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Why This Hacker Sent 1M Optimism Tokens To Vitalik Buterin

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Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin was the unintended recipient of 1 million OP tokens from that network’s scalability solution Optimism. The team behind this project addressed concerns about a potential exploit related to running their governance token.

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As Optimism explained, they entered into a deal with liquidity provider Wintermute to “make it easier for users” who want to buy OP and participate in the project management model. As part of the agreement, Optimism sent 20 million OP tokens to a multisig address.

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However, the liquidity provider was unable to access the funds because it discovered that the address was designed as an Ethereum layer 1 multi-signature without Optimism, which works as a layer two solution, deploying smart contracts. The liquidity provider stated:

We made a serious mistake by giving the wallet address to the Optimism team.

Partner Optimism launched a “recovery operation” to access the funds as they concluded with Wintermute that the funds “are potentially recoverable and that no one other than Wintermute can recover these funds,” the liquidity provider said in a report. statement.

The recovery operation was scheduled, the liquidity provider specified, for June, 2022, but a hacker got ahead of them. The team behind the Ethereum Layer 2 solution explained:

Unfortunately, the attacker was able to deploy the multisignature on L2 with different initialization parameters before this effort was complete, assuming he owns the 20m OP.

In addition, Optimism claims that the attacker started selling the stolen funds. As many as 1 million OP tokens were “dumped” into the market from the hacker’s address: 0x4f3a120E72C76c22ae802D129F599BFDbc31cb81.

At the time of writing, this address still holds 18 million OP tokens or $14 million with an additional $3 in USD coins (USDC). However, new developments have made the whole incident even stranger.

Why did they send part of the funds to Vitalik Buterin?

Developer Yoav Weiss, security officer at the Ethereum Foundation, on condition other details about recent events. He believes the attacker could be the Whitehat hacker.

He based this assumption on the fact that the attacker waited four days before taking possession of the OP’s funds. During this time, there was a risk that Wintermute could use the refund solution.

In addition, the attacker did not transfer the funds, as Optimism believed. As a result, Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin received 1 million tokens, and Weiss himself received another 1 million OP.

Projects often send Vitalik Buterin’s tokens to celebrate the launch of their platforms or “burn them” as the inventor of Ethereum rarely uses them. The fact that Weiss works as a security officer seems to be part of the attacker’s message.

The Optimism team claims that the hacker did not use the funds for any activity related to his governance model. If this situation changes, they claim that additional measures will be taken along with the OP community.

Other measures are available, but the Optimism team refuses to implement them, jeopardizing the project’s view of the network without permissions. They concluded:

(…) Incidents like this are the growing pains of an emerging industry. This is a reminder to anyone dealing with contracts across chains that security assumptions on one chain do not necessarily carry over to another.

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At the time of writing, the OP price is trading at $0.8 with a 16% loss in the last 24 hours.

OP Vitalik Buterin Ethereum Optimism
The OP price is trending down on the 1 hour chart. Source: OPUSD TradingView

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