A much-hyped distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on several bitcoin exchanges failed to materialize this week.
A post (since deleted) on the text-sharing site Pastebin.com over the weekend had promised a massive attack on the bitcoin infrastructure for Monday, April 22. The stated goal was to bring the price of bitcoin down to $30 (US).
The promised attack, set to start at 15:30 UTC, was to involve the distribution of bogus press releases suggesting that the bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was under investigation for securities fraud. Shortly afterward, the story was to be spammed on Reddit and updated with fake accounts.
"Several sellers lined up for a co-ordinated dump of 250,000+ BTC which will crash the price to under 100 to correlate in time with publication of bogus AP reports," the attack blueprint stated. The dump was to be followed by a massive DDoS attack on nine major exchanges, including Mt. Gox.
The attacker(s) then promised to buy bitcoins from the Bitstamp exchange, which would be spared a DDoS attack, but would have been used earlier to dump bitcoins.
"You all know your stations, distribute this paste to the rest of the group as it won't last long on the hidden wiki," the text concluded. "Don't let this get out to the public, we need the price to remain high at 120 leading up to the event for maximum effect."
There were few reports of any extraordinary DDoS activity on Monday, and the price didn't fall anywhere close to $30. In fact, Mt. Gox pricing finished slightly up on the day, at $127.50.
"It was a troll to begin with," Mikko Hyponnen, chief research officer at the security software company F-Secure, told CoinDesk. "I don't think there was any attack at all."
Prior to the promised attack, Hyponnen had tweeted:
"Troll: 'Operation Shock And Awe … Goal: Bring bitcoin price < $30 US dollars … '
Perhaps coincidentally, the AP news service's Twitter account was hacked the following day (April 23) and used to post a fake story about bombs exploding at the White House. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by around 3 percent in value in just minutes before rebounding, and someone clearly made money from it. This was a rare case in which a regulated market suffered from a hack, while an unregulated, volatile one remained largely unaffected.
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