Not too long ago, we received word that one of India’s largest Bitcoin exchanges had been affected by a data breach. Contrary to what most people expected, the main objective of the hackers was not to steal funds directly from the company. Rather, they were after the email addresses of customers, who were swiftly bombarded with emails pertaining to a nonexistent cryptocurrency ICO.
Cryptocurrency ICOs are a Tool for Criminals
It was only a matter of time until nefarious individuals looked to utilize cryptocurrency ICOs for their own gain. Even though various ICO projects have suffered from hacks and scams over the past few months, it looks like some criminals are upping their game. The email vendor for India’s UnoCoin exchange was recently targeted in a successful hack. It is not the first time a Bitcoin exchange has been compromised by criminals, but it does not often happen that the criminals will fail to extract funds when they do so.
That is exactly what transpired with UnoCoin recently. Although UnoCoin avoided a disaster, the criminals were not seeking financial gain in the first place. Instead, they were after a far more valuable commodity in the form of customer email addresses. These addresses were successfully obtained from the company’s email vendor. Third-party service providers always pose a security risk.
Those email addresses could easily be obtained through other methods. Cryptocurrency users are often targeted by phishing campaigns trying to redirect them to fake Bitcoin wallet websites or bogus exchanges. In the case of UnoCoin customer email addresses, they took an entirely different approach. All of these users received an email regarding the so-called UnoCoin ICO. Considering how the Indian exchange has no ICO plans, this message was received with a lot of skepticism and confusion alike.
NOTICE: A hacker is attempting to solicit customer funds by stating that Unocoin is undergoing an ICO, this is NOT an email from our team.
— Unocoin (@Unocoin) August 12, 2017
The email in question contains a link to a website posing as a legitimate ICO organized by the Unocoin team. It is possible some of the platform’s users will fall for the trick as the page looks fairly professional. The company has warned its users about this fake email and reiterated that no one should participate or send any money to the purported ICO address.
Given the rise in popularity of cryptocurrency ICOs, it is not surprising to see this development. A lot of dumb money and uneducated investors have flocked to these opportunities over the past few months. Anything that looks even remotely legitimate will draw people’s attention these days. That is especially true if a big name such as UnoCoin is allegedly behind the ICO even though this is not the case. It is likely we will see more such scam ICOs in the future.
Cryptocurrency users really need to consider the potential impact of cryptocurrency ICOs on the overall ecosystem. Everyone and their dog is trying to raise money for projects that may never succeed in the long run. Some of those projects may turn out to be utter scams in the end. Always be wary of emails regarding ICOs sent to you by unknown entities. The fact that it seemingly has a company name attached to it does not mean it’s legitimate.