Hackers are usually known for breaking into organization’s website to steal information or financial details. Most of them are also known for launching phishing campaigns to create gateways to illegally access organizations’ systems, encrypt their files and demand ransom for the decryption key. Today, they seem to have expanded their boundaries to popular YouTube channels.
Based on recent reports, hackers have up their games to launch malware, takeover YouTube channels with a lot of subscribers, run a cryptocurrency scam for a while, then sell the channels to other criminals on the dark web.
In one of the reported cases, hackers emailed a Czech YouTuber Adam Jicha, who has over 300,000 subscribers. The cryptocurrency hackers proposed a deal with Jicha to collaborate with their platform “Gamegloom.com”, and receive a free video game streaming service.
Image Source: www.inverse.com
The cryptocurrency hackers also offered him an activation key to access an application that can stream PC games to mobile phones according to the report. Not knowing he was being played by possible cryptocurrency hackers, Jicha obediently followed their instructions and ended up downloading keylogging. This gave hackers access to his sensitive data and credentials as he enters on his computer.
Soon after Jicha realized that he was dealing with hackers and a fake website, he quickly reinstalled his computer, changed all his passwords and ran an antivirus. Unfortunately, it was too late. Hackers had already obtained a copy of his Identification Card and his credentials. They signed into his YouTube account in no time. This has happened for about a month and a number of YouTubers have become victims of this new method of hijacking an account. In 2020, more deceptive methods are expected to be executed by hackers to deceive targets to give them access to their accounts unknowingly.
Jicha was left with only one option, and that was to report the situation to the YouTube support center. Before he could get any reply, the cryptocurrency hackers had deleted all his videos. Not just that, they also changed his YouTube name “Roth Wellden” and replaced his image with that of Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange.
This was to make their YouTube presence more credible, win the trust of new viewers and scam them as well. Jicha expressed his grief in one of his tickets to the support center explaining how his videos had been deleted, and hackers changing his YouTube name.
The report stated that the cryptocurrency hackers uploaded a single video on the channel captured as “Binancelive: Interview with Binance CEO, Announce BTC Giveaway.” The cryptocurrency hackers allegedly impersonated the Binance CEO, deceived viewers to be engaging in an airdrop campaign that intended to send about 5000 Bitcoins to people.
To qualify for this airdrop, viewers needed to send an amount in BTC to a provided address. They promised to return the money in a bigger return. This was a fake message meant to deceive people and run away with their money as Binance is not running any campaign of that sort. The hackers after running the cryptocurrency scam on the channel offered the channel for sale on the dark web for 0.45 BTC. Fortunately, Google recovered the account for him.
YouTube channels hijacking has been very common in the last few weeks with many accounts being reported to have been hijacked. Hackers are usually interested in accounts that have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
In most cases, hackers hijack some of these popular accounts, replace the YouTube images with the image of the CEO of Ripple Brad Garlinghouse, and follow the same hacking procedure by instructing viewers to send XRPs to a provided wallet address with a promise to return a larger return as part of their fake giveaway. The report stated that one of the stolen YouTube channels still run videos on Vietnamese Nursery Rhyme.
In one of the responses of YouTube following an investigation into the hacked account of MarcoStyle, they said they take account security very seriously. They stated that they regularly run their personal checks, and notify users when they suspect any fraudulent activity.
Image Source: www.wired.com
They recommended that users activate two-factor authentication on their YouTube Channels to improve their security and make it less easy for hackers to take over. YouTube stated that if any user suspects that their account has been compromised, they can alert them for account recovery.
This incident of YouTube channels hijacking just like any other incident establishes that the success of hackers in taking over an account demand action from the targets.
Hackers mostly just send a malicious message and convince targets to click on them to give then access to whatever account they seek to take over. It is important for everyone to be very sure on the kind of link they click on, and the kind of website they visit as hackers may have planned to infect visitors with malware.
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