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Crypto investors have helped send more than $50 million in donations to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia, but now U.S. officials are warning of new risks for those investors here at home.
The United States Treasury is concerned Russia could carry out cyberattacks on crypto companies — including the exchanges that hold many investors’ coins — as retribution for western sanctions, Reuters reported last week. The U.S. and its European allies have implemented severe sanctions on Russia to try and inflict as much economic pain as possible while it wages war on Ukraine.
To evade sanctions, Russia could lean on crypto as a form of currency since the “international financial rules and regulations are not as easily applied to cryptocurrency,” says Adam Levine, a cybersecurity expert and host of the “What the Hack” podcast. “It’s no surprise Russians are using it in the face of economic sanctions,” he says.
And as Russia’s war in Ukraine goes on, there could be more cybercrime and attempted scams for investors to look out for in coming weeks or months, Levine says. Concerns over Russian-linked hackers are not new: a recent analysis suggests more than 70% of all money made through ransomware hacks in 2021 went to hackers linked to Russia.
“Russian cybercrime syndicates could take a page from the North Korean and Iranian playbooks stealing cryptocurrency and DeFi exchanges to fund operations, especially given the devaluation of the Ruble,” Levine says.
How Can Investors Protect Their Crypto?
As crypto has become more popular, crypto hacks and scams have grown more common. Scammers stole roughly $14 billion in crypto in 2021, nearly twice as much the year prior, according to a report by blockchain data firm Chainalysis.
Scammers appear to already be taking advantage of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia to steal money from people looking to help. One of the most recent examples is a fake token called “Peaceful World” that scammers created to try to dupe people into thinking it was raising funds for Ukraine. Fake charity websites and phishing emails have also begun to pop up.
That’s why it’s important to implement good security measures to protect your crypto investments, and to be extra cautious of where you send any crypto donations. The most secure way to ensure your crypto is being donated to Ukraine is to donate to the government directly. Ukraine’s official (and verified) Twitter …….