There have been plenty of cyberattacks on blockchain and cryptocurrency industries over the years.
In this regard, most of their reputation is earned because of the crypto exchange hacks.
It leads to the regular loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of the customers’ funds.
If one may look back at the early years of crypto, the claims made by the critics seem to be correct.
On the list of the earliest crypto thefts, the Mt. Gox exchange stands in the top position.
The loss resulting from this large crypto theft was around $400 million worth of Bitcoins.
Research on this crypto exchange hack revealed that it was not just the negligence but also the incompetence of the cryptocurrency administration that had cost a massive security breach.
In this article, we will address the complete history and timeline of crypto exchange hacks and also look at the improving situation.
The credit for the enhancement and advancement of security measures at crypto exchanges goes to the actions taken by the government and self-regulatory initiatives.
That being said, the storage of funds on crypto exchanges is not recommended for cryptocurrency investors.
The vulnerability of attacks on these platforms stays the same.
Looking at the historical timeline of crypto exchange hacks, it is clear that even the improved defences fail to prevent attacks from hackers.
However, in order to recover the stolen funds or compensate for the loss, major actors in the crypto space have cooperated well.
Besides, blockchain forensics tools and insurance policies have also stepped forward in dealing with the consequences.
Let’s move on to studying the timeline of the largest crypto heists and their outcomes.
2022 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Crypto.com – January 17,2022
The popularity of crypto.com as a well-known cryptocurrency exchange knows no bounds.
However, at the start of 2022, its crypto exchange hack stunned everyone with the compromising of almost 483 customer accounts.
Authorities have been unable to discover the exact cause of this breach.
As a result of this breach, the services were shut down for 13-14 hours. Looking at the figures as per the reports, the total loss summed up to be 4,836.26 ETH, 443.93 BTC and US$66, 200.
2021 Crypto Exchange Hacks
AscendEX – December 11,2021
AscendEX is a popular cryptocurrency platform that has fallen prey to the crypto exchange hack recently.
Almost USD 8 million has been reported to be stolen. BSC and Polygon wallet source sourced these lost assets and therefore, their transfer of the exchange was made.
BitMart – December 5,2021
In the last month of 2021, a Twitter post from Sheldon Xia, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange BitMart confirmed that its BSC hot wallet systems and Ethereum suffered a huge security breach.
The crypto exchange hack cost BitMart a loss of 196 million and therefore, the withdrawals were shut down immediately by the exchange.
Liquid – August 19,2021
Even the Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges are not safe from cyber attacks.
Reports confirm that a major crypto exchange hack on Liquid withdrew assets of the value of approximately $97 million.
Most of the coins in the stolen funds included Bitcoin, Tron, XRP, Ether and 65 others.
To keep the stolen assets from getting frozen, hackers used the other exchanges and UniSwap and SushiSwap decentralized platforms to transfer the funds.
The upgrade in the security infrastructure of Liquid has enabled the resumption of the trading services, thanks to the new secure vaults.
Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, a popular derivatives platform, paid Liquid Global a loan of $120 million so that the affected customers get protection.
It also aided Liquid in reestablishing the balance sheet for effectively meeting the financial and regulatory obligations.
Habit – April 29,2021
With almost 2 million registered users worldwide, Habit has set its name as a renowned cryptocurrency exchange.
An announcement was made from Habit at the end of April 2021 where the masses were informed of the suspension of all the services because of a serious crypto exchange hack on the systems.
An attempt was made by the hackers to access the hot wallets of the exchange so that they could steal the customers’ funds.
However, the powerful internal systems denied access.
Having failed in stealing the funds, hackers set their eyes on the internal database which had all the necessary information on the users including their phone numbers, portfolio information and email addresses.
2020 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Livecoin – December 23, 2020
Livecoin is a Russian cryptocurrency provider that faced a notorious crypto exchange hack on December 23, 2020.
Hackers got the control of the servers and made changes to the exchange rate of the asset prices.
