Another major crypto exchange has been hacked, with $100 million stolen

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Cryptocurrency exchange platform HTX and the Heco Chain blockchain protocol have been hit by cyberattacks, with the thieves making away with roughly $100 million in different currencies.

The news was confirmed by Justin Sun, a long-time cryptocurrency entrepreneur and an investor in HTX. Besides confirming the attack, Sun also said that all victims will be reimbursed by the company. 

“HTX and Heco Cross-Chain Bridge Undergo Hacker Attack. HTX Will Fully Compensate for HTX's hot wallet Losses. Deposits and Withdrawals Temporarily Suspended,” Sun said in an X post. “All Funds in HTX Are Secure, and the Community Can Rest Assured. We are investigating the specific reasons for the hacker attack. Once we complete the investigation and identify the cause, we will resume services.”

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A string of incidents

The hack was first spotted by blockchain cybersecurity experts Cyver. The researchers observed an $85 million transfer they deemed suspicious, and further investigation led them to believe that a private key was leaked, Coindesk reported. 

With the private key, the hackers were able to access the bridge designed to help users move tokens between Ethereum and the Heco Chain.

The exact damages are difficult to determine, due to the inherent volatility of blockchain tokens. Also, we don’t know exactly which types of tokens the hackers took. 

While the investigation is ongoing, the community is laying the blame on none other than Sun himself. This is not the first time HTX was hacked - in October, hackers stole $8 million worth of ether from the exchange. In the meantime, less than a month ago, another exchange in which Sun invested - Poloniex - was hacked for roughly $115 million. 

“Either you are the hacker or you have some seriously lacking security measures and controls in your businesses. Either way I wouldn’t feel confident in holding any crypto in anything you control for the time being,” one user said. Others argued that Lazarus, a notorious North Korean hacking collective, could be behind the recent string of attacks. 

“Lazarus loves to rekt you multiple times. It's kinda one of their hallmarks. You miss a single one of their tiny toeholds and they'll regain entry. You're already in rooms with some of the best investigators who have been tracking Lazarus since 2017. LISTEN. TO. THEM.” another person said.

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.