Cryptocurrency-related phishing surged by 170% in Phl in 2022 – Kaspersky

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Multinational cybersecurity firm Kaspersky said it found a huge surge in cryptocurrency trading-related phishing in the Philippines last year as cybercriminals around the world made a major shift from attacking traditional finance to the emerging fintech (finance technology) and the nascent crypto space.

Kaspersky noted that the surging crypto-phishing activities in the Philippines occurred even as there was a slight dip in such activities in the southeast Asian (SEA) region to which the country belonged.

The global cybersecurity company observed 64,080 crypto phishing in the region last year, which was 15 percent lower than 2021’s number.

Crypto-phishing grew in the Philippines by 170 percent in 2022 versus 2021. There was also an increase in such activities in Indonesia (+26 percent) and Malaysia (+4 percent).

“Southeast Asia is home to diverse countries and continue to lead globally in terms of cryptocurrency adoption. With the highly active play-to-earn gamers plus the remittance usage of cryptocurrency in countries with high overseas workers, we expect to see more adopters in the region,” said Chris Connell, Kaspersky managing director for Asia.

“This makes it essential to develop that protection-first mind set against attacks related to this useful technology,” Connell added.

The drop in crypto phishing is mainly detected in Singapore (-74 percent), Thailand (-51 percent) and Vietnam (-15 percent).

Global figures of Kaspersky for 2022 showed that the number of cryptocurrency-related phishing attacks prevented by Kaspersky anti-phishing systems increased by 40 percent compared to the previous year, with over five million attacks being stopped. 

Conversely, there was a decrease in the detection of traditional financial threats, such as banking and mobile financial malware. 

In 2022, cryptocurrency phishing rose significantly and was included as a separate category, demonstrating 40 percent year-on-year growth with 5,040,520 detections of crypto phishing in 2022 compared to 3,596,437 in 2021. 

This increase in crypto phishing could be partially explained by the havoc on the crypto market that occurred last year, Kaspersky said. However, it is still unclear whether the trend will continue, which will depend on the trust that users place in cryptocurrency.

This data correlates with users’ experiences with cryptocurrency threats explored by Kaspersky earlier this year – every seventh person surveyed was affected by cryptocurrency phishing.

An example of active crypto fraudulent scheme occurred in February 2023. Image from Kaspersky

Although most crypto scams are traditional tricks such as giveaway scams or fake wallet phishing pages, a recent active fraudulent scheme discovered by Kaspersky shows that scammers are constantly coming up with new techniques to ensure their success. 

In this campaign, the user receives a PDF file in English by mail, stating that they allegedly registered on a cryptocurrency cloud mining platform a long time ago and need to urgently withdraw a lot of crypts since their account is inactive. The file contains a link to a fake mining platform. To withdraw the crypt, the user must fill out a form with personal information, including the card or account number and pay a commission, in this case, through a crypto wallet or directly to the specified wallet address. 

“Despite some troubles that have occurred in the cryptocurrency market over the past six months, in the minds of many people, crypto still remains a symbol of getting rich quick with minimal effort. Therefore, the flow of scammers who parasitize on this topic does not dry out. In order to lure victims into their networks, these scammers continue to come up with new and more interesting stories,” said Olga Svistunova, a security expert at Kaspersky.

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