In the latest assault on cryptocurrencies, hackers stole nearly $200 million worth of ether and stablecoins from crypto bridge Nomad, outlets reported Tuesday morning .
The hack underscores an ever-present fear in decentralized finance, which, by principle, has limited recourse when such crises strike as authorities cannot simply snatch back the funds. According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, hackers bagged $3.2 billion in 2021 , and are on pace to match that number in 2022. Loot can sometimes be recovered if the perpetrator is identified and arrested, or if a bounty price is paid to restore the funds.
But complicating matters is the “chaotic” nature of Nomad’s hack: While many attacks involve a single culprit, Nomad’s was a “frenzied free-for-all,” a researcher at crypto investment firm Paradigm wrote on Twitter . The funds were siphoned into more than 41 different wallet addresses, as vultures flocked to pillage Nomad once word of the exploit began to spread.
The attack was the third major hack this year of a so-called crypto “bridge,” a class of crypto services that has been particularly vulnerable. According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, more than $1 billion has been stolen from bridges in 2022—including $600 million in March from the Ronin bridge, which powers the popular Axie Infinity computer game. (That hack, the largest to date, has since been attributed to the state of North Korea.) Months before that, the Solana-based Wormhole bridge was robbed of $300 million.
Before the hack, Nomad had sold investors, including heavyweights like Coinbase Ventures and OpenSea, on a vision of a “security-first” cross-chain protocol. Days ago, it raised $22 million in seed capital.