A White Hat Hacker Prevents a ‘Market-Nuking’ Exploit on Coinbase

A white-hat hacker going by the moniker “Tree of Alpha” just avoided a major disaster for Coinbase with its Advanced Trading platform.

The hacker is known as “Tree of Alpha” singled out Coinbase and its CEO, Brian Armstrong, after identifying a weakness in the trading platform that allowed third-party attackers to manipulate all Coinbase order books.

Coinbase confirmed shortly after the tweet that it has suspended trading on its Advanced Trading platform due to technical difficulties. After addressing the problem, Tree of Alpha commended the Coinbase team for their prompt reaction, while Armstrong publicly expressed gratitude to the hacker for their assistance.

The flaw existed on Coinbase’s Advanced Trading Platform, which is presently undergoing testing. According to the hacker, the specific flaw “may enable malevolent users to send all Coinbase order books to arbitrary prices,” resulting in a big payoff for unscrupulous actors.

Coinbase immediately responds to Tree of Alpha’s warning

Fortunately, Coinbase was quick to respond to the hackers’ alert, confirming within two hours of receiving the public tweet from “Tree of Alpha” that it has suspended trading on the site.

After two hours, the exchange restored full operations for retail advance trading, allowing customers to continue their trades. Tree of Alpha verified the existence of the patched vulnerability with a screenshot.

Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, expressed gratitude to Tree of Alpha for assisting the Coinbase team, noting that he “loves how the crypto community assists one another!”

The White Hats Come to the Rescue

While these sorts of cooperation do not seem to be common, they do occur. As with “Tree of Alpha,” various other white hackers have assisted in preventing crypto organisations such as Coinbase from facing serious attacks, therefore preventing the company and its users from suffering significant losses.

Last year, a hacker stole $612 million in assets from Poly Network, but after weeks of communication, the thief restored virtually all of the monies. The hackers said they carried out the attack in order to teach the network a lesson.

While the Poly Network hackers’ position as “white hatters” remains debatable, some hackers have shown that they act with only benign motives. For instance, in August 2021, a Paradigm security researcher is known as @samczun on Twitter assisted in resolving a $350 million vulnerability in SushiSwap DEX.

Last Monday, the security researcher assisted in unravelling what occurred with Wormhole, a vulnerability that was exploited for $320 million, making it arguably the biggest bridge attack to date — one of the most significant issues Solana has seen in recent months.

White hat hackers have been instrumental in recent years in maintaining the crypto world clean, open, and trustworthy. The increased popularity of white hats has also resulted in an increase in the number of cryptocurrency businesses, such as Binance, Kraken, EOS, and the Ethereum Foundation, providing prizes for possible platform faults identified.

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