Crypto Market Daily Highlights – June 24 – SOL and XRP Lead the Charge

Key Insights:

  • It was another bullish session for the crypto market on Friday, with Solana (SOL) and Ripple (XRP) leading the top ten.
  • The crypto majors tracked the US equity markets, with improved market risk sentiment delivering the NASDAQ a 3.34% gain.
  • After adding $48 billion on Thursday, the total crypto market cap rose a further $25 billion.

It was another bullish session for the crypto market on Friday. Bitcoin (BTC) and the broader market tracked the NASDAQ 100 to deliver a second consecutive daily rise.

Sliding commodity prices eased pressure on riskier assets within the week, with WTI crude falling back from $110 levels. The Bloomberg Commodity Index (BCI) ended the week with a 4.28% loss, reflecting a broad-based decline in commodity prices.

The weekly chart below reflects the inverse correlation between WTI and the NASDAQ 100 and bitcoin.

WTI - NASDAQ/BTC
NASDAQ BTC WTI 250622 Weekly Chart

A sustained pullback in commodity prices could impact the Fed’s interest rate trajectory and support riskier assets.

BTC - NASDAQ correlation
BTC-NASDAQ 250622 5 Minute Chart

The Total Crypto Market Cap is on Approach to $1,000bn

Following a $48 billion rise on Thursday, the total crypto market cap is heading for a $27 billion increase on Friday. A bullish Friday session saw the market cap hit a day high of $946 billion before easing back.

crypto market cap rises.
Total Market Cap 250622 Daily Chart

While headwinds remain, investors put aside sentiment toward inflation, central bank monetary policy, and the economic outlook.

Fed Chair Powell’s testimony and the Fed’s commitment to bringing inflation to target at any cost will continue to resonate. A sustained downward trend in crude oil prices would ease some headwind pressure.

Two bullish sessions leave the total market cap in positive territory for the week while down by more than $350 billion for June. Currently sitting at $937 billion, investors will want to see the total market cap head towards the $1.5 trillion mark to shift sentiment.

Friday’s bullish sentiment was evident across the crypto market top ten.

SOL and XRP are leading the way, with gains of 9.8% and 10.1%, respectively, with ETH up 7.1%.

ADA (+5.2%), BNB (+5.2), and DOGE (+6.3%) weren’t far behind, while BTC trailed (+1.2%).

From the CoinMarketCap top 100, Axie Infinity (AXS) was a front runner, up by 15.8% at the time of press. News of Axie Infinity beginning to reimburse Ronin Bridge hack victims, starting next week, delivered support.

Outside of the top 100, but likely to reemerge, is yearn.finance (YFI), which was up 46%.

Improving crypto market conditions have supported DeFi tokens this week. On Friday, Avalanche (AVAX) and Near Protocol (NEAR) were heading for gains of 13% and 12%, respectively.

While DeFi tokens found support, the total value locked continues to sit at March to April 2021 levels. At the time of writing, the total value locked stood at $76.7bn. While up 5.2% on Friday, the TVL sits well below a December peak of $254 billion.

DeFi total value locked.
DeFI TVL 250622

As the dust continues to settle from the collapse of TerraUSD (UST) and Terra LUNA, DeFi tokens may find more investor interest.

Total Crypto Liquidations Inched Up, Highlighting Downside Risks

The recent downward trend in total crypto liquidations came to an end.

Going into Saturday, total liquidations stood at $192 million, up from a Friday morning of $126 million.

However, one-hour liquidations remained at a relatively low level.

According to Coinglass, one-hour liquidations stood at $7 million.

crypto liquidations send mixed messages.
Total Crypto Liquidations 250622

Daily News Highlights

  • Solana (SOL) announced the Q12023 launch of Web3 Android phone “Saga”.
  • Bentley Motors Entered the NFT space with a planned September drop on Polygon.
  • SEC Chair Gary Gensler was back in the news, discussing plans to work with the CFTC to regulate the crypto market.
  • Axie Infinity developer announced plans to begin compensating Ronin bridge hack victims from next week.

Crypto Price Analysis June 24: AXS, BAT, ZIL, SAND, ONE

Key Insights:

  • Axie Infinity shot up by 16% in a single day.
  • Harmony was one of the only few to close in red yesterday.
  • Bitcoin rose above $21k after a week of deliberation.

With the rest of the market providing support to the altcoins, many cryptocurrencies noted rallies yesterday led by the GameFi token Axie Infinity.

With others following suit and Bitcoin closing in green, the crypto market seemed to be doing better than it did in the previous couple of days.

Axie Infinity (AXS)

Within 24 hours, AXS rose by 16% to trade at $17.2 at the time of writing. This brought the five-day rally of Axie Infinity to 31.3%, however, it still has a long way to go before it recovers the 46.5% losses of this month.

Along with the rally, the bullish cues for the DeFi token also began intensifying as the green bars on the Awesome Oscillator continued rising. If the momentum is maintained, the altcoin will be back to $22 soon.

Basic Attention Token (BAT)

The altcoin had a fantastic run over the last ten days, rising from $0.28 to $0.43 at press time. This rally was successful in invalidating all of June’s losses, setting BAT up for recovery from the April-May crash.

While the rally might seem influenced by the broader market trend, BAT has support from its investors as the uptick noticed on the Chaikin Money Flow indicates clear inflows for the asset.

Zilliqa (ZIL)

Another altcoin enjoying the uptrend, Zilliqa, is teetering on the edge of successfully recovering the 38.3% downfall of June 5. However, it would be invalidated entirely only when ZIL closes above $0.05, which is a little far as the altcoin is trading at $0.046.

But, it won’t be too tricky for ZIL to achieve it since the MACD is clearly highlighting a bullish crossover with increasing bullishness.

The Sandbox (SAND)

After suffering bearishness for the entirety of this month, the Metaverse token finally managed to reclaim the $1 mark, trading at $1.1 at press time. The Sandbox is sustaining its 38% rally from the last five days, which will help it reach closer to invalidating June’s losses.

The presence of Parabolic SAR’s white dots underneath the candlesticks evince that the uptrend will continue raising the price of SAND.

Harmony (ONE)

Being the only coin to close in red yesterday, ONE furthered its downfall, trading at $0.025. Enduring more than 85% in losses, ONE is consistently painting red candles, leaving investors with significant losses.

With the Relative Strength Index (RSI) still stuck in the bearish zone, the altcoin might take a while to bounce back from this crash.

Axie Infinity Surpasses Decentraland To Be the Top NFT in 112 Countries

Key Insights:

  • Axie Infinity holds the title of the most-searched community NFT in 112 countries.
  • Although Decentraland is the most popular NFT in the United States.
  • Both AXS and MANA have been attempting to recover from the May-June crash.

The world of NFTs has grown beyond expectations and now hosts millions of people around the world. Now sales of NFT collections may make one think that the Bored Ape Yacht Collection is the biggest NFT collection to exist, however, the reality of the situation is starkly different.

Axie Infinity Rules NFTs

That is true. Axie Infinity’s NFTs do rule NFTs in a lot of places around the world, except for the United States, where Decentraland has a much higher demand.

But apart from that, in more than 112 countries, Axie Infinity is the most searched for community NFT. The closest competition it has is Decentraland which too only holds the title in 43 countries.

In Oceania, particularly, which compromises Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and New Zealand, Axie Infinity has absolutely no competition. 

