March 29, 2023

The Largest Cryptocurrency Hacks So Far

The Largest Cryptocurrency Hacks So Far

Cryptocurrency hacks are one of the main reasons many skeptics choose to shun crypto. There have been many high-profile hackings that have caused exchanges, businesses, and investors to have large amounts of crypto stolen.  

In the wake of the FTX bankruptcy scandal, we felt inspired to take a look at the largest cryptocurrency hacks to date. There is debate about whether FTX was actually hacked or not, but that’s a conversation for another article.

Why Are Cryptocurrency Hacks Common?

Cryptocurrency is still in its infancy. The technology being used is relatively new and highly complex. Therefore, it leaves the potential for skilled hackers to infiltrate. Most often, cryptocurrency exchanges are the target of crypto hacks. The reason for this is that they hold the cryptocurrency of investors who purchased the tokens through the exchange.

For example, if you buy Bitcoin (BTC) through Coinbase and leave it in your Coinbase account, it is in one of their digital wallets – not your own. The vast majority of investors leave all or a portion of their crypto portfolio on exchanges.

However, Individuals can take steps to protect themselves against hacks by transferring their cryptocurrency to a digital wallet where they retain control of the private keys.

Top 11 Crypto Hacking Examples

11. Wintermute

Crypto market maker, Wintermute was the victim of a hack back in September 2022. The value of the hack totaled $162 million, with the CEO attempting to make a deal with the hacker by offering them 10% of the hacked money to return the funds. At the time of the hack, Wintermute already owed $200 million to other market participants.

10. Beanstalk

A hacker infiltrated and manipulated Flash Loan – a defi cryptocurrency loans platform offering large quantity short-term loans. This hack took just a total of 13 seconds, with the assailant making off with $182 million.

Step 1: The hacker borrowed $1 billion.

Step 2: The hacker bought a controlling stake in the project.

Step 3: The hacker initiated and approved a transfer of $182 million to their wallet.

Step 4: The hacker repaid the loan and disappeared.

9. Nomad Bridge

Cryptocurrency hacks have started to target blockchain bridge projects. These projects enable communication and transfer cross-chain, allowing users to swap tokens. Nomad Bridge was targeted and lost a total of $190 million.

However, they were able to recoup around $36 million of the stolen crypto.

8. BitMart

The BitMart Hacker – as named by Etherscan, funneled $196 million from the centralized exchange. BitMart addresses were spotted being drained of crypto, with the funds being extracted by multiple cryptocurrencies using Ethereum.

7. Wormhole

At the time, the largest Solana hacking took place in February 2022. Wormhole’s decentralized finance platform was targeted via an upgrade to the project’s GitHub that hadn’t been pushed live yet. In total, $325 million worth of crypto was stolen, with around $47 million anticipated to be SOL.

6. Mt. Gox

$473 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen from the hot wallet of crypto exchange Mt. Gox in 2014. A crypto hack saw 650,000 customers’ Bitcoin and 100,000 of Mt. Gox Bitcoins stolen. At the time, this was a massive 7% of all Bitcoin in circulation.

It wasn’t the first cryptocurrency hack they’d experienced. In 2011, they were handling over 70% of all Bitcoin transactions when the platform lost 25,000 Bitcoin to the value of $400,000.

5. Coincheck

The Japanese exchange, Coincheck, was targeted by a crypto hacking in January 2018. A huge sum of $523 million worth of NEM was taken from their hot wallet. Somehow, Coincheck survived losing this crypto. Not long after they were purchased by financial services company Monex Group, and they’re still operating today.

4. Binance

Whether you’re interested in crypto or not, you’ve likely seen Binance advertising campaigns somewhere – they recently launched a campaign with Cristiano Ronaldo. In October 2022, a bug in a smart contract enabled crypto hacking to the tune of $570 million. This quickly became one of the most well-known crypto hacks in history. The hackers were able to create BNB coins and immediately withdraw them.

3. FTX

In November 2022, you couldn’t read any cryptocurrency news without being bombarded with information about FTX, bankruptcy, and hacking. On the day they filed for bankruptcy, news emerged they were also the victim of a $600 million crypto hacking. There were many theories about what happened, and at the time of writing, much investigation is still taking place to uncover the truth.

2. Poly Network

The second biggest cryptocurrency hack turned out to be for fun, with the hacker wanting to challenge themself. In August 2021, the Poly Network lost $600 million. However, after Twitter appeals and created wallet addresses for the funds to be returned. The hacker began transferring funds, and within a couple of days, around $300 million had been returned.

1. Ronin Network

In March 2022, the largest cryptocurrency hack to ever occur took place. US officials claimed a hacking group backed by the North Korean government was responsible for the theft of $625 million.

The hackers targeted the network supporting Axie Infinity, the highly popular gaming platform.

In Summary: Hacking Cryptocurrency Needs To Be Addressed

Cryptocurrency hacks are one of the barriers stopping mass adoption. These high-profile hacks make it difficult for new investors to trust the most prominent platforms. Developers need to address these issues to give people confidence their investment portfolios will be protected at all costs.

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