Liquid cryptocurrency exchange hacked, more than $90 million stolen

An illustration showing physical bitcoins next to binary code displayed on a laptop.

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid announced Thursday that it had been hit by a cyber attack in which hackers got away with $ 97 million worth of digital coins.

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

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

Liquid has not given an estimate for the loss. It is said to be regulated by the Japanese 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 the hackers obtained about $ 97 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

Of the total, $ 45 million in tokens were converted to Ethereum via decentralized exchanges – blockchain-based platforms that don’t require intermediaries – like Uniswap and SushiSwap, Elliptic said.

“This allows the hacker to avoid freezing these assets – as is possible with many Ethereum tokens,” Elliptic said in a blog post.

According to CoinMarketCap data, Liquid is among the top 20 crypto exchanges worldwide by daily trading volume, processing more than $ 133 million in transactions in the past 24 hours.

It’s the second major crypto heist to happen in just over a week. On August 10, hackers stole more than $ 600 million in digital tokens from Poly Network, a so-called decentralized financial company.

In an unusual turn of events, the hackers opened a dialogue with the organization they attacked and returned almost all of the funds. However, more than $ 200 million remains locked in an account that requires a password from the hacker.

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