Report reveals Russian Hackers May Be Responsible for $530 Million Cryptocurrency Hack
It was previously believed that North Korean hackers were behind the January 2018 Coincheck hack, but recent developments in the investigation suggest that Russian actors may have been responsible.
- By Kaitlyn DeHaven
- Jun 18, 2019
A new report of the investigation into the $530 million hack that ruined Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck in January 2018 states that Russian, not North Korean, actors may have been behind the attack.
The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, reported that viruses that were thought to have been used in the hack were found on employees’ computers. According to the Asahi Shimbun, the viruses were linked to Russian hacker groups and named “Mokes” and “Netwire.” These viruses were most likely transferred via email, and allowed the hackers to gain access to private keys.
In addition, the viruses have previously appeared on Russian-based message boards with Mokes first appearing in June 2011 and Netwire appearing approximately 12 years ago.
In the January 2018 attack, Coincheck lost over $500 million worth of NEM tokens. The company was adamant that it wasn’t an inside job, even though at the time there was no suggestion of how the attacks had been able to gain access to the system without insider information.
Francis Gaffney, director of threat intelligence at Mimecast, said that as of January 2019, over $1 billion had been lost from cryptocurrency attacks.
“Coincheck is just the latest incident,” Gaffney said. “At the end of the day, cybercriminals are going to go directly where the money is via point-of-sale-focused attacks, like we’re seeing here and with ransomware.”
Gaffney said that these crypto-based attacks are particularly concerning for companies dealing with currencies, and other products that require a large amount of trust.
“Attacks on cryptocurrencies and their enabling exchanges are particularly troubling for systems like currencies, which rely heavily on trust for reliable means of exchange,” Gaffney said. “We see these crypto-based attacks begin with sophisticated phishing campaigns and malware droppers. From there, threat actors study their victims to identify their credentials and capture sensitive information.”
About the Author
Kaitlyn DeHaven is the Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.