While on the other hand, Africa has a wide range of NFT collections finding preference in different countries. Apart from Axie Infinity and Decentraland, NFT collections such as Sorare, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), and Town Star are also favorites.

AXS and MANA on the Charts

Although Axie Infinity and Decentraland are a favorite among NFT collectors/traders, investors haven’t shown such interest in their native tokens. At the time of writing, AXS and MANA were trading at $15.4 and $0.89, respectively. 

Recovering from the 37.46% crash, AXS marked a 16.6% rally over the last three days, but the coin still has a long way to go before it can attract the attention of spot investors. 

The same goes for MANA as well, which increased by 15.69% after declining by 23.87%.

Since other altcoins such as Waves and Synthetix have rallied by more than 30% in the same time period, AXS and MANA will naturally not receive much attention, but they still have the upper hand in their fields.

Here’s a Complete Guide to Investing in the Metaverse

Key Insights:

  • A massive boom in metaverse’s popularity was witnessed in October 2021. 
  • Global revenue opportunity from the metaverse could approach $800 billion by 2024. 
  • NFTs, metaverse tokens, and virtual land are ways in which one can invest in the crypto space. 

Metaverse and NFTs were the buzzwords of 2021 as both sectors saw a massive rise in market capitalization and general interest.

A massive boom in metaverse’s popularity was witnessed in October 2021, when Facebook made big news by changing its name to Meta. However, there’s much more to the metaverse than Mark Zuckerberg or the social media.

Over the last years, curiosity about the investment opportunities in the metaverse has often crossed traders’ and investors’ minds. However, before investing in the metaverse, it is crucial to know more about the virtual world that investors and institutions are so excited about.

The Metaverse and its Growth

According to many, metaverse technology is the next big tech as it has managed to attract social networks, online game makers, and various technology leaders globally.

In a more general sense, the metaverse can include virtual reality – characterized by usually purposeful virtual worlds that continue to exist. It also has augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.

Terms like social, shared, virtual, and persistently 3D are used to describe the metaverse technology. According to many, metaverse technology is the convergence of the digital and physical worlds within the evolution of the internet and social networks. Additionally, the metaverse also makes use of real-time 3D software.

Over the last couple of years, mainstream organizations have started to jump on the metaverse bandwagon as customer demand for the technology rises. The idea of the metaverse revolves around an online space where people get to connect and interact with each other.

In fact, the metaverse mania is so immense that in January this year the Tennis Australia partnered with Decentraland to host the Australian Open (AO), which was the first official tennis grand slam in the metaverse.

Likewise, in March 2022, presenters, performers, and nominees, at the Grammys had a virtual reality experience in the metaverse via CEEK. More recently, in April this year, another project partnered with Decentraland to introduce for people to marrying in the metaverse.

Metaverse-centric organizations such as Decentraland, Meta, The Sandbox, and others are also building promising metaverse platforms and projects. Prophecy Market Insights predicted that the Global Metaverse Market accounted for $337.23 million in 2020 and is estimated to be $1003.06 million by 2030. The sector is anticipated to register a CAGR of 11.50% over the years.

A Citibank report highlighted that the metaverse economy could be valued between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030.

So, for a market growing at such a high pace, what are the ways in which one can invest in the space? This article will highlight how one can, directly and indirectly, invest in the metaverse.

Investing in Metaverse for Beginners

A Bloomberg report presented that the global revenue opportunity from the metaverse could approach $800 billion by 2024. With investment opportunities in the metaverse on the rise, it could be a good space for beginners to explore. However, the crypto and metaverse market is a tricky sector that often leaves new investors overwhelmed.

Much like cryptocurrencies, the metaverse allows almost anyone to invest and earn from the space. It’s essential to note that investing in metaverse is not limited to buying crypto-assets infact one can also invest or trade-in stocks of metaverse firms.

There are quite a few publicly traded companies from the metaverse space. Furthermore, beginners can choose from different industries in the metaverse space, including real estate, video games, and entertainment.

Decentraland is one firm that offers users the opportunities to buy virtual land in the metaverse. On the other hand, Meta is one traditional finance firm offering investments in the growing space.

That said, some ways a newcomer can invest in the metaverse include purchasing virtual land and prefabricated metaverse properties. Investors can also look at buying metaverse crypto, which offers a decent exposure, especially to beginners.

More seasoned investors can also look at investing in a metaverse ETF which is often considered to be a lot safer and less volatile. Furthermore, one can look at buying metaverse stocks and creating and flipping NFTs.

Directly Investing in the Metaverse

While investing in metaverse can be done indirectly, too, directly investing in metaverse projects has lured many investors. Over the last year and a half, investing in cryptocurrencies and the metaverse has been one of the most exciting areas in the finance space.

Even though many new investors think of investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether as similar to investing in the metaverse, it isn’t always mutually exclusive. In fact, one can invest in cryptocurrencies and the metaverse by taking various approaches.

One way of directly investing in the metaverse can be via cryptocurrencies and digital assets like NFTs in the metaverse space. Another way could be by investing or trading metaverse cryptocurrencies like Decentraland (MANA), The Sandbox (SAND), and Enjin Coin (ENJ).

These metaverse cryptocurrencies can be bought or traded directly from any major crypto exchange like Binance or Coinbase. Multiple assets across the metaverse can be used for buying products and services.

One can also invest in metaverse stocks from prominent firms such as Meta Platforms, Roblox, Microsoft Corporation, NVIDIA, and the Boeing Company, among others. Metaverse real estate is another industry that has seen tremendous growth over the last year.

Market reports have estimated that real estate sales in the metaverse could double in the year 2022. New investors and traders play a huge role in pumping the metaverse space by paying millions of dollars to buy real estate in the metaverse.

One can buy lands on the metaverse with cryptocurrencies like ether, SAND, and MANA. AXS, MANA, THETA, and ENJ are some of the most popular metaverse cryptocurrencies in use. Thus, buying one of these crypto-assets could be the first step to owning land on the metaverse.

As the metaverse technology gains more traction, entrepreneurs and business leaders stand to gain by looking into the space and investing in virtual real estate. Platforms like Decentraland and Otherside offer exciting opportunities in the virtual real estate market.

Staying Safe is the Key

While investing in cryptocurrencies and the metaverse is often seen as a glamorous, get-rich quick scheme investing in projects for their value, ecosystem, market cap, and macro growth is one thing that needs to be kept in mind.

That said, one of the most crucial things in the space is to stay safe and make informed decisions. Most importantly, it is vital to do your research in the market and assess the volatility of this growing space well.

Top 10 Cryptocurrencies To Watch in June 2022

Key Insights:

  • After the crash of May 9, most of the cryptocurrencies fell to their lowest in months.
  • Since last week, the crypto market has regained its lost $138 billion.
  • Top cryptos for the month of June include Terra 2.0, ApeCoin, Dogecoin, and more.

The cryptocurrency market, over the course of the last five months, has witnessed a lot of fluctuations and shifts in trends, but the one thing that did not change was the broader market bearishness.

However, the worst of it came to form only this May when the crypto market crashed twice within the same month.

Today all the cryptocurrencies in the market amount to $1.28 trillion after a 12% recovery three days ago, which brought $137.3 billion back into the market.

And even though one may not have found the best opportunity to make profits this month, the month of June certainly presents an opportunity to make gains with these cryptocurrencies that show promise going forward.

