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Cryptocurrency wallets targeted by hackers

(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

Hackers have discovered a new way to gain access to the cryptocurrency wallets of users as well as their other online accounts. 

A recent surge of online attacks has revealed that hackers have been able to gain access to the smartphones of many users by making a simple phone call.    

Two-factor authentication as grown in popularity as a means of securing our digital devices and many online services now require that users provide their mobile phone number to help make their accounts more secure.  As a result of this practice, hackers have begun to call up US telecoms including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile and request that a phone number be transferred to a device they are in control of. 

After having the phone number transferred, the hackers can then reset all of the passwords that require it as a security backup.  While Google, Facebook and Twitter require a phone number for additional security, so to do a number of virtual currency wallets.  The US Federal Trade Commission has seen a spike in these types of attacks over the past few years and as of January 2016, 2,658 users have had their mobile devices taken over by hackers. 

The attackers generally prey on victims that discuss owning virtual currencies online or are publicly known to invest in companies within the industry.  As cryptocurrency transactions were designed to be irreversible so that they could not be traced by banks or governments, there is often nothing a person can do once they have fallen victim to this type of attack. 

The speed at which these attacks occurred has led many to believe that they were carried out by groups of hackers as opposed to individuals. 

Though there is little victims can do to recover their losses, the the popular Bitcoin wallet company Coinbase has encouraged its customers to disconnect their mobile phone numbers from their accounts on the site to prevent being targeted. 

Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.