Glossary

Dusting Attack: A New-Age Crypto Threat

Dusting Attack

The wave of cryptocurrency makes headlines every other day. However, the dominance of crypto certainly faces constant threats that arise with its growing popularity. One of the many vulnerabilities in cryptocurrency is dust and its associated dusting attacks.

In 2019, around 50 Binance Litecoin addresses reported severe dusting attacks two weeks after the Litecoin halving when they received 0.00000546 of LTC. It happened for those Litecoin users who had an active Litecoin address during the dusting attack.

Binance announced the same on Twitter when one of their sides received a small amount of LTC into the wallet.

But why should it be a concern?

Crypto relation: What is dust? 

Whenever a crypto transaction takes place, the residue after the trade is known as dust. It represents a small number of coins in the language of cryptocurrency that weighs nearly a negligible value. Not many wallet owners are aware of dusting attacks, which is a crucial concern.

After a crypto transaction, dust is the negligible amount of coins lingering in the users’ accounts that are usually not tradable. The dust limit (calculated in Satoshis) is decided by the size of the inputs and outputs of the transaction.

What is a dusting attack?

Crypto dusting attack means those attacks that utilize the leftover transaction dust to find the crypto wallet addresses of those who previously made the transaction. The process of finding the wallet address can also be termed as de-anonymizing the address.

Generally, owners with large-scale cryptocurrency holdings are targeted to launch mass-scale dusting attacks more often. The transactions are undertaken for investing or earning cryptocurrency get targeted for sending dust.

How does a dusting attack work?

The dusting attack works in a twisted way. The malicious hackers notice the ignorance of these dust coins and begin sending dust to several users’ wallet addresses on a massive scale. The dusting of crypto coins succeeds when the dust slips into the crypto wallets. Then, the malicious actors launch a series of complex analyses to unmask the address. Once identified, phishing and cyber-extortion activities can be easily carried out.

As cryptocurrency is not backed by any governing body and runs publicly on trace, the risk rate is higher than anticipated. However, the attack only succeeds when the “dust” is moved. Otherwise, no information can be tracked.

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How to prevent a dusting attack?

Crypto dusting attacks can be pretty potent enough to stealthily steal your crypto wallet address, slip into it, sweep the funds, and then transfer it all to the hackers or beneficiaries.

Therefore, precautionary measures are pivotal to restoring the sanctity of crypto investing. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Always ignore the wayward satoshis and never move them. Therefore, use a crypto wallet that permits balance monitoring transparently.
  • Invest in a hardware crypto wallet so that your data remains offline and inaccessible. Dusting attacks generally happen to active users.
  • Keep your anonymity safe and never reveal your private information under any circumstance on any platform.

Conclusion

Even though dusting attacks are proof of a criminal’s deed, several law enforcement agencies also rely on the trade of dust.

Government officials launch dusting attacks to track contraband and money launderers, connect to a certain group, find an address, evade tax, etc. Some may also utilize it for academic research purposes like blockchain analytical firms.

However, these attacks cause no monetary harm, whereas those launched by criminals do. Therefore, always be vigilant regarding your wallet. Follow the tips and seek to invest in a high-quality crypto wallet that aligns with the preventive measures.

FAQs

1. What Is a Dust Transaction?

A dust transaction refers to the transfer of a very small amount of Bitcoin to an account and trace any movements of that dust Bitcoin. The tracing of the transaction can lead to dust attacks.

2. What Is the Purpose of a Dusting Attack?

This attack is deployed in order to track the addresses with the hope of ‘un-mask’ or de-anonymizing them. The purpose of dusting attacks is to exploit the personal information of a Bitcoin holder and use the information for extortion.

3. Can Dusting Attacks Steal Crypto?

Not necessarily, dusting attacks are made to ‘un-mask’ or de-anonymize transaction addresses. Dusting attacks are done by transferring small amounts of cryptocurrency to the victim’s account and breaking their privacy. The dust amount is usually so small that the users don’t even notice.

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