Hackers Utilized Cross-chain Bridge ‘RenBridge’ to Launder $540M

Hackers Utilized Cross-chain Bridge ‘RenBridge’ to Launder $540M
  • RenBridge was used to launder at least $540 million from 2020 via chain hopping.
  • These bridges have also been used by ransomware gangs, exploiters, and hackers.

There have been several thefts of cross-chain bridges this year, but new information from blockchain analytics vendor Elliptic suggests that one of these bridges was used to launder more than $500 million in stolen cryptocurrencies.

New research released on Wednesday claims that the cryptocurrency bridge RenBridge was used to launder at least $540 million from 2020 via chain hopping, the act of exchanging one cryptocurrency for another and then transferring the funds across several blockchains.

Unregulated Alternative

According to Elliptic, “an unregulated alternative to exchanges for transferring value between blockchains” may be found through decentralized cross-chain bridges. Cross-chain or blockchain bridges provide a valid use by facilitating the transfer of cryptocurrencies across blockchains.

Typically, users will deposit their tokens from one chain into the bridge protocol, which will then be locked into a contract, and the user will be granted a token that is functionally equal but exists on a different chain.

Elliptic, however, pointed out that these bridges have also been used by ransomware gangs, exploiters, and hackers to launder profits of crime, with RenBridge alone responsible for at least $540 million in laundered proceeds since 2020. The company claims that at least $2.4 million in stolen crypto assets were transferred through the cross-chain bridge in the August 2 Nomad breach.

Elliptic also revealed that in the past two years, RenBridge has been used to launder assets from decentralized finance (DeFi) services worth at least $267.2 million and that a portion of the $80 million stolen from Liquid Global exchange in 2017 allegedly by North Korea has passed through RenBridge.

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