Hackers Heist $600 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency, Biggest Digital Asset Theft in History

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 11, 2021

Hackers have stolen more than $600 million worth of cryptocurrency from the decentralized finance platform Poly Network, the biggest heist in the history of the industry and one of the biggest in general, CNN reported. The hackers apparently took advantage of an existing system vulnerability, allowing them to essentially walk right through the door and grab the goods. Poly Network's leaders pleaded in public to the hackers to return the money, saying that the money belongs to tens of thousands of everyday people. They also reminded the hackers that the theft constitutes a major crime, and it is inevitable that they will be pursued by authorities. In a rare twist, according to CNN, the hackers apparently have returned some of the money: $4.7 million. Peanuts compared to what was stolen but the fact Poly Network got anything back at all is remarkable. 

Poly Network said it is the biggest theft in the history of the cryptocurrency industry. The previous record holder was a team of North Korean hackers who managed to steal $530 million worth of cryptocurrency from the Japanese exchange Coincheck. Prior to that, the record was $480 million worth of digital assets, suffered by one of the first major cryptocurrency exchanges, MtGox.

This latest heist may also rank among the biggest theft in history overall if other mega heists are any indication. The only one that seems to exceed it is Saddam Hussein's looting of the Iraqi treasury, which amounted to close to a billion dollars. The hacking of Bangladesh's central bank in 2016 would have been larger if all $860 million that the hackers had  targeted were transferred, but bank workers discovered the heist in progress, and the perpetrators (also suspected to be North Korean hackers) made off with "only" $101 million in the end. 

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