Ronin, a blockchain network that allows users to transfer crypto in and out of the game, said Tuesday that the theft occurred on March 23 but wasn’t detected until nearly a week later.
Here’s what you need to know about the Ronin Heist.
CRYPTO IS A BIG PROBLEM RIGHT NOW?
Bitcoin and other digital currencies have exploded into the open in recent years as traditional investors have embraced the sector en masse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sector is now worth more than $2.1 trillion. As the money poured in, so did the hacks and breakouts that have long plagued crypto.
AND WHAT IS RONIN’S PLACE?
Ronin is used in Axie Infinity, one of the most popular online cryptocurrency games in the world.
Its products include a digital wallet for storing crypto, and a “bridge” that allows users to move funds in and out of the game. It was in the latter that the crypto was stolen.
Ronin takes its name from the samurai warriors of Fodal Japan who served no particular lord. The name “represents our desire to take the destiny of our product into our own hands,” Axie Infinity said in a blog post.
Vietnam-based Sky Mavis, which launched Axie Infinity in 2018, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Ronin also did not return messages from Reuters.
Jeffrey Zirlin, one of the founders of Axie Infinity, said at a conference on Tuesday: “This is one of the greatest hacks in history and we are fully committed to continue building.”
HOW DID THE HOLD-UP HAPPEN?
The Ronin hacker used stolen private keys – the passwords needed to access crypto funds – Ronin said in a blog post, after targeting computers connected to his network that help confirm transactions.
Ronin said he discovered the hack on Tuesday and was working with “various government agencies to ensure the criminals are brought to justice”.
The identity of the hackers is still unclear.
AND AXIE INFINITY?
Axie Infinity says it has 2.8 million daily active players, with some $3.6 billion already traded on its marketplace, making it one of the most popular blockchain-based online games.
In a fictional universe, players can collect, swap, and play with virtual creatures called Axies, which are changed into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is NFT’s biggest brand by sales volume of all time, according to market tracker CryptoSlam.
The game attracted venture capital funds, raising $152 million in October from investors including Andreessen Horowitz.
Axie and other “play-to-earn” games allow players to spend cryptocurrencies and earn financial rewards. They have grown in popularity over the past year as the frenzy in the NFT world has prompted investors to speculate in the hope of earning big returns.
WHERE IS THE LOOT NOW? AND ARE USERS AFFECTED?
Most of the stolen funds are still in a digital wallet, which can be viewed.
Blockchain Intelligence Group, a Vancouver-based crypto tracker, said the hackers moved a small portion of the funds to major exchanges FTX, Crypto.com and Huobi.
Huobi said he is investigating the hack and communicating closely with Axie Infinity. FTX and Crypto.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ronin said in a blog post that Sky Mavis was “committed to ensuring that any funds drained are recovered or refunded”, without giving details. Ensuring there is no loss of funds “is our top priority”, he added.
She said she was working with Chainalysis, a leading blockchain tracker, to track down the stolen funds. Chainalysis declined to comment.
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Explainer – Ronin’s $615 Million Crypto Heist | Market area
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