After theft of $77.7 million, victim AscendEX to reimburse customers

The crypto platform said unauthorized transfers from one of their hot wallets resulted from a "security" incident on December 11.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Crypto platform AscendEX has pledged to reimburse their customers, who lost a total of $77.7 million in a hack on December 11.

In a series of Tweets, the company said it is in the process of "standing up a new hot wallet infrastructure" and estimated that deposits and withdrawals would resume over the next two days. 

"Doing right by our customers is our obligation. Any impacted customers will be 100% reimbursed for their losses. Especially in the cryptocurrency industry, where community is the driving force of innovation, it is important for AscendEX to always remain true to our users," the company said

"We plan to resume withdrawals gradually, beginning with Ethereum. Any user that wishes to withdraw their assets will be permitted to do so in an uninterrupted capacity once withdrawals reopen for the particular coin or token."

Blockchain security company PeckShield estimated that $77.7 million in total was taken across three chains: $60 million from Ethereum, $9.2 million from Binance Smart Chain, and $8.5 million from Polygon.

The hack began on Saturday at 5pm EST when the company saw a number of unauthorized transfers from one of their hot wallets. The cold wallets were unaffected, and the company transferred all other assets there as they investigated the attack. 

Blockchain analytics firms were hired to help with the response, and law enforcement was notified. AscendEX contacted other crypto exchanges so that wallets involved in the theft could be blacklisted. It pledged to release a security post-mortem report in the coming days.

AscendEX is based in Singapore and closed a $50 million Series B funding round in November, with investments from Polychain Capital, Jump Capital, Alameda Research, and others. The company was founded in 2018 under the name "Bitmax" before switching to AscendEX.

CoinDesk reported that the company claims to have more than one million retail and institutional clients. It has reportedly reached an average daily trading volume of more than $200 million.

The AscendEX losses became the latest in a series of headline-grabbing attacks with eye-popping numbers. On Sunday, blockchain gaming company Vulcan Forged said around $140 million had been stolen from their users. They, too, were forced to reimburse victims. 

Last week, Crypto trading platform BitMart released an update on the devastating security breach that caused about $200 million in losses, writing that the breach was "mainly caused by a stolen private key that had two of our hot wallets compromised."

Hackers have repeatedly attacked cryptocurrency and DeFi platforms over the last year. Just last month, cybercriminals stole about $120 million from DeFi platform Badger. Other attacks in 2021 include thefts of more than $600 million from Poly in August and $34 million from Cream Finance in September. In May, about $200 million was stolen from the PancakeBunny platform. 

The Record and Comparitech keep running tallies of cyberattacks on cryptocurrency platforms, noting recent attacks on Liquid, EasyFi, bZx, and many other platforms. 

Editorial standards