Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange was slammed by multiple DDoS attacks earlier this month.
The most recent post there was on December 12 and said, “Platform stabilizing. The team will continue to monitor the situation closely”. Bitfinex explained that one aspect of the DoS attack was to create hundreds of thousands of new accounts, placing stress on its infrastructure. The exchange temporarily halted new signups to defend against the attack and sustain platform service for its existing customers.
Bitfinex, who claim to be “the largest and most advanced cryptocurrencies exchange”, also found itself under DDoS attack in November. In August 2016, it was subject to a theft of nearly 120,000 bitcoins, valued then at $72 million, from its Hong Kong exchange.
Those responsible for the DDoS attacks are continually changing their methods to achieve new modes of success.
Noting that “bitcoin made the top-10 most targeted industries list, despite its relatively small size and web presence,” Igal Zeifman, Director of Marketing at Imperva Incapsula, told SC Media, “This young and exponentially growing industry presents a lucrative opportunity for extortionists and other cybercriminals who are always on the lookout for potentially vulnerable and high-profit targets.”
Bitcoin prices have been heavily fluctuating recently. On Bitfinex’s exchange, the price of bitcoin today is $13,878, up from $11,000 just three weeks ago. Zeifman expects to see attacks escalate in the wake of such heavy fluctuation. An “alarming number of attacks” over 100Mbps in the third quarter were “targeting a relatively high number of cryptocurrency exchanges and services,” and was “likely related to a recent spike in the price of bitcoin, which more than doubled in the span of the quarter,” Zelfman said.
Bitfinex’s closest rival is San Francisco-based Coinbase, according to CryptoCompare. Coinbase surpassed Bitfinex as the top exchange for U.S. dollar-bitcoin trading by trading volume in the week in which it was subject to the DDoS attacks. Bitfinex stopped its services for U.S. customers in early November, citing high costs connected to U.S. regulation.
Spencer Bogart, managing director and head of research at Blockchain Capital, told CNBC, that with bitcoin holding at a value over $10,000, it was “a key moment” for the financial industry and wider consumers having “more conviction in the longevity of bitcoin as an asset”.
The Lazarus Group has been in the news recently for its interest in hacking cryptocurrencies, and is thought to have been behind the bankruptcy of South Korean exchange, Youbit, in April 2017.
As worldwide interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies grows, digital currency exchange security will become even more important.