Satoshi Nakamoto's email compromised, one hacker possibly identified

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Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jason_benjamin/

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jason_benjamin/

Yesterday evening, a person using the email address long associated with mysterious bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto sent the following message to Bitcoin Talk administrator Michael “theymos” Marquardt: “Michael, send me some coins before I hitman you.”

Almost immediately, Marquardt took to the Bitcoin Talk forum to warn the bitcoin community that Satoshi Nakamoto’s email had been compromised. “Don’t trust any email sent from satoshin@gmx.com unless it is signed by Satoshi,” he wrote, referring to the PGP key long associated with the security-minded bitcoin founder.

Shortly after this email was sent, another message was posted using a known Nakamoto account, this one to the P2PFoundation’s Ning forum, claiming that a poorly configured Tor client leaked an IP address in 2010, and that his “dox, passwords and IP addresses are being sold on the darknet.” The post also urged Nakamoto to “get out of where you are as soon as possible before these people harm you,” and then thanked him for inventing bitcoin.

Around the same time, the largely abandoned SourceForge bitcoin page was vandalized to read “Buttcoin is a peer-to-peer butt. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new butts or tracks butts. These tasks are managed collectively by the network. It’s like a bitcoin, but with butts instead.”

Reports then began to surface that a hacker calling himself “Jeffrey” had gained access to Nakamoto’s satoshin@gmx.com email account, and that he would release the contents if he received 25 BTC ($12,000) to a posted bitcoin address. That last part, however, appears to have been his undoing. Shortly after the details were posted to Pastebin, the legion of self-proclaimed “trained arm chair detectives” on the Bitcoin Talk forum soon identified the address as belonging to a user known as “Bl4ckw00d.”

Unlike Nakamoto, Bl4ckw00d’s trail isn’t cold. He’s a known personality on Bitcoin Talk, and his actions appear to unambiguously prove that he’s the source of the hack. Even though there is undoubtedly sensitive content in the email account which could ultimately unmask Nakamoto, at the moment many in the bitcoin community are treating this situation as an annoyance and scam, rather than as a real threat. Even Marquardt doesn’t seem too concerned, telling Wired: “I’m pretty sure that this is just some troll in it for the laughs.”

The story is still developing, with Motherboard reporting that another hacker claims to have sole access to Nakamoto’s account. This hacker, LulzClerk, also claims to be in contact with the “real” Nakamoto, and appears to be blackmailing him to keep the secret safe. The reporter was skeptical of many of these claims, including the claim by LulzClerk that another “hacker” the reporter was in contact with was actually the real Satoshi Nakamoto trying to mislead him.

One silver lining has appeared in all of this chaos: There appears to be no reason to think that Nakamoto’s bitcoin fortune (estimated to be as high as 1,000,000 BTC) has been compromised.

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