Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin revealed that his X account was hacked in a recent SIM swap attack. In a post on the decentralized social media platform Farcaster, Buterin confirmed that he lost his X account to hackers who exploited the SIM swap vulnerability. The attack occurred on September 9, when the hackers took control of Buterin’s account and posted a link announcing the launch of fake commemorative non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from software company Consensys.
According to reports, the malicious actors stole around $691,000 worth of assets from some of the 4.9 million followers connected to Buterin’s account who had linked their wallets to mint the supposed commemorative NFTs. This loss highlights the increasing prevalence of SIM swap attacks targeting crypto investors and founders.
A user on Twitter with the handle Satoshi_767 speculated that the exploit was a SIM swap attack, a type of hack where hackers gain control of a target’s mobile phone number to access their social media accounts, bank accounts, and crypto wallets. However, this theory was questioned by on-chain investigator ZachXBT, who argued that Buterin’s prominence in the crypto community makes him vulnerable to various types of attacks.
After three days, Buterin confirmed on Farcaster that the hack was indeed a SIM swap attack but reassured the community that he had regained control of his SIM account. He also urged users to remove their phone numbers from X as it rendered the two-factor authentication (2FA) protection system ineffective.
The hack on Buterin follows a series of SIM swap attacks that have targeted crypto investors and founders in recent months. Bart Stephens, co-founder of venture capital firm Blockchain Capital, lost over $6.3 million in assets to a SIM swap hack. Additionally, the Gutter Cat Gang NFT project suffered a similar attack in July, resulting in the loss of $765,000 worth of NFTs. Zach XBT reported that over $13.3 million had been lost to 54 SIM swaps in the last four months, underscoring the alarming frequency of these attacks.
In light of these incidents, experts suggest that crypto users should consider alternatives to SMS-based 2FA, such as authenticator apps or security key systems, to enhance their account security. SIM swap attacks continue to pose a significant threat to the crypto community, necessitating heightened awareness and protective measures.
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