More than $90 million in cryptocurrency stolen after a top Japanese exchange is hacked

PUBLISHED: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 11:52:03 GMT
Ryan Browne
CNBC
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Key Points
  • Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid said some of its digital currency wallets have been “compromised.”
  • Elliptic, a blockchain analytics company, said about $97 million in cryptocurrencies have been received by the hackers.
  • It’s the second major crypto heist to take place in little over a week.
An illustration showing physical bitcoins alongside binary code displayed on a laptop.
Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid said Thursday it has been hit by a cyberattack that saw hackers make off with a reported $97 million worth of digital coins.

Liquid said some of its digital currency wallets had been “compromised,” and that hackers were transferring the assets to four different wallets.

“We are currently investigating and will provide regular updates,” Liquid tweeted. “In the meantime deposits and withdrawals will be suspended.”

Liquid did not provide an estimate for the loss. It says it is regulated by Japan’s Financial Services Agency. The watchdog was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Read more: Hackers who infected 200,000 machines have only made $50,000 worth of bitcoin

Elliptic, a blockchain analytics company, said its analysis showed that about $97 million in cryptocurrencies have been obtained by the hackers.

Of the total haul, $45 million in tokens were being converted to ethereum through decentralized exchanges — blockchain-based platforms that require no intermediaries — like Uniswap and SushiSwap, Elliptic said.

“This enables the hacker to avoid having these assets frozen — as is possible with many Ethereum tokens,” Elliptic said in a blog post.

Liquid did not provide an estimate for the loss. It says it is regulated by Japan’s Financial Services Agency. The watchdog was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Elliptic, a blockchain analytics company, said its analysis showed that about $97 million in cryptocurrencies have been obtained by the hackers.

Of the total haul, $45 million in tokens were being converted to ethereum through decentralized exchanges — blockchain-based platforms that require no intermediaries — like Uniswap and SushiSwap, Elliptic said.

Read more: Ethereum hits new record high above $3,400, extending its more than 300% rally this year

“This enables the hacker to avoid having these assets frozen — as is possible with many Ethereum tokens,” Elliptic said in a blog post.

Liquid ranks among the top 20 crypto exchanges globally by daily trading volumes, processing more than $133 million of transactions in the last 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap data.

It’s the second major crypto heist to take place in little over a week. On Aug. 10, hackers stole more than $600 million of digital tokens from Poly Network, a so-called decentralized finance firm.

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