If you love watching videos on YouTube, then you must have probably heard of PewDiePie. It is a top-rated channel on the video streaming network and has over 19 billion visitors throughout the last five years. But today, PewDiePie is at risk of losing its first place to a famous Indian music production channel, T-Series.
This stirred quite a panic among thousands of gamers and fans, and many have come out in support of PewDiePie in an attempt to help the channel maintain its YouTube ranking. One hacker, in particular, has done an act of vandalism that has shocked everyone.
What is the PewDiePie Printer Hack?
Known under an online pseudonym of TheHackerGiraffe, the individual hacked 50,000 printers on 27th November 2018, to get more people to hop on to the “save PewDiePie” wagon. The hacker conducted one of the biggest printing campaigns by hacking more than 50,000 internet-connected printers all over the world. He or she printed various messages asking people to support PewDiePie and unsubscribe T-series.
Many people are impressed by this hacking stunt. After the campaign’s success, the brazen hacker wrote on Twitter, “I was bored after playing Destiny 2 for a continuous 4 hours, and decided I want to hack something. So I thought of any vulnerable protocols I could find on Shodan. ”
How 50,000 printers were hacked using Shodan?
Shodan is a search engine which is specifically designed to search for internet-connected devices. What’s a point of concern is that the hacker got results of vulnerable 800,000 printers but finally decided to hack 50,000 of them. According to the hacker, a tool called PRET was used. In his own words, even the hacker was surprised by the capabilities of PRET and how easy it was to manipulate internet connected devices through it. The HackerGiraffe further wrote, “PRET had the scariest of features. Ability to access files, damage the printer, access the internal network; things that could really cause damage. So I had to do this, to at least help organizations and people that can protect themselves.”
The world is surprised that within less than 30 minutes of seemingly low-level hacking, TheHackerGiraffe was able to control 50,000 printers and use them to print a message in favor of PewDiePie. This so-called innocent stunt has impressed the hacker community.
But it highlights the flaws and critical loopholes in the world of cryptocurrency.
Identifying security flaws in blockchain and cryptocurrency
Blockchain, the underlying platform is used for the exchange of cryptocurrency, is a decentralized ledger that consists of information stored in ‘blocks.’ These blocks are linked together through cryptography. The secure nature of blockchain makes it almost impossible to alter any data which is stored in the blocks.
However, the PewDiePie incident has made crypto-investors all over the world question the exceptional security standards of the blockchain. Till date, it was virtually impossible for hackers to get hold of cryptocurrencies. But the recent hack has revealed that it is not difficult for hackers to access private data, such as passwords of people’s cryptocurrency accounts.
Many cryptocurrency users print their Bitcoin wallet recovery seeds through Internet-connected computers. What’s more, many people even store sensitive information such as their crypto account details, passwords, and keys on their phones and computers. In this case, hackers do not need to hack the blockchain platform when they can easily access sensitive crypto account information through mobile phones and computers.
Hackers have not been able to manipulate any external blockchain network so far. A full-fledged eclipse attack on any blockchain network is theoretically impossible because the value of any cryptocurrency depends on the trust factor associated with that particular network. Therefore, any coin which is gained through direct hacking will eventually be of zero value. But that doesn’t mean hackers cannot steal cryptocurrencies by indirect methods.
Hackers are all set to seek bounty from indirect sources which mainly consists of attacks on wallets and other financial institutions which have large sums of cryptocurrencies. So, the problem doesn’t lie with the technology, but rather with the fact that how people plan to use it.
Can hackers hack a crypto user’s account?
Many cryptocurrency users don’t use a full network node. Instead, they choose other software to hold and trade their crypto assets. Hackers usually try to spot vulnerabilities in that particular software or hardware to gain access to sensitive information of a crypto user’s account.
Once hackers spot a vulnerability, they enter and take hold of the private key of the user’s account. The next step is to transfer cryptocurrency from the user’s account to the hacker’s account. Since blockchain is a decentralized platform- anonymity and lack of authority make it impossible to trace the hacker’s details.
Unfortunately, most users are blank when it comes to protecting themselves from such hacking incidents, and these cyber attacks are becoming more and more common in the crypto world.
Are big financial institutions safe?
Even though there is no difference in technicalities between normal users and financial institutions, the latter has a lot of knowledge when it comes to handling cryptocurrencies. Most financial institutions have the best security team on board, so it takes a lot of effort and creativity for hackers to pull a successful heist.
But that doesn’t mean hackers don’t target financial institutions. Hard work means greater rewards for hackers, and there have been quite a few hacking incidents in South Korea. Hackers go to extreme lengths to gain the private key of large firms, and often employee accounts are targeted in an attempt to steal coins.
How can crypto assets be secured?
The recent PewDiePie printer hack has cautioned crypto investors all over the world. Many of them are choosing to store their cryptocurrencies in cold storage, a device that is completely disconnected from the Internet. Others are on the hunt for a dedicated device that is exclusively used to store cryptocurrencies. Trezor and Ledger are popular examples of hardware wallets.
Another way to keep cryptocurrency safe is to generate a seed phrase, print it out and delete your software. If you want to make another transaction, download the software again and access your account by using the previously printed seed phrase.
The blockchain platform may be a tough nut to crack, but that doesn’t mean hackers have given up. In fact, hackers have found an easier way to steal cryptocurrencies, and that is by accessing your account’s private key.
Since the popularity and value of cryptocurrency is rising day by day, the stakes are higher than never before. Both hackers and security experts are playing a constant game of catchup, where each one is trying to outdo the other. Every time a new security measure is introduced, hackers find out a way to undo it. New security measures are implemented, and the cycle goes on and on.