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KyberSwap Hacker Demands Control of DEX in Exchange for Stolen Funds

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • The entity behind last week's $45 million exploit of decentralized protocol KyberSwap has demanded full control in exchange for refunds.
  • The hacker pledged to reward staff and managers handsomely and make changes to the KyberSwap protocol to make it more prominent in DeFi.
  • The fact that a hacker can hold an executive team to ransom suggests that protocols can be subject to folk who can blackmail a majority.
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The hacker who stole millions from decentralized exchange aggregator KyberSwap has demanded full “executive control” of the “Kyber company.” The return of stolen funds is contingent on the KyberSwap management meeting their demands by Dec. 10x, which highlights a problem with decentralization in general.

The KyberSwap hacker wants full control of the governance of KyberDAO to make changes to the protocol. They demand that the current management resign and hand over all documents and assets. 

KyberSwap Hacker Outlines Demands

Outgoing executives will be bought out at “fair valuation,” the exploiter reassured, while employees’ salaries will be doubled. Anyone wanting to leave will get a 12-month severance “with full benefits.” In addition, the hacker offered liquidity providers 50% of their stolen funds.

“Under my management, Kyber will undergo a complete makeover. It will no longer be the 7th most popular DEX, but rather an entirely new cryptographic project,” they wrote.

Read more: 12 Best Decentralized Exchanges for 2023

Should Kyber not meet the demands, the hacker will not return any stolen funds. The note was signed “Kyber Director.” 

Last Friday, Blockchain security firm Cyvers flagged a message from the exploiter that promised Kyber a negotiation. The communication followed a $45 million exploit of Ethereum and other tokens from KyberSwap last Wednesday. 

KyberSwap Total Value Locked Drops to $7 million After Exploit
KyberSwap Total Value Locked Drops to $7 million After Exploit | Source: DeFiLlama

The hacker appears to have drained funds from liquidity pools. KyberSwap helps crypto users access liquidity from multiple blockchains.

Read more: Best Crypto Liquidity Providers in 2023

Decentralization Conundrum

While a caricature in some sense, the hacker’s ransom message gets to the heart of what some lawmakers have expressed concerns about. Despite claims of decentralization, the reality is that power for many protocols lies in the hands of a few influential entities. Hence, it becomes possible for someone like the KyberSwap hacker to blackmail a majority group and take control.

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson alleged earlier this week that one could take over the Bitcoin network by issuing subpoenas to three entities. This is despite maximalist claims the network is decentralized and immune to government control.

Cardano itself is going through a process to give Hoskinson and Input Output Global less say in the network management. An upcoming Cardano ballot will lay the platform for completely decentralized governance. Voting will open on Dec. 1 and end on Dec. 11.

Do you have something to say about the demand note from the KyberSwap hacker or anything else? Please write to us or join the discussion on our Telegram channel. You can also catch us on TikTokFacebook, or X (Twitter).

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...