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On Tuesday 10th August 2021, cross-chain Defi platform Poly network got hacked, with the alleged attackers draining more than $600 million on BinanceChain, Ethereum, and OxPolygon. This is the largest DeFi hack to date.
According to Igor Igamberdiev, the leading cause of the attack is attributed to a cryptographic issue – although this is not usually the case. It can be likened to the Anyswap exploit, which led to $7.9 million’s theft due to the hacker reversing the private key.
Poly Network is a protocol that enables the swapping of tokens across various blockchains. It was formed through an alliance between the teams behind several blockchain platforms, including Switcheo, Ontology, Ethereum, and Neo.
Following the Money Trail
The hackers got away with $273 million in ETH tokens, $253 million on Binance Smart Chain, and $85 million on USD Coin. The Poly Network team urged its miners and exchanges to blacklist all the stolen funds in a statement. Since the attack, Tether blacklisted all USDT on Ethereum that were stolen. This means that they are no longer transferable.
After the blacklisting, a crypto user sent a transaction to one of the addresses with the stolen funds, informing the hacker that they should not use USDT as it had been blocked. The hacker then sent 13.37 ETH to the particular user as a thank you token for the information.
Tracking Down the Hacker
SlowMist, a blockchain security firm, says that it has already traced down the attacker’s ID. It also says that they have the email address, device fingerprint as well as IP information. The firm claims that the attacker’s funds were initially in monero (XMR), which were exchanged for ETH, Matic, and BNB, and other tokens used to fund the hack.
According to SlowMist, this information came about from its partner Chinese crypto exchange Hoo. Other crypto users claim that the funds used for the attack may have originated from the Hoo exchange.
Moreover, crypto sleuths noticed some of the hacker’s wallets have a lot of DeFi activity. They also pointed out that the wallets had numerous interactions with centralized exchanges such as binane, FTX, and OKEx, where the potential hacker could have undergone KYC measures.
Later, the hacker sent a transaction from one of the wallets that held the stolen funds back to the same wallet. This included a message that said there would have been more attacks if the hacker had moved the remaining altcoins.