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Axie Infinity Co-Founder Loses $9.7 Million in Crypto Hack

Jeffrey Zirlin, the co-founder of Sky Mavis, the company behind the popular blockchain game Axie Infinity, revealed that he was the victim of a crypto hack that resulted in the loss of about 3,248 Ether, worth around $9.7 million at the time of the attack.

Zirlin, who goes by the online alias Jihoz, announced the incident on his X account on Friday morning Asia time. He said that two of his personal wallets were compromised, but assured the community that the Ronin sidechain, which hosts the Axie Infinity game, was not affected.

According to PeckShield, a blockchain security firm that analyzed the hack, the attacker withdrew the funds from the Ronin Bridge, a smart contract that allows users to transfer assets between the Ethereum mainnet and the Ronin sidechain. The hacker then moved the stolen Ether to Tornado Cash, a decentralized protocol that provides anonymity for crypto transactions.

We have identified that a whale wallet has been compromised with about 3,248 ETH withdrawn from the Ronin Bridge and moved to Tornado Cash. The attack is still ongoing and we are monitoring the situation closely.

Zirlin did not disclose how the hacker gained access to his wallets, but some speculated that it could be a case of phishing or malware. Zirlin is one of the most prominent figures in the play-to-earn gaming space, which has seen explosive growth in the past year. Axie Infinity, which features collectible creatures called Axies that can be bred, battled, and traded, has over 2.5 million daily active users and has generated over $2 billion in revenue since its launch in 2018.

This is not the first time that Ronin has been targeted by hackers. In March last year, the sidechain was exploited for $625 million in one of the largest crypto hacks in history. The hackers, later identified to be the North Korea-backed Lazarus Group, gained unauthorized access via an email-based phishing attack that tricked a Sky Mavis employee into installing a malicious update. The hackers were able to siphon off funds from the Ronin Bridge, but were eventually stopped by the intervention of Binance, one of the validators of the Ronin network, who froze the stolen assets and returned them to the rightful owners.

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