It doesn’t hurt to ask.
The decentralized finance platform (DeFi) Ploy Network pleaded with hackers Tuesday morning to return approximately $600 million worth of cryptocurrency it said was stolen earlier that same day. If confirmed, the theft, which Poly Network said included wrapped bitcoin (WBTC) and wrapped ether (WETH), among other cryptocurrencies, would be one of the largest — if not the largest — in crypto’s tumultuous history.
“Dear Hacker,” wrote Poly Network in an open letter published shortly after the hack was made public. “We want to establish communication with you and urge you to return the hacked assets.”
The Poly Network protocol is designed to allow different blockchains to talk to each other, and is a part of the burgeoning DeFi space. That is particularly relevant here, as the hack took place across three difference chains: Binance Chain, Ethereum, and Polygon.
This hack, which Poly Network said was caused by a “vulnerability between contract calls,” will inevitably call into question the security of the larger DeFi space.
For the unfamiliar, decentralized finance promises a future where people can make financial transactions completely free of traditional intermediaries like banks — or even less traditional ones, like cryptocurrency exchanges. Essentially, using smart contracts, DeFi promises to (as the name suggests) decentralize finance.
And people are responding. According to DeFi Pulse, a DeFi analytics site, as of the time of this writing, there is around $80 billion tied up in DeFi.
Notably, big players in the cryptocurrency world jumped into action following news of the theft, locking down some of the stolen funds in the process. The CTO of Tether (USDT), a controversial stablecoin, said he froze approximately $33 million worth of USDT following the hack.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Binance cryptocurrency exchange pledged to “proactively help.”
Poly Network will likely need all the help it can get.
“The amount of money you hacked is the biggest one in defi history,” wrote the company in its open letter. “Law enforcement in any country will regard this as a major economic crime and you will be pursued.”
The company implored the hackers to be in touch, and provided an email address for them to reach out.
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We asked the company if it had received a response from the hackers, and if it had any idea who might have stolen the funds. We received no immediate response.
Regardless of whether or not any of these funds are ever returned, the hack strikes a serious blow to DeFi’s reputation.