A phishing attack on the Electrum wallet network has reportedly managed to steal bitcoin worth over $800,000.
Nearly $1M In Bitcoin (BTC) Stolen
An anonymous hacker (or consortium of hackers) have purportedly stolen nearly $1 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC), reports technology media outlet ZDNet. Per the report, the Electrum Wallet, a popular open-source project founded in mid-June 2011, was breached in a “clever attack.”
The attack, which has since been confirmed by the team behind the venture, purportedly consisted of a false message appearing on users’ official Electrum-based applications, which beckoned consumers to visit a site.
If the link stipulated was clicked, it would lead victims to a seeming Electrum-branded GitHub repository, which contained a malicious version of Electrum that would steal consumers’ Bitcoin holdings.
There is an ongoing phishing attack against Electrum users. Our official website is https://t.co/aHiZIZH54e Do not download Electrum from any other source. More on the attack here: https://t.co/x5mPVspKfO
— Electrum (@ElectrumWallet) December 27, 2018
This specific attack purportedly began on December 21st but was recently ended (maybe only temporarily) by GitHub admins, who purged the malicious download files. But how exactly did the attack work?
Well, as explained by ZDNet, the hacker purportedly added dozens of “malicious servers” to the Electrum network, so when a user intends to make a transaction, the hacker-backed server replies with an error message that asks users to visit the false GitHub. When downloaded, the app would request for users to input a 2FA code, which was routed to the attacker, subsequently allowing BTC to be snatched.
Electrum admins have purportedly since disallowed the message from being mostly legible, so this medium of attack is likely breathing its last breaths. Yet, the fact of the matter is that in the end, the hackers netted 200+ BTC, approximately valued at ~$740,000 at the time of writing. Other reports indicate that the attack garnered 250+ BTC for hackers, but these numbers haven’t been confirmed.
Not The First Attack On Electrum
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that the popular wallet solution has been attacked by bad actors. Earlier this year, in early-May, the Bleeping Computer reported that the Electrum team had seen an unnamed individual/group create a copycat of their flagship product, naming it “Electrum Pro.”
The app, which closely resembled its bonafide counterpart, was exposed as a vector of attack that malicious individuals can exploit, stealing Bitcoin private keys in the process.
In a post-mortem of the attack (of sorts), which went on for upwards of two months, it was explained that there were a number of glaring red flags. Electrum Pro purportedly used Electrum’s brand and logo without permission, while also purchasing the rights for the Electrum.com domain, which was near-identical to the legitimate group’s .org domain name.
Following analysis, it was also revealed that in Pro’s code, specifically lines 223-248 of electrumpro_keystore.py, a system was integrated that allowed attackers to upload users’ keys for nefarious purposes. While the Electrum Pro attack has since been dismantled, the two aforementioned cases show how hackers are still poised to attack the cryptosphere, even amid a bear market.
Title Image Courtesy of Luca Bravo on Unsplash
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Phishing attack on crypto wallet Electrum has claimed multiple victims and allows the perpetrator to empty Bitcoin wallets.
Subsequently confirmed by Electrum itself, the attack consists of creating a fake version of the wallet that fools users into providing password information.
“The hacker setup a whole bunch of malicious servers,” Reddit user u/normal_rc explained:
“If someone’s Electrum Wallet connected to one of those servers, and tried to send a BTC transaction, they would see an official-looking message telling them to update their Electrum Wallet, along with a scam URL.”
Affected users report trying and failing to log in to their wallets after providing their two-factor authentication code — something Electrum does not in fact request during login. The hackers then empty the wallet balance.
“[W]hen I logged on it immediately asked me for my 2 factor code which I thought was a little strange as well as Electrum usually only asks for that when you attempt to send,” one victim continued in another Reddit post, adding:
“I kept trying to send and kept getting an error code ‘max fee exceeded no more than 50 sat/B [satoshis per byte]’ I then restored my wallet on a separate pc and found that my balance had been transferred out in full[.]”
According to u/normal_rc, several addresses are feeding into one main holding address, which currently contains 243 BTC.
Electrum posted about the incident on Twitter today, stating “[t]here is an ongoing phishing attack against Electrum users” and implored users to check the validity of the resource they were logging into.
“Our official website is https://electrum.org[.] Do not download Electrum from any other source,” the tweet continued.
In what is called one of the largest wins for Bitcoin in the country, the Pick n Pay in Cape Town will accept the cryptocurrency for payments starting today.
The payment system is being powered by Electrum, a software platform created to process payments in different currencies. Jason Peisl, IS executive at Pick n Pay, said:
“At Pick n Pay one of our key values is to embrace change and encourage innovation and leadership. Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are still relatively new payment concepts, yet we have been able to effectively demonstrate how we are able to accept such alternative payments.”
As the growth in payment methodologies continues, the overall currency value of Bitcoin continues to grow as well. This is a critical aspect of increasing mainstream acceptance, and increasing liquidity as well.
Liquidity and mainstream acceptance produce greater levels of awareness, and therefore greater levels of use. This process has been referred to as a ‘virtuous satoshi cycle.’ Despite substantial negative news, acceptance appears to be growing for Bitcoin.