Yesterday, an unknown hacker attempted to blackmail the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its users, extorting 300 bitcoins (almost $ 3.5 million). In turn, the exchange has appointed a reward of 25 BTC ($ 290,000) to everyone who can help catch the attacker.
According to a post on the Binance official blog, the hacker claimed to have gained access to 10,000 images that have some similarities with KYC data (know your client).
Binance CEO Changpen Zhao responded quickly and wrote on his Twitter account that the KYC leak was nothing more than part of the strategy used to damage the reputation of cryptocurrency companies.
In the official Binance blog, users were assured that every image processed by the exchange as part of the KYC procedure receives a hidden digital watermark built into it. These translucent captions on the image “are only perceived under certain conditions” and include information about the person who initiated the transfer of data, which is usually used to identify work inside the exchange. It is important to note that “these watermarks can be detected even if the images have been edited.”
The exchange tried to contact the ransomware to resolve the situation. However, the unknown person “refused to cooperate and [continued] his extortion,” said Binance.
While Binance is still investigating the legitimacy of the ransomware allegations, it looks like the data used for blackmail was actually obtained as a result of last year’s hacking of the exchange. Images leaked to the network were dated February 2018. At that time, Binance used a third-party company to process a large volume of KYC requests.
The market is currently investigating to get more information about data leakage.
Changpeng Zhao condemned those who still distribute the images presented by the hacker, saying that in this way users help commit illegal actions and draw unnecessary attention to the situation.
Remuneration from the exchange is offered to anyone who can provide Binance with information that identifies the ransomware and helps to initiate legal measures against him.