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Japan's Liquid Global Exchange Hacked; $90M in Crypto Siphoned Off

While the total amount stolen is yet to be determined, the value taken could be upward of $90 million.

Aug 19, 2021 at 4:31 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:42 p.m. UTC

Japan's Liquid Global exchange said it has been hacked, and has suspended deposits and withdrawals.

  • According to a tweet on Thursday, the exchange said its warm wallets were compromised and that it was moving digital assets offline.
  • While the total amount stolen has yet to be determined, the value taken in bitcoin, ether, ripple, tron, and others could be upward of $90 million, Eddie Wang, senior researcher at OKLink, told CoinDesk.
  • "We are currently investigating and will provide regular updates," the exchange said in the tweet. "In the meantime, deposits and withdrawals will be suspended."
  • In a later tweet, Liquid Global said it's working with other exchanges to freeze the funds.
  • Crypto exchange KuCoin's CEO, Johnny Lyu, said his platform was aware of the incident and had blacklisted the hacker's wallet addresses. Other exchanges are likely to follow suit.
  • So far, it has revealed nine wallet addresses where the hacker is depositing heisted funds.
  • One of the addresses Liquid Global revealed was still receiving bitcoin at 7:20 UTC
  • In a blog post on the incident, translated from the Japanese by Google, Liquid Global claimed the hack targeted a multi-party computation (MPC) wallet. "This time, the MPC wallet (used for warehousing / delivery management of cryptographic assets) used by our Singapore subsidiary QUOINE PTE was damaged by hacking." the company said.
  • MPC is an advanced cryptographic technique in which the private key controlling funds is generated collectively by a set of parties, none of whom can see the fragments calculated by the others. Liquid Global's blog post did not explain how this security arrangement was circumvented.
  • Liquid Global is unrelated to the Liquid Network, the sidechain, or parallel system, to Bitcoin created by tech startup Blockstream.

UPDATE (AUG. 19, 7:59 UTC): Adds Liquid Global is working with other exchanges; updates number of destination addresses.

UPDATE (AUG. 19, 8:37 UTC): Updates value taken.

UPDATE (AUG. 19, 13:45 UTC): Adds detail from Liquid Global's explanation of hack.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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