With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, the number of hackers targeting commerce is also high. By 2017, authorities of crypto exchanges indicated that they had lost about $266 million as a result of heists and security breaches. However, the first half of 2018 reported that three times that amount had already been stolen during the crypto exchanges.
In early July 2018, the block-chain security agency CipherTrace told that the $731 million was stolen during crypto exchanges this year alone.
In this publication, we’ll look at some of the most common crypto heists in the history.
The Coin-check heist
In January 2018, hackers discovered a loophole in the coin-check that allowed them to steal more than 500 million NEM (worth about $530 million at the time). While the NEM was only breached and other funds remained secure, the NEM Foundation pointed out that penetration had nothing to do with the safety of XEM’s cryptocurrency.
They insisted that the blame goes entirely on Coin-check, saying it was the result of “weak security measures.” Given that such a large proportion of XEM was compromised, many people immediately assumed that the NEM would implement a difficult time to recover money. However, this did not happen. Coin-check is currently having the reputation of being the victim of the largest crypto exchange heist in the history.
The Mt. Gox hack
Until the last Coin-check hack, the Mt. Gox Hack was the biggest crypto theft ever. It is still considered to be the biggest theft that has occurred.
Mt. Gox was a crypto exchange in Tokyo, Japan. Between 2013 and 2014, it processed more than 70% of all Bitcoin transactions worldwide. Unfortunately, in February 2014, the stock market declared bankruptcy.
Hackers stole about 850,000 Bitcoins – about $450 million at the time. Also, this accounted for about 6% of all bitcoins at the time. Hence, at the time of the theft, this represented a significant proportion of the total crypto market cap. In this sense, it was superior to the Coin-check hack. The agencies managed to recover 200,000 stolen Bitcoins although, roughly 650,000 are still missing.
The DAO hack that led to the creation of Ethereum Classic (ETC)
On June 12, 2016, Stephen Tual, one of the creators of DAO, announced that a “Recursive Call” error had been noticed in the code. However, at the end of his term, he stressed that “it is not a problem that exposes DAO funds to a risk today”. Unluckily, Tual turned out to be very wrong. By the time the team identified the error and started repairing it, one of the hackers was already exploiting it and draining DAO of the ether collected during its token sales.
On 18th June, less than a week after the announcement, the hacker had already managed to drain more than 3.6 million ethers (about $70 million) into a “child DAO.” That alone drastically reduced the price of the ether from $20 to $13.
The Bitfinex exchange heist
Bitfinex is currently the second largest crypto exchange regarding daily volumes of trading. However, in August 2016, the exchange was the victim of a hacking theft that resulted in the loss of more than 120,000 Bitcoins, worth about $66 million. Hours after the attack, Bitcoin’s value went down from $600 to $540. Also, users received no compensation for lost Bitcoins. Instead, the exchange insisted the users get BFX tokens for their losses and promised to buy these tokens later.
The Bit-Floor exchange heist
Although relatively unknown, Bit-Floor heist remains one of the largest Bitcoin heists in the history. It resulted in more than 24,000 Bitcoins. At that time, it was considered relatively small. However, under current conditions, the difference would be $141 million.
In 2012, Bit-Floor was one of biggest competitors of Mt. GOX. However, it had to be closed abruptly when hackers had access to private user keys. It was made possible by hackers successfully accessing private user keys, which were stored in a very insecure and unencrypted manner online.
Fortunately, the stock market has been able to repay users’ money for their losses. However, finally forced to close.