Over the weekend, a global cryptocurrency exchange, AscendEX, was brought to its knees as it became the latest victim of an attack that led to the loss of around $80 million worth of funds from its hot wallets.
AscendEX losses close to $80 million to hack
Blockchain security firm Peckshield Inc. revealed that the attacker moved ERC-20, Polygon, and Binance Smart Chain tokens domiciled in the exchange’s hot wallet.
A more cursory look at the hack showed that the attacker moved $60 million in ERC-20 tokens, $9.2 million in Binance Smart Chain tokens, and $8.5 million in Polygon tokens. Per available data, the hacker transferred around $11 million worth of TARA tokens, while also moving around $6 million worth of popular Stablecoin USDT.
Currently, deposits and withdrawals have been disabled on the exchange following the security breach that led to the unauthorized withdrawal.
While the exchange has refused to confirm the extent of the loss, data from Etherscan shows that only the exchange hot wallets were affected.
A crypto hot wallet is a custodial wallet that allows crypto holders to send and receive tokens. Unlike cold wallets, a hot wallet is connected to the internet and thus is more vulnerable to hacks. Most crypto exchanges store their users’ funds in cold wallets so as to prevent hacks of this nature.
AscendEX has promised to refund all users who lost their funds while also stating that it would gradually resume deposits and withdrawals soon.
The worrying trend of crypto hacks
One of the sticks used to beat the crypto industry is the increasing number of nefarious players in the industry who take advantage of the near anonymity of the space to perform illegal acts.
In this year, the industry has witnessed a number of hacks that have led to the loss of millions by investors in the space. Within the last two to three weeks alone, a crypto exchange, BitMart, lost around $200 million to a hacker who got access to the exchange’s private keys. Before the BitMart hack, BadgerDAO was also a victim of a hack involving over $100 million of its users’ funds.
While some of the hackers have always carried out their attacks as a way of showing the vulnerabilities in the system and returning the stolen funds, other hacks, like the aforementioned ones, have led to the loss of millions without the hope of gaining the funds back.