There was a disastrous change in the Bitcoin and Ethereum prices from $23,000 to $450,000 and $15,000 respectively.
As there was no control of the exchange on the system, cryptocurrencies were cashed out into huge profits by the hackers.
EXMO – December 21, 2020
EXMO is a London-based crypto exchange that had its crypto exchange hack on the 6% of the total assets.
A company spokesperson shared the information on hackers accessing the funds by getting to the hot wallet infrastructure first.
The amount withdrawn from the exchange was around $4 million. Authorities have failed to recover the stolen funds.
BTC Markets – December 1, 2020
BTC Markets has been functional as a reliable cryptocurrency exchange in Australia since 2013.
Although there have been no such technical exchange hack incidents associated with BTC Markets, thousands of exchange users’ names and email addresses were exposed in an undetected email.
The impact of this information security incident was strong on the traders on the platform.
KuCoin – September 25, 2020
Based in Singapore, KuCoin is a cryptocurrency exchange that has been around for 9 years.
In this exchange, several other cryptocurrencies except Bitcoin are also involved, including Ethereum, Ardor and Litecoin.
Hackers targeted KuCoin in September 2020 and managed to steal the tokens and coins worth more than $281 million.
Besides, the keys to the hottest wallets on KuCoin were also accessed by hackers.
Despite blocking the transactions on the website, KuCoin suffered a major crypto exchange hack.
Afterwards, the management of the exchange carried out a thorough investigation.
It was fruitful as it came up with more than $204M recovery within a few weeks.
In addition, the potential suspects involved in the cyber attack were also identified. The allegations were put on a North Korean hacker group.
The most important thing that got highlighted in this case is the significance of moving quickly.
It also emphasizes the possession of the ability to track transactions on a real-time basis.
KuCoin is working on making arrangements to compensate for the losses of its users.
Cashaa – July 11, 2020
Cashaa is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that is based in the UK. On July 11, 2020, a hacker attacked the exchange and successfully withdrew 336 Bitcoins.
The value of these coins at that time was around $3.1 million. The management of Cashaa carried out an investigation, and the cause behind the attack was found to be the installation of malware on the computer that dealt with the withdrawals.
As soon as the employee logged on to the computer, malware sent the notification to the hacker who made the transaction of 336 Bitcoins to his own address.
Balancer – June 29, 2020
The Balancer is a Decentralized finance (DeFi) liquidity provider that deals with the provision of non-custodial asset management.
On June 29, 2020, Balancer had to encounter a major exchange hack that resulted in the theft of tokens worth $500,000.
As far as the nature of the cyber attack was concerned, it was technically complicated because the hackers were extremely knowledgeable in the comprehension of the leading DeFi protocols.
Unfortunately, the project could not refund the victims.
Lendf.me & Uniswap – April 19, 2020
The popularity of Lendf.me as a decentralized lending platform was grand.
The network focused on this platform was Ethereum, which enabled instant withdrawal and borrowing capabilities.
In April 2020, a disastrous hack led to the loss of 99.95% of funds from the exchange. The worth of these funds was around 24.5 million dollars at that time.
As per the reports, the exploitation of bugs in the platform by hackers caused the “re-entrancy attack”.
As a result, hackers were capable of carrying out the withdrawal of funds repeatedly before the approval or decline of the original transaction.
Hackers used the same tactic to target the popular DEX Uniswap, which lost assets worth ranging from $300,000 to $1.1 million.
It was suspected that the group of hackers involved in both these incidents was the same.
Altsbit – February 5, 2020
Even small cryptocurrency exchanges like Altsbit are not safe from the crypto hack.
On February 5, 2020, the Altsbit exchange suffered a magnificent blow from hackers and lost all the funds stored in the hot wallets.
The sum of both Bitcoin and Ether coins that were stolen turned out to be 70,000 dollars.
The exchange held only a small portion of assets in cold wallets at that time.
