David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 10 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs the Privacy-PC.com project which presents expert opinions on the contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy and white hat hacking. As part of his work at Privacy-PC, Mr. Balaban has interviewed such security celebrities as Dave Kennedy, Jay Jacobs and Robert David Steele to get firsthand perspectives on hot InfoSec issues. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

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With the growth of cryptocurrencies’ popularity, there appeared a lot of new opportunities to earn money.

After learning about Bitcoin and seeing its rapid price increase last year, most people decided to make money simply by buying Bitcoins at a current rate, then wait, and sell later on at a high rate.

But such simple investment strategies are very risky. In January and early February, the price of Bitcoin and other currencies fell by half.

If you do not want to exchange the fiat money for the cryptocurrency and risk losing it when the price goes down, there are many options for you to earn cryptocurrencies from the beginning, and, when necessary, exchange them for fiat money later.

Dozens of articles have already described how to earn cryptocurrencies honestly. In Japan, China and some other countries, even street beggars are sitting with mobile phones and asking to give them a thousand or two of Satoshi using QR code.

One of the popular authors collected 31 ways of honest ways to earn crypto. He divided them into three groups. I will give below only the main options for each group:

1) Ensuring the functioning of the network

  • Personal mining based on PoW (Proof-of-Work.)
  • Earnings with the help of PoS Mining (Proof-of-Stake.)
  • Creating master nodes.
  • Creating pools, software for mining and pools.

2) Social activity

  • Participation in forums and earning crypto with paid signatures, avatars, posts, profile web links.
  • Cryptocurrency cranes and faucets.
  • Participation in Bounty and Airdrop projects.
  • Participation in referral programs and driving leads\clients to different projects.

3) Trading on online exchanges

  • Personal trading.
  • Creating and selling trading bots.
  • Creating exchange services.
  • Driving referral traffic to exchanges.

Honest earnings, for some reason, is not interesting for a fairly large group of people who prefer to commit small and sometimes big crimes in order to make money.

Top dishonest ways to earn crypto

1) Creating phishing websites that imitate popular online exchanges and Bitcoin wallets. Users can be lured into visiting these sites even by Google ads.

2) Creating and distributing extortion viruses that demand ransom payment made with Bitcoins. Usually, victims are found through mass email spam campaigns.

3) Deliberately launching fraudulent ICOs. Owners collect money but the project is not planned for implementation.

4) Launching financial pyramids and Ponzi schemes. There are even automatic pyramids working on smart contracts.

5) Blatant deception with the help of social networks. Numerous fake Twitter accounts have been created recently. Elon Musk impersonator claims he will donate 1 ETH to every person who sends him 0.2 ETH.

6) Impersonation of members of certain blockchain projects, and sending fake emails on their behalf about fake token sales at discount prices to interested people. This often happens right before the official ICO.

7) Cryptojacking – infecting websites and servers with hidden miner programs that mine cryptocurrencies using the resources of website visitors or using the resources of hacked equipment. Sometimes crooks create very big crypto mining botnets.

8) Hacking online exchanges and wallet services. For example, criminals stole the secret keys from the Mt. Gox exchange. Hackers just copied the wallet.dat.

9) Creating viruses that substitute the wallet addresses when you copy it to the clipboard. There was a case when the address of the wallet was changed not by a malicious program, but by the TOR proxy site.

11) Personal trading on the exchange using your client’s or employer’s crypto assets. For example, this Chicago trader has been charged with fraud after stealing hundreds of Bitcoins from his employer.

10) Physical theft. In Thailand, a young couple was attacked by fake Interpol agents who forced to pass them the secret keys. In Ukraine, a man was kidnapped and had to pay the ransom in return for his freedom.