In the long, kabuki saga that is the fall of Mt.Gox, one point seemed always clear: the company lost loads of bitcoin to hackers using a bug called transaction malleability. It seems, however that this is wrong. According to a team at the ETH Zurich University, the company allegedly lost only 386 BTC or $200,000, nowhere close to the 744,408 bitcoins rumored to have been lost in the attack.
In short, the team assessed that only 302,000 bitcoins have ever been lost due to transaction malleability. The attack is a sort of double-spending that happens when specific details of a bitcoin transaction are altered to convince the sender that the transfer never happened, thereby forcing the sender to transmit another payment. By looking at the specific signature of these sorts of exchanges, the researchers discovered that only about 1,811 were related to Mt.Gox and that the number was probably far lower.
Was Mt.Gox hit by hackers? With Karpales refusing to fly to the U.S. for questioning and Gox Bitcoins popping up here and there, it’s clear that there is far more to this than meets the eye. Whether or not beleaguered users will get their coins back, however, is anyone’s guess.
You can download the report by Christian Decker and Professor Roger Wattenhofer here.