Biggest Cryptocurrency Hacks of All Times
The rise of crypto has undoubtedly been a positive development for the world. Cryptocurrencies have created a new niche in the financial services industry, contributing to higher financial inclusion worldwide. Similarly, crypto makes cross-border transactions easy in ways that are simply not possible with the traditional financial system.
However, despite the great uses of crypto, the space has not been without its problems. One of the most prominent issues that bedevil the crypto space is the proliferation of hacks and thefts.
In this article, we will take you through some of the biggest cryptocurrency hacks the world has experienced.
$614 million – Ronin Network, 2022
This is the most significant crypto theft the world has seen in history. The attack occurred earlier this year on Ronin Network, which is the platform that powers Axie Infinity – a popular mobile game. Players fight cartoon pets in the game, hoping to earn cryptocurrency and collect the game’s NFTs. Ronin Network enables players to exchange digital coins made in the game for other cryptocurrencies.
In March, a hacker stole the private keys used to authenticate transactions and transferred 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5 million USDC to their own wallets. Today, the value of the hacker’s total loot is a whopping $614,000.
$611 million – Poly Network, 2021
This crypto theft occurred last year when an attacker reportedly figured out a way to buy tokens on the Poly Network without releasing corresponding tokens on other blockchains. However, unlike the Ronin Network hack, this was not a complete theft as the attacker started returning the stolen tokens the next day. All the assets, apart from $33 million worth of frozen Tether, were returned by the end of the week.
Some speculated that the attacker had only carried out the hack for fun. In contrast, others suspected that the act was intended to improve the security of decentralized finance in the long run.
$547 million – Coincheck, 2018
Coincheck is a major Japanese crypto exchange. In January 2018, the company revealed that $547 million worth of a small-scale cryptocurrency – NEM – had been stolen. The company had stored the assets in a ‘hot wallet,’ a cryptocurrency store connected to the internet. Hot wallets are more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches which explains why the hack happened.
This incident improved the crypto exchange industry as it catalyzed the formation of a self-regulatory body to ensure adequate cybersecurity defenses.
$480 million – Mt. Gox, 2014
This is one of the earliest major crypto heists, and as expected, it got quite the attention. The hack involved Mt. Gox, a major Japanese exchange founded in 2010. At the time, Mt. Gox handled up to 70% of Bitcoin transactions. However, in February 2014, it unexpectedly closed down and filed for bankruptcy.
News reports later revealed that the exchange had suffered a theft of 850,000 Bitcoins which were worth a total of $480 million. Today, the value of the stolen Bitcoins would be more than $30 billion.
$326 million – Wormhole, 2022
This was the first significant crypto theft in 2022. Hackers carried out the attack on Wormhole, a platform that acts as a communication bridge between Solana and other decentralized networks. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in the platform and carted away 120,000 wrapped Ethereum.
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