Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed

Check out our list of top companies

Check out our carefully compiled lists of the most relevant and impactful companies within their fields.

Check out our list of top unicorns

Read and learn about the biggest companies that various countries have produced, how they made it, and what the future looks like for them.
September 18, 2023

Fortress, crypto theft traced back all the way to Phishing Attack

Cryptocurrency theft and Ripple's Swift response, a look inside Fortress Trust's $15 million challenge

In the fast-paced world of cryptocurrencies, trust is paramount. Recent events surrounding Fortress Trust, a leading custodian of digital assets, have thrust a multi-million-dollar theft into the spotlight, leaving experts and investors alike on high alert.

Fortress Trust's startling revelation of a cryptocurrency theft nearing the $15 million mark has sent shockwaves through the industry. This incident has raised pertinent questions about security, third-party vendors, and the ever-persistent threat of phishing attacks in the crypto realm.

The spotlight initially fell on a third-party vendor, later identified as ReTool, a reputable San Francisco-based company catering to Fortune 500 clients. Notably, ReTool was the architect behind the portal enabling Fortress clients to manage their valuable cryptocurrency holdings.

This audacious theft was executed through a phishing attack, prompting Fortress Trust to take immediate action. Their response was to expedite discussions with blockchain tech giant Ripple regarding a potential acquisition. While ReTool confirmed falling prey to a phishing attack affecting 27 of its clients, it did not explicitly mention Fortress in its statement.

Fortunately, those who had diligently configured ReTool's software as per the company's recommendations remained unscathed.

"Although an attacker had access to ReTool cloud, there was nothing they could do to affect on-premise customers," emphasized ReTool. "It’s worth noting that the vast majority of our crypto and larger customers in particular use ReTool on-premise."

While $15 million is a substantial sum by any measure, it represents only a fraction of Fortress Trust's extensive assets under management, which amount to billions of dollars. In a remarkable show of support, Ripple made a $15 million down payment to aid Fortress in reimbursing affected customers, signaling their commitment to the ongoing acquisition deal.

The timeline of events is crucial to understanding the depth of this incident. Fortress initially disclosed the security breach on September 7 without revealing the compromised third-party vendor. Remarkably, Ripple, already a minority investor in Fortress, wasted no time in expressing its intention to acquire the custodian just one day later. This incident accelerated takeover talks, as Ripple acted swiftly to safeguard customer interests.

Notably, BitGo and Fireblocks, the wallet providers used by Fortress, clarified that their systems remained untouched by the breach. Mike Belshe, CEO of BitGo, expressed dissatisfaction with Fortress's handling of the situation, citing a lack of immediate disclosure of all details. Fortress CEO Scott Purcell refuted these claims, asserting that Belshe was kept informed of all developments since the incident's inception.

Swan Bitcoin, a brokerage firm relying on Fortress's BitGo wallets for client funds, reassured its users that their coins remained secure throughout the ordeal.

The Nevada Financial Institutions Division, responsible for overseeing Fortress Trust, was promptly informed of the incident on September 1, as confirmed by an agency spokesperson.

Josefina Dipaolo
Josefina Dipaolo
Content Writer at TechNews180
Back to top

Related articles

chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram