Tech

Erik Gibbs

You’ve been warned – over 100 fake “Libra” domains created

Fortunately, the cryptocurrency community has wisened up over the years and isn’t as susceptible to scams as perhaps it once was. There is still fraud and theft, but many attempts fall flat. As the biggest crypto news of the year has been Facebook and its Libra project, it is only fitting that fraudsters would try to take advantage of the situation to perpetuate their illicit activities. According to Digital Shadows, a cyber intelligence firm, more than 100 fake domains related to Libra have been registered since the project was first announced.

According to a report published by the Independent, Digital Shadows researchers had identified over 100 Libra-connected domains created since June 18, as well as a few dozen more tied to Facebook’s Calibra wallet. Some of the sites are relatively benign – created by would-be entrepreneurs who believe Facebook will pay them to purchase the sites. Others, however, reportedly have been created for more nefarious purposes. 

Digital Shadows states in a blog post, “The vast majority of these are fairly boring- currently parked and not hosting content. Some domain squatters aim to jump on a domain name with the hope of making a profit when the company looks to buy it back from them. It’s become common practice for a lot of businesses to preemptively buy up all the relevant domains, so they don’t fall into the wrong hands, particularly TLDs which can cause reputational damage or send the wrong message.”

In those cases, fake sites were created to look just like the legitimate ones and the thieves behind the malicious sites ultimately were able to steal millions of dollars in crypto assets. The sites can be used impersonate the legitimate counterpart or to promote scams that abuse the Libra and/or Calibra names. The registration of the domain names could lead to issues like what was recently seen in Israel, as well as other locations. 

Digital Shadows explains, “[Criminals] can’t just rely on domain names that are obviously fake: Why would the official Libra website use a .fish or .style TLD? This is where punycode comes in. An increasingly common tactic is for criminals to register domains using characters from Greek, Cyrillic, and other alphabets which resemble letters in the Roman alphabet, also called a homograph attack. These can appear near-identical to unsuspecting users, and can be difficult to spot on smaller devices such as mobile phones. Examples could include substituting a lowercase A with the Cyrillic character ‘а,’, or using the Turkish dotless I ‘I’ in place of a lowercase L.”

In order to protect yourself, Digital Shadows recommends that users be vigilant, be stingy and be aware. The old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t” should be forever ingrained in users’ minds.

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