Top Crypto Thefts and Hacks of 2020, and What We Can Learn from Them

Staying ahead of cybercriminals for both individuals and especially enterprises is like playing cat and mouse, with so much money at stake, cybercriminals are constantly upping their game, and the sophistication of their attacks. This explains why cybersecurity attacks in 2021, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), have already surpassed the total number for 2020, making 2021 a record year.

The good news is that now people are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect themselves. A recent survey by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that “about 9 in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned about hacking that involves their personal information, financial institutions, government agencies or certain utilities. About two-thirds say they are very or extremely concerned.”

Heretofore, the attitude that attacks would always happen to someone else explains the rise in threats. The importance of securing our digital identities and personal info cannot be understated and that is also true for users on the blockchain.

Headlines depicting crypto attacks have unfortunately become commonplace, with a variety of attacks targeted at digital exchanges, and on the very blockchains themselves that promise security as one of their key tenets.

DEXs security is generally questionable

DEX’s are a critical tool in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, allowing users to buy, hold, exchange and sell their holdings. However, with an increasing list of crypto hacks on digital exchanges, their levels of security are questionable.

One of the most notable hacks, which made the mainstream press, was that of the Poly Network, a leading DeFi platform, where over $600 million was initially stolen, before, in a strange turn of events, approximately half was returned by the hacker, before returning almost the full amount. Why did he return the money? That’s because even if you can steal the funds, the blockchain is highly transparent making it really hard to cash them out afterwards, especially at this level.

Other notable crypto hacks

  • BitGrail: In 2018, $146m was stolen from this Italian exchange with around 230,000 BitGrail account holders losing money.
  • KuCoin: In 2020, $281m was hacked from this well-known DEX. luckily the Seychelles-based company managed to retrieve the majority of the money.
  • MtGox: One of the most well-discussed hacks was that of this Japanese exchange in 2014, where $450m of mostly Bitcoin was lost, leading to the collapse of the exchange and all of the users losing their money.
  • Coincheck: In 2018, $534m was hacked from another Japanese exchange, with users finally having their money returned.
  • Poly Network: As mentioned earlier this Chinese platform lost $610m, with the hacker eventually returning funds.

As in the case of cybersecurity, crypto security is becoming a key focus of the industry as the sector grows and matures. Some of the most noteworthy players in this field include:


Avarta focuses on both authentication and identification of users for internet and blockchain-based apps. Avarta provides a 4-in-1 solution where a user’s face is his private key across the various blockchains.

The main features of this product include,

  • A wallet that works across blockchains secured by a  user’s face
  • An anti-bot framework that protects public DEX listings
  • A multi-sig wallet for enterprises
  • Decentralized identity management across various chains works on a risk-based scoring mechanism that features a military-grade level of authentication.

The wallet gives users the ability to control all of their private keys using their face and it means that they can hold all of their keys inside one wallet, with no passwords or seed phrases necessary.

Avarta provides an advanced security-enabled identity wallet that allows people to control their private keys conveniently. Avarta’s multi-chain support means that cryptocurrency users can consolidate all of their cryptographic keys in one wallet that requires no passwords, no seed phrases and no need to write down the keys in a safe (or not-so-safe) location. Using a combination of biometrics and device data,

Bybit Exchange

From the other side, this exchange has been voted the most secure conscious exchange. It allocates around 25% of its budget in the security and safeguarding of its infrastructure. Bybit​​, launched in March 2018, has created a professional platform for crypto traders, which features an ultra-fast matching engine, and quite unusually for this industry, dedicated customer service and multi-lingual community support.  In addition to its online trading capabilities, the exchange offers API support, for both retail and institutional traders.

In terms of its security focus, the Head of Communications at Bybit had this to say, we “work hard to uphold our pledge of transparency and reliability to the crypto lovers who come to Bybit. We invest about 25% of our budget in security to safeguard our infrastructure — this is nearly twice the industry average. We are constantly tweaking our platform mechanisms to optimize for security and customer experience to provide the next level of trading for our clients. Crypto is never down, neither is Bybit. We will continue to revolutionize the industry by fusing the best of cryptocurrency and traditional finance to provide an unmatched trading experience and price transparency for our traders.”

Final Word

So what can we learn from the staggering number of crypto hacks? Firstly, the most important thing is to be aware that it does and can happen to you. Secondly, it’s important to consider how focused on security and identity protection any product or platform is that you are using on the blockchain. We are waking up to the dangers of hacking and identity fraud on the internet, now it’s time to wake up to the real threats on the blockchain.

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