BNB Exploiter Leverages Just $4 to Steal $1.27 Million

Unraveling the mechanics of the BNB Chain’s historic exploit: Discover how $4.16 was turned into $1.27 million.

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Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • BNB Chain faces a record-breaking flash loan attack.
  • Exploiter leverages $4.16 to secure a $1.27 million arbitrage profit.
  • The scam resulted in the largest single arbitrage profit in BNB Chain’s history.

In the ever-evolving world of crypto, security concerns are paramount. Recently, the BNB Chain saw a staggering exploit that reminded the community of these concerns. An attacker, leveraging the mechanics of a flash loan, managed to leverage just $4.16 into a jaw-dropping $1.27 million. 

The Mechanics Behind the BNB Exploit

On Wednesday, October 11, on-chain data revealed a significant exploit on the BNB chain. A bot, identified as MEV Bot: 0x21…480C, executed a $1.27 million flash loan attack on the Pancakeswap BH/USDT trading pair. 

According to Beosin, an attacker utilized a flash loan attack, a mechanism that allows users to borrow assets without collateral for a very short period. This was executed on the BNB Chain, leading to the largest single arbitrage profit ever. 

The attacker’s strategy revolved around manipulating liquidity ratios, allowing them to withdraw a significantly larger USDT than they initially invested. Notably, the attacker made a profit of $1.575 million through a flash loan attack on Pancakeswap BH/USDT trading pair with just $4.16. 

In a subsequent move, the attacker transferred all the proceeds from this attack, amounting to $1.27 million, to Tornado Cash. This privacy-focused Ethereum mixer allows users to obfuscate the source of their Ether to make it impossible to trace.

Where Did The BNB Exploit Vulnerablilty Come From? 

The exact vulnerability in the Pancakeswap BH/USDT trading pair incident on the BNB Chain isn’t known. However, drawing from patterns in previous attacks and general DeFi knowledge, several potential vulnerabilities come to light. The DeFi protocol itself, in this case, Pancakeswap, might have inherent weaknesses, be it smart contract bugs or design flaws, that attackers can exploit. Another avenue of exploitation is oracle manipulation. 

Oracles, which feed external data like asset prices to blockchain platforms, can be spoofed or manipulated, leading to artificial price discrepancies ripe for exploitation. On-chain data, encompassing aspects like transaction ordering or even potential miner collusion, can also be twisted to favor the attacker. 

Furthermore, DeFi’s reliance on liquidity pools presents another potential vulnerability. If attackers find a way to skew the asset ratio in a liquidity pool, it can lead to exploitable price distortions.

What is a Flash Loan Attack? 

Flash loan attacks are a type of exploit in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, leveraging the unique capabilities of flash loans. Flash loans are uncollateralized loans in DeFi where users can borrow assets without collateral, provided they return the borrowed amount within the same transaction block. If the borrower fails to repay the loan within that block, the chain reverts the transaction, ensuring the lender doesn’t lose any funds.

However, this system is not perfect, enabling attackers to exploit it in a flash loan attack. Initially, attackers secure a flash loan, granting them immediate access to vast amounts of capital without any collateral requirement. Armed with these borrowed assets, they then manipulate prices on decentralized exchanges (DEXs) by executing trades of significant volume. 

This intentional market manipulation spawns arbitrage opportunities. Seizing these, attackers buy assets at a low price on one platform and sell them at a higher price on another. Once they secure the profits, they promptly repay the flash loan within the stipulated transaction block. After accounting for the loan amount and associated fees, the attacker pockets the remaining profits.

On the Flipside

  • Crypto hacks and scams, in all their variety, are a growing problem in the ecosystem. For instance, earlier in October, Thai authorities unveiled a $277M “pig butchering” romance scam. 
  • Flash loan exploits are a common occurrence in blockchain. Back in April, Aave suffered a flash loan exploit, draining $10 million

Why This Matters

As the DeFi space matures, so does its security infrastructure. Each exploit, while unfortunate, provides valuable lessons for other platforms. 

Read more about flash loans and their risks:
Flash Loans: Groundbreaking DeFi Phenomenon or Tool for Manipulation?

Read more about the ongoing legal battle between Coinbase and the SEC:
State Regulators Rally Against Coinbase in Securities Battle

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Author
David Marsanic

David Marsanic is a journalist for DailyCoin who covers the intersection of crypto, traditional finance, and government. He focuses on institutionalized crypto entities like major cryptocurrency exchanges and Solana, breaking down complex topics into easy-to-understand writing. David's prior experience as a business journalist at various crypto and traditional news sites has enabled him to maintain a critical approach to news while adhering to high journalistic integrity standards.