Hackers stole cryptocurrency of about $600 million from a
blockchain network connected to the popular online game Axie Infinity, in one
of the biggest digital cash heists to date.
Computers known as nodes operated by Axie Infinity maker
Sky Mavis and the Axie DAO that support software that allows people to convert
tokens into ones that can be used on another network – were attacked. Ronin Network
said in a blog post that hackers were able to essentially take control of the
network and transfer 173,600 ethers, worth around $600 million and $25.5 million worth
of USD coins, to an anonymous Ethereum wallet.
It was valued at $545 million when it was stolen on March
23 but was worth about $615 million on Tuesday, making it one of the biggest
crypto thefts ever.
“Most of the hacked funds are still in the hacker’s
wallet,” Ronin said in a post disclosing the theft.
The team at Sky Mavis detected the security breach on
Tuesday after a user was unable to withdraw ether, according to the company.
Ronin said they are still investigating the hack, but
that hackers got access to private “keys” to withdraw digital funds.
“We know trust needs to be earned and are using
every resource at our disposal to deploy the most sophisticated security
measures and processes to prevent future attacks,” Ronin said.
“We are working with law enforcement officials,
forensic cryptographers, and our investors to make sure there is no loss of
user funds,” it added.
The price of Ron, a token used on the Ronin blockchain,
fell about 22% after the hack was disclosed. AXS, a token used in Axie
Infinity, dropped as much as 11% before recovering some losses, according to
Axie Infinity is an online game launched in 2018 in which
players participate in battles using colourful blob-like Axies. They are mainly
rewarded with “Smooth Love Potion” (SLPs) that can be exchanged for
cryptocurrency, cash or invested back into the game’s virtual world Lunacia.
Nearly 35% of Axie Infinity traffic and the biggest share
of its 2.5 million daily active users comes from the Philippines, where high
proficiency in English, strong gaming culture and widespread smartphone usage
have led to its popularity, according to Sky Mavis.
To play the game, players first have to purchase at least
An Axie is a unique non-fungible token (NFT), with a
particular set of abilities and characteristics. Axies can be bought, sold or
rented to other players. Owners can also breed them to create new Axies that
provide more value.