Hackers seed StatCounter with nasty JavaScript in elaborate Bitcoin cyber-heist caper

Gate.io exchange believed to be target of embedded attack

Updated One of the top traffic metrics websites on the internet is apparently being used by criminals to steal Bitcoins from a currency exchange.

Researchers at ESET have found that the JavaScript used by StatCounter's analytics platform has been modified by miscreants so that when embedded into the pages of Gate.io, a cryptocurrency exchange, it can siphon off alt-coins.

The ESET team today said that the crooks injected malicious code within statcounter.com/counter/counter.js, a piece of JavaScript that StatCounter's two million or so customers embed in their websites to measure their visitor traffic.

While millions of sites may have pulled in that modified code, however, it appears that just one site was the target. ESET's eggheads say the malicious code within the StatCounter script performs a single check for a specific path: myaccount/withdraw/BTC.

"It turns out that among the different cryptocurrency exchanges live at time of writing, only gate.io has a valid page with this URI," explained ESET malware researcher Matthieu Faou.

"Thus, this exchange seems to be the main target of this attack."

Should that path be accessed by a visitor, a second script on a separate domain is fetched and executed. That script tries to redirect any Bitcoin transactions to one of several wallet addresses controlled by the masterminds of this attack.


Bitcoin backer sues AT&T for $240m over stolen cryptocurrency


Because the thieves used multiple wallets to receive the hijacked funds, the researchers do not know precisely how much was stolen. They believe, however, that the loss could be significant.

Gate.io did not respond to a request for comment, and StatCounter also could not be reached. ESET says it has notified both companies of the caper.

"Even if we do not know how many Bitcoins have been stolen during this attack, it shows how far attackers go to target one specific website, in particular a cryptocurrency exchange," said Faou.

"To achieve this they compromised an analytics service’s website, used by more than two million other websites, including several government-related websites, to steal Bitcoin from customers of just one cryptocurrency exchange website." ®

Updated to add

StatCounter says its web cache was poisoned to serve the booby-trapped JavaScript.

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022