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Thursday, 29 March 2018 09:54

Image board admins, mods doxxed by ex-WaPO man on Coinhive hunt

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Former Washington Post employee Brian Krebs, who runs a site claimed to be dedicated to security issues, has come under fire from users of a German image board pr0gramm.com after he revealed details about several admins and moderators in an article which claimed to identify who was behind the cryptocurrency mining service Coinhive. This is known as doxxing.

But the users of pr0gramm.com did not retaliate against Krebs; as his name literally means "cancer" in German, they started a donation blitz to local cancer research organisations. This was first reported by the website Bleeping Computer.

Coinhive has a script that can be used to mine the monero cryptocurrency. It has been found embedded in many sites by malware authors.

Krebs' long and tortuous article claimed to probe "who and what is Coinhive." But after identifying the individual whom he claimed was behind the script, Krebs then included lurid details about one Matthias Moench who was the first owner of the domain pr0gramm.com – even though the article said "Mr Moench is only tangentially connected to this research".

Krebs took a drubbing on the Hacker News website, with one user commenting: "I think uncovering the person/company behind Coinhive is not a bad idea. However, in doing so, Brian Krebs did several extremely questionable decisions and moves:

"Publishing material by users he knew had trolled him to further the agenda that this is a right-wing site (it is not, the site has a huge fan base of Bernie Sanders and other leftist politicians).

"Look at his tweets and headlines (on Vice Motherboard for example) that are used to promote the story: They are almost exclusively focusing the the Matthias Moench part, which is completely irrelevant to pr0gramm, Coinhive, and even the mindmap."

Users of pr0gramm.com have created a hashtag #KrebsIsCancer under which details of various donations are being posted. Details of donations are also plastered all over the home page of pr0gramm.com.

As iTWire has reported, Krebs last year quietly took down a story he had written purporting to uncover the people behind the Shadow Brokers group who leaked a number of NSA exploits on the Web. No reason was offered for this takedown and it was mentioned only at the very end of a story he wrote about the arrest of a Vietnamese American who pleaded guilty to taking masses of NSA material home.

Comments were not allowed on this article, presumably to avoid criticism of his earlier claim. The allegations about the identity of the Brokers were fed to Krebs by a Washington DC-based security firm, InGuardians, a fact he mentioned only in the 30th paragraph of his story.

iTWire has contacted Krebs for comment.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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