in Q3 2023 highlight the urgency for improved security, with 76 hacks reported in just that quarter, resulting in an unprecedented $332 million lost to various exploits.

Bitrace, a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency industry, has recently shed light on an alarming trend—fake wallet apps that fraudulently appear on search engine results. Bitrace reports that perpetrators employ advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques to propel phishing links into prominence. These malevolent links then direct users to counterfeit wallet apps crafted with malicious backdoors.

These fraudulent applications emulate legitimate ones astonishingly, down to appearance and user experience. A case in point is the fake Bitpie wallet. A search query for “Bitpie wallet” spews out several phishing links, their fraudulent nature camouflaged until a closer inspection reveals disparities in the URL.

The malicious exploitation of Telegram

Moreover, the issue doesn’t stop at fake wallets. Bitrace’s report further revealed that cybercriminals exploit popular platforms like the Telegram messaging app, especially favored by cryptocurrency investors, to conduct scams. Counterfeit versions of Telegram embedded with malicious code are circulated through social engineering techniques. Consequently, when an individual pastes a blockchain address into the chat, the malware detects it and replaces it with an address controlled by the scammer. The user, oblivious to the scam, ends up transferring funds to the attacker.

Besides Telegram, high-return, low-risk investment scams like liquidity staking arbitrage are also coming to the fore. Such schemes invite users to deposit a set amount of cryptocurrency into a wallet with the promise of steady income. These platforms typically contain harmful code in their smart contracts, granting hackers unauthorized access to users’ tokens. Even associating these scams with well-known wallets like OKXweb3 and Trust Wallet doesn’t ensure the safety of assets.

Record-breaking losses in Q3 of 2023

Notably, these vulnerabilities contribute to an already perilous crypto landscape. According to data from blockchain security platform Immunefi, there were 76 hacks on crypto and Web3 projects in Q3 2023 alone. This is a significant leap from the 30 hacks reported during the same period in 2022. In September, the crypto community lost an unprecedented $332 million to various hacks and scams. These ranged from the crippling Mixin Network attack, resulting in a $200 million loss, to a $53.1 million breach affecting the cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx.

Hence, while Bitrace and other organizations strive to educate the public on these issues, individual vigilance remains crucial. Safeguarding digital assets in the crypto industry calls for continuous scrutiny of platforms and constant updates on potential threats. This trend of escalating scams underscores the exigency for enhanced awareness among all cryptocurrency stakeholders. Significantly, as Bitrace points out, it’s pivotal to remember that even reputable wallets do not guarantee the invulnerability of assets.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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