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Slack privacy fuels crypto mugging spree

Jess Alden

Sharing our successes on social media has become the norm but, when it comes to lucrative crypto investments, oversharing can create a very real risk of crypto mugging.

In the UK the Guardian newspaper has reported on a rise in street muggings targeting digital currency investors and forcing them to execute trades on their smartphones.

It serves as a stark reminder that – just as with other forms of wealth – advertising your location and resources elevates your risk of criminal activity.

As the adoption of investment in cryptocurrency progresses so too do more conventions; risks when it comes to wealth. While the currency is a truly 21st century touchstone, it doesn’t mean that it is immune to the risks that we see with those who show off their wealth online. As the investor has got their head around the sector, so has the thief.

Expansive displays of wealth often attract risk. The “social media burglary” trend has seen posts highlighting affluence on social media attracting unwelcome attention. Several influencers and celebrities have fallen victim of this, as well as those with lower profile whose wealth was evident. This risk is the same for those who use their phones to access private and financial information in public places – a moment of vulnerability in the crypto mugging playbook, where users have been followed and mugged/pickpocketed to obtain passwords and access to online accounts.

Crypto investment comes with a community element in which advocates share trading information and crypto tips, but also details of their successes. This pattern, combined with normal social media behaviour like posting about events and locations you frequent, puts a target on the back of users for scammers, fraudsters and muggers.

Would you post a photo of piles of cash on Instagram or advertise how much cash you will have on you at an event? If not then why post about the specifics of your latest crypto investment? For crypto evangelists, this rise in crime points to a need to be more mindful about what is shared online and, crucially, consider what an adverse actor might do with it.

These principles apply even more to “crypto whales” or high net worth individuals who are investing thousands regularly - naturally the sophistication and investment in targeting these individuals is heightened; maintaining online privacy concerning wealth is therefore important for their safety and security, not just reputation.

So do you have to shut down social media completely to ensure safety? The answer is no – managing benefit and risk is important in all walks of life and the same applies in the crypto world, but maintaining strong privacy protections and keeping financial information private is, for the most part, a very important part of day-to-day life. Don’t be tempted to set up security shortcuts for your crypto investments on your mobile phone and don’t feed real time or identifiable detail of large transactions into your social media feeds. Compromising security and privacy leaves you at risk of targeting for fraud, mugging or other extortions, so is it time to review how you approach the crypto community and what you share online?

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Impact of Crime