What is Dusting attack? All you need to know
What is a dusting attack? Dusting attack is said to be a kind of cryptocurrency technique that includes sending a small number of coins to the addresses linked with a specific wallet. Usually, these payments are very small and don't come to notice. Notably, it is not used for any kind of legitimate purpose. However, it can be used to keep an eye on the movement of the coins sent to the associated addresses.
A dust coin, which is popularly known as a dusting attack coin, is said to be a token that is sent to an address so that its movement or ownership may be tracked. Generally, dust coins have very low transaction charges. Its worth is usually less than even one satoshi (0.00000001 BTC) or other cryptocurrencies.
It is pertinent to mention that the amount is too small to be noticed and thus, people would just leave it in their wallet. While the transaction charges are not higher than the value of the dust tokens themselves, they go unnoticed.
Jan Happel, the co-founder of blockchain data provider Glassnode once stated that, in case, a UTXO is having a less balance as compared to the minimum amount required it would be difficult to spend the fee on a particular day. This is what is technically defined as dust.
It is worth mentioning here UTXO is known for Unpent Transaction Output which means the amount of digital currency which is left remaining following a transaction.
How does a Dusting Attack work?
As a process of dusting attack, the attacker would have to first gain access to a large number of addresses linked with a specific wallet or service. These attackers would send small payments (negligible) to all such addresses. The aim is to contaminate as many addresses so that the movement of funds can be tracked across the ecosystem.
In case, you would like to check if you have received such coins or not then you can go to the blockchain explorer of the blockchain that you are using. You just have to fill in the address of your wallet. Below are some of the blockchain explorers:
– Ethereum – Etherscan
– Solana – Solscan
– Binance – Bscscan
– Polygon – Polygonscan
Once you have entered your wallet address in the correct explorer, you'll see all the assets you hold. These also include assets of a small value like unsolicited cryptocurrencies and NFTS.
What is the purpose of a dusting attack?
Dusting attacks can be initiated for various purposes that are sometimes quite heinous. Scamming: This is one of the most common objectives for an individual who initiates a dusting attack. The aim is to remove anonymity from a wallet address so that the data of the user can be used to steal funds via various methods, like phishing. Some of the newly garnered tokens that would ask you to activate a smart contract on a specific website may also drain your funds.
Detecting Illegal activity: While the scammers use it for phishing, the government bodies or law officials use dusting attacks on wallets considered as potentially performing illegal activities. This helps the governing bodies initiate the dusting attacks to identify the person behind the same and put a stop to the malicious activities.
Analysis: There are various researchers and some blockchain analytics firms that perform dusting attacks on purpose to carry out research. In case, research has a big purpose, then this research is sometimes funded by governments as well.
Coin Mixing: It is a process where an individual tries to make it difficult to track the movement of
cryptocurrency by sending it via various addresses. Initiating the Dusting Attack, the attacker dusts thousands or even millions of addresses and creates enough "noise" that makes it difficult to track the movements of specific coins. With this, it becomes a hard task for law enforcement to track illegal activity. It also becomes difficult for people to trace the stolen funds.
Marketing: These days creativity is at its best and the way of dusting attacks has also become creative. Nowadays, dusting attacks are being used for even marketing purposes. Although it might not be considered an example of a dusting attack, the methods used are said to be very similar. For example, if a token is released by a new crypto project because it would send a minimal value of tokens of its own project to the random wallet addresses.
Who performs dusting attacks?
Dusting is always considered an offensive red-hat strategy and apart from contributing to malicious activity, it also assists governments to avert it. It is pertinent to mention that a user may receive small amounts of crypto from:
– Criminals who intend to remove the anonymity of the users having large crypto holdings. Likewise, they may also target the victims via phishing, cyber-extortion, or even cyber ransom.
– State authorities like tax authorities or law enforcement who are willing to connect an individual or entity to a wallet address. This may also be used to deal with smugglers, criminals, and those who evade tax.
– The Blockchain analytics firms that represent the government or research the dust for academic purposes.
– Entities who want to advertise to the crypto users. Here, promotional messages are sent along with the transactions, Thus, you can say that it is used as a replacement of a mailshot.
– Developers who have been carrying out stress tests. They may conduct a thorough checkup of a network by sending a huge amount of dust.
– The spammers who want to create noise on a network by sending a huge amount of batches of sham transactions.
What are the signs of a dusting attack?
Dusting attacks take place because the users usually ignore the transactions of the negligible amount in their crypto wallet. Some of the wallet owners mistake dust for interest on holdings, freebies from exchanges, or airdrops. Below are the signs of a dusting attack.
Dust in digital wallets
The negligible amounts of crypto may come to your wallets for the correct reasons and you can also confirm a dust attack by just filtering your transaction history.
Just imagine that you have missed the infiltration, and thus the hackers now have an access to your personal data and IP address. However, you would still be able to detect other telltale signs such as an influx of spam emails. In more complicated cases, the data of a user may be used to blackmail or extort someone.
Unfortunately, there are no ways to avoid or get rid of dusting attacks. All you can do is don’;t try to move the dust coins from where they are in the wallet.
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