Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

On Monday, popular online Ethereum wallet interface MyEtherWallet revealed on Twitter that the platform had been targeted by hackers using the popular Hola VPN extension for Google’s Chrome browser. The attackers gained access to Hola’s network for around five hours, and appear to have actively logged user activity on MyEtherWallet. Given the client-side design of MyEtherWallet, this attack could easily result in the hackers gaining total access to any ETH or ERC-20 tokens stored using the interface. Users of MyEtherWallet and Hola VPN are strongly advised to transfer their funds to new addresses.

MyEtherWallet is among the most popular web-based wallet platforms for Ethereum users, and often touted as being highly secure due to the fact that the system’s servers don’t store login credentials. That reputation has been tarnished in recent months, due in large part to a high-profile DNS hijacking attack in April that saw users lose 215 ETH through a phishing scam. While neither attack directly penetrated MyEtherWallet’s systems, they have prompted some concerns about the client-side nature of the wallet interface platform.

This also isn’t the first time that the Hola extension has been at the center of a hacking scandal. In 2015, the free, TOR-like, P2P VPN platform was accused of selling access to users’ IP addresses, providing botnet providers, DDoS scammers, and other online criminals with a kind of digital smokescreen for avoiding law enforcement. A few cybersecurity experts have suggested that Hola is complicit in this activity, which the company has strongly denied.

Hola issued a statement about the hack yesterday, claiming that their Google Chrome Store account was compromised by an unknown attacker who uploaded a “modified version” of their Chrome extension. The company also confirmed that the hacked extension injected a JavaScript tag targeted specifically at MyEtherWallet users. The code redirected users to a clone of MyEtherWallet’s site, a common phishing tactic. Hola claims also that they immediately alerted MyEtherWallet and Google upon learning that their extension had been hacked.

Unfortunately for cryptocurrency users, attacks like this are only becoming more common. While MyEtherWallet itself was never compromised, hackers have simply shifted their focus to other methods for collecting user data. This is the inherent problem of online cryptocurrency wallets. The only way to truly secure your ETH, BTC, XRP, and other crypto tokens is to avoid all online wallets completely. The best solution is to invest in a tethered, air-gapped hardware wallet that safely stores your cryptocurrency offline.

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