Crypto emerged as an idealist alternative to centralized banking and an effort to escape some of the dark forces within traditional banking. But where money goes, thieves follow. Cryptocurrency users and investors should stay aware of the risks and take precautions just as they do when they handle physical cash or regular dollars-and-cents transactions online.
- Over 50 major coins supported
- Trade with as low as $10 equivalent
- Crypto Loans up to 90% LTV
- Regulated EU platform.
- Available in 221 countries
- 250+ Cryptocurrencies
- 10+ million users
- Uphold is 100% reserved
- Earn up to 16% APY staking assets (not available in US)
- Registered with FinCEN (US), FCA (UK), and FCIS (Lithuania)
Terms Apply. Cryptoassets are highly volatile. Your capital is at risk. Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment, and there's no safety net if things go south.
As a new and complex finance system, crypto attracts predators — particularly since users’ holdings are stored remotely on the blockchain and digital wallets are vulnerable to digital hacks. Along with numerous trader scandals to have hit the headlines, this immateriality makes it hard for the average consumer to trust in the digital exchange. In fact, three-quarters of those who’ve heard of crypto distrust its reliability and safeness, according to a recent survey from Pew Research Center.
One significant issue is that hackers may create legitimate-looking apps and websites to lure clicks from unsuspecting crypto users. When the user accesses the site or installs the app, they inadvertently install malware on their device. The hacker may hold the user’s wallet or data for ransom; they may use the victim’s device to mine for cryptocurrency on the sly, impacting the device’s processing capabilities and compromising personal financial data.
These hackers are not affiliated with the crypto brands and products that they use to lure their victims. But they do tend to use some crypto names and terms more than others on their trick websites. To highlight the risk of following crypto-themed search results without due care, Coin Kickoff analyzed more than 28,000 URLs to see which crypto terms most commonly lead to malware or other security risks.
Coin Kickoff created a seed list of search terms for different crypto categories: coins, wallets, exchanges, metaverse coins and NFTs. Then we ran each term through Google and analyzed the first five pages of results with the Sucuri Malware Detection Tool, recording the threat level for every URL: minimal risk, low risk, medium risk, high risk or critical security risk, as shown below.
Finally, we ranked the terms by the percentage of URLs that were tagged as a medium security risk or worse, categorizing such terms as those with a high “% of URLs with potential malware.”
- Stellar is the most risky cryptocurrency to search for, with 37.97% of search results flagged for potential malware.
- Coinsbit is the most dangerous exchange-related term to search for (40.40%).
- Dreadfulz is the NFT collection that’s most dangerous to search for (51.92%).
- Jaxx Liberty is the most dangerous crypto wallet to search for (46.24%).
- OXBTC is the most dangerous crypto mining term to search for (50.62%).
- Biswap is the most dangerous metaverse coin to search for (42.70%).
Stellar is the Riskiest Cryptocurrency Search Term
There are around 3,000 different cryptocurrencies, and holders of multiple types generally require a wallet for each. But Stellar is a blockchain network that facilitates multiple currencies and also carries its own coin, the Stellar Lumen. The rising profile of this versatile platform has drawn the attention of hackers, including those who targeted Lumen holders in a phishing attack in 2021 by sending emails advertising a ‘staking event,’ which linked to a convincing but fake version of the Stellar website.
Short-lived Crypto Wallet Brands Attracting Online Crooks
Jaxx Liberty is the most dangerous crypto wallet to search for by a considerable margin. However, this wallet is gradually being retired, and its underlying infrastructure is to be used for Andiami: The Quest for Liberty, a new crypto hub based around a virtual game. Second-placed Digifox is no better an option: this platform was also closed down following ongoing technical problems and, yes, security issues.
Coinsbit Search Results Are Most Risky Among Exchanges — But Only Just
Crypto exchanges operate like stock exchanges for cryptocurrency, facilitating various trading and brokering processes for keen investors. Since this is where the great bulk of crypto wealth changes hands, it is a lucrative venue for both legitimate traders and nefarious scammers. FTX was one such example. The Estonia-based exchange Coinsbit, with a risk factor of 40.40%, is the riskiest search term in this category. But exchanges as a whole have a high-risk factor for dangerous search results — LATOKEN, MEXC, BTCEX, Deepcoin and BingX are all within 2% of Coinsbit.
