AscendEX suspends crypto withdrawals as hack wipes out $77.7 million worth of Ethereum, Polygon and other tokens

AscendEX suspends crypto withdrawals as hack wipes out $77.7 million worth of Ethereum, Polygon and other tokens
AscendEX was formerly known as BitMax until March 2021AscendEX
  • The Singapore-based AscendEX cryptocurrency exchange suffered a hot wallet breach of $77.7 million.
  • Of that, $60 million was made up of just Ethereum tokens.
  • Withdrawals have been suspended for now, as the exchange looks into the data breach promising that no customers will lose their digital assets.
The Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange AscendEX, formerly known as BitMax until March 2021, suffered a hack on Sunday, December 12. According to the blockchain security firm PeckShield, an estimated $77.7 million has been lost.

AscendEX’s hot wallet was breached, with tokens based on Ethereum, Polygon and Binance Smart Chain (BSC) being transferred out. The company has tweeted that an investigation is underway, and that they will cover any losses to customers.

For now, customer withdrawals have been suspended, as AscendEX is conducting a security review before restoring deposit and withdrawal services.

Of the $77.7 million lost, blockchain security firm PeckShield estimates that Ethereum-based assets (ERC20) alone account for $60 million. That translates to about 15,000 Ether (ETH) tokens at today’s price of $4,000.

Other impacted tokens include Tether (USDT) with a loss of $5.7 million, USD Coin (USDC) at $5 million, Shiba Inu worth $145,000 and Polygon MATIC valued at $691,000.

AscendEX is working to shore up confidence

The exchange revealed their knowledge of the hack in a tweet, and shared the wallet addresses to which their assets were transferred. AscendEX clarified that cold wallets were not affected by the security breach, and that it is transferring non-impacted assets to these cold wallets.

Crypto exchanges such as AscendEX store at least a portion of their digital assets in ‘hot wallets’ for the sake of liquidity. They have the convenience of always being connected to the internet. This allows for faster transactions on behalf of users. A cold wallet, on the other hand, holds digital assets offline with no internet exposure, thus being less vulnerable to hackers.

AscendEX has said it is working with blockchain forensic firms and law enforcement. The exchange is looking into whether relatively small projects could reissue lost tokens to reimburse customers. On Sunday, the CEO George Cao conducted an AMA (ask me anything) on the Twitter Spaces platform, to share information regarding the security breach, compensation arrangement and resuming operations.

Earlier this month on December 5, the Cayman Islands based BitMart exchange had lost $196 million in cryptocurrency due to a stolen private key. BitMart had announced that they will compensate affected users, ensuring that no customers lose assets.

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