One of the top traffic metrics sites on the internet is reportedly being used by criminals to steal bitcoins from a currency exchange.

Researchers with ESET have found that the javascript used by StatCounter's analytics platform has been modified by an attacker with the intent that it would then be embedded into the pages of Gate.io, a cryptocurrency exchange.

ESET said that the attackers injected malicious code within statcounter.com/counter/counter.js, a piece of JavaScript that StatCounter's 2 million or so customers use to link up their sites with the the bisuness' traffic analytics service.

While millions of sites may have accessed that modified code, however, it appears that just one site was the target. ESET's researchers say that the attack code within the StatCounter script performs a single check for a specific path: "myaccount/withdraw/BTC".

"It turns out that among the different cryptocurrency exchanges live at time of writing, only gate.io has a valid page with this URI," explained ESET malware researcher Matthieu Faou.

"Thus, this exchange seems to be the main target of this attack."

Should that path come up, a second script on a separate domain is run. That script looks to redirect any bitcoin transactions to one of several wallet addresses controlled by the attacker.


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Because the attacker used multiple accounts to receive the hijacked funds, the researchers do not know precisely how much was stolen. They believe, however, that the loss could be significant.

Gate.io did not respond to a request for comment, while StatCounter could not be reached. ESET says it has notified both companies of the attack.

"Even if we do not know how many Bitcoins have been stolen during this attack, it shows how far attackers go to target one specific website, in particular a cryptocurrency exchange," said Faou.

"To achieve this they compromised an analytics service’s website, used by more than two million other websites, including several government-related websites, to steal bitcoin from customers of just one cryptocurrency exchange website."

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