Two cryptocurrency platforms with ties to digital entrepreneur Justin Sun were the targets of recent exploits by hackers that may have resulted in over $115 million worth of digital assets being stolen.
According to a Nov. 23 CNBC report, the first platform hacked was the HTX cryptocurrency exchange, formerly known as Huobi. According to a statement released by the company on November 23rd, hackers were able to drain approximately $30 million worth of various cryptocurrencies from HTX by compromising what are known as “hot wallets.”
Hot wallets are one of the crypto hacks and refer to cryptocurrency wallets connected to the internet to allow for convenient trading and transactions.
However, this also makes them more susceptible to cyberattacks than “cold wallets” kept offline.
In addition to the funds stolen from HTX directly, an associated blockchain bridge called Heco Chain was also breached by hackers. Blockchain bridges allow different cryptocurrency networks to interconnect for faster transfer of assets.
According to market analytics firm CryptoQuant, losses from the Heco Chain exploit total an estimated $85.4 million, mainly of popular stablecoin USDT and Ethereum. A sizable amount of HTX’s native HBTC currency is also believed to have been drained.
In the wake of the confirmed attacks, HTX has implemented emergency measures to protect remaining assets, including temporarily suspending all deposits and withdrawals on both the HTX exchange and the Heco Chain bridge. The company has also pledged to “fully compensate for any losses incurred due to the hot wallet attack,” although no details were provided on how the reimbursements would work.
The exploits targeting Sun-linked HTX and Heco Chain come on the heels of a separate hack of cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex earlier in November.
Poloniex is backed by Sun and lost approximately $100 million worth of digital assets in the cyberattack. Sun is a prominent entrepreneur in the cryptocurrency space and serves as the founder of file storage blockchain Tron.
These latest incidents highlight the ongoing vulnerabilities with both centralized exchanges and blockchain bridges when it comes to hacking and theft — showing how much of a weak link the centralized points of decentralized systems are. As the crypto market continues to grow, cyberattacks have become more sophisticated and costlier. Many industry experts believe stronger oversight and security standards need to be implemented for mainstream adoption to occur.
In the meantime, HTX has stated they are working diligently to identify the sources of the hacks and prevent further exploits. However, this will likely do little to comfort users who lost funds and face an uncertain path to any sort of compensation or reimbursement. The company and the broader cryptocurrency field have significant work to do in bolstering security and earning back trust.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Anna Tarazevich; Pexels; Thank you!