According to a study conducted by Chainalysis, wrongdoers have stolen approximately $1.4 billion worth of digital assets between January 2022 and now. Targeting cryptocurrency bridges seems to have been a preferred method.
Some examples of such attacks in 2022 include the exploit of the Horizon bridge, the $190 million breach on Nomad Bridge, and one of the largest attacks in crypto’s history: the $615 million Ronin attack.
Cybercriminal’s Favorite Target: Crypto Bridges
It is safe to say that the digital asset industry has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Moreover, the bull market in 2021 created a desirable ecosystem for investors and companies. On the flip side, this also attracted bad actors.
The blockchain analytics resource – Chainalysis – revealed that hackers have stolen around $1.4 billion in digital currencies since the beginning of the year. Their preferred target seems to be cryptocurrency bridges – a type of software that connects different networks and facilitates the quick swaps of tokens.
“Blockchain bridges have become the low-hanging fruit for cyber-criminals, with billions of dollars worth of crypto assets locked within them. Hackers have breached these bridges in various ways, suggesting that their level of security has not kept pace with the value of assets that they hold,” Tom Robinson – Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Elliptic – said.
Two of the most infamous cases at the start of the year included the Binance Smart Chain-based protocol – Qubit Finance – and Solana’s bridge Wormhole. Attackers drained $80 million from the first, while the latter was exploited for nearly $320 million.
In March, criminals pulled off one of the biggest hacks in crypto ever and drained over $588 million worth of ETH and $25.5 million in USDC from Ronin Bridge. Despite the colossal attack, Sky Mavis’ team (the company that runs the sidechain) reimbursed all affected victims. After fixing the major issues, Ronin Bridge reopened at the end of June.
Who Stood Behind the Ronin Attack?
Shortly after the hack on Ronin Bridge, multiple institutions launched an investigation to find out who was responsible. One of those agencies was the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which determined that the attackers were the notorious North Korean collective – the Lazarus Group.
Some estimations presume the gang is closely related to the government of North Korea, while the crypto assets it drains could be used to reinforce Kim Jong-un’s reign in the East Asian nation.
Several months ago, the United Nations (UN) accused the leaders of the totalitarian state of funding missile and nuclear experiments with stolen digital currencies. Despite the sanctions and warnings, North Korea continues to develop its military force and test such weapons.