It is one of the biggest computer attacks involving cryptocurrencies. The digital payment network Ronin, used for the online game Axie Infinity, was recently the victim of a major hack during which hackers stole the equivalent of $615 million in cryptocurrencies, announced the manager of the network.
The facts took place on March 23, but the publisher of the Axie Infinity game, Sky Mavis, discovered the security breach on Tuesday, after being warned by a user who could no longer withdraw his ethereums. A total of 173,699 ethereums and 22.5 million USDC were stolen, details Ronin on his blog. That is 615 million dollars at the current prices of these cryptocurrencies, and around 545 million on the day of the attack.
“We are working with authorities, cryptographers and our investors to ensure that all funds are recovered or refunded,” Ronin said, but “the majority of hacked funds are still in the hacker’s wallet.” The investigation is still ongoing. The hacker obviously used private “keys” to access digital funds, the passwords needed to access cryptocurrencies, according to Ronin.
Created in 2018 by Vietnamese start-up Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity has enabled the company to become the benchmark for crypto-gaming in just a few years. Based on the model of “play to earn”, the game offers to buy – in the form of NFT – and raise small characters called “Axies”, whose design is reminiscent of that of Pokémon. They can then battle others to collect cryptocurrency rewards. These can be exchanged for cash or reinvested in the game.
The game has exploded in developing countries: around 35% of traffic and the majority of the 2.5 million daily active players are based in the Philippines. In 2021, gaming revenue approached $1 billion.
This is not the first computer attack in which a large amount of cryptocurrency has been stolen. In August, an “ethical” hacker, for example, stole the equivalent of $600 million from the Poly Network platform before returning it in the following days. The United States also recently announced that it had recovered the equivalent of $3.6 billion in bitcoins stolen in 2016 from the Bitfinex virtual trading platform. At the time, they were worth around $71 million.