According to a study conducted by Chainalysis, infringers have stolen $1.4 billion worth of digital assets between January 2022 and now. Targeting cryptocurrency bridges appears to have been a preferred method.
Some examples of such attacks in 2022 include the Horizon Bridge exploit, the $190 million Nomad Bridge breach, and one of the biggest attacks in crypto history: the $615 million Ronin attack.
Cybercriminals’ favorite target: Crypto bridges
It’s safe to say that the digital asset industry has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Moreover, the bull market in 2021 created a desirable ecosystem for investors and companies. On the flip side, this also attracted bad actors.
Blockchain analysis resource – Chainalysis – revealed that hackers have stolen around $1.4 billion in digital currencies since the beginning of the year. Their preferred targets appear to be cryptocurrency bridges – a type of software that connects different networks and facilitates the rapid exchange of tokens.
“Blockchain bridges have become the low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals, with billions of dollars worth of crypto-assets locked up within them. Hackers have breached these bridges in various ways, suggesting that their level of security has not kept pace with the value of the assets they hold,” said Tom Robinson – Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at Elliptic.
Two of the most notorious cases at the beginning of the year included the Binance Smart Chain-based protocol – Qubit Finance – and Solana’s bridge Wormhole. Attackers drained $80 million from the first, while the latter was exploited for nearly $320 million.
In March, criminals conducted one of the largest crypto hacks ever, draining over $588 million in ETH and $25.5 million in USDC from Ronin Bridge. Despite the colossal attack, Sky Mavis’ team (the company that runs the sidechain) refunded all affected victims. After fixing the major issues, Ronin Bridge reopened at the end of June.
Who was behind the Ronin attack?
Shortly after the Ronin Bridge hack, several institutions launched an investigation to find out who was responsible. One of these agencies was the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which determined that the attackers were the infamous North Korean collective – the Lazarus Group.
Some estimates suggest the gang is closely related to the government of North Korea, while the crypto assets it loses could be used to bolster Kim Jong-un’s reign in the East Asian nation.
Several months ago, the United Nations (UN) accused the leaders of the totalitarian state of financing missile and nuclear experiments with stolen digital currencies. Despite the sanctions and warnings, North Korea continues to develop its military strength and test such weapons.
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