update 24 September 2021

Bitcoin.org Site Compromised, Hackers Falsely Promise Bitcoin Earnings

Earlier today, hackers compromised the popular open-source Bitcoin.org website. The site was inaccessible as of 05:44 UTC Thursday. A message obstructed the homepage screen, persuading the users to send money to a bitcoin wallet. The notice claims it is doing so since the Bitcoin Foundation is “giving back to the community.”

The message says only the first 10,000 users can benefit from the offer. The message has a QR code for the wallet and its address too. All other site functionality is currently limited as users are not able to skirt nor ignore the notice.

These messages are linked with giveaway scams. The schemes give false promises of multiplying one’s funds after sending an initial amount to a wallet address through a QR code. Victims get nothing in return and lose their earnings.

Bitcoin developer Matt Corallo reported that Bitcoin.org got hacked. He added that the site was replaced with a scam asking for free Bitcoin. He asked the community not to send funds to that address.

According to Bitcoin explorer, blockchain.com, the giveaway scam’s address has received over $17,700 in small transactions as of the time of writing. A Twitter user, @Tylerban, suggested getting someone to decipher the QR code to find the wallet on the blockchain. Another user thought that there was a possibility that it was a real giveaway and no one was participating.

Copyright Infringement

A few months ago, U.K. courts told Bitcoin.org not to host the Bitcoin whitepaper over copyright infringement. Just days later, hackers hit Bitcoin.org with a massive denial of service attack.

Several individuals and groups pointed out the hack, noting that they came across a popup message promising bitcoins. An organization or person who uses the pseudonym Cobra said the site might remain inaccessible while looking into the hack. Cobra has been the site’s operator, but its present affiliation isn’t clear. It is resolving the loopholes while the team determines the source of the hack.

Crypto Scammers Ripping Big

Researchers say scammers are making huge sums this year. Giveaway gangs made almost $20m in the first three months of this year. That’s significantly more than the $16m they made in total for the whole of 2020.

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Just recently, the U.S. government disrupted a platform often used by ransomware gangs to conduct financial transactions. Two days ago, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions on crypto exchange Suex because of ransomware transactions.