The use of cryptography has not been without its share of difficulties, the most of which have been brought about by hackers or exploits. The primary objective of many protocols and exchanges is to enhance their levels of security; nonetheless, malicious hackers are sometimes able to circumvent these safeguards and make off with hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is a large history of crypto thefts, and many of the thieves choose to stay nameless. However, which crypto hack was the most significant? Come along with us as we discuss the top 5 crypto heists that have occurred. On this list, which does not include instances in which the stolen property was recovered, the entries are ranked according to the total worth of the property that was taken in the course of the robbery.
Top 5 biggest ever Crypto Heists
Bitmart – $196m
Bitmart is a crypto exchange that was launched in 2017. Cold wallets are the more secure alternative for storing customer assets, however most exchanges employ a combination of hot and cold wallets to keep user funds.
A hacker stole around $196 million worth of assets from Bitmart early in the month of December 2021 after gaining access to one of the Ethereum hot wallets operated by Bitmart as well as one of the BSC hot wallets operated by Bitmart.
Bitmart first denied that there was a breach, but a blockchain security company called PeckShield revealed the total estimated loss in a tweet. This caused Bitmart to clarify that the cash that were withdrawn were actually the result of a crypto robbery.
Bitmart has made it clear that they will spend their own money to compensate all of the affected customers.
Wormhole – $325m
Wormhole is a crypto bridge system that enables users to move tokens between about a dozen different blockchains, including Ethereum and Solana.
A hacker was successful in exploiting the Wormhole bridge on Solana on February 2, 2022, and minting wETH. The hacker was then able to redeem the wETH for ETH on Ethereum. The value of the stolen property comes to approximately $325 million overall.
At the time this article was written, the hacker’s wallet contained more than 90,000 ETH with a value of around $170 million. Wormhole is still operational as of this day and has committed to compensating those individuals whose crypto assets were stolen.
Mt. Gox – $480m
Anyone who has been in the crypto space for a while will recognise and empathise with this. Between 2010 and 2014, Mt. Gox was a successful crypto exchange. It was processing more than 70% of all Bitcoin transactions at its peak. Centralizing trade in a decentralised currency was probably not the smartest move after all.
Many attempts at hacking and attacking Mt. Gox have resulted in downtime and minimal bitcoin losses since its establishment. Nonetheless, withdrawal symptoms started showing up for some consumers as early as February 2014. We had received the killing blow.
Not long later, Mt. Gox revealed it had lost about 850,000 bitcoin, or about 7% of all Bitcoin. Over time, a hacker had depleted the exchange’s hot wallet. The stolen assets were only valued about $480 million at the time, but would be worth a whopping $20 billion today.
A bankruptcy petition was filed, and the exchange subsequently shut down. Amazingly, the victims of the crypto robbery will share in the distribution of 200,000 bitcoin that were discovered in an old wallet and are being held by a trustee.
Ironically, after the distribution of the remaining bitcoin, most consumers will have profited from the forced hodl. The legal wrangling over Mt. Gox has yet to be resolved.
Coincheck – $530m
Coincheck is a Bitcoin wallet as well as an exchange that has been online ever since it was first established in 2014; yet, the Japanese exchange has not always had an easy time of things.
Coincheck was the victim of a security breach around the beginning of January 2018. The theft involved approximately 500 million NEM tokens, which had a value of approximately $530 million at the time.
Since this time last year, the Tokyo Public Prosecutors have prosecuted approximately thirty persons with their involvement in the Coincheck crypto hack. These individuals are accused of particularly changing stolen NEM tokens into other virtual currencies.
Coincheck has refunded all 260,000 customers who were harmed by the crypto theft using its own capital, and the company is still operational to this day. It appears that the perpetrator of the cryptocurrency theft is still unknown.
Ronin Network – $612m
To a considerable extent, the success of the largest crypto game, Axie Infinity, in 2021 contributed to the overall growth of the metaverse.
Even while Axie was initially built to run on Ethereum, the Axie team created their own blockchain (named Ronin) to provide cheaper and faster transactions and a more streamlined game experience. The Ronin bridge enabled trading of Ronin and Ethereum assets.
A hacker, however, managed to steal the private keys of five Ronin chain validators in late March of 2022, which allowed for the complete draining of the bridge. The total value of stolen ETH and USDC was $612 million.
The FBI has blamed the crypto robbery on the Lazarus Group, a cybercrime organisation based in North Korea. From the looks of their wallet, Lazarus appears to have funnelled all the funds through Tornado Cash, which resulted to the subsequent blacklisting of the protocol by the US Treasury.
Sky Mavis, Axie’s developer, has promised to compensate all victims by refilling the bridge, an action made feasible in large part by a $150 million round headed by Binance.