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Hackers Hit Popular Video Game, Stealing More Than $600 Million In Cryptocurrency

OnZine Articles

ByOnZine Articles

Mar 31, 2022
Hackers Hit Popular Video Game, Stealing More Than $600 Million In Cryptocurrency

Hackers stole $625 million in cryptocurrency in a brazen attack on popular video game Axie Infinity, the game company’s executives said Tuesday, marking one of the largest crypto-thefts to date amid rising rates of such crime.

According to the company, the theft occurred last Wednesday when hackers infiltrated a portion of Ronin, the underlying blockchain that powers the game. Sky Mavis developers, who run both Axie Infinity and Ronin, said they only discovered the breach on Tuesday.

“There has been a security breach on the Ronin Network,” the company wrote in a newsletter post. “We are collaborating with various government agencies to ensure that the criminals are brought to justice.”

Sky Mavis representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Axie Infinity employs a “play-to-earn” system that combines finance and gaming and is powered by NFTs, which are one-of-a-kind tokens that can be traced back to a user. Players purchase creature-centric NFTs to gain access to the game, then spend additional cryptocurrency to acquire and breed various beasts that they can use in battle. The NFTs have both in-universe and real-world value, giving traditional gameplay a digital-money buzz.

The blockchain serves as a financial nerve center by keeping a public record of where cryptocurrency transactions take place.

The Ronin hackers made off with approximately 174,000 ETH, the currency associated with the Ethereum blockchain, and nearly 26 million USDC; the two are currently valued at approximately $625 million. USDC is a stablecoin, which means its value is fixed in relation to the US dollar.

Crypto hacking is becoming more common as the volume of trading activity grows. A hack of the Bitmart platform in December resulted in the theft of nearly $200 million in currency, while last summer a hacker hit Poly Network, which allows blockchains to collaborate, for a total of more than $600 million, though the money was eventually returned.

Trading in Axie Infinity was halted on Tuesday as a result of the hack, as fans and experts questioned whether the hack would make companies and players warier of play-to-earn games.

Sky Mavis dismissed any fears that the hack would disrupt its operations on Tuesday.

“We are here to stay,” the Axie Infinity Twitter account said shortly after the hack was revealed.

The game has sparked debate at times due to its high cost to play; the company has even launched a “scholarship program” that pairs devoted gamers who lack funds with people who have the funds but lack the skill or time.

Because the value of tokens fluctuates, breaches can have an impact on trading. On Tuesday, the crypto community was buzzing about the actions of “Cobie,” an enigmatic crypto figure (real name: Jordan Fish). When he said last week that he had taken short positions on a large number of NFTs in the game based on perceived security flaws, he sparked an intense back and forth on Twitter.

Last month, a New York couple was arrested and charged with money laundering after attempting to convert some of the billions of dollars from an infamous 2016 hack into real-world currency, which helped investigators track them down.

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OnZine Articles main author - Max Haydon

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