Wormhole Bridge Attacked for $322M


Key Takeaways

  • The blockchain bridge protocol Wormhole has experienced an attack resulting in the theft of at least 120,000 ETH.
  • That amount is worth $322 million; earlier estimates placed the value of the attack at $256 million.
  • Wormhole is attempting to contact the attacker and has offered a $10 million reward if the funds are returned.

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An attacker has exploited the bridge protocol Wormhole for $322 million of ETH, according to various reports.

Attack Estimated Above 120,000 ETH

Wormhole has placed the value of the attack at 120,000 ETH, an amount worth $322,952,400 at current prices.

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The earliest reports placed the value of the attack at 80,000 ETH. Later, Steven Zheng of The Block noted that the amount stolen was “a lot more than 80,000 ETH,” while an article on that site estimated the value of the attack at 93,750 ETH or $256 million.

It appears that those smaller estimates did not account for stolen funds kept on Solana as wrapped ETH (wETH).

Regardless, the amount of money stolen in the attack makes it one of the largest DeFi attacks in recent history. Other large attacks include a $611 million attack on Poly Network last August. Cream Finance and BadgerDAO also suffered thefts above $120 million in 2021.

No Official Explanation Yet

Wormhole’s official Twitter account has not given a detailed explanation of the attack, but has stated that the network is “down for maintenance as [it looks] into a potential exploit.”

Elsewhere, Wormhole developers have attempted to contact the attacker via a blockchain message. The team members extended a “white hat agreement” and offered the attacker $10 million to reveal their exploit strategy and return the stolen funds.

That message also said that the attacker was able to mint new tokens by exploiting the verification of Wormhole’s Solana VAA—the messaging system processed by receiving blockchains.

Wormhole is a protocol that operates as a bridge between various blockchains, primarily Ethereum and Solana. It allows users to move funds quickly and easily between those blockchains.

Incidentally, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin warned about the shortcomings of cross-chain bridges in early January, noting the security risks inherent in such protocols.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies. 

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