Newspapers, commentators and bloggers have lately been asking whether digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, are “the new gold”. Digital currencies are valuable and so attackers take interest in them just like they do payment card numbers. Just today, we witnessed firsthand a heist of 10,000 Litecoins. Similar to Bitcoin, Litecoin is a peer-to-peer internet currency and is considered to be the second leading digital currency after Bitcoin.
In order to extract crypto coins such as Litecoin, the common method is using mining pools. A mining pool is basically a service (a website) that people register with in order to combine work force in the task of mining coins.
According to the managers of one of the largest Litecoin mining pools, Give Me Coins, a security flaw in the website was abused by an as yet unnamed team or person to steal 10,000 Litecoins. At the time of this writing, a sum of 10,000 Litecoins would be valued at approximately $230,000 USD.
Following is a screenshot from Litecoinpool.org that shows relative distribution of the hashing power across the major pools in the Litecoin network. You will notice that "GiveMeCoins" is rated third in terms of its hash power.
Many users noticed unauthorized transactions sent to various wallet addresses:
The pool owners disabled the transfer of coins outside of the website in response to numerous complaints from users about the fraudulent transactions. The pool manager’s quick response managed to prevent the attackers from stealing an additional 20,000 Litecoins (valued at roughly $460,000 USD at the time of this writing).
We have found several transactions initiated by the attackers that sent the stolen Litecoins from the Give Me Coins wallets (the coins are kept in the website’s wallets until a user requests that coins be transferred to their personal wallet) to the wallets of the attacker or attackers.
Following is a screenshot of a user complaining about a fraud case:
Here’s a documentation of the transaction in the Litecoin transaction network:
At this point the exact vulnerability that led to this breach remains unknown. According to the site manager, the most likely vector was SQL Injection.
Unlike the recent heist of 96,000 Bitcoins from the “Sheep Marketplace” that led the operators of the website to close the website, Give Me Coins promised to refund affected users. Distributing those credits to many of the affected users may already be complete. The website is still working in stealth mode until they will manage to identify the security breach and fully patch it.