1. Bitcoin

Starting off with the king coin, Bitcoin, regardless of the market conditions, is always a good choice since it will find room for growth with minimal fluctuations.

Since BTC holds a 43% domination in the crypto space, a broader market rally will trigger a rise for BTC as well, and those who enter the market at $30k will certainly gain profits by the end of quarter 2.

Trading at $31,583, BTC is set to rise further after the 11.27% rally noted this week.

2. Cardano

With the Vasil hard fork set to arrive by the end of June, Cardano, at the moment, is one of the biggest coins to look forward to as investors expect this to be the turning point for the cryptocurrency.

A similar bullishness was also noted last year when the Alonzo hard fork was set to activate, and hopefully, this time around, investors can actually recover their losses.

ADA recently noted a 37.44% rise which brought the price up to $0.61, inching it closer to the critical support of $1.

3. Terra 2.0

Although Terra’s UST and LUNC (now Terra Classic) was the cause of one of the biggest crash in the history of crypto this month, Terraform Labs is giving it another shot.

Last week they launched a new blockchain with a new set of tokens still named LUNA to retrace their steps back to their peak.

Despite the depegging and subsequent LUNC supply overflow, Terra as a blockchain holds a lot of potential in the DeFi space, and that will be LUNA 2.0’s boon going forward as it trades at $7.19 today.

4. ApeCoin

Although it has been well over two months since its launch, ApeCoin hasn’t exhibited skyrocketing feats.

The reason behind this is the unfortunate timing as the broader market bearishness combined with the crash of May 9 halted its growth, and the altcoin came crashing down by 75.88%

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that APE is one of the most profitable projects in the crypto space, thanks to it being the token of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.

The biggest NFT project will only grow further when the BAYC NFT-based feature film is released, and consequently, APE will skyrocket.

5. Dogecoin

The meme coin lives! It is a surprise that DOGE continues to be one of the topmost cryptocurrencies globally and that it has endured the recent crashes.

While Dogecoin does not have much to offer as a blockchain and cryptocurrency, its resilience definitely makes it a worthy investment vehicle. 

Besides, the meme coin will always have the backing of the “DOGEfather” Elon Musk, who recently made it a viable payment option for its SpaceX merchandise.

6. Axie Infinity Shards

One of the biggest Gaming tokens in the crypto space, AXS has always held its position as a profitable crypto investment.

Although the token took a hit in January after Axie Infinity’s Ronin bridge was hacked for $625 million, and once again during the recent crash, AXS has bounced back quickly. 

Supported with the launch of Axie Infinity Origins in May, AXS noted the highest single-day rally in more than six months of 35.22%.

As the GameFi protocol continues to expand, AXS will also continue to grow thanks to its utility and value.

7. Flow

If this is a name you haven’t heard before, you’re not alone. Up until a few days ago, Flow wasn’t a big deal, but in the last week of May, the blockchain and token shot up in value owing to the announcement of a prominent Instagram artist’s NFT project on the Flow blockchain.

Consequently, FLOW became the biggest NFT token with a market cap of $2.74 billion, surpassing ApeCoin.

However, this is not what makes FLOW an unmissable opportunity. The blockchain created by Dapper Labs, creators of CryptoKitties, is backed by some major industry players, including Coinbase, Google Ventures, Samsung, Reddit, and Zynga, among others.

This makes the token a highly valuable asset that is poised to witness growth going forward.

8. Uniswap

Uniswap does not warrant an introduction as it is the biggest Decentralized Exchange (DEX) in the world.

Although the entire DeFi space is relatively quiet right now owing to the bearishness in the market, Uniswap still managed to maintain an average transaction volume of $10 billion every week.

As the market recovers, so will the DeFi space, and DEX’s will be in high demand. Naturally, UNI will observe high traction, eventually placing it on the path to a rally, which it might already be on given its recent 17.27% increase.

9. Decentraland

Known to be the pioneer of Metaverse, the Decentraland is definitely a cryptocurrency to look out for this month as Metaverse is becoming a place of choice for not just the crypto niche but also for mainstream industry players who are using it as a means of marketing.

Thus Decentraland is set to observe high demand, which will automatically trigger a rise for MANA.

As it is, the token was the first and the quickest cryptocurrency to recover from the crash of May 9, when it rose by 92.69% in 48 hours.

10. The Sandbox

Last but certainly not least, The Sandbox is also a rising star in the crypto space, being a Metaverse platform.

The Sandbox, although it has been on a downtrend since its all-time high of December, still is a sure-shot investment option, given it recently surpassed the likes of AAVE and Axie Infinity by market cap.

Plus, recently, the platform became the new home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, whose NFTs will be launched as avatars in the Metaverse.

As the market comes closer to the end of the second quarter, it will be interesting to see which other altcoins rise the ranks to become the next big investment option.

After the $623M Hack, Axie Infinity’s Discord Bot Gets Compromised

Key Insights:

  • The hack was confirmed by Axie Infinity earlier today.
  • MEE6 official channels denied allegations of being exploited.
  • Axie Infinity is still recovering from the $625 million hack.

As it appears to be, social media hacks and exploits seem to have become the new meta in cybercrime, with more and more crypto blockchains and DeFi protocols facing this issue this year. Axie Infinity became the latest target of the same.

Axie Infinity Blames MEE6

In a tweet today, Axie Infinity stated that the MEE6 bot which was installed on their main Axie server was compromised.

According to the investigation, the hacker used the MEE6 and added fake permissions to a fake Jiho account, after which fake announcements regarding a mint were posted on the channels.

Soon after, the MEE6 bot was removed, and the fake messages were deleted. Still, as per one user, their NFT and domain were already stolen.

Although the MEE6 team stated that the allegations being directed towards MEE6 were “fake news”, as neither did they spot any unusual activity nor were they were contacted by any real community owners.

The MEE6 support server although stated that the admin accounts of Axie Infinity’s Discord server were compromised, which enabled the hacker to use the MEE6 bot to post phishing messages and links in the channels.

Regardless of what the case may be, Axie Infinity investors’ community is losing their patience since this is the second attack on the platform, the last being the $625 million hack.

Known to be the biggest hack in the history of crypto, Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge exploit accounted for half of all the crypto attacks that took place throughout the first quarter of 2022.

Going forward, Axie Infinity needs to make itself more secure before investors start exiting to protect their funds.

Social Media – The New Target

As reported by FXEmpire, multiple official servers and accounts fell victim to these hackers, who used the platforms to execute phishing attacks on the users throughout April and May.

In the second quarter, the first to witness this was the NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) after its Discord was compromised and hackers managed to steal $69k worth of NFT.

The same month, BAYC’s Instagram account was hacked, which was used to promote a fake airdrop to lure investors into signing away their NFTs. As confirmed by the founder of BAYC, about 4 Apes, 6 Mutants, 3 Kennels, and some other NFTs were stolen.

Similarly, Opensea’s Discord was hacked as well, with hackers promoting fake YouTube-based NFTs to steal their private keys. Although no loss occurred in this instance, it made platforms reinforce their social media security.

Bitcoin and ETH at Make-or-Break Levels, UNI Aims Fresh Surge

Key Insights:

  • Bitcoin gained pace and tested the key $40,000 resistance.
  • Ether (ETH) faced resistance near $2,965 and corrected lower.
  • UNI climbed over 10% and eye a strong reversal above $8.00.

