The Airdrop Incident(s) of 2023

A community tale of an attack and resilience.

It was a day like any other.

People from all corners of the Kaspa network congregated online, their avatars convening in the digital plane of a popular chat application, Discord. Yet, amidst the routine flow of messages, the unsuspecting users of the Kaspa community found themselves caught up in the middle of a strange and deceptive scheme.

It all started on the seemingly innocuous Tuesday of March 7th, 2023. One moment, the air was abuzz with friendly banter and digital camaraderie. The next moment that peace was shattered by a sudden, unexpected intruder. It was the dreaded phantom of the digital sphere. A hacker. A man who had successfully tricked our supermod, Tim, into dragging a seemingly innocent bookmark to his browser.

This was no ordinary bookmark, however, it was a Trojan Horse. Leading Tim to the dark side of the cyber force. A fallen paladin of justice taking up arms against the community and project he once seemed to love. As an unstoppable juggernaut, he pillaged the community with a plague of spam, bots, and bans. Only armed with the most basic anti-spam measures, the community couldn't contain the beast within Tim; he had gone full postal.

As it turns out, Tim was hacked. His Discord token was stolen. Meaning the thief had the digital keys to his Discord account. The hacker, cunning as a fox, had lured Tim into the promise of an interview for a CoinMarketCap article. The diligent, devout Kaspa warrior didn't hesitate to promote his treasured network. Despite that dedication, the hacker had weaponized a bookmark, implanting a malicious JavaScript code. When Tim dragged it to his browser, the hacker gained unrestricted access to his account, and Nega-Tim was born.

A series of eerie incidents followed, painting a chilling portrait of the hacker's devious abilities. His method was simple yet effective, taking advantage of Tim's good intentions and pinning him against the community. Now parading as a supermod, the hacker exploited the hijacked account to wreak havoc in the community, unleashing a torrent of phishing links, spam, and bots. Promises of Ethereum airdrops were aplenty, and every spam post led to a link that would drain the wallet of an unsuspecting victim.

The chaos that ensued was evident. The hacker, hidden within the body of Nega-Tim, wielded his ill-gotten powers to ban users at will, sowing discord (see what I did there) and panic. As more and more posts surfaced under the hijacked account, the community's trust in Tim began to waver. Questions echoed through the digital halls of Kaspa - was Tim truly a villain all along, or was he just another victim of the hacker's cruel game?

On the day of the incident, I was just another cog in the bustling machine of the Kaspa community. But when I spotted an unusual flurry of activity - a swarm of bots and Tim himself, or rather, Nega-Tim, announcing Ethereum airdrops on Discord - I knew something was amiss. Caught off-guard while simultaneously planning an AMA, I was thrust into the fray. I tried to ban the bots and quell the flow of spam messages, but it was a losing battle.

As a humble moderator, my powers were insignificant compared to the supermod that was Tim. He had all the powers of an admin with none of the glory. Realizing my attempts to counteract his actions, Nega-Tim swiftly banned me, leaving me cast out from the community I once called home.

Left out in the cold, I turned to Twitter and Telegram, scrambling to manage the fallout. I assured everyone that we were tackling the issue, even as I received desperate pleas from the banned members begging for re-entry. With a sense of irony, I had to remind them, "Dude, I'm out here with you. I also got banned."

I found myself reaching out into the abyss, desperate for an ally who could halt the ongoing chaos. After a flurry of hurried messages, the beacon of hope emerged in the form of Sutton - the super core contributor leading the Rust rewrite project. Roused from his slumber in the dead of night, Sutton, brimming with resolution and grogginess, took up arms to face the terror that was Nega-Tim in the heart of the Discord - their battleground.

Yet, this anticipated showdown was more of a quick execution than a duel. For all his menace, Nega-Tim proved no match for Sutton's relentless ban hammer. With a swift blow, the reign of Nega-Tim was ended, restoring some semblance of peace to the battered Discord server.

The war might have been won, but the battleground was a sight of devastation. The cleanup operation was the real challenge lying ahead. Sutton began by admitting the other moderators, one by one, to assist with the enormous task of letting the community back in and cleansing the Discord server of spam and rogue bots. The night transformed into a marathon of dedicated work as we tirelessly remediated what we could.

With no established system to admit the banned users back in, the following day turned into a data entry challenge. With patience and the precision of my data entry day job, I oversaw the re-entry process, bringing each member back into the community, one by one.

On this day, Tim returned, subdued not by the downfall of his alter-ego but by the harsh reality that his good intentions had led to this disaster. Stripped of his role and permissions, the face of defeat was clearly worn on his digital face. Yet, the spirit of the community was far from broken. They rebounded with surprising resilience, their sense of unity more vigorous than before. The events of the fiasco quickly metamorphosed into an inside joke. This meme would forever echo in the annals of Kaspa's history as the day Tim promised us all an airdrop of riches and glory.

Now free of his supermod status, Tim resumed his regular moderator duties. He seems rather content with his current relaxed role and looks quite fitting. Although the ordeal was a harrowing experience, it also underlined the resilience and camaraderie that held our Kaspa community together.

The hacker's double-layered deceit was a harsh reminder of the ever-present threats lurking in the shadowy corners of the virtual world. As hackers grow increasingly crafty, maintaining constant vigilance becomes an absolute necessity. The incidents were eye-openers, sobering lessons, and a reminder to handle cyber hygiene carefully. It underscored the importance of treating every link suspiciously and adopting a mindful approach toward online activities. Also, people fear Kaspa and wish nothing but the worst for the state-of-the-art network. There is nothing like watching the faster, more efficient car effortlessly dash past your struggling 1998 Toyota Corolla. That alone is worth looking over your shoulder. Success is a form of defense in itself, and this threat will soon fade with time.

In the aftermath, one thing remained unfulfilled - the airdrop that Tim had promised me during the chaos never did materialize. But that, I suppose, is a small price to pay for the lessons learned and the unity forged in the heart of adversity.

Fast forward to March 24th, and it was déjà vu all over again. This time, it was the account of a mod by the name of KaffinPX. Once again, the hacker had impersonated a mod and attempted to trick people into clicking on dubious links and a slew of fowl and offensive hate messages. Another wolf in sheep's clothing.

Yet this time, we learned how the hack worked, and now we were armed with the knowledge to fend off such an attacker.

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