Last week, the Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain suffered a 51% attack that stunned the cryptocurrency community. The hacker behind the criminal act has returned $100,000 worth of ETC tokens to cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io. This was confirmed via a blog post on the site on January 10. The exchange revealed that the hacker returned the coins to the firm’s account without prior explanation.
A White Hat Hacker?
Gate.io confirmed that multiple attempts to contact the hacker have proven futile. They were also unsuccessful in investigating the reason for the hacker’s surprising change of heart.
In part, the article reads:
“On Jan.10, 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.”
The unavailability of an explanation hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning. Many believe that the attack was no more than a campaign to show the risks associated with crypto use. Others believe that it is a demonstration of the faulty operation of Poof of Work blockchains.
Concerning the possible cause of the return, the article stated, “We still don’t know the reason. If the attacker didn’t run it for profit, he might be a white hacker who wanted to remind people of the risks in blockchain consensus and hashing power security.”
Not Out of the Woods Yet
Gate.io confirmed last week that it had lost 40,000 ETC tokens in the 51% attack. At the time, the total tokens stolen were worth about $200,000. The company also promised to compensate affected users.
Prior to the attack, ETC developers had been alerted about the possibility of an imminent attack. The developers were warned by blockchain security firm SlowMist via Twitter.
In its new post, the exchange also warned about the weakness of the ETC network’s hashing power. This means that another 51% attack is still very much possible. To guard against this, the exchange has raised the number of confirmations on its platform to 4,000. It also implemented a “strict 51% detect” to provide proper protection.
It also recommended that other exchanges adopt similar measures to protect themselves from possible future attacks.
As of this writing, ETC is worth $4.25 per token, with a total market capitalization of $457 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
Last modified: March 4, 2021 2:30 PM