Bitcoin

After a clear move above the $38,800 resistance, bitcoin price started a steady increase. There was a break above the $39,400 resistance zone.

The price even tested the key $40,000 resistance, where the bears appeared. As a result, BTC started a downside correction and declined below $39,400. There was a move below the $39,100 support and the 21 simple moving average (H1).

Bitcoin BTC Hourly Chart
BTC Chart by FXEmpire

Besides, there is a key bearish trend line forming with resistance near $39,450 on the hourly chart. On the downside, there is a major support at $38,750. If the bulls fail to protect $38,750, the price could start a fresh decline.

Ethereum (ETH)

ETH also started a fresh increase above the $2,850 resistance level. The bulls pushed the price above the $2,915 resistance level and the 21 simple moving average (H1).

However, it struggled near $2,965 and there was no test of $3,000. Ether is now correcting gains and trading below $2,900. On the downside, there is a key support near the $2,850 level, below which the price could restart downtrend.

Ether ETH Hourly Chart
ETH Chart by FXEmpire

Conversely, the price might start a fresh increase above the $2,915 resistance. The main barrier is still near $3,000.

Uniswap (UNI)

UNI started a strong decline after it topped near the $12.00 level. The bears pushed the price below the $10.50 and $10.00 support levels.

It even moved below the $8.00 level and the 21-day simple moving average. Finally, there was a spike below the $7.00 level and the price tested the $6.30 zone. Recently, the price started a recovery wave above the $7.00 resistance.

Uniswap (UNI) Daily Chart
UNI Chart by FXEmpire

It gained over 10% and was able to spike above the $7.80 resistance. On the upside, the $8.00 level and a major bearish trend line on the daily chart hold the key for the bulls.

A close above the trend line might start a fresh increase towards the $10.00 resistance. The next major resistance is near the $11.20 level. If there is no upside break, the price could restart decline and test the $7.00 level. The next key support sits at $6.30.

ADA, BNB, and DOT price

Cardano (ADA) surged over 15% and tested the $0.900 resistance. It is now correcting gains and might even test the $0.82 support.

BNB tested the $410 resistance zone, where the bears appeared. The price is correcting lower and could revisit the $388 support zone.

Polkadot (DOT) is holding gains above the $15.00 resistance. A clear move above the $16.20 level may perhaps open the doors for more upsides.

A few trending coins are TRX, ETC, and AXS. Out of these, ETC is gaining pace above the $30.00 resistance zone and might rise further.

Indian Crypto Exchanges Mandated to Store User Info for 5 Years

Key Insights:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a new directive.
  • All crypto-related businesses have been told to keep user details stored for at least five years.
  • The decentralization aspect of crypto is losing touch with the worldwide governments’ interference.

As much as crypto has been cheered, its rapidly increasing adoption has also raised concern from authoritative bodies. As a result, crypto is losing one of its biggest USPs of being decentralized and private.

Indian government interferes

As per a new directive issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) will be responsible for handling all the aspects related to cybersecurity, inducing the following particulars:

  • Collection, analysis, and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.
  • Forecast and alerts of cybersecurity incidents.
  • Emergency measures for handling cybersecurity incidents.
  • Coordination of cyber incident response activities.
  • Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes, and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response, and
    reporting of cyber incidents.
  • Such other functions relating to cybersecurity may be prescribed.

But beyond these responsibilities, the ministry has also focused specifically on the crypto-related business since crypto crime has grown immensely over the years.

Just this year, the crypto space witnessed the biggest hack ever when Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge was exploited for $625 million.

However, in doing so, the IT ministry has asked all virtual asset service providers, exchanges, and custodian wallet providers to maintain all information of the users, as well as the records of financial transactions for a period of five years.

Explaining the reason further, the new directive read,

“[…] so as to ensure cybersecurity in the area of payments and financial markets for citizens while protecting their data, fundamental rights and economic freedom in view of the growth of virtual assets.”

The country’s stance on crypto continues to lean in an unfavorable direction ever since the government came up with the 30% crypto tax. The tax has already been criticized by citizens since it is intended to push people away from using crypto.

But India isn’t the only country to interfere in crypto operations.

America and Japan were the first to do so

After Russia invaded Ukraine, countries across the globe began slapping sanctions on the Russian government and oligarchs. But in order to ensure that they are blocked off financially, with no means of escape, many countries started suspending their access to crypto.

The US began the trend, after the White House asked most of the top cryptocurrency exchanges to block Russian sanctioned accounts. While at first there was some back and forth, the exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase, and FTX caved and ended up blocking the accounts.

Japan took a step further, and the country’s Financial Services Agency warned its crypto exchanges that the government would impose penalties if crypto exchanges failed to comply with sanction rules.

Thus, while, on the one hand, crypto makes an advancement, it is forced to take a step back with such incidents.

After Losing $625 Million, Axie’s Ronin Set To Offer $1M Bug Bounty

Key Insights:

  • Going forward, Sky Mavis will be ramping up validator nodes to 21 in 3 months, with a long-term target of 100 nodes.
  • Sky Mavis is also launching a $1 million bug bounty.
  • The Ronin Bridge is expected to reopen by mid-late May.

Last month the crypto world witnessed the most devastating hack in its 13 years long history. This one instance certainly left many developers shocked and worried about their own projects, leading to introspection and necessary upgrades.

One of them is the victim of the hack, Ronin itself, who has come up with a plan of action for the future.

Ronin Bridge Is Set To Bounce Back

The hack, which wiped out 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5M USDC from the Ronin bridge, was conducted by the North Korean cybercriminals Lazarus. As reported by FXEmpire, this was confirmed by the US department of treasury itself. 

And since these criminals will certainly not entertain a plea of a bargain, the Ronin Network has taken things into its own hands, starting with the execution of its Security Roadmap.

Among the many things highlighted by Ronin, a few things are set to make a significant impact on the market and the bridge. Firstly, Sky Mavis will be increasing the number of validator nodes to 11 from 5 as it prepares to onboard three more soon.

The network aims to establish 21 validator nodes within the next three months with a long-term goal of creating 100 validator nodes.

Secondly, the bridge will be implementing Stricter Internal Procedures and explaining the same the report read,

“We are inspecting every area of security, including our internal procedures. We are putting a strong emphasis on security for all employees which includes more robust training courses to combat external threats and the use of work-only devices to further mitigate risks.”

Furthermore, Sky Mavis is also launching a Bug bounty program. Clearly, the last exploit was enough to break confidence, but Sky Mavis is looking to prevent the occurrences of any such situation.

For the same, $1 million worth of bounty has also been offered to encourage responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities.

Ronin Bridge Set To Reopen?

Although Sky Mavis did not give out a confirmed date as to when they could re-start the Ronin bridge, it seems like they are aiming for mid-May or later next month, only when the Ronin contracts’ upgrade would be 100% finished.

In the meanwhile, Axie Infinity users can deposit and withdraw their wETH and USDC as they did on the Ronin Bridge via Binance

Algorand Awards Flare 7-Figure Grant To Develop a Bitcoin Bridge

Key Insights:

  • Flare received the grant from the Algorand Foundation SupaGrant.
  • The bridge will offer greater security through consensus and risk mitigation.
  • Flare will also add Bitcoin as a FAsset, which can be leveraged to build dapps on Flare.

