Business 6 November 2018

Dennis Wafula

Japanese cybersecurity experts track down Zaif exchange hackers

Cybersecurity experts in Japan claimed that they have found incriminating evidence against suspected hackers of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Zaif.

In an official statement released on Monday, Japan Digital Design Co. (JDD), a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, announced that it has succeeded in identifying five transactions of the stolen funds from Zaif exchange. JDD has also shared the information with authorities in Japan.

Zaif exchange had its funds and those of its clients stolen by unknown suspects after their system was hacked in September. The hackers managed to steal JPY6.7 billion (about $60 million) of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin BCH, BTC and MonaCoin.

To track the missing cryptos, JDD said it held a hackathon with the help of TokyoWestern, a local cybersecurity team, and EL Plus, a security firm. JDD used an array of cloud-hosted MONA nodes to analyze transactions that involved the stolen currencies. Using this, along with other blockchain technologies, the team was able to determine several things such as the source IP address allowing them to trace the stolen currencies.

During their investigation, JDD discovered that one of the stolen currencies, MonaCoin, started being moved in late October, which made it easier for the team to track the hackers.

It is not yet clear as to the accuracy of the leaked information. Authorities are still doing their investigation to bring the involved parties to justice.

Following the hack, Zaif exchange was recently slapped with a business improvement order by the Financial Services Agency (FSA) in Japan. The regulatory agency stated that it regretted having allowed Zaif to continue operating. FSA claimed that they should have followed multiple warning given in the past about the exchange. In addition, FSA is seeking more information about the exchange and Tech Bureau, the operators of Zaif, including why there was a delay in reporting the hack.

Tech Bureau previously announced its intention to sell its entire stake in the exchange to Fisco Digital Asset Group to pay back customers who lost their funds. The terms of the deal are set to be completed on November 22.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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