Fraudsters are using phishing attacks to bilk victims out of Ethereum (a cryptocurrency), according to a Chainalysis, which says that about 17,000 victims have been taken for a whopping $115 million dollars. The attacks are targeting victims by sending them emails–sometimes claiming to be announcing an initial coin offering (ICO)–and then redirecting victims to impostor websites which harvest credentials of their victims. In other words, you get an email that says you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the next round of investment in a cryptocurrency, and when you click the link you’re actually just being redirected to a website that is stealing your login and password for your digital wallet.
There are a lot of factors at play here, including an investment opportunity and technology that many people have only a tenuous understanding of: cryptocurrency. The opportunity to make money is compelling, and when you are dealing with a context that people only weakly understand, it may be able to convince them more easily as well. That’s the convincing and compelling combination that makes this phishing attack so effective.
Another interesting point on this phishing attack trend is that the phish is not always in the form of an email. Chainalysis suggests that some of the phish are in the forms of posts to Twitter posts and Slack messages. Then of course the second component is the phishing website, which serves as the credentials harvester. It just goes to show that phishing is not limited to emails alone, but instead it more broadly encompasses a deception targeting a human by using technology.