Info-Graphs

The Wild West Of Crypto Hacks

Pundits and commentators have long worried about the security of decentralized cryptocurrencies. In fact, detractors often complain that investing in cryptocurrencies carries far too much downside for the average investor—even if the price goes up, you can still lose it all to hackers. We wanted to take a step back and analyze the history of crypto hacks. Please note that all USD estimated value is based on average market value at the time of the event.

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Crypto Hacks

We created our new graph by taking data from CryptoAware.org, which recently published a list of highly significant crypto hacks and scams. There’s no central record keeper for this sort of thing, so CryptoAware undoubtedly missed some. We combined a cluster graph representing the size of the hack on a timeline with the logo of the exchange or wallet provider that fell prey. This approach lets you easily see how often and to what extent the crypto-market has sustained attacks over the last several years.

A general trend is immediately obvious about our visualization: cryptoc hacks have generally become more common and more valuable over time. $10M+ hacks started happening with some regularity after the summer of 2016, right when the crypto-market started taking off. Prior to that time, there was exactly one hack over $10M, the infamous Mt. Gox hack in 2014. More on that in a minute. The second-most devastating hack happened very recently in a Tokyo exchange called Coincheck, for the somewhat obscure NEM coins. The only other two cryptocurrency hacks worth more than $100M were Parity’s Ether wallet hack ($160M) and BitGrail’a Nano hack from early this year ($170M). The latter is still causing lots of consternation within the cryptocurrency community. All things being equal, the average crypto-hack comes out to about $37M.

The critical thing to remember about our graph is that it represents the value of the cryptocurrency theft at the time it occurred. This creates a fair comparison because the value of cryptocurrencies changes literally every second of every day. But keep in mind what this really means: the Mt. Gox hack represented $450M in crypto-wealth as of early 2014, back when Bitcoin cost about $560. As of this writing on May 1, 2018, those same Bitcoins are worth just over $9,000, or a total of about $7,252,000,000. Think that’s incredible? Back in December of 2017, the stash would have been worth $15B+. That’s 10% of the entire Bitcoin market cap today and several times bigger than the biggest bank robberies ever.

This raises two important questions. First, what would somebody do with so much cryptocurrency? Obviously, the value of the currency would plunge as news broke of such a massive heist. Since there is no central governing authority, it is relatively easy to launder cryptocurrencies through different exchanges, which makes it possible to convert the coins into a country’s accepted currency. Second, can cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers come up with some sort of system to prevent hacks without government regulations? The Wild West nature of cryptocurrencies—price manipulations, flash crashes, hacks—all indicate that these platforms have to do a better job securing value. Suppose 10% of the entire Bitcoin market were to disappear tomorrow. What are the chances that central governments will outlaw exchanges then?

Name Reported Loss (Crypto) Reported Loss (USD) Occured on Sources
MyEtherWallet DNS hack 215 ETH $152,000 April 2018 Forbes
Coinsecure Theft 438 BTC $3,300,000 April 2018 Coindesk
South Korean Bitcoin Pyramid Scheme N/A $20,000,000 April 2018 Coindesk
GainBitcoin India Ponzi Scheme N/A $300,000,000 April 2018 Cointelegraph
Dantang coin Ponzi N/A $13,000,000 April 2018 CryptocurrencyNews
iFan/Pincoin Token Scam N/A $650,000,000 April 2018 VNExpress
BTC Global Ponzi Scam N/A $50,000,000 Mar 2018 Coindesk
Coinhoarder Phishing Scams (ongoing) N/A $50,000,000 Feb 2018 Cisco Research
Seele ICO Theft 2,162 ETH $1,800,000 Feb 2018 Cointelegraph
Bee Token Phishing 890 ETH $928,000 Feb 2018 Coindesk
BitGrail Theft 17,000,000 NANO $170,000,000 Feb 2018 Bitcoinist
BlackWallet Theft 670,000 XLM $400,000 Jan 2018 Coindesk
Coincheck 500,000,000 NEM $400,000,000 Jan 2018 Bloomberg
Youbit korean exchange hack Exact amount not reported. Lost 17% of assets ? Dec 2017 Bloomberg
NiceHash Hack 4,700 BTC $62,000,000 Dec 2017 Reddit
Coindesk
Parity Wallet suicides 513,774 ETH $160,000,000 Nov 2017 Paritytech
Tether Token Hack $30,950,010 USDT $30,000,000 Nov 2017 Coindesk
Enigma Project Scam 1,500 ETH $500,000 Aug 2017 Coindesk
Parity wallet hack 153,000 ETH $30,000,000 July 2017 Coindesk
Coindash ICO hack 43,500 ETH $10,000,000 July 2017 Coindesk
Yabizon (Youbit) 3,816 BTC $5,300,000 April 2017 Bitcoin
Asian-European Currency Ponzi Scam N/A $47,000,000 Jan 2017 Cointelegraph
OneCoin Pyramid Scheme (ongoing) N/A (actual scale unknown since the blockchain was never operational, actual loss could be much much more than estimated $50m) $50,000,000 Dec 2016 Bitsonline
Bitcurex 2,300 BTC $1,500,000 Oct 2016 Bitcoin
Bitfinex 120,000 BTC $77,000,000 Aug 2016 Arstechnica
DAO hack 3,600,000 ETH $60,000,000 June 2016 Coindesk
Gatecoin 250 BTC

