DDoS Attack Sends Cryptocurrency Exchange EXMO Offline

This outage was preceded by another incident on December 24, in which the hackers stole 5% of EXMO's assets.

UK-registered Bitcoin exchange, EXMO today said that its platform had suffered a distributed denial-of-service attack or DDoS, that attempted to paralyze its system with a flood of Internet traffic. Normal operations were back up as the trading service was brought back to life within two hours, but the platform has yet to reveal the true nature of the cyberattack.

EXMO, which is popular in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, said that the attack was a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of the exchange’s server. The exchange saw a spike in traffic this Monday at 16:10 GMT and the number of connections attempting to reach its servers was enough to temporarily disrupt its activity.

This outage was preceded by another incident, on December 24, in which the hackers earned 5% of EXMO’s assets from its ‘hot’ wallets. The exchange confirmed shortly afterwards that the equivalent of about $4 million in customer cryptocurrency was stolen.

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There is currently no evidence pointing to exactly who is responsible for both attacks and no proof that they are connected. However, both cyber incidents came at a time when the bitcoin price hit record highs, possibly triggering efforts on the part of cybercriminals to cash in on the higher value of the stolen assets.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are fairly common in the crypto markets, where malicious attackers attempt to disrupt the trading service by overwhelming the servers with a flood of unwanted traffic. However, DDoS attacks are a bit less scary than hacks that cause clients to lose funds.

EXMO was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in London. As Britain edged closer toward an exit from the EU, the cryptocurrency exchange operator had chosen to expand into new European bases as part of a contingency plan to continue to have access to the bloc post-Brexit.

With a recent presence in Turkey, the Istanbul facility was the start-up’s fourth office outside the UK together with its Kiev, Barcelona and Moscow branches.

While it is not moving resources away from the UK, EXMO’s expansion echoes the sentiment among some big banks that are trying to increase their presence across Europe to offset the impact of Brexit.

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