Explaining crypto’s billion-dollar bridge problem
On March 23rd, the Ronin blockchain network underlying the popular NFT-driven game Axie Infinity was hit with a hack that saw the attackers walk away with an eye-popping $625 million in cryptocurrency. The Ronin hack was the largest amount of money that had ever been stolen from the type of service called a “bridge,” which connects one blockchain to another so that value can be sent between them. Unfortunately, it was far from the only hack to hit a bridge: less than two months previously, another bridge platform called Wormhole was exploited for close to $325 million, and about six months before that, more than $600 million was stolen from another cross-chain bridge called Poly. (In a surprising twist, the hacker later returned Poly’s stolen funds.) In short, bridges are the weak point in a lot of cryptocurrency systems, and hackers are targeting them for more than $1 billion in little over a year. So it’s worth laying out exactly what they are, why they’re important, and how crypto companies can try to plug the billion-dollar hole in their pockets.