New Cryptocurrency Investors Are More at Risk to Be Targeted By Hackers

Cybercriminals are, to no one’s surprise, looking to steal cryptocurrency from users, particularly newer users. Exchanges are boosting security measures after a spat of recent heists. To prepare, here’s a look at how new cryptocurrency investors are more at risk to be targeted by hackers.

Phishing Has Embraced Cryptocurrency

The crypto market is worth hundreds of billions now. This has drawn the wrong kind of attention. Amateur investors want to win big and the criminal-minded see them as inexperienced, soft targets.

Elliptic, based in London, tracks cryptocurrency crime and counts major European and U.S. exchanges as clients. Its co-founder, Tom Robinson, attests, “What we’re seeing is a shift away from the exchanges to the users — so things like phishing attacks, and trying to trick people into giving money to them.”

Robinson says new investors aren’t as technically sophisticated as seasoned investors, making them perfect targets for phishing attacks. The company has recorded a fivefold increase in phishing in crypto trading since the beginning of the year. This is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars stolen.

In phishing, cybercriminals con users out of personal details and private keys to access digital wallets. They do this by pretending to be wallet providers or crypto exchanges. One trick is changing a single letter or adding an accent to a domain address. This leaves users believing they’re going to a legitimate site.

Users would click into the site which was designed to resemble the original perfectly. Now users freely input personal information. This is an easy ruse. Many use their smartphones for their cryptocurrency affairs. On smaller screens, it’s easier to miss the details in a site’s design.

Until recently, cybercriminals like Coinhoarder used Google ads for their attacks. Search engine results for “bitcoin wallet” turned up “” This leads users to think they’re going to, a legitimate digital wallet provider. Google had to ban cryptocurrency ads to prevent scamming.

Attacks on Exchanges

Exchanges are another target for hackers. In the eight years since trading crypto, somewhere in the vicinity of a million bitcoins were stolen. This is over 5% of all circulating coins and, at today’s prices, is worth somewhere around $7 billion. And that only entails recorded crimes.

Exchanges are adjusting but hackers are persistent. Mt Gox, a Japanese exchange, had 650,000 coins hacked in 2014. The criminals took advantage of an exchange standard: leaving too many assets in internet hot wallets. In retaliation, a growing option is exchanges absolving themselves of asset responsibility. They mediate buying and selling but turns funds over to investors.

Larger exchanges are using third-party specialists to store private keys in offline physical vaults. This is actually a regulatory requirement but is accepted as a secure method for protecting bitcoin. Even then, the versatility and determination of hackers persist. Considered an escalating arms race, top cryptocurrency exchanges like OKX have to be ever ready for whatever new idea cybercriminals conceive.


The inexperienced tend to be far too eager. New investors can’t just investigate how to succeed in the bitcoin market, they need an understanding of how to protect themselves. Knowing about phishing, how to recognize scamming and being able to recognize a legitimate exchange has to every investor’s priority.