$600 million stolen in the largest cryptocurrency heist in history


More than $600 million in cryptocurrency has been stolen from the protocol PolyNetwork, in a scheme that’s regarded as one of the largest thefts in the history of cryptocurrency. 

In a letter posted on Twitter, PolyNetwork, a decentralized platform that allows crypto coin holders to trade assets across a variety of blockchains, pleaded with hackers to return the haul on Tuesday. 

“Dear Hackers,” the open letter read. “The amount of money you have hacked is one of the biggest in defi history. Law enforcement in any country will regard this as a major economic crime and you will be pursued.” 

Tens of thousands of people are affected by the hack, PolyNetwork noted, urging the criminals hiding behind the reach of the internet to “talk to us to work out a solution.” 

The platform explained that the still-unknown hackers exploited a “vulnerability between contract calls.” About $267 million of Ether coins, $252 million of Binance coins and almost $85 million in USDC tokens were seized. 

On the bright side, $33 million of the coin Tether has been frozen by its acquirer. Hence, the crypto thieves no longer have access to this specific cryptocurrency even if they did manage to steal it. 

While there is no concrete evidence that can pinpoint who now unlawfully holds more than $600 million in cryptocurrency, a company focused on blockchain ecological security under the name “SlowMist” stated on Twitter that they managed to identify the hacker’s IP address, email, and even device fingerprints, but did not disclose the information to the public.  

SlowMist added that “this is likely to be a long-planned, organized and prepared attack.” 

When the world of decentralized finance burst into the scene, individuals put their blind trust into cryptocurrency due to its encrypted transactions. The name itself is derived from the words ciphers and codes, which translates to cryptic messages that are difficult to crack down or decipher. 

Yet, numerous hacking operations targeting cryptocurrency sites have been documented in the past.  

Almost two years ago, Binance, one of the biggest platforms for cryptocurrency transactions online, announced that black hat hackers managed to steal more than $40 million worth of Bitcoin from users in a “large-scale security breach.” 

If you thought $40 million Bitcoins are a substantial amount to steal, then wait till you hear about the CryptoCore hackers. 

Last year, cyber criminals who call themselves the “CryptoCore” hackers stole around $200 million worth of crypto coins from a confirmed number of five people based in the U.S., Japan, and the Middle East. This attack was titled the biggest heists in the history of decentralized finance (DeFi), until the PolyNetwork hack took place. 

The most recent cyber-attack should serve two revelations to all crypto users; first, if the investment is digital by nature, then the possibility of a breach occurring is more likely than you’d think, no matter how “secure” the platform is. 

Second, it has become apparent that the regulatory systems governing digital currencies are fragmented, and almost non-existent. Thus, a backdoor for illicit activities is wide-open, allowing millions of dollars to be stolen while bogus crypto traders run off with your cash.  

Incidents such as these highlight the need for governmental regulation and policy on untamed and emerging technologies, especially to curb illicit uses of innovations meant to better the state of society rather than abuse it.