In the Blockchain world, there are a number of concerns about security. From Blockchains being hacked to scams looking to part users with their digital currency, this space is rife with traps and potholes.
However, we recently spoke with Morgan Steckler, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Los Angeles based iTrustCapital, about a different experience he had in this realm. iTrustCapital is a new platform for investing in digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, using your IRA/401K retirement accounts.
Steckler was recently a victim of “Swatting,” a criminal harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service into sending a police and emergency service response team to another person’s address.
On the evening of April 16, 2019, Steckler started getting notifications that his passwords were being changed. He came to the realization that his cell phone was being hacked and taken over. He recalled his initial thoughts:
“I immediately got nervous that I got a SIM port hack again (same thing happened to me in August 2018). I then started getting emails about security breaches in multiple email accounts. I knew something was wrong. Unfortunately AT&T stores were closed at this time. I was calling Coinbase to lock my account from my wife’s phone, while changing all the passwords on a laptop to my banking. During this time I was also on the phone with my (business) partner who was talking with me through 2 factor authentication on my email accounts.”
Then within an hour, police helicopters and approximately 18 LAPD officers had his house surrounded. According to the police report, at 10:04 PM, a male called 911 from Steckler’s phone number and said he had three children in his house with a gun and was going to kill them if a $20,000 ransom was not paid. Someone had ported his phone number and called 911. Both he and his wife surrendered to the officers and were released after a search of the house was cleared.
However, Steckler does not believe this was a random incident:
“One of the reasons this may happened was because one day prior to the incident, we released our fully transparent fee schedule onto our site and to the public with our PR and SEO. Word is getting out that we will beat the competition(‘s fees) by over 90%. We are doing something for the masses and for mass adoption. Those companies who are in this for the wrong reason are scared, and may have been behind this to send a message. Who knows. It could also have been a “hater” who just wanted to wreak havoc on another person in the industry.”
This is a cautionary tale for anyone working on a disruptive technology, but especially in the blockchain and crypto space. If not on your radar already, let it serve as a wake up call to focus on security and safety. This goes for your company, your technology, and especially you and your people (employees, family, etc).