As the fear of DeFi hacks and exploits continues to grow, investors and developers alike are finding ways of being wary of protecting their assets and projects.

And building on the same DeFi chain Algorand has tapped just the right network to make that happen.

Algorand Gets a Touch of Flare

In a press release, the interoperability-focused Flare network announced that it had been awarded a 7-figure Algorand Foundation SupaGrant to develop a Bitcoin bridge into the Algorand ecosystem.

The reason behind this bridge is the constant threat that looms over the DeFi chains of being hacked. As it is just this year, two major crypto hacks left the investors with billions of dollars of their money stolen.

Earlier last month, Axie Infinifty’s Ronin bridge lost over $625 million, which became the biggest hack in the history of cryptocurrencies.

Thus, to avoid that, Flare is focusing on making sure that the new bridge is much more secure and that it will enable secure, trustless interoperability between ALGO and BTC, plus other non-smart contract tokens such as DOGE, LTC, XRP, and XLM.

Flare will achieve this by using the network’s Flare Time Series Oracle and the State Connector.

Commenting on this bridge, the Head of DeFi, Algorand Foundation, Daniel Oon, said,

“Our grant partnership with Flare will develop key DeFi infrastructure with a bridge to Bitcoin, opening up opportunities for further collaboration and innovation. We look forward to our partnership bringing value to our respective communities.”

Not only this, but the Flare network also announced that they would be bringing Bitcoin as a FAsset onto Flare. This way, developers could use this token as a means of developing Dapps by leveraging their FBTC.

Algorand on the Chart

While the bridge might open up new roads for the chain, its primary function as an investment vehicle isn’t doing that well at the moment. After falling consistently throughout the months, ALGO is now trading at $0.66 at a 14-month low.

Algorand’s price is currently at a 14 month low

ALGO might need more than this to recover the losses it has endured throughout 2022

Blockchain Games Raise $2.5B As Dapps Lose $1.2B to Hacks in Q1 ’22

Key Insights:

  • The report suggests over $12 billion worth of NFT trades were conducted in Q1 2022.
  • Overall DeFi protocols have lost more than $1.2 billion in the same period.
  • Gaming projects have noted $2.5 billion invested by Venture Capitalists as GameFi TVL crosses $28 billion.

Crypto is more than just Bitcoin and altcoins now. The space has developed into a world of its own, figuratively and literally, with the arrival of the Metaverse.

NFTs have become a need for investors, and in the midst of all this, gaming projects have also noticed a lot of attention this time around. How much, though, is the question?

DeFi Hits It Out of the Park

According to the DappRadar Q1 industry report, the DeFi space is growing with the broadening adoption of the NFT and Metaverse market and an increased interest in blockchain games.

And the potential that Decentralized Finance (DeFi) presents exceeds the worries of external factors.

Dapps all registered over 2.38 million daily unique active wallets throughout the first quarter, and the DeFi TVL kept its pace maintained throughout the fluctuations.

The biggest gainers this time around were none other than NFTs, which generated over $12 billion in trades thanks to the adoption of NFTs outside of Ethereum.

Furthermore, Q1 2022 was a pretty successful quarter for blockchain gaming projects. These Dapps managed to raise over $2.5 billion from Venture Capitalists as well as capture investors’ attention.

But with every boon comes a bane, and DeFi’s biggest bane is the hacks. DeFi, as the name suggests, is decentralized finance, i.e., it is dependent on no one keeping it safe from direct access attacks or exploits.

But those looking for a loophole manage to find a way to exploit a protocol, which is how DeFi protocols lost over $1.2 billion in the first three months of 2022.

About 50% of this loss is attributed to the Axie Infinity’s Ronin Hack, where exploiters managed to execute the biggest crypto attack, stealing over $615 million. The other major exploit was the Wormhole, wherein $326 million were stolen.

But It Still Did Not Stop the DeFi Growth

Today the total value locked (TVL) across all Decentralized Finance protocols and chains comes up to $214 billion, and while this is huge, it is nothing in comparison to the crypto space’s market cap of $1.9 trillion.

DeFi TVL is at $214 billion as of today | Source: DeFi Llama

The rapidly emerging GameFi space, which, as mentioned above, noticed a lot of interest from users and investors alike, is currently valued above $28 billion and growing thanks to the rise of Metaverse and platforms such as The Sandbox and Decentraland.

Therefore, going forward, these spaces will be noticing much more investment flowing in as DeFi is considered to be the future of finance.

Ethereum Stablecoin Dapp Loses Over $180 Million in Exploit

Key Insights:

  • Beanstalk Farms suffered a $182 million exploit in which over 24.8k ETH and 36M BEAN were stolen.
  • The protocol’s TVL just recently crossed the $150 million mark.
  • The exploiter also made a 250k donation to the Ukraine Crypto Donation.

2022 does not seem to want to take a break when it comes to crypto cyber attacks, as today, another Ethereum-based Decentralized Finance (DeFi) protocol called the Beanstalk Farms was exploited for $182 million.

April Witnesses Its First Major Attack

As revealed by the blockchain security and data analytics company Peckshield Inc., an unnatural transaction seems to have taken place on Ethereum, and it was reported to the Dapp.

The transaction included millions in Ethereum (ETH), BEAN, DAI, and USDT.

Upon closer inspection, it became evident that the transaction was born out of the exploit, which was later confirmed by the protocol itself. Announcing on Twitter, Beanstalk Farms stated,

“Beanstalk suffered an exploit today. The Beanstalk Farms team is investigating the attack and will make an announcement to the community as soon as possible… We’re engaging all efforts to try to move forward. As a decentralized project, we are asking the DeFi community and experts in chain analytics to help us limit the exploiter’s ability to withdraw funds via CEXes. If the exploiter is open to a discussion, we are as well.”

According to Peckshield, the hack was executed thanks to the flash loan assisted pass of BIP18. The hacker first withdrew over 100 ETH worth $291k, which acted as the initial funds needed to launch the attack.

The gains that came from the hack exceeding $80 million were deposited to Tornado Cash. Out of this $80 million, the hacker even donated $250k to the Ukraine Crypto Donation.

The process of hack as explained by Peckshield | Source: Twitter

All in all, the hacker managed to run away with 24,830 worth $72.4 million and another 36 million BEAN, which up until yesterday was worth $36 million, but today it is merely worth $4.36 million.

The effect of the attack on the price action was so intense that the coin ended up losing more than 86% of its entire $1.1 value to trade at $0.12 at the moment.

Hacks and Exploits Emerging From?

While not one single entity can be blamed for this occurrence, North Korea usually has a much more frequent appearance for hacks this huge.

In fact, as reported by FXEmpire, the ruling party-run Lazarus group was also behind the biggest hack of crypto’s history, in which Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network lost $625 million.

The hackers single-handedly were responsible for exploiting more than $400 million in digital assets in 2021 and continue to draw attention to themselves. North Korea seems to be using this fund to further its missile program, which will motivate the Lazarus Group to conduct more similar hacks.

North Korea Targeting Prominent Crypto Organizations, Says Leading VC

Key Insights:

  • Arthur highlighted the growing threat of North Korea in the crypto space.
  • He suggested implementing an address monitoring system.
  • Just yesterday US Treasury revealed North Korea’s Lazarus group executed the biggest hack in the history of crypto.

