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Scammers Steal Around $30,000 via Infected Fake Hardware Wallet

Scammers Steal Around $30,000 via Infected Fake Hardware Wallet

Cybersecurity researchers from Kaspersky have found that a hacker stole roughly $30,000 from a hardware wallet recently. In a press release issued earlier today, the company shared the details of this theft, where 1.33 BTC  has been lost, which amounts to about $29,585.

The investigation showed that the victim didn’t notice the theft immediately and that the transfer was made without their knowledge. On the day of the theft, the victim did not keep the wallet connected to their computer and made no transactions.

Signs of Tampering

While the device seemed perfectly normal at first glance, the investigation also showed that the hardware wallet had signs of tampering.

Flash memory was disabled, and the wallet had a different microcontroller. In addition, the device was filled with glue and held together with double-sided tape, as opposed to being welded like authentic hardware wallets. All of this led the company’s researchers to deduce that the device in question was already infected before the purchase.

The scammers also changed the bootloader’s firmware to significantly reduce the effort needed to pick up a key to a fake wallet, the researchers said. The wallet was seemingly working properly, but from the very start, the hackers had absolute control of it.

Preventable Attacks

Hardware wallets (also known as “cold wallets”) are generally considered the safest way to store crypto. Unlike “hot wallets” (software wallets such as mobile apps, for example), hardware wallets cannot be accessed by compromising the mobile device that hosts them.

That’s why many crypto enthusiasts use hardware wallets as a safe and secure way to store their digital assets, thinking they are foolproof. That could be the case if the devices are acquired from verified, trusted sources and make it to the buyer untampered. 

Hardware wallets have long been considered one of the safest ways to store cryptocurrency, but cybercriminals have found new ways to benefit by selling infected or fake devices to unsuspecting victims. Such attacks are totally preventable. Hence, we strongly advise users to only purchase hardware wallets from official and trusted sources to minimize the risk.

Stanislav Golovanov said.

Furthermore, the researchers advise users to always check for signs of potential tampering, like glue or scratches, and to always verify that the firmware of the hardware wallet is up to date and legitimate, which can be done by checking the official manufacturer’s website.

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