Crypto hackers stole almost $2 billion in H1 2022

Ruth C. | July 05, 2022

The interest in cryptocurrencies is diminishing worldwide — the NFTs market is dwindling, and Bitcoin is experiencing the biggest price drop in 11 years. Yet, the cybercriminals continue to make billions by targeting various crypto projects. 

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, cybercriminals looted $1.97 billion from 175 crypto project hacks in the first half of 2022. The Ethereum ecosystem suffered the most, with more than $1 billion stolen in 32 events. In 2020, blockchain hackers had managed to steal $3.8 billion via 122 attacks in 2020. Unfortunately, the density of such attacks continues to increase.

The biggest hack of the ecosystem belongs to Ronin, an Ethereum sidechain built for the popular play-to-earn non-fungible token game Axie Infinity. The attackers stole over $600 million in Ether and USDC. 

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

The Solana ecosystem occupies the second spot on the list. Cybercriminals stole $383.9 million from Solana-related projects in only 5 events. The biggest hack of the ecosystem belongs to the decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Wormhole. Attackers exploited a signature verification vulnerability in the platform's network to mint Wormhole-wrapped Ether on Solana, worth around $326 million.

Next up is the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) ecosystem, with $141.4 million in losses. In total, the BSC ecosystem faced 47 hack and scam events in the first half of this year — more than any other crypto project. Binance Smart Chain-based Qubit Finance suffered an exploit during which $80 million worth of Binance coins (BNB) were drained from Qubit’s QBridge protocol.

Meanwhile, non-fungible token (NFT) projects earned cybercriminals $84.6 million in 45 events, while the Fantom ecosystem brought in $54.8 million in 8 events. NFT scams, in turn, have also boomed.

The rest of the crypto projects that suffered from cybercriminals within the first half of this year include crypto exchanges with $35.8 million lost in 4 events, Polygon ecosystem with $13.1 million lost to 2 events, Avalanche ecosystem with $8.3 million lost in a single event, Blockchain projects with $3.5 million lost in 5 events, and crypto wallets with $263,382 lost in 2 cyber incidents. 

Losses to other crypto-related cybercrime events amounted to $236.2 million. In total, there were 24 such incidents. 

Crypto project-related cybercrime nearly doubles in H1 2022 

Cryptocurrencies are often advertised as a more secure alternative to traditional payment methods, but numbers tell a different story. In fact, the number of cryptocurrency project-related cybercrime events keeps growing. On one occasion, blockchain hackers stole more than $13 billion in 330 hack incidents.

If we compare this year and last year's numbers, cybercrime numbers affecting crypto projects rose by 94%, from 90 in H1 2021 to 175 in H1 2022. Q1 of 2022 saw 79 cybercrime events — 108% more than Q1 2021 with 38 events. In the meantime, Q2 of 2022 had 96 cybercrime events, an 85% rise from 52 in Q2 2021. 

Overall, cybercrime events increased by over a fifth (22%) from the first quarter of this year to the second. May was the hardest month for crypto projects, with 37 hack and scam events in a single month.

In the past decade, reports show that $12 billion crypto assets were stolen.

The security of cryptocurrency projects leaves a lot to be desired. Until the security challenges are sorted, the irreversible and decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies will continue to make crypto companies one of the prime targets of cybercriminals.

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Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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