$15 billion XRP hacking attempt revealed | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

For a very brief time, an X post made by Whale Alert claimed that as much as 25.6 billion XRP were on the move from an unknown wallet to the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange. 

Given that the amount of cryptocurrency supposedly moved amounts to approximately half of all circulating supply of XRP, the post immediately raised eyebrows and was quickly removed with the justification that “there was an issue with properly reading the #Ripple node response.”

Around the same time, Paolo Ardoino, the CTO of Bitfinex and CEO of Tether, took to X to explain that the transaction – worth approximately $15 billion – was, in fact, an attempted “partial payments exploit” attack against the exchange.

He also stated that the attack was unsuccessful as “Bitfinex properly handles ‘delivered_amount’ data field.”

What is a ‘Partial Payments Exploit?’

In a nutshell, a “partial payments exploit” involves one party manipulating the transaction process with the aim of tricking the other party into accepting less money, cryptocurrency, or other assets that have been agreed upon by misrepresenting the amount being transferred.

This type of attack takes advantage of a system’s inability to check transaction amounts correctly. The attacker submits a request to transfer funds that appears to have full value but is actually only a portion of the specified amount. It is usually made possible by a technical weakness or a bug in the software that handles the transaction.

The most common targets include platforms that assume that the transaction values are accurate and where these values are crucial. These include, for example, banking applications and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Hackers continue targeting crypto

While the popularity and reputation of the crypto market took a beating during the “crypto winter” that started around May 2022 with the Terraform Labs’ collapse and only started thawing in earnest in late 2023, various hackers, scammers, and fraudsters remained largely unphased.

Last year, in particular, saw a series of high-profile attacks against the wider crypto sector, with some draining as much as $197 million. By the end of 2023, major institutions such as  Lloyds Banking Group (LON: LLOY) issued warnings on the prevalence of crypto fraud. They announced that scammers are now primarily targeting a younger group of victims.

The artificial intelligence (AI) boom also brought about some novel methods of stealing investors’ assets, and the first weeks of 2024 saw multiple crypto-related X accounts get compromised either as part of phishing attacks or attempts at sewing chaos and confusion – as was the case with the infamous takeover of the SEC’s account on January 9.

XRP price analysis

The attack itself appears to have had, at most, a marginal impact on the price of XRP. In the last 24 hours, the cryptocurrency declined 0.90% and stands at $0.57 at the time of publication. 

XRP 1-day price chart. Source: Finbold

Zooming out, XRP has been somewhat struggling in the last 30 days and is 7.66% in the red, having experienced its most dramatic drop – from about $0.64 to approximately $0.56 – on January 3. Still, it has, along with many other coins and tokens, rallied significantly in 2023 – with Ripple winning several important legal engagements against the SEC – and is 47.77% in the green in the last 52 weeks.

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.


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