Richard Teng, CEO of crypto exchange Binance, disclosed on Feb. 2 via a post on the social media platform X that the exchange acted swiftly to freeze the Ripple exploiter’s address following a substantial hack targeting the personal wallet of Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen.
Teng expressed gratitude towards the Ripple team and the blockchain analyst ZachXBT for their efficient collaboration and support in addressing the theft.
Contrary to initial speculation suggesting a compromise of Ripple’s network or the XRP token itself, Larsen clarified that it was his personal accounts that were breached, not the infrastructure of Ripple. He noted that the stolen funds were being laundered through at least six different exchanges, including MEXC, Gate, Binance, Kraken, OKX, HTX, and HitBTC.
The confusion around the hack was partly due to the misattribution of the affected account as Ripple itself in XRP block explorers XRPScan and Bithomp, as revealed by ZachXBT. This misattribution led to initial misunderstandings regarding the nature and target of the hack.
Larsen has since been in communication with various cryptocurrency exchanges to freeze the exploiter’s address and has involved law enforcement in the investigation.
Despite the sophisticated nature of the attack, the hacker did not employ crypto mixer services or decentralized exchanges to obscure their identity, a tactic that has recently fallen out of favor among cybercriminals to avoid detection and fund freezing by centralized exchanges.
While Binance has successfully frozen a portion of the stolen assets, the involvement of other exchanges, such as OKX and Kraken, in identifying or freezing related funds remains undisclosed.
This recent intervention by Binance to freeze assets linked to the Ripple hack is part of a continuing trend where the exchange has stepped in to mitigate the effects of cyber thefts within the cryptocurrency sector. For instance, in February of 2023, Binance played a pivotal role in aiding Norwegian authorities to secure the return of $6 million stolen in the Ronin network heist.
Moreover, Binance’s collaborative efforts extend beyond solo initiatives. Last year, the exchange collaborated with Huobi to facilitate the recovery of $1.4 million in crypto that had been stolen from Harmony’s Horizon Bridge. In a similar vein, Binance was also instrumental in reclaiming $5.8 million for Axie Infinity after the Ronin Network was compromised and the stolen assets were moved through its platform.