DeFiance Capital Founder Arthur Cheong, aka ‘Arthur_0x’, put out a series of tweets earlier today detailing the threat North Korea presents to the crypto space.

Initially written just for DeFiance Capital portcos and partners, Arthur decided to release it to the general public as well in the interest of public welfare.

Beware of North Korea

According to Arthur, research conducted by DeFiance Capital and a leading cyber security expert brought to light an organized campaign executed to target ‘all the prominent organizations in the crypto space by the hacker group BlueNorOff.

As per Arthur, the cybercrime organization is a state-run group who have achieved sophistication in its phishing methods, making it difficult to detect them now. And given their recent success, he believes that going forward, these attacks are only going to get more frequent and further intense.

Not too long ago, Arthur himself was the victim of a phishing attack which he now claims was conducted by none other than the BlueNorOff group. In this attack, the Venture Capitalist lost over $1.5 million in NFTs when his hot wallet was attacked.

Thus to prevent a similar occurrence, he highlighted a few things which crypto companies can follow, including implementing a multi-signature wallet secured by hardware wallets.

A dedicated computer for crypto transactions that have no interaction with Emails and other such apps can also minimize hack risks and doubling down on 2FA (Two-Factor Authorisation) as well.

One suggestion that stood out was how these cyber criminals from the Lazarus Group are forming fake organizations posing as software developers to be hired remotely, taking advantage of the ongoing pandemic to get direct access to the systems.

Adding to the same, Arthur tweeted,

“We have heard of this case from one of our portfolio companies where applicants for their software engineer role appear to be suspicious in interview, and unable to match up with their profile in their resume.”

Thus he suggested staying wary of this as well since direct access to the network will be equal to leaving the vault open. He also finally suggested implementing an address monitoring system so that unauthorized transactions can be detected and flagged immediately.

The Lazarus

One of the most famous cybercriminal groups in the world, Lazarus, is the spawn of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) intelligence agency called the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

This group, in 2021, singlehandedly managed to conduct hacks, exploits, and scams amounting to $400 million.

They were also responsible for Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network’s $625 million hack.

As reported by FXEmpire, the US Treasury Department as well crypto and blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis confirmed that it was the Lazarus group that executed the biggest hack in the history of crypto.

Therefore, hereon companies might want to begin practicing higher precautions when it comes to digital asset-related activities.

North Korea’s Lazarus Group Accused of Involvement in Axie Infinity Hack

Key Insights:

  • Investigators identify the North Korean cybercriminal syndicate the Lazarus Group in the Axie Infinity hack.
  • $552m was stolen in the Ronin Bridge hack, reportedly the biggest in crypto history.
  • North Korean and Russian cybercriminals are among the most prolific in the crypto world.

As interest in digital assets and Web3 continues to grow, the opportunities are plentiful for cybercriminals.

Governments and regulators across several key crypto jurisdictions have raised concerns over the rise in illicit activity.

Such has been the level of scrutiny that the U.S launched a new FBI crypto unit to tackle cybercrime.

According to recent reports, North Korean and Russian hackers have been the most prolific in crypto-related cybercrime.

North Korean Cybercriminals Implicated in the Axie Infinity Hack

This week, government agencies and Chainalysis confirmed that North Korea’s Lazarus Group was involved in the Ronin hack. As far as crypto hacks go, the Ronin hack is the largest ever, with cybercriminals getting away with $552m.

In April, FX Empire reported Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network becoming compromised.

The Ronin hack occurred in March, with stolen funds reportedly including 173.6k ETH and 25.5m USDC.

Since the March hack, Chainalysis has worked closely with U.S government agencies to trace the missing funds.

This week, the U.S Treasury Department confirmed the involvement of the Lazarus Group in the Ronin hack. Chainalysis noted that the U.S government updated its “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons’ List with an Ethereum address linked to the Lazarus Group.

The Lazarus Group is a North Korean cybercriminal syndicate. According to North Korean defector Kim Kuk-song, the unit is the 414 Liaison Office in North Korea.

Before the Ronin hack, the $450m Mt Gox hack was the biggest crypto hack.

North Korean Cybercriminal Syndicates Find Huge Success in Cryptos

In February, news hit the wires of North Korea funding its missile program with stolen crypto.

North Korea illegally amassed more than $400m worth of digital assets last year, according to figures from Chainalysis. Cybercriminals primarily targeted investment firms and centralized exchanges.

The Lazarus Group’s involvement in the Ronin hack could dwarf last year’s reported total.

With North Korea actively amassing crypto, Russian cybercriminals have also found success in the crypto world.

In February, FX Empire also reported on ransomware figures for 2021.

Ransomware payments hit $692m in 2020, an upward revision to a $350m estimate. Ransomware payments had stood at $152m in 2019 and just $39m in 2018.

Chainalysis has currently tracked $602m in ransomware payments in 2021. Based on the 2020 estimate and latest numbers, the 2021 figure will likely break the $1bn barrier.

Russian-based Conti illicitly amassed at least $180m from ransomware victims in 2021, the biggest haul, with DarkSide coming in a distant 2nd, with less than $100m.

U.S President Joe Biden has placed DarkSide in Russia. In May 2021, the U.S government accused DarkSide of a ransomware cyberattack on America’s Colonial Pipeline. The FBI paid a 75 BTC ransom before retrieving 63.7 BTC.

The latest hack will give the White House and government agencies greater impetus to force platforms to tighten their ships and for regulators and government agencies to intensify the scrutiny of digital assets.

Just How Safe Is Your Crypto?

High-profile crypto hacks are on the rise. Last month saw the DEFI protocols Agave and Hundred Finance stung in an $11 million raid, just one of a slew of crypto hacks of a similar hue.

So what’s the deal? Does crypto suffer from security issues? Who’s hacking what? And is there anything you – the innocent crypto trader or HODLer can do about it?

What kind of crypto targets find themselves in hackers’ crosshairs?

Centralized Exchanges

Once upon a time, crypto exchanges were “low-hanging fruit” for crypto hackers with catastrophic effects, in many cases.

In Japan, Mt. Gox (in 2014), Coincheck (early 2018), and Zaif (late 2018) all suffered huge hacks. The former was put out of business altogether, while the latter two were bailed out by larger companies that eventually took them over.

The last attack of such a scale on a crypto exchange was the KuCoin raid of 2020 – leading some to suggest that, in more recent times, trading platforms have upped their security game.

Gina Kim, a South Korea-based cybersecurity expert, tells FX Empire that the security landscape has changed for crypto players in recent years. She says:

“Not so long ago, centralized exchanges – even the bigger ones – were notoriously lax when it came to security. Despite the fact that they were often handling millions of dollars worth of coins, they had very low security fences, so to speak. And hackers who targetted them knew that.”

Kim continues:

“Things have changed a lot now, with better security protocols for employees and improved security at the software level. They aren’t perfect, but they have certainly invested a lot more than they once did in staying safe. Some have learned the hard way.”

Regardless, the sector is still not immune to security breaches – only a few months have passed since hackers made off with almost $200 million worth of user funds from the BitMart exchange.

Hacks on Protocols and Decentralized Exchanges

Sadly, these kinds of attacks are now on the rise. A hack on the Ronin network recently saw the Sky Mavis-developed Axie Infinity play-to-earn title, its AXS coin and its users lose $625 million in the biggest hack in crypto history.

