FBI Warns Over Potential Increase in Crypto Hack Attempts

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  • The FBI has warned cryptocurrency users and platform operators over a potential increase in hacking activity
  • The warning focuses heavily on SIM swapping and identity theft
  • They also issued guidance as to how to protect yourself

The FBI has issued warnings to cryptocurrency holders and exchange operators over an elevated threat of hacks targeting platforms and individuals. The alert, which went out at the end of last week to cybersecurity professionals, has now been made public and suggests that the FBI is wary of a heightened level of threat from technical support fraud, SIM swapping, and identity theft in order to take over a users’ account.

Exchanges and Users Asked to be Vigilant

The FBI took the unusual step of alerting the cryptocurrency community of the threat based on an increasing number of cases of cryptocurrency thefts and attempted thefts in recent months. The FBI has advised money-handling cryptocurrency organizations to check for emails coming from spoofed email addresses and tracking recently created accounts, while cryptocurrency owners are encouraged to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all their cryptocurrency accounts, deny any requests to download remote access applications, and only ever contact exchanges and payment companies via official phone numbers and email addresses.

The FBI is paying particular attention to SIM swapping, which is where hackers gain access to a user’s mobile phone through their provider, typically by stealing personal information and using it to trick customer service agents into believing that they are the account holder. However, in some instances, like with AT&T in 2018, customer service employees are believed to be in on the scam, handing out customer details for a cut of any cryptocurrency stolen and sold from the device in question.

FBI Offers Guidance on Protection of Funds

The FBI issued a SIM swap alert in March 2019 following an increase in such incidents, which contained advice on how to protect yourself against them. This includes withholding personal information and information on your financial situation on social media, including any cryptocurrency you hold; taking all possible security measures with your phone provider to protect your account; using unique passwords; and enabling 2FA on all devices.