Blockchain hackers have stolen over $1 billion in Q3 2021

William S. | October 27, 2021

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency hype have gotten a lot of attention in the past years. However, it has also become a goldmine for cybercriminals who exploit blockchain’s network design, implementation, and other things to get a quick buck.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, blockchain hackers have stolen over $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in the third quarter of 2021. While blockchain-related hacks and scams continue to rise, the Ethereum ecosystem suffered from the most significant number of hack events and lost the most money during attacks.

The numbers are based on the data provided by Slowmist Hacked, which aggregates information about disclosed attacks aimed at blockchain projects. Monetary losses were calculated based on the conversation rate of a particular cryptocurrency at the time of a hack or blockchain scam event.

The Ethereum ecosystem suffered 20 hack events and lost over $800 million in the third quarter of 2021. One of the most significant hacks was the Poly Network heist, in which the hacker stole $610 million from the cryptocurrency platform. Even though the hacker returned a big part of the money, it exposed a fatal flaw in Poly Network’s code.

Next up, cryptocurrency exchanges had 5 hack events in which they lost $114 million. A noteworthy hack happened to a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Liquid, as cybercriminals took away about $90 million worth of digital coins. Hackers compromised Liquid’s warm wallets and transferred the assets to their own wallets.

Binance Smart Chain (BSC) ecosystem was affected by 7 hack events and lost $23 million in Q3 2021. In September, a cross-chain DeFi platform, pNetwork, was hacked, and threat actors walked away with approximately $12 million worth of Bitcoin (277 BTC).

Other types of hacks and scams have accumulated 28 events, throughout them losing $193 million. Such events include attacks against smaller ecosystems or rug pull scams. One of the biggest crypto scams, Bitconnect promoters were charged to pay $3.5 million and 190 Bitcoin by the U.S. SEC for cryptocurrency fraud in September.

A cryptocurrency investment plan with the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme, Bitconnect raised more than $2 billion from retail investors through the promoter network. We did not add the $2 billion to the final stolen money tally, as the cash was raised in 2017 when Bitconnect launched.

Blockchain manipulations

The success of blockchain-related hacks and scams is bringing more and more cybercriminals looking for a quick buck. While hackers search for exploits they could abuse in cryptocurrency ecosystems, people with influence and good marketing create rug pull scams.

A significant increase in blockchain-related hacks happened in 2019 when 133 events were seen. It indicates a 58% percent growth since 2018 when 84 hack events took place. In 2019, similar to Bitconnect, a different Ponzi scheme, PlusToken collapsed, and its promoters took away about another $2.9 billion.

Through three quarters of 2021, there were more hack events than over the past three years — 146. It signifies a 20% percent increase since last year when 122 hack events and scams were seen. Nonetheless, the number of hacks continues to soar in Q4 2021 as some significant blockchain-related attacks have already happened in October.

While comparing more statistics from now and 2020, the Ethereum ecosystem and cryptocurrency exchanges remain the primary targets for hackers. However, a rise of rug pull scams in the news headlines could be indicating a new trend in the cryptocurrency world.

With cryptocurrencies continuing to gain more traction, it is safe to say that hacks and scams involving cryptos are not going anywhere. As blockchain technology is still relatively new, many people are unaware of the risks of investing in crypto. Before putting money into a project, make sure to research its technical and security capabilities.

William S.

William S.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Focused on revealing the latest cybersecurity trends around the world.



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