New Year, New Attack? Orbit Bridge Drained for $82M



Barely 24 hours into the new year, the decentralized cross-chain protocol Orbit Bridge has been hacked for millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

According to an official tweet, attackers gained unauthorized access to the Orbit Bridge at 08:52 pm UTC on December 31. The protocol is engaging with international law enforcement agencies and conducting an analysis to discover the incident’s root cause.

Orbit Bridge Hacked for $82M

The hack was first flagged by pseudonymous X (formerly Twitter) user Kgjr roughly an hour after the network witnessed a series of large outflows. They reported that new wallets were being created for several crypto assets, including Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), and Dai (DAI).

Interestingly, Kgjr said test transfers to the new wallets showed on the Orbit bridge scanner, but the larger transactions did not.

A detailed explanation by Вeb3 threat researcher and on-chain sleuth Officer CIA disclosed that the estimated damage was over $81.5 million: $30 million USDT, $10 million USDC, $10 million DAI, 9,500 ETH worth $21.7 million, and 230 WBTC worth $9.8 million.

Officer CIA said it appeared the attacker had gained seven out of ten multisig signers before they got access to the protocol. On the other hand, blockchain security firm SlowMist said the attack may have been caused by a vulnerability in the protocol or the network’s centralized server was compromised.

Orbit Warns Against Reimbursement Scams

The exploiter began the transactions with an initial funding of 10 ETH from crypto mixer Tornado Cash and transferred them through the intermediary address. After draining the Orbit Bridge protocol, the exploiter started dumping USDT and WBTC for ETH and USDC for DAI. They are currently left with 26,751 ETH worth $61.5 million and $15 million in DAI.

While the Orbit Chain team has yet to provide details of the incident, they have warned that any X accounts claiming to reimburse affected parties are scams, instructing users to interact only with the official protocol account.

Meanwhile, users are asking that pending transactions be canceled as the Orbit Bridge is currently shut down due to the incident. Some want to know when the protocol would connect validators and are on edge because the Orbit team has kept mum.

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