Biswap and Efinity Search Results Are Likely to Harbor Malware
While the metaverse as it was promised to the masses may have stalled, the dream lives on through the existence of virtual worlds such as Decentraland and Sandbox — and there is significant overlap between the user base of both these technologies. Unfortunately, this makes metaverse-based cryptocurrency an attractive playing field for scammers. “Technology advancements are a great thing,” according to Jim Lee at the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations unit, “but the Metaverse combined with Web 3.0 allows people to be more anonymous than ever.” High-risk metaverse coins from a search results perspective include Biswap and the relatively well-considered Efinity Token.
Dreadfulz is the Most Plagued NFT Search Term
NFTs quickly became associated with investors that have too much money to spare during the technology’s brief boom in 2021. But if the general buzz around the concept has fizzled out, it has left a healthy core base of NFT investors and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the idea that their money is up for grabs still remains — and over half of the searches made for the villainy-themed Dreadfulz collection are flagged as risky by the Sucuri Malware Detection Tool.
Chinese Crypto-mining Software OXBTC Exploited by Malware Agents
Cryptomining is the core of the crypto economy. Since this is how units of currency are created, it is an attractive category of search term for hackers to exploit. Users searching for crypto-mining software may be likely to generate a wealth of units that hackers would like to exploit; these users are also considering installing new software on their devices, which plays right into the hands of those trying to spread malware. Crypto-mining search terms are among the most dangerous in our study — around two-fifths to half of the results returned by the ten most dangerous mining programs are risky, with Chinese brand OXBTC the most exploited of all.
Investors often perceive crypto as a “get rich quick” scheme. And so, crypto is often spoken about in urgent terms (not unlike other big leaps in the tech economy — the metaverse landgrab, AI panic). This may lead new users and investors to make hasty moves during preliminary research or while making transactions. It’s important to think twice before every click.
Slow and cautious may be a more sensible approach to making money from crypto — or even engaging in everyday transactions. To defend against malware when searching crypto terms, take some of these precautions:
- Keep updated security software on every device.
- Monitor admin rights on your devices to prevent other users from inadvertently installing malware.
- Make sure that you only download files from websites with an authentic website certificate.
- Be wary of crypto sites promising offers that seem to be too good to be true — they probably are.
You can also peruse our full data below to identify the search terms that need extra caution when used. There is nothing wrong with these brands per se, but malicious agents may piggyback their names to gain access to your system — and that precious, precious cryptocurrency.
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
In this project, we explored search terms related to crypto coins, wallets, exchanges, metaverse coins and NFTs to find out which ones return the results that are most likely to contain malware and security risks. We analyzed more than 28,000 URLs for malware using Sucuri Malware Detection Tool.
First, we created a seed list of search terms for different crypto categories: coins, wallets, exchanges, metaverse coins and NFTs. This resulted in a universe of 282 of the most popular coins, wallets, exchanges, metaverse coins and NFTs, based on information from sites like CoinMarketCap, CrypstoSlate and Crypto.com.
Then we ran each term joined by a qualifier into Google and got the first five pages of results. Qualifiers for all terms were “torrent,” “download” and “extension.” Results for Binance, for example, would include the first five pages of results for the search “Binance extension.”
Once we had our search results for each query, we ran the URLs through the Sucuri Malware Detection Tool and recorded the threat level for every URL. URLs were classified as either minimal risk, low risk, medium risk, high risk or critical security risk.
Finally, we calculated the number of URLs at each threat level for every search term and ranked the terms by the percentage of URLs that had medium security risk or above, or as we called this metric – “% of URLs with potential malware.”
The data for this research is correct as of August 2023.
Other Popualr Guides
- 3 Best Bitcoin Crypto Casinos With Bonuses
- How to Buy Bitcoin (BTC)
- How to Buy Ethereum (ETH)
- How to Buy Dogecoin (DOGE)
- How to Buy Shiba Inu (SHIB)
- How to Buy Solana (SOL)
- How to Buy Litecoin (LTC)
- How to Buy Polkadot (DOT)
- How to Buy Polygon (MATIC)
- How to Buy Cardano (ADA)
- How to Buy Avalanche (AVAX)