Hackers steal over $320mn in major crypto heist

The fast-growing decentralized finance (DeFi) sector has been increasingly targeted by cyber criminals

One of the most popular bridges linking the Ethereum and Solana blockchains became a victim of a hack attack on Wednesday resulting in a crypto theft worth more than $320 million. 

Developers representing Wormhole confirmed the exploit on its Twitter account, saying the network bridge is currently down while the team investigates a potential exploit. The official website says that the portal is temporarily unavailable.

Wormhole is a protocol that lets users move their tokens and NFTs between Solana and Ethereum. Crypto holders often do not operate exclusively within one blockchain ecosystem, so developers have built cross-chain bridges to let users send their digital assets from one chain to another. 

It is DeFi’s second-biggest exploit ever, and the largest attack to date on Solana, which is increasingly gaining traction in the non-fungible token (NFT) and decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystems. 

“The $320 million hack on Wormhole Bridge highlights the growing trend of attacks against blockchains protocols,” blockchain cybersecurity firm CertiK co-founder Ronghui Gu was quoted as saying by CNBC. “This attack is sounding the alarms of growing concern around security on the blockchain.”

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Meanwhile, the founder of Solana DeFi platform Step Finance, George Harrap, told CoinDesk he expects Jump Capital, which purchased Wormhole developer Certus One, to step in to backstop the hacked ETH. Otherwise, he said, a number of Solana-based platforms that accept ETH as collateral may now be partially insolvent.

“If nobody backs it and the coins are truly gone then Wormhole ETH is worth 0 and everyone who has a balance of it becomes worthless, DeFi protocols, users, everyone,” Harrap said.

Cryptocurrency platforms have suffered a number of high-value hacks in recent years. In August, Poly Network was hit by a major attack that saw the hacker steal more than $600 million worth of tokens. The theft was thought to be the biggest crypto heist ever, surpassing the $534.8 million stolen from Japanese digital currency exchange Coincheck in 2018 and the estimated $450 million worth of Bitcoin that went missing from Tokyo-based Mt. Gox in 2014.

Poly Network’s hacker, however, gave back nearly all of the money, with the exception of $33 million of Tether that was frozen by its issuers.

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