With billions of users worldwide, Facebook has the power to bring cryptocurrency well and truly into the mainstream
‘For the most convincing of sites, it can be nigh-impossible to determine which is legitimate and which is fake,’ cyber researcher says
Facebook‘s plan to launch its own cryptocurrency next year is already attracting the interest of cyber criminals, according to new research.
The social network announced the Libra cryptocurrency on 18 June, alongside 27 of the world’s biggest companies.
Since that date there has been a spike in website domain registrations for names relating to the new cryptocurrency, as opportunistic web users seek to profit from the new project.
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On 19 June there were more than 100 domains registered relating to Libra, while several dozen were also registered that referenced the associated digital wallet Calibra.
For the most part, these registrations will likely be from people hoping to sell the domain back to Facebook for a marked up price, however others may have more nefarious intentions.
Researchers at Digital Shadows said that the websites hosting malicious content can be split up into two categories: Those actively impersonating the legitimate Libra website; and those promoting scams that abuse the Libra name.
“Unsurprisingly, there have already been several domains that have been set up to be exact copies of Facebook’s official Libra and Calibra websites,” Alex Guirakhoo, a strategic intelligence analyst at Digital Shadows, wrote in a blog post describing the issue.
“Instead of relying on media buzz and hype around the brand, these types of scams instead aim to convince victims that they are on a legitimate website, and therefore more likely to trust it with their personal and financial data.”
In order to appear legitimate, cyber criminals register domains using Greek, Cyrillic, and other alphabets that resemble those from the Roman alphabet used in English.
For example, a website domain could be made to look like the official domain by substituting a lower-case ‘a’ with the Cyrillic character ‘а’.
Digital Shadows discovered at least six examples of domains copying the Libra or Calibra website using this homographic technique.
One of the fake websites referenced in the report claims to offer visitors the chance to buy Libra with the ethereum cryptocurrency, offering a 25 per cent bonus.
“For the most convincing of sites, it can be nigh-impossible to determine which is legitimate and which is fake,” Mr Guirakhoo wrote.
“If it seems implausible or too good to be true, then it probably is. Scammers will constantly try to find ways to outsmart their victims – stay ahead of the game and avoid grandiose claims of fortune.”
A Facebook spokesperson told : “We’re aware of the issue and will work with the Libra Association to take appropriate action.”