Ethereum Network Attacker’s IP Address Is Traceable

Updates:

  • Originally posted on Oct 22 2016 as “The Ongoing Ethereum Attacks (Work In Progress)”, but renamed after finding the links to the mining pools.
  • 05:55 Oct 23 2016 UTC – First estimate of the number of accounts created by the SUICIDE opcode is 19,041,840 by retrieving the information from Parity. The original estimate was manually computed by viewing the transactions in etherscan.io, which did not pick up most of the empty accounts. Compare to 777,647 real accounts. That’s why your syncing has been taking such a long time.
  • 13:48 Oct 25 2016 UTC – added further analysis by /r/Jey_s_TeArS to the bottom of the Summary section.
  • 21:47 Oct 25 2016 UTC – added comment by /r/DwarfPool to the bottom of the Summary section.


Table of contents


Summary

The Ethereum network has been undergoing a series of attacks since the Devcon2 Ethereum Developers Conference on Sep 18 2016. The Ethereum network activated a hard fork on Oct 19 2016 that successfully stopped the spam transaction attack. Less than a day after the hard fork, a new wave of attacks was executed by the attacker, but these attacks have had less impact on the Ethereum network.

The attacks have now ceased, for the moment at least. The attacker may have given up as the second wave of attacks have had little impact on the network.

The attacker’s transactions have been anonymous until now. The tracing of the transactions below eventually led to the transactions showing that the attacker has used the services of the EthPool and DwarfPool mining pools. These mining pool transactions could reveal the attacker’s IP address, assuming none of the accounts involved have had their private keys stolen.

Whether anyone will pursue the attacker is unknown at this point in time. The attacker could be the same USD 50 million The DAO hacker, or someone who wants us to think that. Some of the attacking accounts donated a few Classic ethers (ETC) to the Ethereum Classic development account, the same account The DAO hacker contributed 1,000 ETCs to when they had access to their booty. And both attackers made the same measly order of donation to the Ethereum Classic development fund.

One positive aspect of these attacks is the improvement of the security of the Ethereum network while still in it’s early phase.

Overall, the Ethereum network kept on chugging along despite the repeated attacks. Many nodes crashed in the first attack, but due to the diversity in node clients, the network continued running. With the spam transaction attacks, node clients were slowed down especially nodes with limited RAM and non-solid state storage. With the many millions of empty account attack, node clients were slowed down further. Users had trouble syncing their full node wallets. Transactions could not be submitted with normal fees – some transactions fees were raised up to 45x the normal fee as this prioritises the transactions. Large smart contracts could not be deployed as the miners were advised to lower the gasLimit to reduce the effects of the spam transactions. Some miners started mining blocks with zero transactions for fear of slowing down their nodes. But the network kept on chugging along and hopefully will continue to do so. A very nice resilient network decentralised over 7483 nodes.

Update 13:48 Oct 25 2016 UTC – User /r/Jey_s_TeArS on the reddit post Ethereum Network Attacker’s IP Address Is Traceable writes:

Following the quick analysis I made on the way back from Shanghai I was pointing to an address almost empty now and was initially funded by a tx from shapeshift among other tx from shapeshift: https://etherscan.io/tx/0xc6b62e729b7ce0cb2f919fe2e015404e99bc6077dfef55846272069a38538b97 I have been harassing the customer service of shapeshift and obtained this two BTC tx used to fund some of the attackers address http://btc.blockr.io/tx/info/64793d565a20564731671d3ec454fac227f9a709ac278816664a518d3efdcf98
http://btc.blockr.io/tx/info/8553e73063d695162866557b773b5fbc4f325a5dd2157543e88691f534997c10

If you care to carry on investigating let me know if I can be of any help.

Click here for /r/Jey_s_TeArS's "quick analysis".
Hope it helps, I had great fun in Shanghai with you guys…

The contract involved : https://etherscan.io/address/0xd6a64d7e8c8a94fa5068ca33229d88436a743b14

edit bis: looks like the attack is now (2315287) slowing down last tx to the contract involved was made 1 hours ago . Some the adresses listed below also interacted with what looks like a copy of the attacking contract https://etherscan.io/address/0x0c40cf6dd1b74c6edfc4729021a11f57b31e3c27

edit bis bis Tx to the contract are now (2318227) going fast and with low fees (0.006) but multiple attacking transactions get included in blocks see https://etherscan.io/txs?block=2318227&p=2

The current fee for the DoS tx seems to be settled now at 0.027 eth. If a tx is included in a block every 15 sec, this attack is costing 6.48 eth per hour or 155.52 eth per day. At 2312624, the sum of the balances of the addresses calling the contract (see below) is 150 eth, so expect at least 24 hours of trouble.

edit: I guess due to the pools and miners adapting their gaslimit and gasprice the tx fee of the attacker is now up to 0.03465 (+28%)

