Bitfinex targeted by repeated DDoS attacks following Bitcoin surge

Bitfinex, the world's largest cryptocurrency trading platform, announced on Tuesday that it had suffered a major DDoS attack and was working towards mitigating its impact.

Bitfinex has temporarily disabled new user signups to ensure hackers cannot conduct another DDoS attack by creating hundreds of thousands of new accounts.

Going by its latest posts on Twitter, Bitfinex has been facing targeted and sustained DDoS attacks since the last week of November. Thanks to these attacks, the cryptocurrency trading platform has been forced to go offline several times and has been forced to continue working with reduced performance whenever its services are restored.

Earlier today, Bitfinex issued a status update on the DDoS attacks and what it is doing to reduce their impact. While the cryptocurrency exchange didn't confirm if it knew who was behind such attacks, it said it found a way to ensure such attacks didn't occur again.

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'One component of the denial of service attack is to create hundreds of thousands of new accounts, causing stress on the infrastructure. For that reason, please note that new user signups have been temporarily disabled to help defend against the attackers and improve platform service for existing customers,' it said.

As per the latest update released by the exchange, the platform is presently stabilising but its engineers will continue to monitor the situation closely for additional threats. Aside from the latest DDoS attacks, the platform suffered similar attacks on 4th and 7th December.

Such frequent attacks on Bitfinex exemplify of how malicious actors and cyber thieves are trying to cash in on the recent surge in the value of Bitcoin by compromising cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Last week, following a miraculous surge in the value of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency marketplace NiceHash's payment servers were compromised, resulting in the loss of Bitcoin wallet value worth millions of dollars. According to CoinDesk, hackers stole as much as many as 4,736.42 Bitcoin from NiceHash customer wallets which was equivalent to more than $62 million at current prices.

We assume one of the reasons why Bitcoin is being attacked is because the price keeps increasing and we think it's reasonable for hackers. Digital currency might be easier to gain than physical currency. So I think it's reasonable,' said Ashley Shen, an independent cyber security researcher to Sky News.

Kirill Kasavchenko, principal security technologist, EMEA at Arbor Networks, believes likewise and says that businesses who 'rely on their website as a route to market must learn lessons from this, and evaluate whether their current DDoS protection could work harder for their business'.

'DDoS attacks, alongside other types of cyber threats, are quite common within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. There are few reasons for that. First is the growing audience attention due to incredible growth of Bitcoin. In response to this growth, attackers might launch DDoS attacks against exchanges not only as extortion threat, but also as a way to manipulate cryptocurrency rates by making trading platforms unavailable.

'Last but not least, cryptocurrencies do not have any legal status in most countries. This means prosecution of attackers is often problematic not only from technical, but also from a legal point of view,' he adds.