Tornado Cash DAO Attacker Starts to Move Ether, TORN Tokens

The attacker holds over 20 ether in their wallet, and continues to have access to potentially all of Tornado Cash’s treasury funds as of Thursday.

AccessTimeIconMay 25, 2023 at 7:05 a.m. UTC

The attacker behind a takeover of Tornado Cash DAO has apparently started to move their illicitly gained tokens, blockchain data shows.

Addresses tied to the attacker moved 100 ether (ETH) and 38,000 torn (TORN) tokens in two transactions using the Tornado Cash protocol on Wednesday night, Etherscan data shows.

The DAO handling the privacy-focused crypto mixer's operations, funds and future plans was taken over by an unidentified attacker, or attackers, on Saturday.

The attacker holds over 20 ether ($35,684) in their wallet, and continues to have access to potentially all of Tornado Cash’s treasury funds.

The attacker floated a malicious proposal that hid a code function that granted them fake votes that can now be used to handle some aspects of Tornado Cash, such as torn tokens held in the main governance contract or withdrawal of locked torn tokens.

DAOs, short for decentralized autonomous organizations, allow token holders to lock up their holdings as votes for proposing changes to a project. These changes can range from deploying treasury funds to purposes that benefit the project to expansion on other networks.

The attack does not impact the actual Tornado Cash protocol – which allows users to pass funds through the service to mask or obscure the movements of funds and crypto addresses. This attack was not an exploit of any smart contracts or technology related to the working of Tornado Cash.

As such, there’s still hope for Tornado Cash.

The attacker floated a proposal to revert all malicious changes before the takeover earlier this week – sending torn prices up 10% at the time.

The proposal looks as though it will pass when voting closes on May 26, though it's unclear when the action will be executed. However, if it does, the malicious code will be removed and the governance of Tornado Cash's DAO will go back to token holders.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.


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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.