How a Vancouver crypto trader lost $500,000 in Bitcoin

How a Vancouver crypto trader lost $500,000 in Bitcoin

The following written piece is a re-imagination of real life events. As part of a 3 piece series, Cyber Unit hopes to use these case studies to bring to light the reality of online cyber-attacks and raise awareness for best practices.

Sam* owns a day-trading business - a crypto day-trading business. During one of their work days, a date of no extraordinary importance, Sam notices that no one is picking up their phone calls. They attempt to call themselves with another phone but peculiarly enough, the phone does not ring. Around the same time, Sam also noticed abnormal behavior with their antivirus application. It would occasionally act up and at one point, even shut off. What Sam doesn't know is that their system was fully compromised by this point.
Sam was compromised at multiple levels; their SIM was hijacked and and their router was compromised as well - once the router, which interconnects an individual's home network, was compromised, it only takes a series of lateral movements to compromise any other devices transmitting data to the router including desktops, laptops, Smart TV's, and any IoT home appliances. In fact, the malicious actor was suspected to have been monitoring Sam and their network for several weeks. This prolonged period allowed the actor to learn Sam's routine and schedule, enabling the actor to carry out a much more impactful attack. While Sam was asleep, the actor logged into Sam's crypto exchange and approved multiple withdrawals amounting to $100,000 USD in Bitcoin, which would be worth over $500,000 USD today. The anonymity factor of the blockchain means that although this transaction can be traced to a wallet address, there was unfortunately nothing Sam could do to reclaim their digital assets. Soon after the attack, Sam filed a police report.
*Name Withheld

The Reality of it All

This real life case study pulls into perspective the reality and frankly, the seemingly simplicity, of a targeted attack. Sam, as a crypto day-trader, undoubtedly had precautions in place to protect and secure their line of work however evidently, it was not enough. Sam met Cyber Unit after filing the police report and Cyber Unit guided Sam though installing and implementing these safety measures:

  • Installed an enterprise-grade email system, along with an additional layer of security to protect against phishing, malware, and bruteforce attacks.
  • Installed a next-generation firewall geared for small business and home environments
  • Installed next-generation computer and mobile security across all devices

Additionally, Cyber Unit recommended some best practices to Sam including:

  • Network segregation. This is the process of separating your home network from your work network. This way, if your home network is ever compromised, you can be rest assured that your work network is safe
  • Using a hardware wallet for all crypto assets wherever possible
  • Resetting all passwords and installing a password manager system
  • Implementing two-factor authentication wherever possible


After over a year with Cyber Unit's security recommendations, Sam has not been compromised once.

Have More Questions?

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