In early 2014, two large crypto exchanges were targeted by hackers. One of the attacks targeted Mt Gox, which lost about $470 million in bitcoin. The other, Wormhole Bridge, linked the Solana and Ethereum blockchains. Hackers took about $320 million in bitcoin and 120,000 Ethereum in this attack. The victims of both attacks were unlucky, but the resulting fraud prompted a merger between the two groups.
The most prominent Bitcoin thefts have happened in the past few years. In 2011, a hacker took over the Mt. Gox exchange, which was hosting thousands of users’ cryptocurrency. Over 850k Bitcoin were stolen. The company blamed the loss on a bug called transaction malleability, which alters the digital signature of a transaction. While the hacker has not yet made a profit from the theft, they have made headlines.
Another of the most important bitcoin thefts took place in December of 2017. In late December of that year, the Slovenian cryptocurrency exchange NiceHash was hacked and lost 4,700 Bitcoin. The site offered independent miners the ability to rent hash power from other members and distribute rewards through hot and cold wallets. The theft led to the site’s shutdown, but Bitfinex has since reimbursed users more than 75% of their losses.
Earlier this year, Bitgrail, a small exchange in Italy, reported that it had lost more than $170 million worth of Nano coins. Nano was worth 20 cents in November 2017 and $10 in February 2018, which means BitGrail’s losses were $146 million. The founder of Bitgrail ignored basic security measures, which led to the hack. Coincheck also suffered a massive theft, in which $530 million worth of NEM tokens were stolen. The coins were recovered through an investigation, and the CEO was charged with culpability.
One of the largest Bitcoin thefts in recent years happened last January. Hackers stole $530 million worth of NEM tokens from the Japanese exchange Coincheck. The hacker behind this attack was Japanese and gained access to the system through a lack of staff and insufficient security measures. As a result, he was given a reward of half a million dollars and a job as senior security officer at the company.
Another major bitcoin theft occurred in 2018. A hacker group from North Korea stole $40 million worth of cryptocurrency from the crypto exchange KuCoin. The company later recouped $240 million in payments from customers. And a hacker group has since stolen another $60 million worth of Bitcoin, but the loss was not nearly as significant as many people were led to believe. The Lazarus group is now suspected of being behind the theft.
Despite its security features, bitcoin thefts still continue to happen. Hackers can find holes in the system and steal money, but thankfully, developers are continually fixing those issues. In addition, the lack of regulation in the industry attracts bad actors. Consequently, it is important to do your own research before investing in cryptocurrencies. And while you may be curious about the nuances of cryptocurrency, don’t be afraid to ask questions.