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The Gas Siphon Attack: The Technical and Economic Realities Behind Hacking Exchanges

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The Gas Siphon Attack: The Technical and Economic Realities Behind Hacking Exchanges

Duration: 00:05:40

Speaker: Shane Fontaine

Type: Talk

Expertise: Beginner

Event: Devcon 5

Date: Oct 2019

The Gas Siphon Attack allows anyone to siphon value from many exchanges in the form of gas refunds, a mechanism built directly into the Ethereum protocol. Users can write a simple script that continuously drains unprotected exchange hot wallets of all of their ETH. Until this was responsibly disclosed, many exchanges were affected with varying degrees of severity. How it happened, who was affected, and the technical details behind the attack are discussed during the presentation. The talk dives into the details of the refund mechanism built into the Ethereum network, and how it can be maliciously abused. The presentation explains who is vulnerable and what they can do about it. A number of these types of technical exploits exist on both centralized and decentralized exchanges, and one may find that responsibly disclosing these attacks are harder than the actual exploit itself. Getting in touch with exchanges, continuous communication with services, and helping fix different systems may be a month-long journey that yields very little in return. Hacks, front-running, misaligned miner incentives, and economic disparities are all issues for exchanges and services that are discussed in this presentation. Finally, the talk covers different ways to protect yourself and your dapp from both known and unknown exploits. Preventative measures are presented that will allow for protection from these types of attacks.

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