Poly Network Attack Update: Hacker Returns $477 Million in Stolen Crypto

By Caitlin Carey August 13, 2021 In Crypto News, DeFi, Hackers

Following the biggest hack in DeFi history, the Poly Network Hacker has already begun returning most of the seized funds, referring to the exploit as “one of the best moments” in his life.

For those who do not understand the motivation behind a white-hat hack attack, it’s important to point out why the crypto space cannot progress without them. They actually help the space evolve. It seems the point of the “attack” on the Poly Network was not to steal everyone’s money, but to expose serious security weaknesses in the company’s code and thus “save the world”. As the hacker explained:

When spotting the bug, I had a mixed feeling. Ask yourself what to do if you were facing such a fortune? Asking the project team nicely so that they can fix it? Anyone could be the traitor given one billion! I can trust nobody! The only solution I can come up with is saving it in a trusted account while keeping myself anonymous and safe.

“The Hacker”

The Thrill of Cracking the Code

White-hat hackers are driven more by ego than anything else and live for the thrill of cracking the code. Hacking is no easy task. It requires a lot of brainpower and hours and hours of beta testing, probing highly sophisticated networks and finding holes.


Unfortunately, in the unregulated playground of decentralised finance, hackers are forced to break the law to perform their services. They bring a high level of personal risk to themselves, facing criminal charges if caught. Their role is to help correct fundamental flaws in code that needs to be absolutely bulletproof, especially when the managed funds of billions of dollars of everyday crypto investors’ money is at stake.

The more-than US$600 million seized in the Poly Network hack represents a record amount in DeFi history. It was said by the hacker that he could have taken over a billion if he’d have gone for the shitcoins, but thoughtfully didn’t because he did not want to disrupt the price action of these fragile low-market-cap tokens. Instead he went for ETH, WETH, WBTC, UNI, RenBTC, USDT, USDC, DAI, SHIB, FEI, BNB and various other BEP-20 tokens.

The Poly Network hack has gained worldwide recognition, not only from the crypto community but also mainstream news outlets. The hacker left notes on the blockchain in messages attached to transactions, providing some entertaining reading and becoming the talk of the town on Twitter. The hacker even conducted a little Q&A session with himself and posted it for all to read, explaining why he was compelled to carry out the hack.

It should be a relief for the Poly Network team that most of its liquidity has now been restored. It could have been much worse in the event of a black hacker attack.

Kelvin Fichter (an Ethereum programmer) tweeted a breakdown of how the exploit worked. In his own words, “pretty genius”.

Caitlin Carey

Caitlin Carey

Caitlin is a crypto evangelist with a deep curiosity and passion for learning and writing about everything to do with cryptocurrency. She has a background as a performing artist and songwriter and is a digital media enthusiast, with a bachelor degree in Multimedia.

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