In a new type of hack, malicious code was injected into a website traffic analysis app called StatCounter in order to steal Bitcoins from Gate.io users. Gate.io currently has a daily trading volume in excess of USD 20 million, but was near USD 35 million before the information about this hack was published. That being said, it appears Gate.io and StatCounter have been fixed and are safe to use at this point.
StatCounter is one of the more popular website traffic analysis tools, with 2 million websites and 10 billion pages analyzed per month. Websites that use StatCounter place a snippet of java code on their web pages. Hackers exploited this piece of code and injected their own malicious code, placing all 2 million websites that use StatCounter at risk.
The malicious code checks for ‘myaccount/withdraw/BTC’ in the URL; if it finds this then it downloads another piece of malicious code from statconuter.com, which is spelled very similar to statcounter.com to avoid detection. The only website that has this URL out of all 2 million StatCounter websites is Gate.io, making it clear this hack was aimed at the exchange.
This second piece of code replaces the destination Bitcoin address chosen by Gate.io users with the Bitcoin address of the hacker at the moment they submit an external Bitcoin transfer. Further, the malicious code increases the send to the daily withdrawal limit for the user, depending on how much Bitcoin is in their account.
This made the losses from this hack very hard to track since as far as Gate.io was concerned, they sent the Bitcoin to an external address as usual; only the user would know that they did not receive their Bitcoins. As the hackers changed their Bitcoin address every time a user hit submit, there is no central Bitcoin address that can be viewed to see the total losses.
This is the latest evidence to show that hackers are becoming more sophisticated and creative, developing new ways to hack cryptocurrency exchanges.
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