December 4th, 2018
A Bitcoin trader from South Africa has reportedly been drugged, kidnapped, and tortured over his Bitcoin holdings. The assault happened after the man followed an invite to an anonymous presentation, highlighting the threats lurking on the internet.
Kidnapped Over Bitcoin
A bitcoin trader from the area of Lanseria in Johannesburg, South Africa, has reportedly been involved in what seems much like a Hollywood thriller.
Lured by an invite to do a presentation on Bitcoin, a trader only known as Andrew got drugged, kidnapped, and tortured by a group of people over his Bitcoin holdings, according to local media citing police reports.
The police say the man was abducted by 5 people – two women and three men who burned him with a hot iron while threatening his wife if he did not send his bitcoin to an account controlled by the criminals.
Eventually, the man transferred some ZAR 800,000 ($59,000) in BTC and another sum of approximately $7,400 via bank transfer. Additionally, the kidnappers took his two iPhones and two laptops before dropping him off on a random road.
Fortunately, the victim is currently recovering in a local hospital after sustaining serious burn wounds on his buttocks, legs, hands, and his torso.
Earlier this month Bitcoinist reported on another assault case where a young man got waterboarded and waxed to reveal his crypto-wallet password.
Both of these situations highlight the importance of being able to defend yourself from a $5 wrench attack, i.e. where you’re being physically assaulted for your bitcoin.
Not even super secure offline hardware wallets can prevent a physical attacker from forcing you to hand over your private keys and/or send them your bitcoin.
4 Ways to Prevent $5 Wrench Attacks
Here are a few things you can do to ensure the safety of your holdings, and perhaps your own.
First and foremost, silence is golden. Do not reveal that you hold bitcoin to anyone and avoid wearing flashy Bitcoin merchandise. If you get in a situation of the kind, though: deny, deny, deny. Lie and try to cast doubt that you even have bitcoin.
Second, you can carry a small amount of cryptocurrency in a side account that you can simply use to appease the attacker.
Third, you can use multi-sig technology to prevent your coins from being transferred with just one private key. The other key could be kept by a person you trust and/or stored within a safety deposit box, for instance. To avoid further complications, don’t keep a list of the people who hold your other private keys.
Finally, you can use a Duress code. This is similar to a warrant canary where you have a secret signal to other key holders notifying them that you have been compromised. They will then know that they shouldn’t reveal their keys or that you are currently in distress.
Ideally, it would be wise to apply a combination of these strategies for maximum protection of your funds.
However, since no amount of bitcoin is worth more than your life, it may probably be best to send bitcoin to the attacker as Andrew had, who luckily escaped with his life.
What are the best ways to protect yourself against $5 wrench attacks? Let us know below!