Beware! There are several malicious software (aka malware) that can steal your cryptocurrency. It is no longer just enough to set up a crypto wallet and then store your private keys offline, you might still be at risk of losing your cryptos. Your wallet security is only as secure as your device.

Malware is a computer program that is designed to intentionally cause harm to your system. The goal is often to steal valuable data which can then be used to cause further harm. Below are some malware (crypto malware) that can be used to steal your crypto.

1. Pennywise Malware

The Pennywise malware is a trojan malware (masquerading as legitimate software) that was discovered in 2022. It was predominantly spread through a YouTube channel created by the hacker. It was presented as free Bitcoin mining software. People were tricked into downloading the malware file after first disabling their system Anti-Virus.

Pennywise CRYPTO Malware
Pennywise crypto Malware

Once downloaded, the malware could then steal passwords, Private keys, and other sensitive data from the browser, browser extensions, files stored on the system, etc. The Pennywise malware affected popular browsers such as (Chrome, Explorer, and Chromium) as well as many of the popular wallets (Guardian, Atomic, Electron, Coinomi, Jaxx, Exodus) were also found to be vulnerable. Some of these have been fixed. The point is noted that a compromised system potentially compromises the security of many wallets.

2. Cryware

These are classifications of malicious software according to Microsoft, that can steal your crypto assets through a variety of means such as Clip and Switching, Keylogging (malware runs in the background and steals your login passwords and keys) ransomware (you pay a ransom to the hacker to unlock the encrypted information on your system), memory dumping (where the private key of your wallets are visible in the browser process memory, etc.

crypto Malware
Malware exposing the private keys in a browser’s memory

Crywares are not specific malware, but rather a collection of malware that fits various ways that your device could be compromised and ultimately lead to the loss of your crypto assets. The method deployed may be different but the goal is usually to steal your sensitive data or make it impossible for you to access as in the case of ransomware.

3. Clipper Malware

The Clipper malware (a.k.a Clipboard malware) was first discovered in 2017 on the Windows platform. It steals your funds by hijacking the content of a clipboard and then switching it to something else provided by the hacker. We often do not memorize wallet addresses as too long for that to be practical, rather, we naturally will use a clipboard to copy addresses when we want to make a transaction. The Clipper malware takes advantage of this, it switches the address we copied to that of the hacker. The result is the loss of funds each time you make a transaction. Crypto transactions are irreversible.

The Clipper malware can also affect both systems and mobile devices. It simply needs to be downloaded on your device. It is usually hidden in Apps that appear to be harmless or perform other functions. In 2019, ESET Security Solutions detected the Clipper malware was hosted on Google Android Playstore as Android/Clipper.C where it was masquerading as the legitimate Metamask wallet. This is a stack reminder that we should only use apps that are from verified sources and be sure they are free from bugs.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself

Here are some suggestions on what you can do to protect your device from crypto-malware

  1. Consider using a much more secure environment to install your wallet applications. Linux systems are very resistant to hacks, compared to your traditional Windows devices.
  2. Do not install applications from unknown sources. Only use the official sites to install any wallet service provider. And if you must use Apps on the Play Store, ensure that you are using the correct App.
  3. Do not on links from questionable sources such as Telegram private chats, social media feeds, etc.
  4. Disconnect your wallets from sites that interoperate with your wallet applications. Revoke wallet permissions after using them even for legitimate sites.
  5. Always ensure that the security updates on your systems are implemented
  6. Always encrypt your private keys, do not store them in plain text
  7. Confirm your wallet before making a transaction to it.
  8. Do not store your private keys online, including in emails. Everything online is potentially vulnerable to hacks.

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