185,000 ETH

$2,140,000 May 2016 Coindesk
ShapeShift 469 BTC

5,800 ETH

1,900 LTC

$230,000 April 2016 Shapeshift

Coindesk

Bitcoin

Kipcoin 3,000 BTC $690,000 Feb 2015 NewsBTC
Bter 7,170 BTC $1,750,000 Feb 2015 Coindesk
Bitstamp 19,000 BTC $5,200,000 Jan 2015 Arstechnica
796 Exchange 1,000 BTC $230,000 Jan 2015 Cointelegraph
BitPay 5,000 BTC $1,800,000 Dec 2014 Coindesk
Mintpal 3,894 BTC $1,300,000 Oct 2014 Bitcoin
Cryptsy 13,000 BTC

300,000 LTC

$9,500,000 July 2014 Coindesk
Poloniex 97 BTC $64,000 March 2014 Coinsutra

Bitcointalk

CryptoRush Theft 950 BTC

2,500 LTC

$570,000 March 2014 CCN
Flexcoin Theft 896 BTC $600,000 March 2014 Coindesk
Mt Gox Hack 850,000 BTC $450,000,000 Feb 2014 The Guardian
Picostocks Hack 6,000 BTC $3,000,000 Nov 2013 Bitcoinexchangeguide
BIPS Hack 1,295 BTC $650,000 Nov 2013 The Guardian
Inputs.io Hack 4,100 BTC $1,200,000 Oct 2013 The Guardian
Vircurex 1,454 BTC $160,000 May 2013 Coindesk

Bitcointalk

Bitmarket.eu
(related to bitcoinica hack in May 2012)
20,000 BTC $260,000 Dec 2012 Newsbtc
Bitfloor Theft 24,000 BTC $250,000 Sept 2012 Arstechnica
BitFloor Hack 24,000 BTC $250,000 Sept 2012 Coindesk
Bitcoin Savings & Trust 265,000 BTC $2,800,000 Aug 2012 The Verge

Arstechnica

Bitcoinica 3 40,000 BTC $305,200 July 2012 Bitcointalk
Bitcoinica 2 18,000 BTC $91,000 May 2012 Bitcoin
Linode Hack 46,700 BTC $228,000 March 2012 Arstechnica
Bitcoin7 11,000 BTC $50,000 Oct 2011 Bitcointalk
MyBitCoin Theft 154,406 BTC $2,000,000 Aug 2011 Observer

Cryptocurrencies have had some struggles, but what does that mean for the future? We think of these hacks as growing pains:  any new industry will have companies that cut corners on security and pay a price. The free market usually takes care of these organizations—they go out of business. Additionally,  even though the size of these hacks is certainly eye-popping, keep in mind that the entire cryptocurrency market is worth about $423B right now. Yes, losing tens of millions to hackers is significant, but these problems won’t cause most people to panic about the security of the crypto-movement writ large.

See any hacks or scams we missed? Email us at press@howmuch.net and we’ll get researching!

Data: Table 1.1

Article by HowMuch