Hacker Steals $1 Million of Bitcoin: Learn How to Protect Your Cryptocurrency

This week, a young American man, Nicholas Truglia, has been charged with 21 accounts of felony after hacking several Silicon Valley executive’s phones. In doing so, he stole $1 million worth of Bitcoin. This was all done by exploiting a tactic called SIM swapping. Read on to learn more about how SIM swapping works and how you can protect yourself against it.

bitcoin phoneBitcoin security has been hurtled into the headlines once more this week, as a young man in America faces 21 counts of felony after he went on a hacking spree.

Nicolas Truglia successfully hacked into six different smartphones and managed to steal $1 million worth of Bitcoin off one victim.

The crime is known as ‘SIM swapping' and it's on the rise. So, with more and more people now investing in cryptocurrency, how can you make sure you're safe?

In today's post, we discuss how the thief was able to steal bitcoin, what a bitcoin hack may look like, and what you can do to protect your cryptocurrency wallet.

The Hack

Bitcoin Hacked PhoneOn the 26th of October, Robert Ross noticed his phone had lost signal for an unusual length of time. Confused by this, Ross visited his nearby Apple store and later contacted his network operator, the American brand AT&T.

However, sadly Robert Ross was not quick enough to foil a bitcoin attack.

Nicholas Truglia lifted $1 million worth of Bitcoin from Ross' phone. Ross was storing $500,000 in two separate accounts at Coinbase and Gemini, and Truglia managed to get to them both.

Ross isn't the only person to have been hacked, unfortunately. Truglia himself had various other targets too. In the summer, a Californian man sued AT&T after hackers stole $24 million worth of cryptocurrency he had stored on an online exchange.

How Did the Hack Happen?

Truglia was targeting Silicon Valley executives – people he believed would have cryptocurrency stored on their smartphone.

Erin West, the deputy district attorney of Santa Clara County, called this a ‘whole new wave of crime', however the schemes which allowed Truglia to access Ross' smartphones aren't actually that new at all.

SIM Swapping Schemes

SIM Swapping PhonePhone hacking isn't a new crime, yet it now puts people at a much greater risk due to all of the apps we use – currency exchanges, pay by phone casinos, mobile banking and more.

Criminals are able to access phones by exploiting a tactic known as ‘SIM Swapping'.

Essentially, they dupe phone operators into getting phone numbers reassigned.

How Does SIM Swapping Work?

Should you want to replace a SIM card or have your mobile number transferred to a new SIM, you can call up your network operator and answer a few security questions. The whole process takes a matter of hours and is relatively simple.

However, hackers are buying the answers to these security questions on the dark web. They then relay this information to the phone operator employees, convincing them that they're speaking to the owner of the phone number.

Once the SIM swap is complete, the hacker simply opens up the apps from their own device. Although many of these apps use two-factor verification, which asks for a separate security PIN code, the hacker now controls the original phone number. This means that he will receive the security code, and can, therefore, access the apps without raising suspicion.

Can Bitcoin Be Traced?

Blockchain Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are sadly untraceable.

Whilst the beauty of the blockchain means that all transactions are recorded on a public ledger, one of the biggest appeals of cryptocurrency is that users remain anonymous.

This means that whilst a hacking transaction may be able to be found, there's no way of identifying who made the transaction and so, finding out who the hackers are is difficult.

How Can You Protect Your Cryptocurrency?

So, if phone hacking is this easy, how can you make sure you're not at risk?

Be Vigilant

In order to stop SIM swapping schemes, cybersecurity and phone network experts say that all phone users should treat their phone number in the same way as they do with a password.

Stay Alert SignObviously, we all give away our phone numbers all of the time – whether that's when signing up to a new service or because we've made a new friend at the bar.

However, it's now more important than ever before that we are vigilant with who receives our contact details. Always make sure that you truly trust who you give your phone number to and, if you're entering your phone number into something online, make sure you're doing so via an encrypted server.

You can check if your server is safe by looking out for the padlock symbol in the URL bar of the page you're visiting.

Make Sure Your Passwords Are Unique

Password EntryVery few of us will not be guilty of using similar passwords for everything in life. Using the same password for everything makes life easier, and ensures that you don't forget login details.

However, this does leave you vulnerable to hacking crimes.

If you're creating a password for something very sensitive, like your phone, make sure it's completely unique. You should also change it regularly, and make sure it isn't based around a personal detail which scammers could guess or find out.

Invest in a Hardware Wallet

When you invest in cryptocurrency, there are essentially three ways to store your new money:

  • In a currency exchange
  • In a digital wallet
  • In a hardware wallet

Hardware WalletIn terms of security, the hardware wallet comes first and the currency exchange comes last.

Both currency exchanges and digital wallets are online, and therefore very vulnerable to hacks. Instead, cryptocurrency investors should always store their money in a hardware wallet.

