Posted 2 years ago | by Ben Armstrong

Coinbase Shows Security Strength

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange talks about how they had been targeted and how they thwarted a highly-target, sophisticated, and thought-out attack. The attack had been aimed at getting access to the system and over a billion dollars worth of crypto.

On a blog posted on 8th of August, it displayed the technical details regarding how the plot had been unfolded and how they had prevented the theft. They said that the hackers had used a combination of means for hoodwinking the staff and getting access to the important systems. These methods included social engineering, spear-phishing, and browser zero-day exploits.

The hackers had started with the attack on the 30th of May. Many staff had been receiving emails which claimed to be from Research Grants Administrator, Gregory Harris, at the University of Cambridge. These had been anything but random. It commended the past history of the employees and asked them to help judge a project which is competing for an award.

According to Coinbase, this email had generated from a legitimate domain of Cambridge. It did not have any malicious element and also passed spam detection. The domain also referenced the recipient’s background. Similar emails had been received by the staff for the next couple of weeks.

Coinbase declared that within a few hours, the security at Coinbase had been able to detect the attack and blocked it.

In the first stage, the attack identified the browser and the operating system displaying an error on the receivers with macOS and not using Firefox browser asking them to install the app’s latest version. Once the URL was visited, the exploit code had been delivered from a separate domain.

Fortunately for Coinbase, stage two never occurred because it would have been a disaster.

It's important for exchanges to do everything they can to be secure. But still remember, not your keys... not your crypto.