Crypto heists have resulted in the theft of billions of dollars. Here we will list down the top 07 crypto heists of all time.
Department of Justice in the USA recently uncovered a case of a bitcoin heist involving $4 Billion worth of coins. The news has made headlines around the world because of the insane amount of money that hackers managed to acquire. Moreover, the schemes of the notorious Couple behind this heist have inspired a Netflix series about crypto launderers.
Crypto heists are well-known phenomena in the digital assets industry. The decentralized nature of the blockchain makes it less secure in a way that if your money gets stolen then there is no one you can ask for help. You are on your own and you only trust the technology.
Hackers often find loopholes in the technology and exploit them to steal assets. As the addresses are anonymous, there is no way to find out who acquired the money.
Today we will list the top 7 crypto heists of all time.
Bitfloor exchange faced one of the biggest crypto heists during the early days of Bitcoin. The exchange lost 24K Bitcoin to the hackers. The exchange had private keys backed up at an unencrypted place. Hackers managed to get their hands on the keys and stole a big stash of money. At the time, there weren’t many crypto exchanges. The loss of fairly huge for Bitfloor. It never recovered from the hit and ended up shutting down the operation in 2013.
According to the founder of Bitcfloor, Roman Shtylman, a server was compromised during the attack. “As a result, the attacker gained access to an unencrypted backup of the wallet keys (the actual keys live in an encrypted area),” he said. “Using these keys they were able to transfer the coins. This attack took the vast majority of the coins BitFloor was holding on hand. As a result, I have paused all exchange operations. Even tho [sic] only a small majority of the coins are ever in use at any time, I felt it inappropriate to continue operating not having the capability to cover all account balances for BTC at the time.”
The value of 24K Bitcoin stood at $250,000 in 2012. At the current price, the value would rise to $10 billion. The Exchange promised to return everyone their funds after the shutdown in the coming year.
Bitfinex exchange was the most popular dollar-based crypto exchange back in 2016. It was known for having high liquidity in the bitcoin/dollar pair. The exchange suffered from the second-biggest security breach in the history of crypto in 2016. Hackers managed to steal $72 Million in Bitcoin from User’s “Segregated Wallets”.
120,000 Bitcoin went missing from the exchange. Bitfinex reported the breach to law enforcement agencies but nothing happened at the time. Lucky for them, the Department of Justice has recently changed a couple with the involvement in the hack. 90,000 bitcoin are recovered from Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichenstein. The couple was trying to launder away the stash worth $3.6 Billion.
Bitfinex is collaborating with DOJ to acquire the recovered BTC.
Mt. Gox had a spectacular demise in 2014 after it lost 740,000 bitcoin to hackers. Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange, Mt. Gox, was handling 70% of all bitcoin transactions worldwide at the time. It later filed for bankruptcy in Japan and in the United States.
Mt Gox was launched in 2010. Soon it gained the trust of Crypto traders. The exchange started to manage a great chunk of crypto transactions. In September 2011, the crypto heist begin. Hacker stole 2000 bitcoin with a compromised computer of the hacker.
By 2013, Mt Gox was one of the biggest crypto exchange in the world despite the hack. Which meant the hackers were in for a bigger treat. The exchange took multiple measures to patch the breached security hole. Nonetheless, the ongoing hacking went on for two years.
On February 24th, 2014, Mt Gox suspended all of the trading operations and the website went offline. The news of the hack later came to the surface via leaked corporate documents. The hackers took 6% of all the circulating supply of bitcoin.
Another Japan-based Cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck, suffered a hack that resulted in a loss of digital funds worth $523 Million. The hackers stole $NEM coins from the exchange’s hot wallet. Hot wallets are considered less secure than cold wallets. The former is connected to the internet while the latter is offline. $NEM’s value crashed 11% after the news of Hack.
The hack happened in January 2018. According to authorities, the exchange failed to identify the hack in time due to a lack of staff. The breach was ongoing for almost 8 hours. Coincheck suspended withdrawal for all assets except for bitcoin. They promised to track the hacker. However, the recovery of assets never happened.
The anonymous nature of cryptocurrency makes it hard to track. You can’t figure out who is sitting behind an anonymous digital would. That’s why the criminals went away with $523 Million worth of digital assets and never got caught.
Singapore-based Cryptocurrency exchange, KuCoin, suffered from a hack in 2020. Hackers stole $280 Million worth of digital currencies. According to official statements, the private keys of hot wallets were compromised during the security breach.
In September 2020, KuCoin identified a large withdrawal of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin SV (BSC), Litecoin (LTC), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Tron (TRX), and Tether (USDT). The exchange identified the address where stolen funds went.
KuCoin exchange worked with law enforcement agencies to probe the attack. It later succeeded in recovering some of the assets.
Poly Network Hack:
Last Year a famous heist occurred in defi (decentralized finance) space when a hacker by the name of “White Hat” stole digital tokens worth $600 million from Poly network. The network pleaded with the guy to return the money. They offered him a $500,000 bounty and a job as ‘Cheif Security Advisor’.
Cybercriminals exploited some vulnerability in the Poly network in August 2021. In a strange turn of events, they returned all the tokens. The network was able to acquire all the stolen funds. This is a bizarre hack story as hackers are very unlikely to return funds that too of such high value. However, many believe that it was impossible for hackers to launder this large amount of digital tokens without getting noticed. Therefore, he returned all the money.
It is one of the recent hacks. On February 2nd, Wormhole suffered from a cyber-attack which lead to a loss of $321 Million worth of funds.
Wormhole network bridges Solana with other decentralized finance platforms. The hackers stole 120,000 wETH after exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability. Wormhole quickly patched the hole and resumed the operations after reimbursing the lost funds.
The attackers have not been identified. Wormhole network is offering a bounty of $10 million for someone who shares information leading to hackers. It is one of the biggest crypto heists of the year so far.
Crypto still remains the wild wild west of the internet world. The anonymous wallet addresses can be up to any shenanigans and you will never know. In order to protect yourself against crypto heists, take all the precautionary measures. Keep your private keys saved in a diary or any other hard piece of paper. Never save the password to your crypto wallet on a device. Moreover, secure your devices against viruses and bugs using verified software.
As the value of the crypto market grows, the interest of hackers in pulling off crypto heists is also increasing. Therefore, as an individual investor, you should never let your guard down. If you are using a centralized exchange for trading, make sure your assets are insured. That way if a hack happens, the company will be able to reimburse your stolen funds.