3 ways an exchange account can be hacked
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3 ways an exchange account can be hacked

By Michele Porta - 15 Sep 2019

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Exchanges have long been one of the primary targets of hackers who wish to take possession of cryptocurrencies using a wide range of illegal methods.

Although most of these methods target directly the infrastructure of exchanges, there are many hackers who focus on individual investors.

The breakthroughs that in recent years have made cryptocurrency trading fairly easy, allowed many people who are not so technologically savvy to enter this world. As a result, many more people are at risk of phishing attacks.

Email phishing

Many of the users who mention the crypto world on Twitter or other social media platforms have already received numerous phishing emails.

These are often masked as important notifications by exchanges that require access via a link in the email.

This is nothing more than a classic phishing scam designed to collect login credentials. Although they are usually very easy to detect, some hackers have developed phishing emails that look a lot like real notifications to customers of major exchanges.

It is essential to remain on guard every time an email from an exchange is received. It is always better to log in via browser rather than via a link in an email to make sure the website is correct.

Fake exchange websites

Although phishing emails are probably the most common attempt to steal user credentials, fictitious websites have become another popular tool among hackers who want to gain access to investors’ funds in the crypto world.

When the name of an exchange is typed on Google, there are often sponsored ads at the top of the search results.

What is not always clear, is that some of these ads can be purchased by hackers. All of which is for the sole purpose of directing the victim to a website that looks identical to the original exchange website but which is designed to retrieve access credentials and then steal the funds.

Fictitious websites bearing the same name have appeared for a long list of exchanges including Bittrex, Poloniex and Binance, to name but a few. Google has begun to strongly suppress this kind of ads, however, new fake exchange websites are still being discovered regularly.

Hacking of the email address

Finally, the most dangerous and difficult method is the hacking of the email account, for the purpose of later accessing all linked accounts and resetting passwords.

If the hacker knows the victim’s name and personal phone number, they may be able to access the exchange.

If the two-factor authentication has been configured for the email account via SMS, a hacker may be able to exploit the Signaling System No. 7 (SS7) vulnerability in telecom networks to access the smartphone’s messaging functionality and intercept the access message.

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