Cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io allegedly covered up a hack that occurred on April 18, 2018, which saw $230 million swiped from the exchange, according to a Nov. 14 Twitter thread detailing the incident by on-chain sleuth ZachXBT.
ZachXBT called out Gate.io’s founder and CEO Lin Han for advocating for blockchain asset security and claiming Gate.io has been safeguarding customers’ assets with systematic solutions via a series of tweets on Nov. 10 following FTX’s downfall.
ZachXBT also published a screenshot of his correspondence with Gate.io in the Twitter thread, which shows that the on-chain sleuth confronted the exchange regarding the cover-up. Gate.io brushed off questions and criticisms regarding the cover-up. Instead, it responded that its platform is equipped with “many built-in mechanisms” that are immune to penetration by anyone.
Investigating the Gate.io hack
Gate.io was hacked for approximately $10,777.94 Bitcoin (BTC), $218,790 Ethereum (ETH), $Z3,783 Zcash, $99,999,000 Dogecoin (DOGE), $3,043,268 Ripple (XRP), $11,000 Litecoin (LTC), and $175,866 Ethereum Classic (ETC), which totaled 234,337,668.88.
At the same time, it became one of the four exchanges targeted by North Korean conspirators to fund its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs that have raised total proceeds estimated at up to $2 billion. The other hack victims – YouBit, UpBit, and Bithumb lost approximately $500 million, $50 million, and $30 million, respectively.
As part of the Gate.io hack investigation, ZachXBT shared on-chain sleuth Austin @1A1zP1’s series of tweets that detailed his efforts in tracing on-chain transactions of the LTC and BTC stolen from Gate.io’s cold wallet addresses.
Austin also raised concerns about Gate.io’s reuse of addresses and clusters – groups of bitcoin addresses controlled by one entity- that was previously hacked in 2015. This contradicts Gate.io’s claims that it is holding its customers’ cryptocurrency with a high level of security and self-description as one of the safest exchanges in the world.
The hack refers to when Gate.io lost of 7,170 Bitcoin from its cold wallets as a result of a hack when it was still operating under its original name Bter.com.
After the fact and following China’s ban on initial coin offerings and fiat-to-crypto spot trading in 2017, Bter.com relaunched as Gate.io and began offering crypto trading and Chinese yuan over-the-counter (OTC) trading. Bter never disclosed how the hack transpired but was able to recover some of the stolen funds.