As you may remember, Roger Ver and other large Bitcoin holders were targeted last year by attackers and extortionists. Rather than capitulate and pay the ransom for the return of his hacked e-mail account, Ver created a website, BitcoinBountyHunter.com, to issue a bounty on his attacker as well as allow others to create bounties.
Fraud has been a long-standing problem for the Bitcoin community and the effort to combat it has been lackluster at best. Many believe that the reason for this is simple: those who are best suited to combat Bitcoin fraud and sleuth out the bad guys have no real incentive to do so. In fact, in some cases, engaging in the same sort of profit is a much more profitable endeavor for security researchers with such skills.
The premise of Bitcoin Bounty Hunter is that there’s nothing wrong with a financial incentive to do good. The best investigators in the world are paid for their services in all sectors, why should the same not apply to the Internet and more specifically to cryptocurrencies? It might be naïve to expect all hackers to be benign like Johoe, the German who returned many thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to Blockchain.info holders. At the time of acquisition, he wasn’t even sure where the BTC had come from. He had identified a flaw in the way that Blockchain.info generated addresses and broadcast transactions to the network.
The highest reward currently on the site is for the identity of DD4BC, a so-far anonymous individual who has repeatedly extorted the operators of Bitcoin-related websites for BTC. The reward for this individual’s true identity is the highest, at 100 bitcoins.
Perhaps his largest attack was against wallet provider Bitalo.com, but it seems that as recently as January he attacked BetBTC.co and judging from his loan “smiley face” response to their BitcoinTalk post, he may have been paid off.
People like this can be considered cancer to the Bitcoin world, as they serve no greater interest and seek only to profit from the hard work of others by being a nuisance. Remember, conducting a distributed denial-of-service attack requires no more technical knowledge than does compiling a Bitcoin wallet from source. It is a simple way to cause problems for others, and it’s not hard to do. “Script kiddies” have been doing it for over a decade by simply installing software developed by more experienced hackers. When it’s done in the US, if the FBI can track the attacker down, it can be punished by up to 20 years in prison.
If you take the time to visit a faucet site, you’ll notice dozens of scams or potential scams. These sites routinely make off with several BTC before regrouping and starting a new scam of the same kind. Perhaps if the victims knew about BitcoinBountyHunter.com, they’d be able to bring these nefarious, heartless individuals to justice more often.