$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:

VB2021 localhost videos available on YouTube

VB has made all VB2021 localhost presentations available on the VB YouTube channel, so you can now watch - and share - any part of the conference freely and without registration.

VB2021 localhost is over, but the content is still available to view!

VB2021 localhost - VB's second virtual conference - took place last week, but you can still watch all the presentations.

VB2021 localhost call for last-minute papers

The call for last-minute papers for VB2021 localhost is now open. Submit before 20 August to have your paper considered for one of the slots reserved for 'hot' research!

New article: Run your malicious VBA macros anywhere!

Kurt Natvig explains how he recompiled malicious VBA macro code to valid harmless Python 3.x code.

New article: Dissecting the design and vulnerabilities in AZORult C&C panels

In a new article, Aditya K Sood looks at the command-and-control (C&C) design of the AZORult malware, discussing his team's findings related to the C&C design and some security issues they identified.

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.