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CoinEx Crypto Exchange Hacked: A Deep Dive into the $54 Million Exploit

Ashley Waithira



The renowned crypto exchange CoinEx has been targeted in a significant security breach, with cyberattacks possibly emanating from North Korea. Initial reports estimated losses of $27 million. However, as more details emerged, this figure has nearly doubled to $54 million.

How the Hack Unfolded

On September 12, blockchain security platform Cyvers Alerts raised concerns regarding massive outflows from CoinEx. They estimated the losses at approximately $27 million. At around 1:21 pm UTC, nearly 4,947 Ether, valued at $7.9 million, was moved to an Ethereum account with no transaction history. This large transaction was soon followed by significant transfers of various tokens to the same account, including:

  • 408,741 Dai stablecoin
  • 2.7 million Graph (GRT) tokens
  • 29,158 Uniswap (UNI) tokens

Addressing the Suspicion

Blockchain security firm PeckShield termed the outflow as “suspicious.” Julio Moreno, CryptoQuant’s head of research, also found the CoinEx wallet behavior odd, noting that its Ether reserves had depleted to nearly zero.

By 5:25 pm UTC, CoinEx officially confirmed the suspicious withdrawals on Twitter. They revealed that their Risk Control System had detected irregular withdrawals from several hot wallet addresses. The exchange promptly formed a “special investigative team” to delve deeper into the breach.

Connection to Previous Attacks

ZachXBT, a renowned blockchain sleuth, along with CoinDesk, identified connections between this hack and a previous $41 million exploit of the crypto betting platform Stake. Some transactions were routed to wallets associated with this earlier exploit, and these wallets have ties to the North Korean hacker group Lazarus, notorious for targeting crypto establishments. Another wallet, funded by the Stake attacker earlier, also received tokens from the CoinEx breach.

Assurance to Users

While the breach was alarming, CoinEx clarified that the compromised funds were only a fraction of the total user holdings. They reassured me that all other assets on the platform were safe. CoinEx has since disabled both withdrawals and deposits on its platform pending investigation. The company has also given its word that affected users will be compensated fully for their losses.

About CoinEx

Founded in 2017, CoinEx became prominent with a specialization in Bitcoin Cash (BCH) trading after Bitcoin’s first significant hard fork. By 2020, the exchange expanded its services, providing futures trading, leveraged trading, options trading, and access to more than 100 token projects. Just last month, CoinEx highlighted in a blog post its impeccable security record, proudly stating that it hadn’t faced any security breach due to its top-tier security infrastructure. This recent incident, however, underscores the evolving threats that crypto exchanges face.

Future of Crypto Security

While the immediate response to such breaches is to enhance technical security protocols, the future of crypto security may lie in a blend of technology, regulation, and community engagement. Distributed ledger technologies, like blockchain, offer inherent security features, but their effective utilization is essential.

Moreover, as the crypto industry matures, there might be a push for more standardized regulations pertaining to security. Such standards can create a baseline of protection for all users. Regulatory oversight, however, must strike a balance; it should enforce security without stifling innovation.

Lastly, the crypto community itself plays a pivotal role. By promoting a culture of security awareness and fostering collaborative efforts, the community can create a more resilient environment for everyone involved.


The hacking of CoinEx serves as a timely reminder of the persistent vulnerabilities in the crypto world. With the constant evolution of hacking strategies, it becomes imperative for crypto exchanges to be one step ahead in terms of security measures. The swift response by CoinEx, combined with its assurance of full compensation, might restore some confidence among its users. However, the industry at large needs to understand the stakes and continuously innovate security measures.

Security in the world of cryptocurrency isn’t just a mere convenience or feature; it’s a necessity. As digital assets grow in popularity and value, the incentives for hackers and malicious actors to exploit weaknesses also rise exponentially. The CoinEx breach should serve as a wake-up call to all players in the industry. Not only do exchanges need to safeguard themselves, but users must also be proactive in understanding the platforms they use and employing personal security practices.

Ashley is a creative and adventurous Journalism graduate with a vibrant personality. Her love for exploring new places fuels her passion for travelling, allowing her to uncover captivating stories and diverse cultures. With a kind and fun-loving nature, she radiates positivity and enjoys connecting with people from all walks of life. Ashley's belief in a supreme being serves as a moral compass, guiding her to always strive for what is right and just. In her spare time, she immerses herself in the pages of books, seeking inspiration and expanding her knowledge. Ashley's zest for life and unwavering dedication to her values make her remarkable.