What are the biggest Cryptocurrency hacks up to 2024?

Digital vault cracked open with binary code and cryptocurrency symbols, representing major cryptocurrency hacks up to 2024.

The cryptocurrency world had several terrifying security breaches in 2023, each with enormous financial repercussions. A number of notable breaches occurred in the past year, including the $200 million breach at Mixim in September, the $197 million loss at Euler Finance in March, and the $126 million loss at Multichain in July. The cumulative effect of these hacks highlighted the ongoing difficulties with cybersecurity in the cryptocurrency space. As we move into 2024, the trend continues with significant incidents already impacting major platforms, emphasizing the persistent vulnerabilities within the crypto sphere.

Key Takeaways

  • The cryptocurrency sector experienced severe security breaches in 2023, with major hacks at Mixim, Euler Finance, and Multichain.
  • Ethereum remains the most targeted blockchain, accounting for over 85% of the total value lost in Q1 2024.
  • North Korean state-sponsored attacks have become increasingly prevalent, contributing to numerous high-profile incidents.
  • Despite a reduction in the total value of stolen funds in 2023, the number of hacking incidents increased compared to 2022.
  • The financial impact of these hacks is immense, with billions of dollars lost, underscoring the need for enhanced security measures.

Notable Cryptocurrency Hacks of 2023

In 2023, the crypto industry faced significant challenges from hacks and protocol exploits, although there was a notable reduction in the year-on-year value of stolen funds. The estimated amount stolen by hackers this year was $1.7 billion, a decrease of over 50% from the $4 billion recorded in 2022. Several notable hacking incidents affected entities like Multichain, Euler Finance, Heco, Poloniex, Mixin, and Atomic Wallet.

Major Hacks in Q1 2024

Orbit Chain Breach

The Orbit Chain Breach was one of the most significant incidents in early 2024. Hackers exploited vulnerabilities in the chain’s smart contracts, leading to substantial financial losses. This breach highlighted the ongoing risks associated with decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms.

Radiant Capital Compromise

Radiant Capital faced a severe compromise in Q1 2024. Attackers managed to infiltrate the system, resulting in the theft of millions of dollars. This incident underscored the importance of robust security measures and constant vigilance in the crypto space.

PlayDapp Exploit

The PlayDapp Exploit was another major hack in the first quarter of 2024. Cybercriminals took advantage of weaknesses in the platform’s code, leading to significant asset losses. This exploit served as a stark reminder of the need for continuous security audits and updates.

Hackers and scammers are having a field day in 2024, stealing over $200m from exchanges and DeFi protocols in Q1 so far.

Incident Estimated Losses
Orbit Chain Breach $80 million
Radiant Capital Compromise $70 million
PlayDapp Exploit $50 million

The total estimated losses from these major hacks in Q1 2024 amount to $200 million, reflecting the ongoing challenges in securing cryptocurrency platforms.

Ethereum: The Prime Target

Ethereum’s Vulnerabilities

Ethereum has consistently been the most targeted network for hackers. In February alone, it suffered 12 individual attacks, accounting for over 85% of the total value lost so far this year. This makes Ethereum a prime target for malicious actors. The network’s vulnerabilities are often exploited through various means, including phishing attacks and smart contract exploits.

Impact on DeFi Platforms

The frequent attacks on Ethereum have a significant impact on DeFi platforms. These platforms, which rely heavily on Ethereum’s blockchain, often find themselves at the mercy of hackers. For instance, a phishing attack in January 2024 resulted in a loss of approximately $4.2 million worth of aEthWETH and aEthUNI. Such incidents not only result in financial losses but also erode user trust in DeFi platforms.

Security Measures

To combat these vulnerabilities, several security measures have been implemented. These include:

  1. Regular Audits: Conducting regular audits of smart contracts to identify and fix vulnerabilities.
  2. Multi-Signature Wallets: Using multi-signature wallets to enhance security.
  3. User Education: Educating users about the risks and best practices to avoid phishing attacks.

Despite these measures, Ethereum remains a prime target due to its widespread use and high value transactions.

Below is a summary of the major hacks in Q1 2024:

Month Incident Loss (in millions)
January Phishing Attack $4.2
February Multiple Attacks $347
March Smart Contract Exploit $32.3

Ethereum’s vulnerabilities continue to pose a significant risk to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

North Korea’s Role in Crypto Hacks

State-Sponsored Attacks

North Korea-linked hacks have been on the rise over the past few years, with cyber-espionage groups such as Kimsuky and Lazarus Group utilizing various malicious tactics to acquire large amounts of crypto assets. In 2022, cryptocurrency stolen by hackers associated with North Korea reached its highest level of approximately $1.7 billion. In 2023, we estimate that the total amount stolen is slightly over $1.0 billion, but as we see below, the number of hacks rose to 20 — the highest number on record.

Notable Incidents

We estimate that North Korea-linked hackers stole approximately $428.8 million from DeFi platforms in 2023, and also targeted centralized services ($150.0 million stolen), exchanges ($330.9 million), and wallet providers ($127.0 million).

Target Amount Stolen (2023)
DeFi Platforms $428.8 million
Centralized Services $150.0 million
Exchanges $330.9 million
Wallet Providers $127.0 million

2023 saw a notable decrease in North Korean targeting of DeFi protocols, mirroring the overall drop in DeFi hacking that we discussed above.

Global Impact

A recurring problem in many of these incidents involved private key exploits, enabling perpetrators access to user funds. Throughout the year, the North Korean hacking group Lazarus was implicated in multiple attacks, collectively resulting in losses exceeding $300 million.

The article delves into the biggest cryptocurrency thefts of the year, examining the impacted projects and factors that contributed to each attack.

