The third quarter of 2023 was the “most financially damaging” quarter of the year, with nearly $700 million in digital assets lost due to various security incidents, according to blockchain security firm CertiK’s quarterly report.
In the report, CertiK highlighted 184 security incidents in July, August and September 2023, with more than $699 million in cryptocurrency assets lost in the quarter, surpassing Q1 losses of $320 million and Q2 losses of $313 million.
Among the vulnerabilities that led to losses, private key compromises were listed as the most damaging, taking more than $204 million across 14 incidents. According to the report, the Multichain incident — where the private keys were under the exclusive control of the project’s CEO — resulted in a loss of $125 million. The incident highlighted that centralized control of companies’ private keys can lead to a security vulnerability, which, in Multichain’s case, led to a halt to its operations.
Aside from private key exploits, oracle fraud and manipulation were also prevalent in the quarter. The report highlighted that there were a total of 93 exit fraud incidents in the quarter, resulting in the seizure of more than $55 million in digital assets. Meanwhile, 38 oracle manipulation incidents netted over $16 million in cryptocurrencies.
Related: Exploits, hacks and scams stole nearly $1 billion in 2023: report
When it comes to cryptocurrency hacks, the Mixin Network cross-chain protocol exploit greatly contributed to making September the biggest month for cryptocurrency exploits in 2023. On September 25, the Mixin Network suspended all withdrawals and deposits following the incident. The company later confirmed that $200 million worth of assets had been drained from its main network.
CertiK’s quarterly report also highlighted that North Korea’s state-run Lazarus hacking group remained the “dominant threat actor” in the quarter. The report indicated that the group was responsible for at least $291 million in confirmed losses in 2023 and continued its activities in the third quarter.
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