Bitter reminder for crypto users to stay vigilant

An unlucky Bitcoin (BTC) user was duped with 0.255 BTC, nearly $10,000, due to malware running on his computer.

Louis Nel, a tech blogger and crypto enthusiast, flagged the issue on Twitter, referring to his friend as “C.”

Nel told Coin-Crypto that C’s “Bitcoin was sent from Kraken to VALR, a South African exchange”, but “malware running on his computer intercepted the copied data and added a new wallet address when he pasted this without realizing it .”

Kraken exchange confirmed that the wallet address is not theirs; in further warning signs, Nel added that “there are 9 transactions in that wallet, so others have been duped as well.”

The wallet address in question now has a value of 0.27 BTC, but the funds have not moved. Nel shared a photo of the wallet address with linked addresses:

The Bitcoin wallet with affected addresses. Source: Louis Nelic

Malware attacks are nothing new in the world of crypto financing or even Bitcoin transactions. Chainalysis estimates that as much as $500,000 was stolen by just one malware bot over the course of 2021.

Moreover, seasoned cryptocurrency enthusiasts can face malware attacks: C first got involved with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in 2018. The malware attack is bad luck for C, but a poignant reminder for cryptocurrency users.

Transactions on Bitcoin are irreversible, or “immutable”, meaning that once the money has left a wallet, no party can manipulate or falsify data, or return the money. While it’s one of the protocol’s strengths, in situations like this malware attack, it’s a double-edged sword. Nel suggested:

“When you work with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, you are responsible for your own security. When copying and pasting wallet addresses, always check the first four to six characters and the last four to six to make sure they match.”

Related: No Crypto For Criminals: Coinjoin BTC Mixing Tool To Block Illegal Transactions

It comes down to one of the most crucial Bitcoin mantras, “don’t trust, verify”. When sending money, always read the addresses again and check “full address”. If it’s a large amount, send a test transaction of a few Satoshis to make sure the money arrives safely at the desired wallet address.

For C, despite discovery and removal of the malware software, “the problem was still there and sent me [Nel] a video in which the wallet address would still dynamically change.” The laptop, which ran Windows 10, still seems to be in danger:

“All we know is that the malicious software got embedded in his operating system and was still doing its thing.”

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