over $100 million worth of NFTs stolen in one year

Sales of NFT (non-fungible token), these digital certificates registered in the blockchain, a technology intended to guarantee the security of transactions, and backed by a photo, text or video, may have plunged 75% in the first quarter of 2022, but the appetite of thieves is not weakening. According to a report published on August 24 by Elliptic, a blockchain research company, more than 100 million dollars (100.3 million euros) of NFT have been stolen in one year. In July alone, no fewer than 4,600 NFTs vanished. A figure probably underestimated because the most minor thefts are rarely made public.

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According to Elliptic, the OpenSea marketplace even advised its community to disable Discord direct messaging due to a “overabundance of crooks”. Digital robbers mainly target the most popular NFTs. The flights of “Bored Apes Yacht Club”, these images of jaded primates randomly generated by an algorithm so as to give each a slight singularity, its variant “Mutant Apes”, but also the series “Azuki”, manga-style avatars, a variation of the same order called “Clone X”, as well as plots in the Otherside metaverse, account for two-thirds of crimes.

In December 2021, New York art dealer Todd Kramer said on Twitter that he had been stripped of fifteen “Bored Apes”. Four months later, it was the turn of the Taiwanese singer-songwriter Jay Chou to have one of these precious tokens stolen. But isn’t the blockchain deemed to be inviolable and tamper-proof? ” The problem is not blockchain technology, but bad cybersecurity habits”explains collector Brian Beccafico, before detailing rookie mistakes: “Using the same password for different sites, connecting to unsecured networks, having a virtual copy of your wallet’s security key on your computer when you need to have it offline…”

Investor scam

One of the most common methods of phishing is to imitate the domain name and image of a well-known NFT platform, playing on a similarity that can easily lead to confusion. A few minutes of distraction, too much haste, and you’re done. Other hacks are much more sophisticated. “Hackers gain the trust of users by posing as a support agent to solve a technical problem or by hacking into a community’s Discord messaging or Instagram account”adds Gaspard Broustine, project manager at Ledger, a leader in the custody of cryptocurrencies on a physical medium.

Read the decryption: Selling a tweet for 2.1 million euros, videos for five million: NFTs, a new digital El Dorado?

According to Elliptic, security breaches via social networks are on the rise, accounting for 23% of NFT thefts. There is also a last fraudulent practice, mentioned in this study: the investor scam. Cybercriminals launch NFT projects that look like viable investments, raise money from gullible users, then vanish overnight with the funds raised. Goodbye calves, cows and cryptocurrencies…

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