In January, the Qubit Finance Protocol suffered an $80 million loss, while Grime Finance lost $30 million in a hack at the end of last year.

As the amount of blockchains and decentralized platforms continues to rise, so too does the number of targets now open to exploitation by hackers.

Voice and spear-phishing

Kim tells FX Empire that this form of attack is now the “hacking attack of choice” for most would-be crypto raiders. She notes that the “prime target” of many hackers remains crypto exchange employees, who are sometimes targetted with sophisticated and “tailored” attacks that involve bogus job offers made via platforms like LinkedIn, with attackers posing as employees from partner companies.

She explains:

“All they need to do is convince you that they really are who they are pretending to be. Often that’s all it takes for you to trust them enough to click on a link that opens a back door for them. Once they’ve got that software onto a computer, they are set.”

But there is danger too for ordinary crypto traders and holders. Kim notes that targetting crypto exchange customers with “urgent-looking” messages and phone calls claiming that someone is trying to access their crypto often sends unsuspecting customers into a panic.

In a panicked state, it is often easy to lead victims to click on links in emails that send these customers to sites where they enter their login and password details – unaware that such sites have been custom-made to help hackers harvest such data.

Fortunately, many larger exchanges are aware of such threats, and inform customers about ways to make sure that mails actually do come from their staff. It’s worth remembering that no exchange employee will ever ask you to hand over your password or private keys.

Who hacks crypto?

Individual hackers and groups

People have all sorts of reasons for hacking. There are even some “white hat” hackers who break into protocols and exchanges to expose risks and later return the funds.

But there are also plenty of people who simply use their advanced computer skills to fill their own pockets.

Hacker groups are also common. In 2020, blockchain analysts claimed that the Eastern Europe-based CryptoCore group had masterminded no fewer than five crypto exchange hacks, reaping some $200 million in the process.

In the case of notorious attacks like the $ 520 million 2018 Coincheck raid, police are still hunting down raiders – with very little to show for their efforts.

Do states hack crypto, too?

The UN has repeatedly accused North Korea and the notorious Lazarus group of masterminding multiple raids on crypto targets across the border in the South – as well as elsewhere in the world. Experts in Washington and Seoul have claimed that Pyongyang has trained a group of at least 20 “elite cyber warriors” to hack crypto exchanges as part of a long-term fundraising strategy.

The North has rejected these claims, however, calling them fabrications that only a morally bankrupt “spying empire” like the United States could “concoct.”

The South Korea-based Kim remarks:

“It’s hard to say if the allegations about North Korea are 100% true or not, but there can be no doubt that there are some very well-thought-out traps out there in the Korean language – obviously laid by Korean-speaking hackers with their eyes on some very lucrative crypto prizes!”

What’s the future for crypto security?

Crypto has a long way to go if it is to shore up its security holes once and for all. Some may argue that perhaps it will never achieve this feat, and that users will simply have to accept that using digital forms of money and decentralized assets will always be subject to risk.

In South Korea and some other areas, crypto exchanges are required to back their users’ deposits on their platforms with their own token and fiat holdings – meaning that in the case of hacks on regulated exchanges, platforms are legally obliged to refund users.

This might be of some comfort to those who keep their coins on centralized exchanges, but CEXes are not the be-all, end-all of the crypto world. Some even prefer not to use them at all.

So in the absence of a silver bullet that will slay all hackers, how can individual crypto holders boost their own security?

The (very) short answer: Keep your crypto as secure as possible, avoid anything that looks remotely like a scam, back up your wallets, move any crypto you’re not trading into cold wallets, consider self-custody and keep your security phrases under lock and key.

Axie Infinity Plunges 27% As Builder Takes Blame of the $625M Hack

Key Insights:

  • The Chief Operating Officer of Sky Mavis, Alexsander Larsen, took full responsibility for the Ronin hack.
  • Larsen stated that their drive towards “progressive decentralization” left the users vulnerable.
  • Axie Infinity, since the $625 million hacks, has lost over 27.7%

In the world of crypto, where the anonymity of a user is its biggest strength, Sky Mavis’ Chief Operating Officer (COO) has come forward to take the blame for what happened on March 23.

The biggest hack in the history of crypto cost Axie Infinity users to lose $625.5 million as the decentralization of the Ronin Network was compromised due to Sky Mavis centralization. But since then, things have changed for executives thanks to accountability taken by executives of the platform.

“Our Fault,” Says Sky Mavis

In an interview with CoinDesk, The COO of Sky Mavis, Alexsander Larsen, said,

“These are the players that deposited their funds into the Ronin network, and who trusted us, and we failed to live up to that trust; We’re the team that pushed to go down this path of, you know, progressive decentralization and, and all those trade-offs made us vulnerable for this attack…So, lesson learned, we’re taking full responsibility for this internally.”

As per Larsen, Sky Mavis’ decided to move to the Ronin network from Ethereum to accommodate more transactions on the platform since Ronin was significantly cheaper than Ethereum. But in doing so, they dabbled with the biggest strength and weakness of crypto – decentralization.

Since the validator requirement notably reduced on the Ronin network, Axie Infinity became vulnerable to a majority attack which is precisely what happened when the exploiter gained control over Sky Mavis nodes.

Regardless since then, the network has come to deploy preventive measures and even raised $150 million in funding from Binance, Animoca Brands, a16z, Dialectic, and Paradigm to reimburse the treasury.

However, the more significant impact of this hack was on investors whose AXS holdings have been compromised thanks to the falling prices.

Axie Infinity Loses Over $20

While the broader market cues haven’t been as bearish, AXS has been facing the brunt of skepticism following the hack. Since March 29, AXS has noted mostly red candles, which resulted in the altcoin slipping by 27.72%.

Axie Infinity Shards’ has plunged by 27.72% in the last 11 days

Surprisingly since the night of the announcement of the hack, despite the falling prices, investors have been consistently buying more AXS out of exchanges. The total existing supply has reduced from 3.28 million to 2.71 million today.

Axie Infinity Shards’ supply on exchanges has dropped by over 500k AXS | Source: Santiment

Thus maybe those who anticipated a price fall following the hack are getting in early to cash out for profit when the prices recover again.

Survey Suggests that Crypto Trading Could Move to the Metaverse

Key Insights:

  • Metaverse may become the ‘most popular’ way to buy and sell crypto someday.
  • A survey done on 300 developers by API provider Agor suggests that NFTs would continue to grow.
  • However, data privacy and security could continue to plague the Metaverse.

Over the last year, the rise of NFTs and Metaverse has been notable. However, top coins like BTC and ETH still dominate the cryptocurrency and blockchain market. A new study highlights that crypto and blockchain innovation will be ‘critical to shaping the future of the metaverse.’

Metaverse To Take Over Trading

A new study focused on developers suggests that the Metaverse may become the ‘most popular’ way to buy and sell crypto someday. The findings highlight that 57% of developers think the Metaverse will eventually be the most prominent way to trade crypto.

The study surveyed 300 developers‘ thoughts and ideas about the Metaverse and was commissioned by API provider Agora. Developers were also asked if nonfungible tokens‘ (NFTs) role will continue to grow and become the biggest form of currency in the Metaverse. 53% of the respondents agreed, while 24% disagreed.

The survey also found that a majority of the developers believe that crypto and blockchain innovation will be ‘critical to shaping the future of the metaverse.’ Notably, 70% of the respondents agreed that advancements within the blockchain and crypto sphere would significantly affect the Metaverse.

