Et tu, Blockchain? Outsmarting Smart Contracts via Social Engineering

Nikolay Ivanov, Qiben Yan

We reveal six zero-day social engineering attacks in Ethereum, and subdivide them into two classes: Address Manipulation and Homograph. We demonstrate the attacks by embedding them in source codes of five popular smart contracts with combined market capitalization of over \$29 billion, and show that the attacks have the ability to remain dormant during the testing phase and activate only after production deployment. We analyze 85,656 open source smart contracts and find 1,027 contracts that can be directly used for performing social engineering attacks. For responsible disclosure, we contact seven smart contract security firms. In the spirit of open research, we make the source codes of the attack benchmark, tools, and datasets available to the public.

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