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


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 more than $90 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 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 just over $94 million in cryptocurrencies had been obtained by the hackers.

Out 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 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. Last Tuesday, hackers stole more than $600 million of digital tokens from Poly Network, a so-called decentralized finance firm.

In an unusual turn of events, the hackers opened a dialogue with the organization they attacked, and gave back nearly 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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