Biggest Blockchain Hacks: Lessons Learned from Notorious Breaches

Biggest Blockchain Hacks: Lessons Learned from Notorious Breaches


Biggest Blockchain Hacks

The transformative potential of blockchain technology has captured the attention of various industries and sectors worldwide. From financial services to supply chain management, the use of blockchain has expanded beyond its most familiar application: cryptocurrencies.

However, with the increased use of this technology comes increased security risks. Despite the inherent security benefits touted by blockchain enthusiasts, a number of significant hacks have plagued the blockchain space.

Over the years, several high-profile blockchain hacks have exposed vulnerabilities within decentralized systems, leading to significant financial losses and raising concerns about the industry’s security. In this article, we explore three infamous blockchain hacks, which shed light on the lessons and measures that can improve security in the decentralized landscape.

The DAO Attack (2016)

The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) was a venture capital fund that operated on the Ethereum blockchain. Built as a smart contract, it raised around $150 million in Ether during a public crowdsale. However, an attacker exploited a recursive call vulnerability in the DAO’s code to siphon off a third of the fund, roughly $50 million at the time.

The hack resulted in a controversial hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain, resulting in the creation of Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).

This incident highlighted the need for thorough code reviews, auditing and testing before implementing a smart contract. It also highlighted the importance of building a mechanism for timely updates and patches within blockchain systems to deal with unforeseen vulnerabilities.

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Poly Network Hack: A Multi-Chain Exploit

In August 2021, the Poly Network, a cross-chain interoperability protocol, suffered a staggering $600 million hack. The attacker exploited a vulnerability that allowed them to transfer funds across multiple blockchains, compromising the security of multiple assets.

However, what made this hack unique was the subsequent response from the hacker, who voluntarily returned most of the stolen funds. This incident underscored the importance of open communication channels between hackers and affected projects, and shows how cooperation and negotiation can mitigate the impact of such attacks.

DeFi Flash Loan Exploits: Fragility of Smart Contracts

Decentralized finance (DeFi) has gained immense popularity, offering users innovative financial products and services. However, the nascent nature of DeFi platforms has made them an attractive target for hackers.

Flash loans, where hackers take advantage of the flexibility of flash loans to manipulate prices or drain money, have caused significant losses in the DeFi space. These attacks highlighted the importance of robust smart contract development, thorough audits, and the need for continuous monitoring and security upgrades to ensure the resilience of DeFi protocols.

DNS Hijacking and Crypto Theft

Blockchain hacks are not limited to the digital realm. In 2018, a series of DNS hijacking incidents targeted cryptocurrency owners by redirecting traffic from legitimate websites to malicious ones. This allowed attackers to steal login credentials and gain access to users’ cryptocurrency wallets.

This hack underscored the importance of securing online identities, practicing good cybersecurity hygiene, and using two-factor authentication to protect digital assets stored in wallets and exchanges.

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In addition, in the same year, the Japanese-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck fell victim to one of the largest cryptoran in history in 2018. About $530 million in NEM tokens were stolen by hackers who exploited the exchange’s hot wallet, where funds are stored for instant transactions.

The Coincheck hack highlighted the importance of using cold storage (offline storage) for large amounts of cryptocurrencies. It also emphasized the necessity of robust internal security measures and regulatory compliance for crypto exchanges.

Lessons learned and improved security

These notable blockchain hacks have provided valuable insight into strengthening security measures in the industry. Key takeaways include:

  • Rigorous auditing and code reviews: Thorough auditing of smart contracts and blockchain protocols can help identify vulnerabilities and improve their security posture prior to deployment.
  • Continuous security monitoring: Implementing real-time monitoring and detection systems can enable proactive identification of suspicious activities and potential breaches.
  • Education and user awareness: Educating users on best practices, such as securing private keys, using hardware wallets, and avoiding phishing attempts, is critical to preventing successful attacks.
  • Bug Bounty Programs: Encouraging white-hat hackers to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities through bug bounty programs can help identify and patch security holes before malicious actors exploit them.


While blockchain technology is known for its robustness and security, these breaches show that vulnerabilities still exist, especially as the technology evolves and becomes more complex.

These infamous hacks serve as lessons for individuals, developers, and organizations to constantly focus on robust security practices. As we move forward into the blockchain era, it is critical to remember that no system is foolproof and to always prioritize security alongside innovation.

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You can also check an overview of the best crypto hacks along with tracking all relevant data in one dashboard with protocol health, alerts, liquidity changes and more.


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