Feature, Bug or Backdoor? AntBleed Code Enables BitMain to Remotely Shut Down AntMiner

By Christoph Bergmann Apr 27, 2017 6:20 PM EDT

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The scandals engulfing Chinese ASIC producer BitMain seem never to end. On April 26, a string of code in the AntMiner firmware was disclosed which can remotely shut down some of the mining machines. BTCManager talked with BitMain’s CEO Jihan Wu and a Canadian Miner; a Bug or Feature?

On April 26, the website AntBleed.com went online. It discloses a backdoor in new models of AntMiner, the most popular and efficient Bitcoin mining machine today, which is produced by BitMain, a Chinese ASIC company which has found itself in a growing storm of anger after it started to support controversial Bitcoin client Bitcoin Unlimited.

As the website explains, the software of AntMiner – which is open source, but pre-installed on the shipped ASICs – “checks-in with a central service randomly every one to 11 minutes. Each check-in transmits the Antminer serial number, MAC address, and IP address.” This secret connection to another server is bad, but by far not the worst part of the story; if the remote service returns “false,” the machine stops mining.

With this code, BitMain can shut down every AntMiner of the S9 series, which is every machine shipped after July 2016. It can also, the website continues, target specific miners by serial number or IP address, and shut them down. On top of this, the call to the remote server is not written very securely, so it could be subject to DoS attacks, advanced hacks or the action of large scale Anti-DoS-providers like CloudFlare, which can shut down miners. All this seems to be accurate beyond doubt.

Just a Protection against Miner Theft?

BTCManager reached out to Jihan Wu, CEO of BitMain. He explained:

“It is a feature that is under development and incomplete. It should help mining rig owners to track their rigs


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