New NFT collection on the block(chain), The Mad Lads, recently outwitted bots during its project mint by luring them into spending over $250,000 in $SOL on counterfeit NFTs. By employing this ingenious tactic, the Mad Lads team ensured that authentic participants could access the scarce NFT supply while opportunists seeking a quick profit were left empty-handed.
Armani Ferrante, the CEO of Coral, the company behind the project, shared how Mad Lads chose to confront bot attacks to protect its NFT drop. The situation escalated during the public mint on Friday, April 21st, when billions of bot requests through the Backpack crypto wallet overwhelmed the platform, resulting in a postponement of the mint by 24 hours. Incidentally, Ferrante was also contacted by an unidentified individual who threatened to launch a DDoS attack on the mint, unless they were paid.
During a Twitter Spaces session, Ferrante revealed a sequence of internet outages that hindered the public’s ability to access their NFT mint. The outage lasted an hour and then escalated to a day, causing considerable inconvenience. He attributed the issue to heavy demand that caused two RPC nodes to fail, along with the user interface on Cloudflare, which is responsible for preventing DDoS attacks.
— Mad Lads (@MadLadsNFT) April 21, 2023
The Honeypot Update Threw a Spanner in the Works
As a startup with limited funding and a promising project at stake, Ferrante and his team recognized the threat posed by bots or automated programs attempting to purchase large quantities of assets for resale. To counter this, they devised a strategy to thwart the impending attack.
The decisive moment came when the attackers resumed their DDoS attempts. During which, Coral implemented a two-pronged update to the minting app: one legitimate update and a hidden “honeypot” update, accessible only by reverse-engineering the code. The honeypot update was designed to trick bots into spending their $SOL on counterfeit NFTs, effectively removing them from the legitimate minting process.
When the dust settled, the honeypot had absorbed over $250,000 in SOL. Although some genuine users may have inadvertently been caught in the crossfire, Ferrante believed that most affected parties attempted to manipulate the mint. As a gesture of goodwill, the project then processed full refunds for those misled by the honeypot.
It remains to be seen if similar strategies will be employed in future NFT drops as the ongoing battle between project developers and bot attackers continues. However, Mad Lads’ unorthodox approach ensured the project’s success and generated a significant buzz within the NFT community, leaving a lasting impression on the ever-evolving space.
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