$150k in cryptocurrency stolen through combined BGP-DNS hijack

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Apr 25, 2018

If the Internet is, as is often said, held together with elastic bands and pieces of Sellotape, BGP is essentially a bunch of post-it notes that serve as traffic signs.

BGP hijacks – in which a malicious attacker essentially takes over one or more ranges of IP addresses – are not extremely common, but for a protocol that is so essential to the Internet's functioning, they occur worryingly often. In 2014, a BGP hijack resulted in $83k of freshly mined Bitcoins being stolen. In a VB2016 conference presentation, Mike Benjamin of Level 3 Communications talked about the various issues that exist with the protocol.

Yesterday, a BGP hijack resulted in five IP ranges that belonged to Amazon's infrastructure being 'stolen' for about two hours and being routed to a network controlled by attackers. This gave the attackers control of Amazon's DNS responses, which they used in order to point the DNS of MyEtherWallet, a web-based wallet for the Ether cryptocurrency, to a server hosted in Russia.

DNS hijacks aren't a new phenomenon; in December, security firm Fox-IT published details of how a DNS hijack had been used against its systems. In that instance, the attackers used the control they had gained over DNS to generate a valid certificate for the domain. Those targeting MyEtherWallet didn't bother with that, nevertheless it appears that several people clicked through the certificate warning to visit a phishing version of MyEtherWallet's website, resulting in some $150k worth of digital currency being stolen.

myetherwallet.png

The issues with BGP and DNS are an Internet-wide problem that can't be solved by an individual website or service, but there are some ways to mitigate the risks, which for high-risk services are worth considering.

The general usefulness of DNSSEC, which checks the digital signature of DNS responses, is debatable, but in this case it could have prevented the DNS takeover through a BGP hijack. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), which forces a previously seen connection always to use HTTPS, would have prevented the end-user from being able to ignore the certificate warning.

Maybe none of this really matters, though. There has been some speculation that the MyEtherWallet phishing could have been a smokescreen for another, more advanced attack. A number of people have pointed out that it is quite odd that the wallet to which the stolen funds were transferred already contained $17m worth of cryptocurrency.

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: Domestic Kitten: an Iranian surveillance program

At VB2019 in London, Check Point researchers Aseel Kayal and Lotem Finkelstein presented a paper detailing an Iranian operation they named 'Domestic Kitten' that used Android apps for targeted surveillance. Today we publish their paper and the video…

VB2019 video: Discretion in APT: recent APT attack on crypto exchange employees

At VB2019 in London, LINE's HeungSoo Kang explained how cryptocurrency exchanges had been attacked using Firefox zero-days. Today, we publish the video of his presentation.

VB2019 paper: DNS on fire

In a paper presented at VB2019, Cisco Talos researchers Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres looked at two recent attacks against DNS infrastructure: DNSpionage and Sea Turtle. Today we publish their paper and the recording of their presentation.

German Dridex spam campaign is unfashionably large

VB has analysed a malicious spam campaign targeting German-speaking users with obfuscated Excel malware that would likely download Dridex but that mostly stood out through its size.

Paper: Dexofuzzy: Android malware similarity clustering method using opcode sequence

We publish a paper by researchers from ESTsecurity in South Korea, who describe a fuzzy hashing algorithm for clustering Android malware datasets.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.