As stated by Intel 471, over the past weeks, a top Russian-speaking cybercriminal forum organized a “competition” for its community requesting fresh and unconventional techniques in order to carry out cryptocurrency attacks.

In the announcement made on April 20, 2021, the Russian forum’s operators asked their members to submit papers that included everything from the theft of private keys and wallets used to store cryptocurrency including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) to submissions for “unusual” cryptocurrency mining software, as well as proposals linked to smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

According to the threat intelligence company, submissions were accepted over a month, with the administrator stating that the winners will get a $100,000 in prizes award.

Following the original post from the forum administrator, a different forum member added $15,000 to the initial prize pool, the threat intelligence organization says.

Being motivated by the big prize value, many members of the community began to share their papers.

Shortly after opening submissions, forum users started posting their own papers for the larger community to see. One entry looked at manipulating APIs from popular cryptocurrency-related services or decentralized-file technology in order to obtain private keys to cryptocurrency wallets.

Source

Another proposal described how to create a phishing website that enabled threat actors to collect keys to cryptocurrency wallets and their seed phrases – a list of words that are vital if you want to recover lost cryptocurrency.

It is not the first time when this kind of competition occurs. Two other well-known forums have asked for research papers on a wide diversity of topics, such as mobileOS botnets, ATM and POS cracks, and false GPS signals.

The winners were getting up to $10,000 while the others were earning $50 only for participating.

Besides, different ransomware-as-a-service groups administrators, including REvil and LockBit, have hosted their own competition where forum members submit papers on various topics that could potentially help further their malicious activity.

This competition is a good example of why businesses must be aware and get extra protection against cybercrime underground. Threat actors will carry on attacks as the technology stack around cryptocurrency and decentralized finance keeps developing.

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