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Nov 11
2020
Binance Awards $200,000 Bounty for DOJ Indictment of Attackers Behind 2018 Phishing Campaign

Through our continued security efforts and further enhanced measures on various parts of our platform, we are able to better protect our users and their funds every day while thwarting attacks from bad actors.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed its indictment of two people who were responsible for an attempted hack on our exchange in March 2018. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control simultaneously announced sanctions targeting the individuals. These fraudsters created phishing sites that mimicked the Binance website, collecting login credentials from many users and then used those credentials to stage the attack. 

Soon after the attempt in 2018, we offered a 250,000 USD reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers. That same month, a team of investigators submitted a long-form report that identified one of the attackers and provided information on the specifics of the attack. 

Our security team promptly passed off this report and other information and indicators to U.S. law enforcement. In the months that followed, we worked closely with U.S. law enforcement to help identify and bring to justice the attackers.

As a result of this cooperation, the culprits have been identified and sanctioned, and are currently being pursued. Though the suspects remain at large, we decided to award a 200,000 USD bounty to the investigators for their work, with the remaining 50,000 USD to be given once the attackers are in custody.

Our Security Philosophy

At Binance, security is not ensured through just one action or decision. It’s a continued effort to ensure a safer environment through daily action to protect our users. 

Our efforts to ensure users’ security entails a series of measures, including technological and behavioral analysis and systems within the platform, including programs that incentivize the detection of vulnerabilities and attack attempts, and strong collaboration with institutions and other partners to take action. 

We have a strong team and community that collaborate to remove bugs, take down fraudsters, and improve our exchange’s security. This has resulted in a total of 247,787 USD in bounty rewards distributed to these valued members of the community.

We also share some of the efforts we have undertaken to ensure your safety while using Binance.

Within The Platform: Technological and Behavioral Improvements

Security starts with our own individual actions. And for our global exchange with millions of users, we have undertaken a lot of constant improvements in various aspects of the exchange, from the tech-specific to the psychological. Here are some of our actions and commitments on that front:

  1. Enabling hardware security keys. We have offered two-factor authentication for all accounts since the beginning, but we continue to support more security measures like this one. 

  2. Open-sourcing our Threshold Signature Scheme (TSS) library. We opened our TSS solution to the public so that everyone in the crypto community can benefit from this measure. It raises the security level for Binance Chain, as well as wallet management across different blockchains. (See also: Edwards-Curve Digital Signature Algorithm, or EdDSA, in the TSS library.)

  3. Announcements on vulnerabilities outside Binance. We vigilantly monitor for vulnerabilities on other apps and websites that are not part of Binance but are services that Binance users regularly use. In a recent case, we disclosed a security risk on the Mail app on Apple iOS and encouraged our users to deactivate the app.

  4. Regular user education. We have a robust compilation of informative security-related articles, campaigns, and other content on Binance’s announcement channels and Binance Academy, among others. Our CEO CZ has also written extensively on the topic.

  5. Constant updates on our security mechanisms. We have also been transparent about the things we do on the exchange side, including the many factors that keep your funds safe. We also share cases of fund recoveries like this one below:

We regularly see cases like this, and we see to it that they get resolved to the best of our ability. But we can’t do this alone. For better security, we work with the rest of the crypto industry.

With Our Partners: Working Together for Better Security

“It takes a village to keep a child safe.” To keep our users safe, we need to involve more partners outside of Binance. 

Central to this strategy is the CryptoSafe Alliance, an industry cooperative that unites exchanges, blockchain protocols, cybersecurity experts, and compliance firms to fight attacks. Through the alliance’s CryptoSafe Platform, we share intelligence on malicious crypto incidents, as well as best practices across companies.

We also work with and integrate regtech solutions from the following organizations:

  1. Coinfirm -  Ensures secure trading and compliance with the FATF’s guidelines to cryptocurrency exchanges around the world.

  2. CipherTrace - Provides institutional-grade anti-money laundering (AML) controls and transparency, by identifying high-risk addresses and setting controls to protect decentralized applications on Binance Chain.

  3. IdentityMind - improve existing data protection and compliance measures for Binance’s global operations through a risk management and regulatory technology compliance platform.

We also work with various institutions, regulators, and law enforcement agencies around the world to help catch bad actors in the crypto industry. 

With Our Community: Bounty Programs and Other Incentives

Over the course of our existence, we have worked to encourage the general public to help us keep our platform more secure. 

  1. Binance Chain Security Bug Bounty Program, Round 3 (August 2020) - 10,000 USD in BNB rewards

  2. Binance Chain Security Bug Bounty Program- Round 2 (July 2019) - 10,000 USD in BNB rewards

  3. Binance Bug Bounty Challenge, Multiple Rounds (November 2019) - 100,000 USD in BNB rewards

  4. Binance Special Bug Bounty Program (November 2019) - 5,000 USD in BNB rewards for the top researcher

  5. Binance Bounty (March 2018) - 250,000 USD for the arrest of hackers, plus a 10,000,000 USD commitment for future bounty rewards

These programs have resulted in a more secure exchange and, in the case of the last item, the indictment of the individuals who attempted to hack Binance.

Binance Security: Keeping the Crypto World More SAFU

Our security team regularly works on and neutralizes threats to crypto users. Other cases and efforts on how we helped protect the crypto community:

  1. Helping U.K, authorities combat cybercrime. We worked with the Cyber Crime Unit of the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police Service to assist in their probe of a suspect who created and sold phishing scripts that resulted in £41.6 million in fraud activities. This criminal has pled guilty to five counts of fraud and was sentenced to nine years in custody.

  2. Taking down a cybercriminal group. We identified transactions between certain Binance accounts and “bulletproof exchanges” or cash-out points connected to financial crimes like money laundering. We worked with the Cyber Police of Ukraine to help identify and arrest a cybercriminal organization responsible for a ransomware campaign and the laundering of more than 42 million USD in cryptocurrencies over the last two years. 

  3. Recovering over 344,000 USD from a DeFi exit scam. The Binance Security team helped recover 99.9% of an estimated 345,000 USD worth of funds stolen as the result of an exit scam. We followed the flow of funds from Wine Swap, the exit scam that posed as a DeFi project, and identified the scammer behind it.

We shall continue to work hard to keep all our users’ funds safe from these attacks and fraudsters. But we can’t do it alone, so we need your help in making sure that every part of Binance is secure. Join our Bug Bounty Program now and get rewarded with up to 10,000 USD in BNB per bug.