Bitfinex wobbles under DDoS attack, Bitcoin price suffers

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex is now back online after another large scale hack attack. 

Yesterday, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack temporarily bought down the high-volume crypto exchange Bitfinex, which had previously lost something in the region of $70m from a hacker assault back in 2016. A statement from the company’s head of marketing following the event, however, sought to assure customers that this time around their accounts were not accessed.

“The Bitfinex exchange was the target of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack this morning,” Kasper Rasmussen, head of marketing, is quoted as saying. “The exchange was offline for an hour following the DDoS attack; however, the exchange is back online now. The attack only impacted trading operations, and user accounts and their associated funds/account balances were not at risk at any point during the attack.”

The attack appeared to target the trading platform immediately after it had paused to update some aspects of its system – in what it described as “unplanned maintenance” . The chain of events is outlined in a series of tweets from the @bitfinex Twitter account. The first two explain to customers about the update…

However, when the site announced its return to operations, it was quickly met with responses from users saying that they were finding it difficult to reach…

Until eventually it felt it necessary to explain what was going on…

Around an hour later, things seemed to return to normal – where they have been since. No further comment has been made by Bitfinex over Twitter on the matter.

DDoS attacks – which involves using a botnet of controlled computers and devices to bombard a specific site with access requests in an attempt to effectively cause a traffic jam, restricting operations by overloading servers – are a very common way for hackers to vandalise websites. They can be used simply to create mischief, are often applied as a form of protest, but are also often used by hackers as a smokescreen for other activities.

The latter, though there is no proof that anything else untoward went on at the moment, is a worrying prospect considering the other upgrade work that Bitfinex was undertaking.

The event appeared to have an impact on the price of Bitcoin, with Bloomberg reckoning its price dipped around 2% during the time the exchange was offline. The price bounced back along with Bitfinex, however.