Hackers stole US$600M in massive crypto heist and no one noticed for nearly a week
‘The fact that nobody notices for six days screams aloud that some structure should be in place to watch illicit transfers’
Hackers stole about $600 million from a blockchain network connected to the popular Axie Infinity online game in one of the biggest crypto attacks to date.
Computers known as nodes operated by Axie Infinity maker Sky Mavis and the Axie DAO that support a so-called bridge — software that lets people convert tokens into ones that can be used on another network — were attacked, with the hacker draining what’s known as the Ronin Bridge of 173,600 Ether and 25.5 million USDC tokens in two transactions. The breach happened on March 23, but was only discovered Tuesday, according to Ronin, the blockchain that supports Axie Infinity.
The attack is the latest to show that bridges are often rife with problems. The computer code of many isn’t audited, allowing for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. It’s often unclear who runs them and exactly how. Identities of validators, who are supposed to order transactions on bridges, are often shrouded in mystery. And yet there are thousands of bridges out there, and they move hundreds of million of dollars worth of crypto.
“The fact that nobody notices for six days screams aloud that some structure should be in place to watch illicit transfers,” said Wilfred Daye, head of Securitize Capital, the asset-management arm of Securitize Inc.
The price of Ron, a token used on the Ronin blockchain, dropped about 22% after the hack was disclosed. AXS, a token used in Axie Infinity, fell around 8.5%, according to CoinMarketCap.
In its blog, Ronin said it’s in touch with major cryptocurrency exchanges and with blockchain tracer Chainalysis to monitor the move of the stolen funds. Ronin also said it’s working with law enforcement. Ronin didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
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The stolen funds went to two cryptocurrency exchanges, according to blockchain forensics firm Elliptic. Several exchanges acknowledged the hack without confirming that the funds had been moved there.
Huobi tweeted that it would “fully support Axie Infinity in the aftermath of the attack. Sam Bankman-Fried, who runs the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, said in an email that it would assist on the blockchain forensics.
The Ronin hack follows the February attack on the Wormhole bridge, which resulted in more than $300 million in losses that one of Wormhole’s sponsors, Jump Crypto, reimbursed. Other crypto bridges have suffered from so-called rug pulls when their founders disappeared and had issues when their key developers have gone rogue.