The exchange authorities were definitely responsible for the security breach because the isolated storage was mandatory for the majority of funds. Altsbit shut down in May after reimbursing its customers.
2019 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Upbit – November 26, 2019
In 2019, a Korean crypto platform, Upbit, suffered a cyber security breach. Hackers got access to their hot wallets and made large transactions.
After informing the users of the cyber exchange hack, they started analyzing the occurrence of the theft.
They concluded that while the assets were being moved between the hot and cold storage facilities, hackers stole 342,000 ETH, which equated to $49 million at that time.
Plenty of unknown wallets contain these stolen funds. However, hackers haven’t cashed out the transactions yet.
Vindax – November 5, 2019
The launch of VinDax, a Vietnam-based crypto exchange, took place in March 2019.
The focus of this exchange lies in the token sales for the new blockchain projects.
Unfortunately, in the same year, a cyber exchange hack stole $500,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from VinDax.
Bitpoint – July 11, 2019
Bitpoint, a Japanese crypto exchange, suffered the loss of funds worth $32 million.
Getting access to the hot and cold wallets, hackers not only stole Bitcoin but also XRP, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and Ether.
Out of the $32 million of the cyber exchange hack, $23 million dollars belong to the customers of the exchange.
After entirely compromising the security systems of Bitpoint exchange, hackers stole the funds from online and offline wallets.
It led to the shutdown of the exchange.
Bitrue – June 27, 2019
Based in Singapore, Bitrue is a renowned cryptocurrency exchange ranked 68th on the list of largest crypto exchanges per the coinmarketcap.
Apart from providing an advanced trading platform, Bitrue is also popular for its various XRP trading pairs. It encountered a grand hack on June 27, 2019.
Bitrue lost cryptocurrencies worth 4.5 million dollars.
After the attack, the exchange’s security measures were more vulnerable to the attack of hackers on the funds of 90 customers.
The sum of 2.5 million ADA and 9.3 million XRP comprised the accessed fund.
Gatehub – June 6, 2019
In 2019, the exchange of Gatehub met potential losses.
Not only did they lose 9.5 million dollars, but the private information and passwords of more than 1.4 million accounts of Gatehub customers also got leaked.
After 2 months, recovery seeds and 2FA keys of users were compromised. They were worth more than 3.7 gigabytes.
Binance – May 7, 2019
In terms of popularity, Binance is way ahead of the rest of the cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
On the basis of liquidity and trading volume, it is ranked number one.
However, the exchange got hacked on May 7, 2019, as a result of the large-scale security breach. The number of Bitcoins stolen by hackers was 7,000.
These coins were worth $40 million back then, and they came from a single hot wallet.
The study of the Binance blog reveals that the security system of Binance got exploited by a number of methods used by the hackers, including viruses, malware, phishing and many other vectors.
The insurance account of Binance released the funds to compensate for the loss of affected customers.
Coinbene – March 25, 2019
Coinbene is another crypto exchange that was hacked in 2019. The transactions worth $40 million were made from the exchange to an unknown wallet address.
Even after being questioned repeatedly, Coinbene denies the hack and pays a deaf ear to the questions about the possible hack.
2018 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Coin check – January 27, 2018
The crypto exchange hack on Coincheck, a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, in 2018 has been regarded as one of the largest cyber attacks in recent history.
At that time, the digital currencies stolen from Coincheck were worth $560 million.
Instead of storing user funds in the cold wallets, the exchange stored them in hot wallets and therefore, it accepted the responsibility of contributing to the magnanimous security breach.
Bitgrail – February 10, 2018
Bitgrail has an interesting history of crypto exchange hack with the accusation of the crypto theft on the very founder of the exchange.
As per the reports, the total amount stolen from the trading platform was around 146 million dollars.
This crypto exchange hack affected more than 230,000 users in 2018.
The legal proceedings concluded the exchange and its founder as potential culprits who were bound to return the funds to customers as soon as possible.
