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Daily Digest | Take what you can

Written by The Uptake Published on   2 mins read

A massive, nine-figure hack sparks plenty of questions.

Hi there. It’s Brady here with a note before the weekend.

How do you move six hundred million dollars of stolen money when the whole world has its eyes on you?

The answer, it seems, is to give nearly half of the loot back and hope you manage to get away with what’s left.

At least that’s what the hacker (or hackers) who exploited Poly Network tried to do on Wednesday. After pulling off the largest DeFi theft ever, Mr. White Hat, as he or she or they are called, was in possession of USD 613 million in crypto assets and had to figure out what to do next. That is no easy feat in a realm where every transaction is designed to be trackable by anyone who knows where to look. Stephanie wrote about this story.

Then, they gave even more back on Thursday. The hacker(s) embedded a message in a transaction to say they did it “for fun.”

“When spotting the bug, I had a mixed feeling,” Mr. White Hat said. “Ask yourself what to do had you facing so much fortune [sic]. Asking the project team politely so that they can fix it? Anyone could be the traitor given one billion!”

There’s plenty to think about here. In a DeFi context, who shoulders the responsibility when something goes really, really wrong? If you spot a bug that lets you steal one billion dollars, who do you speak to? Do you just ping the developers on Discord or Telegram and hope nobody else in the same channel will steal everything before the bug is fixed? Or maybe taking it yourself and giving it back is the best way to bring some attention to the flaw. Perhaps stealing a large sum and giving back most of it while keeping a few million for yourself makes you look selfless even though you just committed a crime. I’m not sure.

As I write this, Mr. White Hat is still holding onto USD 268 million in Ether from the hack. They said, “I am not very interested in money!” So maybe the rest will be returned too?

This is a wild one. It’s giving us so much to ponder.

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