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White Hat Hack?
ETC’s 51% Hacker Partially Returns Stolen Funds
Over $400,000 worth in Ethereum classic was stolen in a 51% hack that occurred on January 7th, 2019. The hacker conducted a 51% attack, temporarily taking control of the blockchain, and allowing him to double spend funds. The attack had affected Ethereum Classic negatively, which was trading at $5.20 to $4.50 as per now.
In a surprise announcement by Gate.io a cryptocurrency exchange, it seems that the Ethereum Classic hacker has returned the equivalent of $100,000 in Ethereum Classic. Although the identity of the hacker is unknown, he or she has used 3 Ethereum Classic wallets provided by Gate.io
"We found that the recent ETC 51% attacker returned 100k USD value of ETC back to Gate.io. We were trying to contact the attacker but we haven't got any reply until now," as per Gate.io.
Prior to return of funds, Gate.io has promised to compensate its customers for any losses caused by the hack. This raises the possibility that the 51% hacker conducted the hack, not out of malice or greed, but to simply show weaknesses and security breaches in that blockchain.
"If the attacker didn't run it for profit, he might be a white hacker who wanted to remind people the risks in blockchain consensus and hashing power security"
Is the Drama Over?
While the attack seems to be over for now, Ethereum Classic might be exposed to more hacks and exploits in the future.
Gate.io mentioned the following: "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. Gate.io has raised the ETC confirmation number to 4000 and launched a strict 51% detect for enhanced protection. We also suggest other ETC exchanges to take actions to protect the trader from blockchain rollback/reorg."
The mysterious hacker might try to regain control of the blockchain again or return more of the stolen funds. Seeing that the hacker does not respond or communicate, it is hard to anticipate his or her next move.
One thing remains clear, Ethereum Classic needs to fork & upgrade their security protocols if they want to remain a known cryptocurrency.