$100,000 worth of cryptocurrency stolen from exchange Gate.io during the 51% attack that took place last week has allegedly been returned by the hacker who took it, according to a post on the exchange’s official blog made January 12.
The recent ETC 51% hacker has returned $100k worth of ETC back to https://t.co/8kWqgDWNXb on the 10th of January. We have raised the ETC confirmation number to 4000 and launched a strict 51% detection for enhanced protection.
— gate.io Exchange (@gate_io) January 12, 2019
“We were trying to contact the attacker but we haven’t got any reply until now,” the post said. “We still don’t know the reason. If the attacker didn’t run it for profit, he might be a white [hat] hacker who wanted to remind people [of] the risks in blockchain consensus and hashing power security.”
A “white-hat” hacker is a hacker who uses their abilities for the “greater good” rather than personal gain or glory. However, if this attack was indeed organized by a white-hat hacker, his or her methods were certainly unorthodox–hundreds of thousands of dollars is nothing to sniff at.
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Further, the exchange claims that the hacker has returned $100,000, but reported in a blog post on January 9th that $271,500 worth of Ethereum Classic tokens had been transferred out of its wallets during the attack. This means that more than $171,000 may still be at large. (Originally, Gate.io reported that just $40,000 had been affected.)
In a separate statement, US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase reported that it had found that $1.1 million in cryptocurrency had been affected throughout the attack. Originally, Coinbase issued a report saying that $460,000 was involved.
On 1/5/2019, Coinbase detected a deep chain reorganization of the Ethereum Classic blockchain that included a double spend. In order to protect customer funds, we immediately paused movements of these funds on the ETC blockchain. Read more here: https://t.co/vCx89dz44m
— Coinbase (@coinbase) January 7, 2019
Another 51% Attack on Ethereum Classic is Still Possible. Says Gate.io
The blog post by Gate.io saying that $100,000 had been returned by the exchange also noted that “based on our analysis, the hashing power of ETC network is still not strong enough and it’s still possible to rent enough hashing power to launch another 51% attack.”
Until (and if) the Ethereum Classic network does something to protect itself from another attack, Gate.io says that it “has raised the ETC confirmation number to 4000 and launched a strict 51% detect for enhanced protection,” and suggests that traders take additional protective measures.
Finance Magnates reached out to Gate.io for further commentary on the matter, but the exchange had not responded by the time of publishing.