Unable to guard against Why are a large number of encrypted Twitter accounts hacked and used to publish phishing links? How to prevent it?

Why are many encrypted Twitter accounts hacked and used to share phishing links? How can we prevent it?

Original | Cointelegraph

Translation | Wu Shuo Blockchain

On July 21, Uniswap founder Hayden Adams’ Twitter account was hacked and a tweet containing phishing links was posted. It is reported that this hacking incident may be a SIM card theft, where the attacker takes over the victim’s phone number, enabling them to access bank accounts, credit cards, or other accounts.

On July 23, Coinlist’s account was also hacked, and phishing links were posted. In addition, on July 5, LayerZero’s Twitter account was hacked, and in June, the official Twitter account of DEX trading aggregation platform Slingshot and the Twitter account of BitBoy founder Ben Armstrong were also hacked. Why are a large number of crypto accounts being stolen? How should users protect themselves?

Below is the full translation of the article from Cointelegraph, with the original link:


Since SIM card swap attacks are generally considered to require low technical skills, users must remain vigilant about their identity security. Although the cybersecurity infrastructure is constantly improving, online identities still face many risks, including those related to hackers attacking users’ phone numbers.

In early July, Bryan Pellegrino, CEO of LayerZero, became one of the latest victims of a SIM card swap attack, which briefly took over his Twitter account. Pellegrino quickly wrote after regaining control of his Twitter account: “I guess someone took my ID from the trash and somehow deceived the agent while I was away from Collision, using it as proof of identity for a SIM card swap.” Pellegrino told Cointelegraph, “It was just a regular paper conference ID that said ‘Bryan Pellegrino – Speaker’.”

Pellegrino’s experience may lead users to believe that executing a SIM card swap attack is as simple as taking someone else’s ID. Cointelegraph has contacted some cryptocurrency security companies to find out if this is true.

What is a SIM card swap attack?

A SIM card swap attack is a form of identity theft where the attacker takes over the victim’s phone number, enabling them to access their bank accounts, credit cards, or cryptocurrency accounts.

In 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received over 1,600 complaints involving losses of over $68 million related to SIM card swap attacks. Compared to the complaints received in the previous three years, this represents a 400% increase in complaints, indicating that SIM card swap attacks are “definitely on the rise,” according to Hugh Brooks, Director of Security Operations at CertiK. Brooks said, “If we don’t move away from relying on SMS-based two-factor authentication and if telecom providers don’t improve their security standards, we may see the number of attacks continue to rise.”

According to 23pds, Chief Information Security Officer of SlowMist Security, SIM card swapping attacks are not very common at the moment but have significant growth potential in the near future. He said, “As the popularity of Web3 increases and attracts more people to enter this industry, the possibility of SIM card swapping attacks will also increase due to its relatively low technical requirements.”

23pds mentioned some cases of SIM card swapping attacks involving cryptocurrencies in the past few years. In October 2021, Coinbase officially disclosed that hackers stole cryptocurrencies from at least 6,000 customers due to a vulnerability in two-factor authentication (2FA). Previously, British hacker Joseph O’Connor was prosecuted in 2019 for stealing approximately $800,000 worth of cryptocurrencies through multiple SIM card swapping attacks.

How difficult is it to carry out a SIM card swapping attack?

According to executives at CertiK, SIM card swapping attacks can usually be completed using publicly available information or information obtained through social engineering techniques. Brooks from CertiK said, “In general, compared to attacks with higher technical requirements, such as smart contract exploits or exchange hacking, SIM card swapping may be considered to have a lower entry barrier for attackers.”

23pds from SlowMist agrees that SIM card swapping does not require advanced technical skills. He also pointed out that this type of SIM card swapping is “widespread” in the Web2 world, so its appearance in the Web3 environment is “not surprising.” He said, “It is usually easier to execute and deceive relevant operators or customer service personnel through social engineering techniques.”

How to prevent SIM card swapping attacks

Since SIM card swapping attacks usually do not require high technical skills from hackers, users must remain vigilant about their identity security to prevent such attacks.

The core protective measure to prevent SIM card swapping attacks is to limit the use of SIM card-based two-factor authentication methods. Budorin from Hacken pointed out that instead of relying on methods like SMS, it is better to use applications like Google Authenticator or Authy.

23pds from SlowMist also mentioned more strategies such as multi-factor authentication and enhanced account verification, such as additional passwords. He also strongly recommends users to set strong passwords or PIN codes for their SIM cards or mobile accounts.

Another method to avoid SIM card swapping is to protect personal data such as name, address, phone number, and date of birth. 23pds from SlowMist also advises carefully reviewing online accounts for any abnormal activities.

Brooks from CertiK emphasizes that platforms should also be responsible for promoting secure two-factor authentication practices. For example, companies can require additional verification before allowing changes to account information and educate users about the risks of SIM card swapping.

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