Poly Hacker Returns Stolen Funds: Why This Isn’t Positive For DeFi

As reported by Crypto Adventure, an unknown hacker exploited token-swapping network Poly to the tune of $600M on Tuesday. Many industry participants were shocked by the heist, the biggest ever hacking attack in the DeFi sector.

However, in a stunning twist of events, the hacker has started returning some of the stolen hauls after Poly Network’s appeal on Twitter. The attacker sent a message embedded in a crypto transaction on Wednesday, informing Poly Network that he was ready to return the stolen loot.

Per the latest reports from The Block, the attacker has returned $1M in stablecoin USDC, $1.1M in BTCB, and $2M in SHIBA tokens to three addresses provided by the DeFi platform. The return of siphoned crypto assets is still in progress and can be monitored in real-time on PolygonScan.

Why the Return Isn’t Good For DeFi

While the hacker’s decision to return the stolen haul might appear noble, the long-term effects of the breach on Poly Network will be devastating for DeFi. 

The largest DeFi heist to date has highlighted the vulnerabilities in Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO), which seems to be what the hacker intended to achieve from the get-go. In a second message sent to Poly, the hacker wrote that the hack was a legendary action to save the world before adding the quote “NO MORE DAO.”

According to Jeff Hancock, Co-Founder & CEO at coinpass.com, the hacker’s decision to return the funds does nothing positive for the DeFi space, which has been bombarded with so much negative news in recent months. He also lamented that the heist had ruined a great project which promised to introduce interoperability between blockchains.

Those sentiments were echoed by Bobby Ong, co-founder of crypto ranking site CoinGecko. He argued that Poly Network was unlikely to survive the fallout from the devastating security breach. 

“It is a massive hack … as large as Mt. Gox. This project is finished, in my opinion. (It is) going to take a lot to regain confidence,” Ong predicted.

Despite the recovery of some of the stolen funds, yesterday’s Poly hack highlights a worrying trend of rising crime in DeFi. Per a recent report from crypto intelligence firm CipherTrace, the industry has lost nearly $500M to hacks and fraud in the first seven months of 2021.

A Glimmer of Hope for DeFi Proponents

The Poly Network theft has demonstrated that cashing out on tokens stolen from DeFi protocols is an almost impossible task due to the transparency of the blockchain.

Tom Robinson, the co-founder of blockchain analytics company Elliptic, asserted that laundering stolen crypto assets is becoming increasingly difficult. He explained that exchanges and the crypto community have become more vigilant in shining the spotlight on stolen assets, making it difficult for a hacker to move them.

“In this case, the hacker concluded that the safest option was just to return the stolen assets,” Robinson stated.

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The ongoing trend of more crypto projects adopting blockchain analytics and conducting smart contract audits could deter hackers from exploiting DeFi funds in the future.

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