Trading was briefly halted Tuesday on Bitfinex following a cyber attack. The exchange initially tweeted it was undergoing an “unplanned maintenance. It later confirmed it was experiencing a distributed-denial-of-service or DDoS attack.
The intention of a DDoS attack is to make an online service available to the intended users. Attackers typically achieve this by directing an overwhelming number of requests to a system.
The result is that some or even all of the legitimate requests are not fulfilled. The requests usually come from different points making it difficult to stop them by simply by blocking a single source.
The cause of the outage has been identified. A DDoS attack was launched soon after we restarted operations. The previous outage was caused by issues with one of our infrastructure providers. While the platform was recovering, the attack caused extreme load on the servers,” Bitfinex posted on its website.
The attack seems to have negatively affected the market. Bitcoin prices fell by about 2% to trade below $7400 on Tuesday morning. Trading resumed at about 15.00 GMT Tuesday.
No Funds Stolen
Users expressed fears about the safety of their funds in the wake of the attack. The exchange, however, came out to assure customers that the attack had only affected trading operations. “User accounts and their associated funds/account balances were not at risk at any point during the attack,” a spokesperson told CNBC.
DDoS attacks are now a common threat facing news sites, banks and other important services. According to a Verisign/Merill research, a third of all downtime incidents are attributable to DDoS attacks. About 2000 DDoS attacks occur daily according to the ATLAS Threat report.
The Hong-Kong based peer to peer exchange is the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange globally by volume. A total of $429.5 million was transacted in the last 24 hours.
This is not the first time Bitfinex is being attacked. It experienced its most serious attack in August 2016 in which 120,000 bitcoins were lost.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have become a major target for cyber attacks after the quick appreciation in the value of cryptocurrencies last year.
The latest high profile attack on Coincheck resulted in the loss of $533 million worth of NEM tokens. The Japanese exchange has reimbursed its customers but it has subsequently been acquired by Monex Group. It is thought to be the biggest heist in the history of the market.
Another well-known attack also happened in Japan in 2014. The hacking saw the loss of 750,000 bitcoins from Mt Gox, then the largest bitcoin exchange globally controlling 70% of all transactions. It filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.