Japan’s Liquid crypto exchange loses $80M after hacker compromises hot wallets

"Anonymous Hacker" by dustball (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)
“Anonymous Hacker” by dustball (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

Key Takeaways:

  • Liquid, a regulated crypto exchange in Japan, supended operations after announcing a security breach.
  • Hackers stole more than $80 million in crypto assets.
  • Assets targeted include Bitcoin(BTC), Ethereum(ETH), Tron(TRX), and Ripple(XRP).

NEW DELHI (CoinChapter.com) — Barely a week after hackers siphoned away more than $600 million from Poly Network, Liquid, a regulated crypto exchange in Japan, reported a security breach with hackers making off with upwards of $80 million in cryptocurrencies.

While not the biggest crypto crime in terms of the amount stolen, the attack comes when concerns about cryptocurrency security are running high.

What Happened With Liquid

Liquid reported that hackers targeted Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Tron (TRX), and Ripple (XRP). The Bitcoin address received 106 BTC worth $4.7 million from just two addresses as per on-chain data. Meanwhile, the Ethereum address received $69 million worth of ETH and ERC-20 tokens.

Liquid suspended withdrawals and deposits on its platform. However, the exchange tweeted it will keep updating the masses on any new developments.

Hackers targeted hot wallets on the Liquid exchange. In detail, Hot wallets are tools that allow users to store, send and receive cryptocurrencies. Public and Private keys help facilitate transactions and act as a security measure.

Also Read: Poly Network wants to hire the hacker who stole $600M as their security chief.

Unconfirmed reports also suggest that the compromised Ethereum wallet held deposits from Celsius Network, a crypto yield provider. Celsius partnered with Liquid in April to offer customers a compounding return on their investments. As a result, Liquid became one of the first fiat-to-crypto currency exchanges to support Celsius’s native token CEL.

Hackers took millions of ERC-20 altcoins in the Liquid heist, including Uniswap, RFOX, and Enjin Coin.

Crypto exchange KuCoin’s CEO, Johnny Lyu, said his platform had black-listed the hacker’s wallet addresses. In all probability, other exchanges would soon follow suit.

However, this is not the first time Liquid was a target of cybercrime. In November 2020, a breach exposed Liquid users’ personal information to hackers.

Rise In Crypto Crimes

Liquid’s hacker woes are the latest in cybercrimes against cryptocurrency firms. Last week, Poly network, a DeFi company, targeted a $600 million heist. Although the hackers made contact and started returning funds, Poly still receives the entire amount it lost.

Also Read: Hedge funds bet against Cathie Wood’s pro-Bitcoin ETF.

Although the Poly attack was arguably the largest, it wasn’t the only one. In 2021 alone, hackers stole more than $361 million in several attacks. The figure is nearly a threefold rise over the same period in 2020.

In 2014, hackers stole $460 million in Bitcoin from the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange. The theft resulted in the collapse of the exchange. In 2018, cybercriminals made off with $530 million from Coincheck, interestingly another Tokyo-based crypto trading platform.

The days of robbers sticking up a bank with guns are long past.

These days, criminals use computers to launch sophisticated attacks. The main USP of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity, which has become a double-edged sword. Since it is difficult to track cryptocurrency transactions, it is equally difficult to retrieve lost assets. Poly Network’s saga may have a happy ending, but most usually don’t.

A true solution may result from international pressure campaigns that target countries that tolerate hacking groups in their jurisdictions. Without international cooperation, crackdowns on hacking groups will remain ineffective.

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