There is still much that is unknown about the largest decentralized finance (DeFi) security breach to date, the sophisticated attack that drained $600 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the China-based Poly Network, including the identity of the â€œhackerâ€ (or hackers) and their underlying motivations. It was a story that riveted the industry, in part because the â€œPolynetwork hackerâ€ ultimately returned all the stolen funds while communicating with the public the whole way through.
The article is part of CoinDeskâ€™s 2021 Most Influential list.
â€œMr. White Hat,â€ as the hacker referred to themselves in one message, said they attacked the cross-blockchain platform to call attention to an unidentified vulnerability and always intended to return the funds (minus a small bug bounty). But itâ€™s just as likely he/she/they were forced to do the right thing after several crypto exchanges and USDT stablecoin issuer moved to blacklist the funds.
Additional context: The crypto industry differentiates between a â€œhack,â€ which means breaking into a system, and an â€œexploit,â€ which leverages or makes vulnerable existing code.