Binance Says $100 Million of Crypto Produced Out of Thin Air by Hackers

Binance suspended all transactions on the BNB Chain on Thursday to fix the exploit.

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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, poses during an interview at the technology startups and innovation fair in Paris on May 16, 2022.
Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, poses during an interview at the technology startups and innovation fair in Paris on May 16, 2022.
Photo: Eric Piermont (Getty Images)

Binance estimates roughly $100-$110 million worth of its cryptocurrency BNB was taken by unknown hackers on Thursday, according to a tweet from CEO Changpeng Zhao, considerably less than the $566 million originally estimated. But don’t worry if you’ve got an account with Binance, your crypto is safe. The hacker or hackers appear to have been able to convince the blockchain network to just produce more BNB out of thin air rather than stealing anyone’s particular crypto.

The exploit seized upon by the hackers was apparently the link between BNB Beacon Chain, which uses the older BEP2 technical standard, and BNB Chain, which uses the newer BEP20 or BSC standard, according to Zhao. Roughly $7 million of the BNB created by the hackers has already been frozen, Zhao reports.

“An exploit on a cross-chain bridge, BSC Token Hub, resulted in extra BNB. We have asked all validators to temporarily suspend BSC. The issue is contained now. Your funds are safe. We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide further updates accordingly,” Zhao tweeted late Thursday.

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The Binance Smart Chain suspended transactions around 6:20 p.m. ET on Thursday and a solution to the problem was pushed out through Github around 1:00 a.m. on Friday.

In an update shortly before 3:00 a.m., BNB Chain tweeted that, “The validators are confirming their status and the community infrastructure are upgrading as well.”

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Hackers frequently target the bridges between blockchains, a weak point that has produced plenty of loot for thieves in recent months. About $190 million worth of crypto was stolen in a similar hack of the Nomad network back in August. The Wormhole bridge was also hacked for about $325 million in February.

Bridges allow blockchains with different cryptocurrencies to communicate with each other and trade, without the need of an intermediary. In Thursday’s hack, the BNB Beacon Chain uses proof-of-work and has limited capabilities, whereas the BNB Chain uses proof-of-stake and can communicate with the Ethereum network more easily.

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BNB, the third most popular crypto, was trading down about 3% Friday morning at $285. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, was also down trading around $19,959. Ethereum, the second most popular, was down slightly to $1,355.