Hacker Hijacks Satoshi Nakamoto's Email, Threatens to Reveal All

A hacker appears to have access to Satoshi Nakamoto's online accounts and old emails, but their intentions are unknown.

Sep 9, 2014 at 2:55 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:04 p.m. UTC

The bitcoin world is abuzz with speculation that some of Satoshi Nakamoto's online accounts have been compromised, concerned a hacker could potentially access information concerning the bitcoin creator's true identity or use the accounts to defraud key members of the bitcoin community.

Wired reported that the alleged hacker had posted on Pastebin that they would reveal key details of Nakamoto's identity if 25 BTC were sent to a specified bitcoin address. While small donations have been coming in, the address still appears well short of that mark.

Administrator 'theymos' of the Bitcoin Talk forum (aka Michael Marquardt) a key figure in bitcoin's online community, posted just after 9pm (BST) on 8th September, alerting the community of the development, writing:

"Today I received an email from satoshin@gmx.com (Satoshi's old email address), the contents of which make me almost certain that the email account is compromised. The email was not spoofed in any way. It seems very likely that either Satoshi's email account in particular or gmx.com in general was compromised, and the email account is now under the control of someone else. Perhaps satoshin@gmx.com expired and then someone else registered it."

"Everyone knows that Bitcoin runs on drama, so this should do wonders for the recent price slump!" theymos added later.

Shortly after, another mysterious message appeared on the P2Pfoundation's 'ning' message board, as a reply to Nakamoto's original introduction to bitcoin. The post was sent from the Satoshi Nakamoto account, but appeared to warn him of what was happening:

"Dear Satoshi. Your dox, passwords and IP addresses are being sold on the darknet. Apparently you didn't configure Tor properly and your IP leaked when you used your email account sometime in 2010. You are not safe. You need to get out of where you are as soon as possible before these people harm you. Thank you for inventing bitcoin."

Bitcoin's source code page on SourceForge also redirected to anti-bitcoin troll site 'buttcoin’, although it was later returned to its original state (it would still be prudent to not download anything from that particular page, however).

Hacked or expired?

Many suggested the gmx.com address Nakamoto used had simply expired after a period of time and had been claimed by someone else.

However, bitcoin core developer Peter Todd wrote on Twitter roughly four hours after theymos' original post that whoever controlled the email address also appeared to have access to Nakamoto's email history, putting paid to the 'expired' theory.

– Peter Todd (@petertoddbtc) 9 Sept 2014

Nakamoto, however, 'retired' from active participation in bitcoin in April 2011, and the hacker has not presented any evidence they have access to emails from before then.

Satoshi's identity and fortune

Satoshi Nakamoto's true identity is bitcoin's core enigma, not just because the creator of the world's most successful cryptocurrency experiment remains anonymous after nearly six years, but because bitcoin's rising price would make that person extremely wealthy.

Some analysts say Satoshi Nakamoto's bitcoin fortune could be as much as 1 million BTC, spread over a series of wallet address and the result of mining from bitcoin's earliest days. Bitcoin enthusiasts have monitored these addresses closely in the hope of uncovering clues – but so far none of the funds have been touched, adding to the mystery.

They remain untouched as of press time. Any movement of those original coins on the open market would likely have an impact on bitcoin's price.

CoinDesk will continue to monitor this developing story and add details as they come to hand.

image via Shutterstock

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