2019 saw a number of large crypto exchange hacks, resulting in millions of dollars stolen per attack. Here are 5 of the biggest breaches in the last 12 months.
While cryptocurrencies are well-known for increased security — mostly thanks to the decentralized nature of their underlying technology — the same cannot be said for crypto exchanges. The biggest and busiest exchanges are still very much centralized, and as such, they are often targeted by hackers.
2019 saw quite a few significant hacking incidents, so let’s revisit 5 of them right now.
1st of Crypto Exchange Hacks – Cryptopia
As soon as the year kicked off, the first big hack happened in New Zealand, when the country’s major exchange, Cryptopia, announced the first serious loss of the year. The exchange lost around $2.44 million in Ethereum (ETH), but also around 48 million CENNZ tokens, which was worth around $1.18 million at the time.
The incident is still a mystery to this day, as the exchange never revealed technical details regarding the attack. Also, while it did attempt to restore trading, it never managed to do it and is now considered a failed exchange.
The largest exchange from Crypto Exchange Hacks in 2019: Binance
One of the biggest news in 2019 was the hack of Binance, which took place in May of this year. The hack was a result of a combination of malware and phishing attacks, and it saw the theft of $41 million (7,000 BTC).
Fortunately, Binance’s size allowed it to return the money to its clients without really feeling the negative consequences of the attack too strongly. Even BNB managed to go through the incident, seemingly unaffected. Binance managed to bounce back, and it is still one of the biggest exchanges in the world.
The user-friendly hack from Crypto Exchange Hacks: Bithumb
The largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, Bithumb, also experienced a hacking attack in May 2019. The attack resulted in around $19 million stolen, although it was quite different from other attacks on this list. In months that followed, the attack was ascribed to an insider, which may have led many to question their trust in centralized exchanges.
Fortunately, the hack differs in another way, which is the fact that all of the stolen funds came from the exchange’s own reserves. In other words, no Bithumb clients had their own funds stolen.
The wallet breach: GateHub
In June 2019, when the crypto bull run was reaching its climax, XRP Ledger wallet provider, GateHub, announced that as much as $10 million in XRP was stolen. According to the announcement, the attackers somehow managed to gain access to the funds by targeting the wallet’s API.
However, there was seemingly no flaw in the API itself, and all access tokens were perfectly valid. The attack still remains a mystery to this day, but it highlighted the issues surrounding visibility introduced by APIs into contemporary systems.
The most mysterious one: CoinBene Hack
Finally, there was CoinBene, which started seeing problems back in March of this year. The exchange noticed that the funds were mysteriously leaving its hot wallet, which was very much concerning to analysts and customers alike. The concerns were even greater due to the fact that the platform was down for maintenance, which is a usual post-hack thing to do.
The exchange assured its users that nothing had happened, although it remained down for an entire month. Meanwhile, the funds definitely went missing, but nothing else is known, including how much was stolen.