One of the world’s largest digital currency exchange, Bitfinex, fell victim to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on December 12.
The attack threw pretty much all Bitfinex services offline, infuriating traders keen on making profits from the volatile price fluctuations experienced by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The company was quick to acknowledge it was under attack. Shortly after the attack, it tweeted saying that the Bitfinex Application Programming Interface (API) was down, promising that the company was working on a solution.
We are currently under heavy DDOS. API is also down. We are working on further mitigation.
— Bitfinex (@bitfinex) December 12, 2017
Apparently, the perpetrators unleashed havoc by creating “hundreds of thousands of new accounts” that caused tremendous stress on the company’s online infrastructure. Such was the severity of the attack that it took Bitfinex nearly 12 hours to resolve the issue. As a contingency measure, new account signups were temporarily disabled.
This was the second time in December when the exchange came under a DDoS attack. Last week, Bitfinex took to social media to announce that it was experiencing a relentless onslaught of DDoS attack “for the past several days,” adding that the attacks worsened on December 7.
Bitfinex has been under significant denial-of-service attack for the past several days. The attack has recently worsened. Please monitor https://t.co/u3pYCWdhHY for ongoing updates.
— Bitfinex (@bitfinex) December 7, 2017
According to the company, the devastating attack on Tuesday began at approximately 09:45 AM ET.
Worth noting, security researchers have alleged in the past that cybercriminals are not the only security threat virtual currency exchanges are facing today. According to some well-informed speculations, the industry itself might be perpetrating some of these attacks to manipulate prices or take down rivals.
Given its ever-expanding popularity, it’s not unusual to see Bitfinex finding its way into controversies from time to time. Some even go as far as accusing it of unethical business practices.
For example, Tether, a cryptocurrency startup reportedly owned by the same people who own Bitfinex, said it lost $31 million to hackers in a security breach last month. However, some analysts later suggested that it could be an inside job. Similar accusations were heard in 2016 too when Bitfinex lost as much as $71 million in a security breach.
Meanwhile, on a related note, Bitfinex said earlier this month that it was no longer serving customers in the United States. The company cited a high cost of doing business with Americans as the reason behind that move.
Bitfinex’s withdrawal from the American market came shortly after former partner Wells Fargo & Co.’s decision to end a contract that obliged it to help US customers send money to Bitfinex and Tether’s banking service providers in Taiwan. Bitfinex and Tethered dragged the matter to the court, but soon withdrew the case against Wells Fargo & Co.