AscendEX loses top $70M following hot wallet vulnerability

  • Crypto exchange AscendEX is the latest victim of a hot wallet cyberattack that led to the loss of crypto worth $77.7 million.
  • The platform has promised to compensate affected users while further investigations continue.

In the latest cybersecurity reports in the crypto industry, crypto trading platform AscendEX has suffered a whopping $77.7 million loss. Susceptibility in the platform’s hot wallet allowed hackers access to tokens hosted on the Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and Polygon blockchains.

The incident took place at 10 PM UTC on Dec. 11. According to blockchain security and data analytics company PeckShield, tokens worth roughly $60 million were transferred over the Ethereum blockchain. They include USD Coin (USDC), Tether (USDT), Shiba Inu (SHIB), and the lesser-known TARA token, to mention a few. TARA and USDT had the highest transfers of $10.8 million and $5.7 million, respectively. The rest of the stolen funds consisted of $9.2 million from BSC and $8.5 million from Polygon, based on EtherScan data.

AscendEX the latest victim of a hack

Soon after the incident, AscendEX confirmed the theft of funds, adding that its cold wallet remains unaffected. The Singapore-based firm also offered to reimburse victims of the hack, saying further investigations are “underway.” It did not, however, give any figures on the exact or estimated token theft. Withdrawals and deposits to the platform are currently suspended.

22:00 UTC 12/11, We have detected a number of ERC-20, BSC, and Polygon tokens transferred from our hot wallet. Cold Wallet is NOT affected. Investigation underway. If any user’s funds are affected by the incident, they will be covered completely by AscendEX.

Bitcoin exchange Huobi promised to support AscendEX while it deals with the incident. The exchange, as part of its security protocol, has “blacklisted the related assets and will report any inflows of such assets in a timely manner.”

The case of AscendEX is the third major cyberattack in less than two weeks. Just a week ago, Cayman Islands-based crypto exchange BitMart suffered a similar hot wallet compromise. $200 million was drained from the Ethereum and BSC blockchains after the theft of the exchange’s private keys. PeckShield called the case a typical “transfer-out, swap, and wash.”

BitMart CEO Sheldon Xia confirmed the losses over Twitter, adding:

The deposit and withdrawal function of all tokens will be resumed step by step, along with the recovery progress of security testing and public chain development. No worries, we are marching forward, security will be always the priority.

Additionally, on Dec. 2, Badger DAO suffered a near $100 million loss through a front-end cyberattack.

AscendEX, formerly Bitmax, was founded in 2018, later rebranding in March 2021. In November, the company raised $50 million from a cluster of investors including Polychain Capital, and Hack VC, to support development.

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