CoinSecure – April 13, 2018
In India, CoinSecure was a renowned cryptocurrency exchange that traded Bitcoins with Rupees.
There was a massive crypto exchange hack on CoinSecure that cost the loss of 438 Bitcoins. The worth of the lost fund was equivalent to $3.5 dollars at that time.
The blame for the incident was put on an internal staff member as he was the only one having access to the private keys.
As a result of security breaches like these, Bitcoin was declared illegal in India by the regulatory authorities.
2017 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Cryptopia – January 14-15, 2017
Cryptopia is a New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange that didn’t get hacked just once but on multiple occasions.
Of the total holdings stolen, 9.4% of them were lost during the incident. It turned out to be equivalent to $16 million at that time.
New Zealand regards the Cryptopia security breach as one of the biggest hacks in the history of the country.
As soon as the identification of the crypto exchange hack was done, authorities put Cryptopia in maintenance mode.
Even then, the exchange became a victim to another hack that transacted the fund of $180,000.
That’s not it. Hackers accessed the cold wallet when the exchange was under liquidation and a transfer of cryptocurrency XSN worth $45,000 was made out of the cold wallet.
EtherDelta – December 20, 2017
Unlike the other cryptocurrency exchanges, there is no storage of cryptocurrency assets in EtherDelta.
Hackers made a fake website with the same website as the original one hosting the service and stole the login information of the customers.
They also store their funds that were worth more than $1.4 million.
2016 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Bitfinex – August 2, 2016
Getting ranked at number 5 on the list in terms of reported traded volume, traffic and liquidity, Bitfinex has achieved quite a recognition in the cryptocurrency world.
It launched in 2012 and ever since, it has been successfully providing innovative charting and trading tools for crypto traders.
The ten-year journey of Bitfinex is incomplete without a few incidents.
On August 2, 2016, almost 120,000 Bitcoins were transferred from the exchange without any authorization.
As per the reports of Coindesk, the stolen Bitcoins were worth $623M at that time.
To the current date, neither the stolen funds are cashed out using any other exchange nor have they been recovered.
Anyone who identifies the perpetrators is bound to receive 5% of the total assets recovered as a reward set by Bitfinex.
The equivalent funds would be equated as per the current market values.
2015 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Bitstamp – December 11, 2015
In 2015, Bitstamp suffered a loss of almost 19,000 Bitcoins which equated to 5 million dollars at that time.
Later analysis revealed that of the total assets stolen, there was a small portion that belonged to the user funds.
Offline cold storage wallets held these user funds.
A social engineering attack was imposed on the staff member at Bitstamp that persuades the person to not only open but also distribute the files holding malware.
Afterwards, the execution of the files took place and the attacker obtained the backup passphrase to the wallet of the exchange.
2014 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Mt. Gox – February 2014
Based in Japan, the Mt. Gox exchange has known no bounds in gaining popularity all around the world.
Of all the Bitcoin transactions taking place worldwide, Mt. Gox handled 70% of them.
It won’t be wrong to call in the largest trading platform back in 2014. However, it was not free of security breaches that started taking place in its early years.
In 2014, the exchange had to face a terrible loss of 740,000 Bitcoins and the worse is that all of these Bitcoins belonged to the customers.
The additional loss of 100,000 Bitcoins also took place that was owned by Mt. Gox. As the sum of these numbers shows, the loss was significant.
Experts concluded this hack was the biggest theft in history at that time with the assets worth $460M getting stolen.
As a result, the Bitcoin price totally crashed. With the Mt. Gox exchange hack, the industry suffered a lot and its reputation was tarnished.
The recovery and restoration of the confidence took plenty of years.
2013 Crypto Exchange Hacks
Bitcash – November 11, 2013
Bitcash is the Czech Republic-based Bitcoin exchange that encountered a horrible exchange hack resulting in the robbery of almost 4,000 customer accounts.
The value of these accounts adds up to 2 million Czech koruna. In terms of dollars, it roughly equated to $100,000 at that time.