This is a wallet which isn't connected to the internet, a bit like an external hard drive. These wallets are also known as ‘cold storage' and they allow you to store your bitcoin away from the grips of the internet.

PayPal On an Account Blocking Frenzy – Will Yours Be Next?

paypal blocked accountPayPal has raised many eyebrows recently with numerous account blocks. Some of the banned PayPal users include far-right activists, anti-fa organizations and, a little earlier, ASMR artists.

This has led many people to question PayPal’s decisions and the reasoning behind it. If the company is triggered so easily, who can be sure that their PayPal account won’t be the next to go?

In this article, we’ll look at the reasons why the top payments provider worldwide limits and blocks accounts. Also, we’ll provide some tips on keeping your e-wallet safe:

  • Keep your profile updated
  • Contact the company when you’re travelling
  • Contact them when you’re expecting an unusual amount of money

Why Does PayPal Block Payments?

paypal ban antifaThere are many ways to get your account blocked, as is evident from the recent examples. Unfortunately, the company isn’t always clear about their true reasoning.

When asked about this after the recent bans of various anti-fascist organizations, the representatives were vague:

“We have and continue to remove accounts that we deem to be promoting hate, discriminatory intolerance or those that are involved in perpetuating violence.”

The PayPal ban ASMR creators had to endure was received as similarly controversial. PayPal dubbed ASMR as “sexual content”, which is an understandable reason to limit someone’s activity.

The problem is, most of this content isn’t sexual at all. As a result, more people are starting to doubt PayPal’s decisions. Apparently, being an activist or a creator is getting risky as PayPal enters an account blocking frenzy.

PayPal Blocked Funds for 180 Days

paypal freeze moneyDespite these seemingly subjective interpretations of their own policy, PayPal does have specific rules in place. Safety is a top priority here, which is why anything suspicious might get you into trouble.

All you need to do get your PayPal account frozen for six months is:

  • Not updating your account information or leaving these fields blank
  • Issues with credits or debts in the past
  • Breaking the user’s policy, e.g. the aforementioned hate promotion or providing sexual content
  • Have someone complain about your business
  • Receiving an unusually large amount of money quickly

When the company freezes your money in the e-wallet, you can’t access any of it. Unlike the indefinite ban, you can still get the funds back after 180 days. However, that can cause many problems if you need the money now.

PayPal Banned Account

Getting your account completely banned is just as easy. In fact, the same reasons apply as the ones listed above. On top of that, there are some other ways to lose your PayPal wallet without a prior warning:

  • Creating your PayPal account before you’re 18
  • Sending or receiving illegal funds, selling illegal goods
  • Having a link with another account that engages in restricted activities
  • Using PayPal while in another country where the service isn’t allowed

In short, you’ve got to be really careful when using this service.

Then again, in the recent examples with content creators and activists, this didn’t even matter. You might be following the rules and still get your money frozen or e-wallet banned.

Is Gambling a Red Flag?

paypal casino chipPayPal can be used for gambling online as well as many online casinos accept PayPal payments. You can use this service to deposit money into your casino bankroll and withdraw your winnings back to the wallet.

Can online gamblers be sure that this activity won’t put them on PayPal’s radar, though?

You’re all good if:

  • You gamble on a legal site
  • You’re in a country where it’s allowed to do so
  • You aren’t underage

We all know that PayPal used to be sceptical about this gambling business. While they aren’t as tense now, it’s difficult to predict whether they won’t change their mind again.

Luckily, as for now, it’s completely safe to gamble with PayPal. Thousands are doing it every day and transferring money with ease.

Keep Your PayPal Account Safe

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that your account will be safe forever. The people featured in the latest PayPal news didn’t expect this to happen either.

On the bright side, there’s something you can do to minimise the risk:

1. Update Your Profile

time for updateAlways keep your PayPal profile up to date. This means you should fill out all the information there is to fill and update it. Did you change your phone number or e-mail? Did you get a new bank card?

PayPal needs to see these changes or else they might get suspicious. And suspicion is often all it takes to lose your account and all the money in it for 180 days.

2. Travelling with PayPal

travelLet them know when you’re planning to use the service abroad. If you don’t, they’ll think your account has been hacked and used by fraudulent foreigners.

This may seem like a lot of trouble, but you’re in trouble anyway if you’re planning to skip this step. In fact, you don’t even need to be abroad. Logging in from a different device or an unusual IP is already a risk.

3. Stay Consistent or Stay in Touch

arrowsAre you expecting to receive a large amount of money while your previous income was small? Or, perhaps, you suddenly start receiving money in irregular intervals after a period of inactivity because you just began freelancing?

Changes in money transactions or user behaviour can also attract unwanted attention. You should either stay consistent in your user’s habits and money transactions or stay in touch. Contact the staff and let them know about the changes you’re expecting soon.

Remember all this to keep your PayPal account safe and sound.

What is 5G and How Will It Help Mobile Gamers?

