Bitcoin Electrum Wallet Attacked: Hacker Steals 200 BTC

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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