The Contract creator: https://etherscan.io/txs?a=0x0c35a2e957e8f88027bc7b2779b9f95f0848992d&p=3 Note that this address has created a lot of similar contracts 6 days ago between block 2271721 and block 2272038 and resumed creating contract 4 days ago at 2282288 to 2283381 This address is almost empty now and was initially funded by a tx from shapeshift: https://etherscan.io/tx/0xc6b62e729b7ce0cb2f919fe2e015404e99bc6077dfef55846272069a38538b97

There are 15 addresses related to the contract so far (analysis done at 2312453 ) and 1 address (a contract) that received a transaction from it. You can watch it on : https://live.ether.camp/account/d6a64d7e8c8a94fa5068ca33229d88436a743b14/stat

There are 10 address calling the contract that have the same pattern of creation, those addresses where all loaded from Poloniex between 2300996 and 2301016 :

https://etherchain.org/account/0xe8F64922aA2B868A1C9ee4E43FA6ed673A65b940#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x853f9F86691b5f7175Ae47D2741dd29703C0024d#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x299809a293CBfEB3D077560847888e3770B51D3B#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x3e1c8Cac809d4E22B44b5Fb8a8491B9Db94aB045#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x66918bAef5Acf0c412AC41BA447d458939D3D176#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x06ac9e25a76fe5cf7df0a19c29dfdc900003d0c6#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0xf9110f7f0191317eb4bcd96e80d86946eb5426c5#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0xb2d7b6108d8d6f3c521f7321f5c299c638ed4e9b#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x9851131b33fd9e084c56fb4a341460e8ea23e737#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x166afb934f8e852ccfed857245305005c4673fc4#txreceived

This address was funded multiple times (all initially from shapeshift) and is also calling the contract: https://etherscan.io/txs?a=0xCa018d88926497c0468a8a06DFd3732CC7827b2c&p=3

There is only one address that received something from the contract: https://etherscan.io/address/0x47b39d9ab2b170fef87705b92988f919503c28b0 Note that this is a contract created by the same person (0x0c35a2… ) 5 days ago at 2282288

Furthermore those 3 addresses are also related to the contract and probably used for testing, receiving funds 6 days ago around bloc 2278648 :

https://etherchain.org/account/0x29446e8d2f0ca2e7fd9e46665e80fc2cd55bf262#txreceived
https://etherchain.org/account/0x0c35a2e957e8f88027bc7b2779b9f95f0848992d#txsent
https://etherchain.org/account/0xab90c4455d32f1e579152f52377e3cbf9b3cc37b#txsent

This “testing addresses” lead to this contract address : https://etherscan.io/address/0x45FAeC35E32676568ad827AEa17FB7431EF390bC the address that created currently used contract (0x0c35a2e…) interacted with it.

 

Update 21:47 Oct 25 2016 UTC – User /r/DwarfPool on the reddit post Ethereum Network Attacker’s IP Address Is Traceable writes:

IP addresses are known a long time ago, I write also to ethcore-team ISP of attackers. But how can it help?

Update 01:18 Oct 22 2016 UTC – A Perl script and the raw data for the 6 known offensive contracts is available in github.com/bokkypoobah/EthereumNetworkAttackData.

Posted on reddit/r/ethereum – The Ongoing Ethereum Attacks (Work In Progress) and Hacker News.


The First Wave Of Attacks

The first attack started on block #2,283,416 at Sep-18-2016 06:04:56 PM +UTC (01:04:56 Sep 19 Shanghai time) and targeted the go-ethereum geth clients, causing a memory error and shutting down these nodes across the network. Part of the design of the Ethereum network is the diversity of node clients. While geth (implemented in Go) crashed, Parity (implemented in Rust) and EthereumJ (implemented in Java) kept the network running.
geth – From Shanghai, with love (v1.4.12) was released on Sep 19 with the these code change.


The Offensive Transactions

The offensive transactions were both:


The geth Memory Crash Contract

The geth memory crash contract 0xb284e6a25d0972f9a92fec45d2075067db2d49b0:


The Spam DoS Transaction Contract

The spam DoS transaction contract 0xd6a64d7e8c8a94fa5068ca33229d88436a743b14:


The Account Bloat Attack

The attacker sent low cost transactions to create many millions of empty accounts on the Ethereum blockchain, slowing down the processing of the Ethereum node clients.

Update 05:55 Oct 23 2016 UTC – First estimate of the number of accounts created by the SUICIDE opcode is 19,041,840 by retrieving the information from Parity. The original estimate was manually computed by viewing the transactions in etherscan.io, which did not pick up most of the empty accounts. Compare to 777,647 real accounts. That’s why your syncing has been taking such a long time.