5G may be available to UK mobile users from as soon as 2019 – which means that we can all expect to have faster mobile internet in the near future. 5G will also bring many benefits to mobile casino players, who can use the new service to experience even smoother gameplay and to access new technologies. So, how does 5G work and how can you start using it? Read on to find out.

5G mobile logoSuper fast mobile streaming is coming to the UK in the next year… maybe. 5G services are currently being tested out around the country, and the first 5G ready smartphones are expected to be released by early 2019.

But what does this all mean – what is 5G and how will it help the average mobile user? In today's blog post we'll tell you everything you need to know about this new mobile network, including:

  • What exactly is 5G
  • When we will be able to use it in the UK
  • Why you should care about 5G services as a mobile gamer

What Is 5G?

5G is short for ‘fifth generation mobile networks' and that's exactly what it is. Currently, most mobile users use 4G to connect to the internet on their mobile devices. In fact, you may even be old enough to remember when we used 3G services (come on, it wasn't that long ago!).

So, essentially, 5G is a supped up network services which will ensure faster mobile use. This includes calls, texts and getting online.

What is Different About 5G?

we've just mentioned, most mobile users in the UK will currently be using a 4G service. Whilst for most people this is completely sufficient, the 5G service will be faster and more capable of handling a large number of users.

5G vs 4G Download Speeds

Current 4G download speeds average at around 100 megabytes per second, whereas 5G networks have been demonstrated to run at up to 100 times that speed. This means that they will offer a download speed of 1-10 gigabytes per second.

This may all be going over your head. Megabytes and gigabytes are hard to get to grips with so let's put the data into a real-life example:

On a 4G network, it would take you around 10 minutes to download a full HD film. On a 5G network, this would take you about 30 seconds.

How is 5G so Fast?

Existing mobile networks use radio waves to process mobile usage. However, 5G will be much faster as it will utilize parts of the electromagnetic spectrum too. What's more, 5G will also use higher and lower radio frequencies.

These parts of the spectrum aren't currently being used by mobile networks and so they have remained uncluttered. This means that they are able to carry information faster.

When Will 5G Be Available in the UK?

As we've just mentioned, the beauty of 5G is that it utilizes uncluttered radio waves. However, this means that the spectrum is finite (it has a set ability for processing payments.) This means that the spectrum has to be allocated.

5G Spectrum Auctioning

UK Mobile NetworksBack in April (2018), the UK communication regulator, Ofcom, auctioned off some of the spectrum Uk mobile operators.

In that round of funding, the operators paid close to £1.4bn – with Vodafone, o2, EE and Three all picking up slices of the action.

5G Trials and Roll Out

When 5G networks were first announced, it was expected that they'd be first put into use in 2020. However, as the competition to be the first mobile operator offering 5G is so fraught, we could expect the new technology to be available much sooner.

Three have already announced that they intend to launch their first 5G services as soon as the middle of next year (2019). At the same time, EE has implemented trial sites in London, which means they could be well on their way to offering the service too.

Will I Need a New Phone?

Apple and Samsung LogoOf course, all of this planning is all well and good, but it's a bit pointless if no one can access the 5G service on their mobile device. Unfortunately, the switch to 5G does mean you will need to buy a new phone.

At the moment, no 5G-enabled phones are available in the UK market, but this is set to change by early 2019. Qualcomm, the company who produce the chips for most mobile phones, have already created a 5G-ready modem which should be added to all new phone releases next year.

It's likely that Samsung will launch their first 5G smartphone in February 2019, when their Galaxy series of phones is due to have an update. Apple, however, is rumoured to be lagging behind. A 5G iPhone may not come to market until 2020.

How Will 5G Benefit Mobile Gamers?

The biggest benefit for mobile gamers will be the speed that 5G will offer. Not only will 5G enable you to download things quicker but it will also have a much lower latency rate.

Smoother Gaming

Man Playing On PhoneLatency is essentially the same thing as lagging. This means that games will be faster to load and you shouldn't experience any delays between the buttons you click and what happens in your favourite pay by phone casino games.

Of course, this isn't really a problem on 4G and the changes will be undetectable as a user. However whilst 4G has a latency of 45 milliseconds, 5G will get this delay down to 1 millisecond. This means your games will run much smoother.

Virtual Reality

As the new 5G network will be much more competent than 4G, it's likely that the service will bring about new virtual and augmented reality apps.

At the moment, the 4G network struggles to process these HD and data-heavy technologies, yet 5G should manage just fine. This means that the market for VR games is expanding, as more users will have access.

No More Broadband

Broadband ConnectionOk so this one seems unlikely, yet many 5G enthusiasts have expressed the hopes that 5G will ultimately replace home broadband.

David Dyson, the CEO of Three, has stated that he thinks ‘5G will be a genuine alternative' to broadband, as it will offer a comparable download speed. What's more, as new broadband lines are expensive to fit, it may be a cheaper option too.