Inside the Story: The Attempted Binance Extortion Explained

John Biggs
Aug 12, 2019 at 14:30 UTC
Updated Aug 12, 2019 at 19:04 UTC
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Like most CoinDesk stories, our interaction with an insider claiming to have access to the Binance hackers began with an email.

“Hi John Biggs,” wrote someone calling himself John Amate (later Platon.) “I have read your article regarding about Binance hacking and it seems to me that you do not have much information about it. I am willing to help you. [I can supply:] Where did hackers launder their money. How many customers’ privacy information are stolen (including their passport and identity card), etc.”

That single message sent us down a rabbit hole of research, back-and-forth, and frustration as we tried to understand what had happened and how much user data leaked from Binance’s KYC system – and how those leaks were connected to hackers who stole over 7,000 bitcoin from the exchange.

We spoke to the hacker and Binance for a month, digging into this story as slowly and carefully as possible. The result? It became clear that the hacker’s claims were far more complex – and far more problematic – than we expected.

In this video we pull back and talk about the way we reported the story, what we think was really happening, and the care we took to ensure we got the whole story without putting private data at risk.

Image via YouTube