Poly Network hacker returns $258M, conducts AMA on how it went down

cybersecurity computer hacker with hoodie scaled

$258 million worth of stolen crypto assets have been returned so far and the hacker claims they are keeping the rest of the funds safe while they negotiate with Poly.

The Poly Network hacker has now returned $258 million to the cross-chain decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol and conducted a question-and-answer session detailing how the initial hack went down.

In what is being described as the largest DeFi hack to date, the Poly Network suffered a $612-million exploit on Tuesday that saw the hacker steal assets from Ethereum, Binance Chain and the Polygon Network.

Tom Robinson, the chief scientist at blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, told Forbes on Wednesday that the hacker has now returned roughly $258 million worth of funds to Poly so far — with $342 million yet to be returned.

The attacker stated their willingness to return the stolen funds on multiple occasions, which has led to suggestions that it may have been a white hat hack to teach Poly an expensive lesson about its security flaws.

However, that view wasn’t necessarily shared by Robinson, who stated that the returning of funds “demonstrates that even if you can steal crypto-assets, laundering them and cashing out is extremely difficult due to the transparency of the blockchain.”

The hacker has conducted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) using embedded messages in Ethereum transactions, and while they appear to be a non-native English speaker, what’s lost in translation is their grand plan.

When asked why they were hacking and why the Poly protocol, in particular, the hacker states “for fun” and because “cross-chain hacking is hot.”

Despite such answers, they then proceed to claim the hack was conducted for noble causes and that they have since been transferring tokens between addresses only to keep them safe:

“When spotting the bug, I had a mixed feeling. Ask yourself what to do had you facing so much fortune. Asking the project team politely so that they can fix it? Anyone could be the traitor given one billion. I can trust nobody! The only solution I can come up with is saving it in a trusted account.”

“Now everyone smells a sense of conspiracy. Insider? Not me, but who knows? I take the responsibility to expose the vulnerability before any insiders hiding and exploiting it!” they added.

Users on Twitter noted that the hacker was asking for guidance on how to deposit funds into Tornado Cash, which is a decentralized protocol that enables private Ethereum transactions.

The attacker was also quizzed on why they had been selling and swapping some of the stolen stablecoins, in which they responded with: “I was pissed by the Poly team for their initial response.”

The Poly team posted an open letter to the hacker on Wednesday that urged them to return the stolen assets as “law enforcement in any country will regard this as a major economic crime and you will be pursued.”

The hacker goes on to say that “they urged others to blame me and hate me before I had any chance to reply!” and that they had no intentions of laundering the money:

“In the meanwhile, depositing the stables could earn some interest to cover potential cost so that I have more time to negotiate with the Poly team.”

Ronnie Huss

Ronnie Huss

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