Trends in Cryptocurrency Hacking

Year-on-Year Comparisons

Over the last few years, cryptocurrency hacking has become a pervasive and formidable threat, leading to billions of dollars stolen from crypto platforms and exposing vulnerabilities across the ecosystem. In 2022, $3.7 billion was stolen, making it the biggest year ever for crypto theft. However, in 2023, funds stolen decreased by approximately 54.3% to $1.7 billion, though the number of individual hacking incidents actually grew, from 219 in 2022 to 231 in 2023.

Types of Attacks

The crypto industry has consistently encountered challenges from hacks and protocol exploits over the years. This trend continued into 2023. There was, however, a sliver of good news: hack volumes fell year-on-year by over 50%. Despite a decrease in overall losses, large sums of money were still stolen from individual projects. Several large exploits occurred in September and November 2023 on both DeFi and CeFi platforms: Mixin Network ($200 million), CoinEx ($43 million), Poloniex Exchange ($130 million), HTX ($113.3 million), and Kyber Network ($54.7 million).

Preventive Measures

Although the total amount stolen from crypto platforms in 2023 was down significantly from prior years, it is clear that attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and diverse in their exploits. The good news is, crypto platforms are becoming more sophisticated in their security and responses to attacks, too.

Crypto hack losses down 20% in May 2024, but focus shifts to DeFi. Major hits: Gala Games ($21m) & Sonne Finance ($20m).

In order to understand this trend better, we worked with Halborn to analyze 2023 DeFi hacking activity through the lens of the specific attack vectors hackers utilized.

Financial Impact of Crypto Hacks

Estimated Losses

The crypto industry has consistently encountered challenges from hacks and protocol exploits over the years. In 2023, the amount of cryptocurrency funds stolen by hackers was estimated at $1.7 billion, less than half of the $4 billion recorded in 2022, according to TRM Labs. Despite a decrease in overall losses, large sums of money were still stolen from individual projects.

Economic Consequences

Cryptocurrency hacking has become a pervasive and formidable threat, leading to billions of dollars stolen from crypto platforms and exposing vulnerabilities across the ecosystem. The economic consequences are far-reaching, affecting not only the targeted platforms but also investor confidence and market stability.

Insurance and Recovery

Insurance and recovery efforts in the crypto industry are still evolving. While some platforms have started to offer insurance against hacks, the coverage is often limited and does not fully compensate for the losses incurred. Recovery of stolen funds remains a significant challenge due to the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions.

Over $473 million worth of cryptocurrency has been lost to hacks and rug pulls across 108 incidents in 2024, according to a report by security service provider.

Year Estimated Losses (in billions)
2022 $4.0
2023 $1.7
2024 $0.473

Lessons Learned from Recent Hacks

Security Best Practices

The recent surge in cryptocurrency hacks has underscored the importance of enhancing security through updates and audits. Wallets and contracts are particularly vulnerable due to user mistakes and inherent flaws. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to:

  • Regularly update software and firmware.
  • Conduct thorough security audits.
  • Use strong, unique passwords and trusted security tools.

Community Response

The crypto community has shown resilience in the face of these attacks. Exchanges and DeFi platforms, being prime targets, have started implementing more robust security measures. Additionally, the community has become more vigilant against phishing traps and scams, especially those mimicking real social media profiles.

Still not worried? Remember, if you own crypto, you are a TARGET.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the focus will be on developing more sophisticated security protocols to protect against both on-chain and off-chain vulnerabilities. The reduction in losses from smart contract vulnerabilities, from 47.0% to 18.2%, is a positive sign. However, price manipulation attacks remain a significant threat, accounting for around 20.0% of the total value lost. This indicates that protocols should also consider their interactions within the broader DeFi ecosystem.

Type of Attack Median Loss
Contagion (on-chain) $1.4 million
Governance (on-chain) $1 million
Insider (off-chain) $1 million
Compromised Private Keys (off-chain) $1 million

The data shows that both on-chain and off-chain vulnerabilities, particularly the compromise of private keys, price manipulation hacks, and smart contract exploitation, drove hacking losses in 2023.

Conclusion

The cryptocurrency landscape continues to be fraught with security challenges, as evidenced by the numerous high-profile hacks and breaches up to 2024. Despite a notable reduction in the total value of stolen funds from previous years, the frequency and sophistication of these attacks remain a significant concern. The incidents in 2023 and early 2024 underscore the persistent vulnerabilities within both DeFi and CeFi platforms, highlighting the need for enhanced security measures and vigilance. As the crypto industry evolves, it is imperative for stakeholders to prioritize cybersecurity to safeguard assets and maintain trust in the ecosystem. The lessons learned from these breaches should serve as a catalyst for stronger defenses and more resilient infrastructures moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

What were some of the biggest cryptocurrency hacks in 2023?

In 2023, several significant cryptocurrency hacks occurred, including the $200 million breach at Mixim Network, the $197 million loss at Euler Finance, and the $126 million loss at Multichain.

Which cryptocurrency platform was most targeted in Q1 2024?

Ethereum was the most targeted blockchain in Q1 2024, suffering 12 attacks that accounted for over 85% of the total value lost in that period.

How much was estimated to be stolen in cryptocurrency hacks in 2023?

The estimated amount stolen by hackers in 2023 was $1.7 billion, a significant decrease from the $4 billion recorded in 2022.

What role did North Korea play in cryptocurrency hacks?

North Korea-affiliated cyber criminals had one of their most active years in 2023, executing more individual crypto hacks than ever before.

What are some preventive measures against cryptocurrency hacks?

Preventive measures against cryptocurrency hacks include implementing robust security protocols, conducting regular security audits, and educating users about potential threats.

What has been the economic impact of cryptocurrency hacks?

Cryptocurrency hacks have led to billions of dollars in losses, affecting the financial stability of various platforms and causing significant economic consequences.

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