User /u/arrnx on the reddit post The Ongoing Ethereum Attacks (Work In Progress) provided two address involved in the creation of the many millions of empty accounts:


The Gas Reprice Hard Fork

geth – Note 7 (v1.4.18), Parity v1.3.8, ethereumj v1.3.6 and Ethereum Wallet/Mist v0.8.6 activated a Gas Reprice hard fork on #2,463,000 at Oct-18-2016 01:19:31 PM +UTC rendering the spam DoS transactions above obsolete.


The Second Wave Of Attacks

As reported in Lol, I think its another attack contract – Burns fees like a champ. Somone is very persistent here 🙂, a new wave of attacks commenced less than a day after the Gas Reprice hard fork involving the two following contracts:


The Second Wave – The First Contract

The contract 0xbd37ee00e47c0fe0def80bd95c498698b4a15235:


The Second Wave – The Second Contract

The contract 0xb6389d6575966f946e190b9d538c3259857ed2c7:


Bingo!

The account 0x3318183894290cfa67e3c76767183ae4e8cd2ad3 was funded in tx 0xe9e5…5d0e at Oct-12-2016 11:07:27 PM +UTC from 0xc16721bd742d54b19a49425a91cb06db6d112dbc:

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-17-24-54Account 0xc16721bd742d54b19a49425a91cb06db6d112dbc was funded in 0x45b4…701c at Oct-12-2016 07:26:30 PM +UTC from 0xba0577e1419237fd4b8c14a6f49984f6466b5996:

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-17-29-24Account 0xba0577e1419237fd4b8c14a6f49984f6466b5996 was funded from Ethpool in tx 0xb266…89bf at Aug-09-2015 12:17:46 AM +UTC and DwarfPool1 in tx 0x1f0b…c404 at Mar-08-2016 03:36:49 AM +UTC many times until tx 0x5468…20e5 at May-26-2016 06:06:47 PM +UTC:

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-17-32-58screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-17-34-38Some of these pools require IP addresses that the miner is mining from to confirm the miner’s credentials.

EthPool requires IP address confirmation for change in account setting, and stores the miner’s IP address and would therefore have an association between the miner’s account and IP address:
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-03-02-24

And here is the attacker’s statistics from DwarfPool:
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-15-40-09

The attacker earned around 26 ETH mining at DwarfPool in April 2016. This is the equivalent of about 125 Mhs, or 4 x R9 390X GPUs (my 125 Mhs solo miner earned 5 blocks or ~ 25 ETH in the same period):
screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-15-51-02

User /u/tsunamiboy6776 asked on First Ethereum hard fork successful; second imminent “How could the ip be used? Couldn’t be using a proxy or vpn?”.
The attacker could use a proxy, VPN or ?TOR to hide their IP address, but it is highly unlikely they would have done so. It is far easier to hide the association between your IP address and your Ethereum mining rewards account just by solo mining. And this pool mining was conducted before the idea of The DAO was floated, with the juicy USD 50 million bug in the code. The attacker could have planned these attacks well in advance, but why would they bother pool mining if they could just solo mine anonymously with higher profitability compared to pool mining via a proxy/VPN/?TOR that adds some latency in the pool mining process?

I think it was a slip up using a traceable account to mount the attacks.


So my guess would be – a C, C++, Java, Assembly Language developer, mid 30s to mid 40s, male, small time miner with the rig small enough to fit in the unit or house, basement or garage, 5 foot 8 inches, long hair :-). And the IP address will point directly to the attacker’s home, but someone will have to get the IP address from DwarfPool and then find out the physical address or owner from the ISP. I don’t know whether the three-letter-acronym agencies would bother. We could set up a prediction event on Augur or Gnosis and place our bets.


The Ethereum Classic And The DAO Hacker Connection

User /u/1dontpanic on the reddit post The Ongoing Ethereum Attacks (Work In Progress) wrote:

It hasn’t come up yet in the thread, but 15 hrs after the attacks finished they dumped into account 0xe9a7e26bf5c05fe3bae272d4c940bd7158611ce9 . This is our public etc dev account, and is not involved with the attack. The funds received will be frozen, same as the dao funds received as far as I’m concerned.

As traced on The Hacker Has Just Withdrawn Their Booty From The DAO On The ETC Chain, The DAO hacker donated 1000 ETCs out from their 3642408.5276 ETC (~ USD 3.7 million) The DAO hack booty to the same Ethereum Classic development account in tx 0x38d8…198b at Sep-05-2016 22:34:13 UTC. This same account was sent ETCs from some of the spam DoS transaction accounts listed above, including 1.7754 ETCs from the account 0xfcd004fbad7e8ffee821d8a10d7f0685b14933b1 in tx 0xd469…1ab9 at Oct-20-2016 12:28:31 UTC.


Coordinated Spam Or Lone Operative

A lone operative could easily have been behind the attack as the sending out of the spam transactions can be easily automated.

Meanwhile, multiple people were banned for a day from the Polo TrollBox while overexcitedly discussing whether the attacks was the work of “coordinated spam or lone operative”.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-03-25 screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-03-42 screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-12-03-59

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