CipherTrace: Majority of 2020's crypto thefts occurred in the DeFi space

Volume on decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms was at an all-time high in 2020 — and so were the number of attacks and thefts in that arena, according to blockchain analysis firm CipherTrace’s Crime Report

Over 50% of crypto thefts in 2020 stemmed from DeFi attacks, adding up to $129 million. That’s more than 25% of the year’s total volume from hacks and other incidents.


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Eighteen protocols were attacked in 2020, which CipherTrace says represents "the most DeFi hacks in a year to date." One notable attack was the $8 million lost from the lending protocol bZx, which was exploited twice in February due to a faulty code. 

The largest hack happened on the KuCoin centralized exchange in September, with hackers stealing $281 million from the Singaporean exchange. However, the attackers laundered their money through Uniswap, one of the biggest decentralized exchanges, then through mixers like Tornado Cash to throw off their scent. 

In all, the average amount stolen from a DeFi protocol was about $6 million, per CipherTrace's report.

About Author

MK Manoylov has been a reporter for The Block since 2020 — joining just before bitcoin surpassed $20,000 for the first time. Since then, MK has written nearly 1,000 articles for the publication, covering any and all crypto news but with a penchant toward NFT, metaverse, web3 gaming, funding, crime, hack and crypto ecosystem stories. MK holds a graduate degree from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) and has also covered health topics for WebMD and Insider. You can follow MK on X @MManoylov and on LinkedIn.