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Chainalysis: 2019 Saw More Cryptocurrency Hacks – Total Amount Stolen From Exchanges Dropped To $283 Million


The year 2019 saw more cryptocurrency hacks than any other year says Chainanysis in their annual blog report on security. The 11 attacks that blasted the community last year, did not total to losses anything near the 2018 $534 million Coincheck hack, or the $473 million Mt. Gox hack in 2014. Therefore, the total amount stolen from exchanges dropped sharply to $283 million worth of cryptocurrency despite the increased number of attacks. 

Currencies included: ADA, BCH, BTC, ETH, EOS, LTC, NANO, NEM, USDT, XRP, and others (see table entitled “2019 Exchange Attacks Quantified”)

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Chainalysis, one of the world’s leading blockchain analysis companies, explained their conclusions:


  • We counted both hacks involving the exploitation of technical vulnerabilities and attacks conducted through social engineering or other forms of deception. (A note on terminology: All hacks are attacks, but not all attacks are hacks. Hacks refer specifically to cases where a bad actor exploits a technical vulnerability in a piece of software, while attacks can include other, less technically sophisticated actions, such as phishing attacks that trick victims into downloading a malicious piece of software.)
  • We only counted attacks that allowed bad actors to access funds belonging to exchanges, and not payment processors, wallet providers, investment platforms, or other types of services. 
  • We didn’t count exchange exit scams or cases of users exploiting an exchange error, such as the pricing discrepancy that nearly allowed a Synthetix user to net over $1 billion in faulty trades.
  • We only included attacks in which the amount stolen was measured and publicly confirmed by multiple sources. That means we didn’t include incidents in which exchanges’ user data was compromised, but no cryptocurrency was stolen. We also excluded hacks that have been privately reported to us but are confident that including them wouldn’t significantly skew the data we analyze here. 

2019 Exchange Attacks Quantified

More from the blog:

“With no hacks taking in more than the $105 million stolen from Coinbene, both the average and median amount was stolen per hack fell substantially in 2019, after having risen each of the three preceding years. Only 54% of the hacks we observed in 2019 took in more than $10 million, compared with all hacks in 2018. While the increase in the number of individual hacks should be concerning, the data indicate that exchanges have gotten better at limiting the damage any one hacker can do.”

For more details on the hacks and in particular, the infamous Lazarus Group – a cybercriminal syndicate linked to the North Korean government, please visit the excellent report at Chainalysis Blog.


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