T Skevington and M Bacina
Hackers hope to hijack wallet holding US$715 million in Bitcoin
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Vice has reported that a Bitcoin wallet holding 69,370 BTC (or about USD$715 million at the time of writing), has been the subject of a ongoing effort to crack the password and access the underlying Bitcoin.
The wallet in question, which is the seventh largest holding of BTC in the world, and one of only 105 wallets holding more than 10,000 BTC, was first identified as a hack target by Alon Gal, CTO for cybercrime intelligence company Hudson Rock. Gal noticed the wallet address being advertised on a popular hacking forum. Commenting on the interest in the wallet, Gal said that:
Stealing Bitcoin wallets from victims worldwide is a common goal among cybercriminals. Wallets tend to be protected by strong passwords and in the event that a cybercriminal manages to obtain a wallet and cannot crack the password he might sell it to opportunistic hash crackers who are individuals with a large amount of GPU power,
To that end, hackers are sharing a file on hacking forum and other underground marketplaces that supposedly holds the wallet’s private keys. While the file may of course not have anything of value in it, the prospects of breaking into an encrypted .dat file is far greater than the prospects of breaking into the actual Bitcoin wallet itself.
In practice, there is really no way to know whether the file being shares actually holds the Bitcoin until it is decrypted. The wallet could have been forged or modified using a binary editor to encourage hopeful hackers to buy it (no honour among thieves after all).
Interestingly, the wallet was wholly funded in a single transaction on 10 April 2013, and has been effectively dormant since, apart from one transaction sending 101 BTC to the infamous BTC-e exchange on 31 April 2015.