However, one out of three respondents believes that data privacy and security may be a huge challenge for the Metaverse.

Data Privacy to Remain an Issue

According to the survey, 33% of the respondents believe that data privacy and security are the biggest hurdles that the Metaverse has to overcome.

Metaverse could face other challenges including ecosystem interoperability, disinformation and hate speech, and community building. Furthermore, accessible tools for developers, monetization, creating a currency and payments ecosystem, identifying users, and lackluster hardware could also be crucial in the Metaverse.

Notably, more NFT hacks and metaverse ecosystems suffering security breaches have surfaced over the last few months. The Ronin Network, a key platform powering the popular mobile game Axie Infinity, recently suffered a $615 hack.

Furthermore, on April 1, BAYC saw a Discord server hack. The hackers even managed to steal a valuable Mutant ApeYacht Club (MAYC) NFT.

$1.2 Billion Lost From Hacks on DeFi Platforms: Immunefi

Key Insights:

  • In the first quarter of this year, the total DeFi hacks have led to a loss of $1.2 billion.
  • The emergence of new, poorly built DeFi Dapps is also cited as a cause of these hacks.
  • Total money locked in DeFi protocols represents 10.6% of the entire crypto market cap.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the use of Decentralized Finance grew. But along with it grew the abuse of these dapps at the hands of hackers and exploiters who have stolen more money this year than any year before. 

DeFi Hacks Cost Big Bucks

As per the data from Immunefi, in the first three months of 2022, the DeFi crypto market has seen a loss of $1.22 billion worth of assets.

This figure is unimaginable since, this time last year, all the DeFi hacks combined only cost the market $154 million. That difference marks a 692% increase in the loss of money.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the hacks have also increased by this magnitude since the Ronin hack that occurred last week alone is responsible for almost 50% of the $1.22 billion losses.

As reported by FXEmpire, the hack on Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network resulted in the loss of $625.5 million as the exploiter managed to hack private keys to approve fraudulent transactions.

But according to Mitchell Amador, the Chief Executive Officer and Founder at Immunefi, this is just the beginning as going forward; things are going to get worse. In a statement to Yahoo Finance, Amador said,

“We should expect these types of [sophisticated] attacks to continue to increase, as more and more criminal organizations build DeFi-hacking skills in-house. Furthermore, as DeFi gets bigger and bigger, these kinds of attacks become more and more lucrative.”

The Hacks From the Last Three Months

Apart from the Ronin hack, the second most significant hack recorded this quarter was the Wormhole hack, in which exploiters managed to get away with a $320 million theft after 120k cryptocurrencies were stolen from the platform.

Furthermore, another major exploit was the Qubit Finance protocol exploit, in which $80 million were taken by exploiting the smart contract that minted xETH, using which as collateral the hacker managed to take the $80 million.

This is proof that no matter how secure or how thorough the development of a protocol is, hackers will consistently eye for a single error that can enable them to exploit the protocol.

With Axie Infinity Losing Users, Here’s how AXS Could Perform

Key Insights:

  • Axie Infinity’s active users have witnessed a decline since December 2021.
  • The recent Ronin hack has added to AXS’s selling pressure.
  • For now, AXS’s price is down 7% over the week. 

While most of the top cryptocurrencies have performed adequately well as Q3 came to an end, some projects such as Axie Infinity suffered due to external issues like the Ronin hack.

Notably, Axie’s daily users saw a decline that could have some long-term effects on the ecosystem, thereby pushing competitors like The Sandbox and Decentraland ahead. 

Axie Losing Momentum

Axie Infinity game had been losing users much before the infamous Ronin hack was disclosed last week, restricting the ability of players to move digital money out of the virtual world. 

Sky Mavis, the developer behind Axie Infinity and Ronin, highlighted that the number of daily active users (DAUs) on Axie has fallen 45% to 1.48 million from a peak in November. The latest tally is for the week ended March 28, or a day before the $600 million Ronin hack was discovered. 

FXempire, AXS, Crypto
Source: Bloomberg

The decrease in DAUs has been particularly noteworthy since December when updates to the game were announced. In the last week of March, when information about the Ronin hack surfaced, the hackers took off with Ether and USD Coin. 

Axie’s Ronin bridge is a sidechain built to facilitate faster and cheaper transactions for the game. Thankfully after the hack on Ronin, there were no significant price implications on AXS. 

AXS Price Action

At the time of writing, AXS traded at $64.58, noting a 1.29% decline in 24-hours and a 6.86% fall over the week. The depreciating number of users on Axie could be correlated with the over 50% fall in price the token saw from December 2021 to January 10. 

Nonetheless, the recent market recovery has put AXS above the crucial $60 mark. Furthermore, AXS’s trade volumes have maintained relatively higher levels since the last week of March. 

FXempire, AXS, Crypto
Source: FXEmpire

One worrying price trend spotted on AXS’s chart is its RSI making lower lows indicative of selling pressure taking over the coin’s market. In the short term, the $70.2 mark could act as a strong resistance, and a move above the same could ensure further gains for the token.

DeFi Lending Protocol Ola Finance Exploited for $3.6M

Key Insights:

  • DeFi lending protocol Ola Finance announced an exploit that allowed an attacker to steal $3.6 million.
  • The attacker took advantage of a reentrancy bug in Ola’s smart contracts.
  • This comes just a week after the exploit of Axie Infinity’s Ronin network. 

It was no April Fool joke for Ola Finance when over $3.6 million were siphoned off the protocol in a recent exploit. DeFi protocols have been an easy target for hackers as more and more security breaches have surfaced over the last couple of years.

Another DeFi hack

On April 1, decentralized lending protocol Ola Finance revealed that it suffered an exploit that allowed hackers to grab $3.6 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the platform.

Ola Finance published a summary of the exploit, revealing that the value stolen from the protocol summed up to around $4.67M in ETH, BTC, and FUSE prices. The attackers managed to steal around 216,964 USDC, 507,216 BUSD, 200,000.00 fUSD, 550.45 WETH, 26.25 WBTC, and 1.24 million FUSE.

PeckShield, a blockchain security firm that worked with Ola to investigate the exploit, disclosed that the attacker took advantage of a ‘reentrancy’ bug in one of Ola’s smart contracts. The hack was made possible due to the incompatibility between Compound fork and ERC677/ERC777-based tokens, which have the built-in callback functions misused to allow reentrancy to drain the lending pool.

Ola’s DeFi protocol operates across various blockchains. In the recent attack hackers targeted its deployment on the Fuse network. Fuse is an Ethereum Virtual Machine-compatible blockchain with around $12.8 million in total value locked (TVL) before the attack.

Hackers Targeting DeFi

The Ola Finance hack comes only a few days after the $625 million exploit of Axie Infinity’s Ronin network. The Ronin hack is one of the largest in DeFi history, where a whopping 173,600 ETH and  25.5M USDC were drained from Ronin bridge just last week.

Furthermore, the reentrancy attack used for the Ola Finance hack isn’t the first one this year. On March 16, attacker siphoned over $11 million from Agave and Hundred Finance by introducing a reentrancy bug and using a flash loan exploit to siphon funds, as reported by FXEmpire.

Even though the Ola Finance hack is relatively smaller than the aforementioned attacks, it reminds us of the multimillion-dollar thefts that are now fairly common in DeFi.