Cryptohackers Breach StatCounter to Steal Bitcoins | Hacking

By Jack M. Germain

Nov eight, 2018 5:00 AM PT

Hackers planted malware on StatCounter to steal bitcoin income from account holders, in line with Eset researcher Matthieu Faou, who
found the breach.

The malicious code was added to StatCounter’s site-tracking script final weekend, he reported Tuesday.

The malicious code hijacks any bitcoin transactions made by the Web interface of the cryptocurrency alternate. It doesn’t set off except the web page hyperlink incorporates the “myaccount/withdraw/BTC” path.

The malicious code secretly can change any bitcoin handle that customers enter on the web page with one managed by the attacker. Security specialists view this breach as essential as a result of so many web sites load StatCounter’s monitoring script.

“This security breach is really important considering that — according to StatCounter — more than 2 million websites are using their analytics platform,” Faou advised TechNewsWorld. “By modifying the analytics script injected in all those 2 million websites, attackers were able to execute JavaScript code in the browser of all the visitors of these websites.”

Limited Target, Broad Potential

The assault additionally is critical as a result of it exhibits elevated sophistication amongst hackers concerning the instruments and strategies they use to steal cryptocurrency, famous George Waller, CEO of
BlockSafe Technologies.

Although this type of hijacking will not be a brand new phenomenon, the way in which the code was inserted was.

The development of the cryptocurrency market and its rising asset class has led hackers to extend their investments in devising extra sturdy makes an attempt and strategies to steal it. The malware used is nothing new, however the technique of delivering it’s.

“Since the beginning of 2017, cryptocurrency exchanges suffered over (US)$882 million in funds stolen through targeted attacks across at least 14 exchanges. This hack adds one more to the list,” Waller advised TechNewsWorld.

In this occasion, attackers selected to focus on the customers at, an vital cryptocurrency alternate, mentioned Eset’s Faoul. When a consumer submitted a bitcoin withdrawal, attackers in actual time changed the vacation spot handle with an handle below their management.

Attackers had been in a position to goal by compromising a third-party group, a tactic often known as a “supply chain attack.” They might have focused many extra web sites, Faoul famous.

“We identified several government websites that are using StatCounter. Thus, it means that attackers would have been able to target many interesting people,” he mentioned.

Telling Financial Impact clients who initiated bitcoin transactions through the time of the assault are most in danger from this breach. The malware hijacked transactions legitimately approved by the positioning consumer by altering the vacation spot handle of the bitcoin transfers, in line with Paige Boshell, managing member of
Privacy Counsel.

As a rule, the variety of third-party scripts, corresponding to StatCounter, must be stored to a minimal by site owners, as every represents a possible assault vector. For exchanges, extra confirmations for withdrawals would have been helpful on this case, provided that the exploit concerned swapping the consumer’s bitcoin handle for that of the thieves.

“ has taken down StatCounter, so this specific assault must be concluded, Boshell advised TechNewsWorld.

The extent of the loss and the fraud publicity for this breach will not be but quantifiable. The attackers used a number of bitcoin addresses for the transfers, Boshell added, noting that the assault might have been deployed to impression any web site utilizing StatCounter.

Protection Strategies Not Foolproof

StatCounter wants to enhance its personal code audit and always verify that solely approved code is working on its community, urged Joshua Marpet, COO at
Red Lion. However, most customers is not going to notice that StatCounter is at fault.

“They’ll blame, and anything could happen — loss of business, run on the bank,’ and even closing their doors,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

Checking the code will not be all the time a workable prevention plan. In this case, the malware code regarded just like the consumer’s personal directions, famous Privacy Counsel’s Boshell.

“It was not easily detectable by the fraud tools that uses to protect against and detect malware,” she mentioned.

Network admins will not be actually affected in such a breach, because the malicious code is processed on the workstation/laptop computer relatively than on the webserver, in line with Brian Chappell, senior director of enterprise and options structure at
BeyondTrust. It additionally doesn’t present any mechanism to achieve management over the system.

“In essence, a lot of stars need to line up to make this a significant risk in that regard,” he advised TechNewsWorld. “Effective vulnerability and privilege management would naturally limit the impact of any intrusion.”

That is a route that admins must look. There is nothing they will do to manage the preliminary assault, assuming the focused web sites are accepted websites inside their group, Chappell added.

Even a well-protected web site could be breached by compromising a third-party script, famous Eset’s Faou.

“Thus, webmasters should choose carefully the external JavaScript code they are linking to and avoid using them if it is not necessary,” he mentioned.

One potential technique is to display screen for scripts that change one bitcoin handle with one other, urged Clay Collins, CEO of

Using analytics providers that have a superb safety status is a part of that, he advised TechNewsWorld.

“Folks with ad/script blockers were not vulnerable,” Collins mentioned.

More Best Practices

Traffic evaluation, web site scanning and code auditing are a number of the instruments that would have detected that one thing was inflicting irregular transactions and visitors, famous Fausto Oliveira, principal safety architect at
Acceptto. However, it might have been perfect to forestall the assault within the first place.

“If the customers had an application that requires strong out-of-band authentication above a certain amount, or if a transaction is aimed at an unknown recipient, then their customers would have had the opportunity to block the transaction and gain early insight that something wrong was happening,” Oliveira advised TechNewsWorld.

Using script blocking add-ons like NoScript and uBlock/uMatrix can put a measure of non-public management within the web site consumer’s fingers. It makes Web shopping more difficult, famous Raymond Zenkich, COO of

“But you can see what code is being pulled into a site and disable it if it is not necessary,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

“Web developers need to stop putting third-party scripts on sensitive pages and put their responsibility to their users over their desire for advertising dollars, metrics, etc.,” Zenkich mentioned.

Beware Third-Party Anythings

As a rule, the variety of third-party scripts must be stored to a minimal by site owners, urged
Zenchain cofounder Seth Hornby, as each represents a possible assault vector.

“For exchanges, additional confirmations for withdrawals would also be beneficial in this case, given that the exploit involved swapping the user’s bitcoin address for that of the thieves,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

Even third-party outsourcing options can open the door to cyber shenanigans, warned Zhang Jian, founding father of

“So many companies within the cryptocurrency space rely on third-party companies for different duties and tasks. The ramification of this outsourcing is a loss of accountability. This puts many companies in a tough spot, unable to locate attacks of this nature before it is too late,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

Instead, community admins ought to work towards creating in-house variations of their instruments and merchandise, from starting to finish, Jian urged, to make sure that management of those safety measures lies inside their attain.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His principal areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open supply applied sciences. He has written quite a few evaluations of Linux distros and different open supply software program.
Email Jack.

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