Cryptocurrency Exchange HTX Hacked Again, Loses $13.6M Via Cross-Chain Exploit

BySamson Ononeme

Nov 22, 2023 ,
HTX suffered its 2nd cyber intrusion in less than 3 months as hackers exploited cross-chain bridge infrastructure to steal $13.6 million worth of digital assets from the crypto exchange.

Key Insights

  • Cryptocurrency exchange HTX loses estimated $13.6M in cross-chain HECO bridge exploit.
  • Attack drained funds from compromised hot wallets, marks 2nd hack of HTX exchange in 3 months.
  • Comes after $100M Harmony and $200M Wintermute bridge exploits as decentralized bridges increasingly targeted.

SINGAPORE – Cryptocurrency trading platform HTX suffered an estimated $13.6 million loss from the exploitation of the HECO Chain bridge on Tuesday, the latest cyber attack to target digital asset infrastructure.

Blockchain forensics firm Cyvers analyzed that the compromise of three HTX hot wallets enabled hackers to drain funds in multiple cryptocurrencies for a combined $13.6 million haul. Stolen assets included over 1,200 Ether, 7.3 million Tether stablecoins, and 1.78 million USD Coin, quickly converted to Ethereum.

HTX owner Justin Sun stated after the security breach that the exchange “will fully compensate for HTX’s hot wallet losses.” However, Sun claimed user assets remain secure and withdrawals and deposits have only been temporarily suspended.

The breach follows a similar $8 million hot wallet hack of HTX in September, barely one month after rebranding from Huobi Global. Sun offered identical assurances after that cyber intrusion that user funds were safeguarded.

The latest attack targeted the cross-chain HECO bridge connecting the Tron and BitTorrent ecosystems, allowing fund transfers between different blockchain networks. The bridge contained over $86.6 million before hackers successfully compromised the network operator and drained value.

Coming on the heels of the $100 million Harmony bridge hack and nearly $200 million Wintermute exploit, the HTX loss exemplifies the growing threat hackers pose to bridges enabling interoperability between blockchains. As bridges facilitate movement of more assets, they become juicy targets, with lax security controls allowing single points of failure.

HTX will need to restore trust in light of the second major cyber breach in three months. Although representing a small share of total holdings, repeated hot wallet hacks risk undermining user confidence. Both Sun and HTX face pressure to bolster infrastructure defenses before attackers strike again.

Samson Ononeme

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