Syscoin GitHub hacked
If there's a weak link somewhere, an enterprising thief can almost always find it.
Attacks need an attack vector, and some enterprising attackers found one in the GitHub repository of a marketplace cryptocurrency called Syscoin.
According to the development team, a hacker went in and replaced the official windows Syscoin wallet client with a replacement version that included malware called Arkei Stealer, a Trojan known for stealing wallet keys and passwords.
Users might be affected if they downloaded and ran the Syscoin 126.96.36.199 Windows set-up binaries from GitHub between 9 June and 13 June.
Virus scanners caught the malicious replacement and users quickly alerted the team to the problem. After a bit of investigation, it became apparent that someone had broken into GitHub to make the swap.
To hopefully prevent similar issues in the future, the Syscoin team has now required all team members with GitHub access to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) on their accounts as well as routinely audit and verify their binaries and signature hashes to detect and prevent tampering.
The incident highlights the importance of working in a "sterile" environment, even when just signing into GitHub, an email address or anything else. It also highlights the risk of re-using passwords, and logging in to just about anything on a public computer, unsecured network or anything else.
It's also an example of the benefits of 2-factor authentication. Even if someone gets a user name and password, without having your phone, they can't get into the account.
Not all 2-factor authentication is equal though, and it's not entirely bulletproof. For example, some 2FA can be defeated with only a phone number, while others are attached to the physical phone device itself.
The growth of cryptocurrency, the digitisation of money and the countless high and low profile hack attacks that have gone with it are highlighting the importance of online security. Specifically, how there's really no such thing.
If someone's determined enough to get into an online system, they probably can with enough time and effort. The $500 million CoinCheck hack, for example, happened because user funds were left in an online wallet rather than in offline cold storage the way they should have been.
It's always important to get one's downloads from an official source, but as this incident and others show, that's not a perfect solution by itself.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and NANO.