Bitmart hack sees almost $200m in crypto stolen

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A major hack on one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms by volume, Bitmart, has seen an estimated $196m worth of assets being stolen by unidentified hackers. And as is the case with most things crypto, they might be hard to trace.

Bitmart said in a statement that a large-scale hack had affected its Ethereum and Binance wallets starting Saturday (4 December), which is estimated to be worth $150m. Peckshield, a blockchain security and data analytics company, later estimated the hack to be closer to $200m.

All withdrawals on the Bitmart platform have been suspended “until further notice” and the company said it is now investigating the hack. Bitmart also assured customers that the affected wallets only carry a small percentage of its total assets, and that other wallets are secure.

Peckshield took to Twitter to post details of the hack and its own estimation of its value, with Ethereum lost equivalent to around $100m and Binance to around $96m. It published a list of all the assets and their amounts taken out of the two hot wallets on Bitmart.

Hot wallets, as opposed to cold or combination wallets, are connected to the internet to make it easier for customers to access their crypto assets. The ease of access, however, comes with the risk of hacks such as the one that has just befallen Bitmart.

Bitmart is a global crypto assets trading company headquartered in the Cayman Islands and headed by founder and CEO Sheldon Xia, based in the US. It was founded in 2017 and has more than 9m users with an offering of more than 800 cryptocurrencies.

Institutional investors in Bitmart include New York-based private equity firm Alexander Capital Ventures and Shanghai-based blockchain-focused VC firm Fenbushi Capital. Alexander has previously invested in industry disruptors such as Airbnb, Spotify and Uber.

To make it harder to trace after stealing the funds, the hackers used decentralised exchange aggregator 1inch to exchange the stolen tokens for ether, according to CNBC. The ether coins were then stored in a privacy mixer called Tornado Cash to combine them with clean crypto.

In August, a major hack on decentralised finance platform Poly Network saw more than $600m in crypto stolen by exploiting a vulnerability in its system – making it one of the largest cryptocurrency thefts in history.

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