Another week of DeFi hacks, but ZK-proof development heats up: Finance Redefined

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Welcome to Finance Redefined, your weekly dose of essential decentralized finance (DeFi) insights — a newsletter crafted to bring you the most significant developments from the past week.

The past week in DeFi was dominated by exploits and hacks, with three DeFi platforms losing nearly $39 million. Alphapo’s hot wallets were exploited for over $32 million, Era Lend was drained for $3.4 million, and the decentralized finance protocol Conic Finance was exploited for almost $3.5 million.

In better news, the DeFi ecosystem was buzzing with developments in zero-knowledge-proof (ZK-proof) scaling solutions as the layer-2 sector heats up despite the bear market.

The exploits and bearish market condition took their toll on DeFi protocols, with the total value locked in DeFi protocols seeing a significant drop over the past week.

Alphapo hot wallets hacked for over $31 million

Crypto payment platform Alphapo had roughly $31 million drained from its Ether (ETH), TRON (TRX) and Bitcoin (BTC) hot wallets, security experts reported on July 22. Since the amount of Bitcoin stolen is uncertain, the figures may be even higher.

According to on-chain sleuth ZachXBT, the funds have been stolen on the Ethereum network, then swapped for ETH before being bridged to the Avalanche and Bitcoin blockchains. DeDotFi’s security team said a leak of private keys may have caused the hack. Investigations are still in progress.

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Era Lend on zkSync exploited for $3.4 million in reentrancy attack

The lending zkSync lending app, Era Lend, has been exploited for $3.4 million in crypto, according to a July 25 report from blockchain security firm CertiK. The attacker used a “read-only reentrancy attack” to drain the funds, which is an attack that interrupts a multistep process and then causes it to continue after a malicious action has been performed. Specifically, a “read-only” reentrancy does not update the state of a contract.

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According to the report, the attacker drained funds in two transactions using the externally owned account 0xf1D076c9Be4533086f967e14EE6aFf204D5ECE7a. The attacker relied on a vulnerability in “the callback and _updateReserves function” to manipulate a contract into reporting old values that had not yet been updated.

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Zero-knowledge tech development heats up amid bear market

ZK-proofs are cryptographic methods allowing one party to prove to another party that something is true without revealing any sensitive underlying private information. The technology has been a hot topic of discussion among crypto veterans in recent times. On July 19, at the zkDay event — part of the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris — over 2,000 attendees arrived at a small venue by Rue l’Aubrac to catch a glimpse of the latest ZK projects on display. P0x Labs, the developer behind ZK protocol Manta Network, even announced a $25 million raise during the event.

Currently, the technology is playing a critical role in powering layer-2 scaling solutions. By computing a simple cryptographic proof on layer 2, transactions can be finalized nearly instantly, and the record is sent back to the underlying blockchain as a succinct proof. At the same time, ZK-proofs can enable private transactions that do not relay sensitive information to observers.

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Optimism transaction volumes surpass Abitrum’s for the first time in six months

The Optimism network has surpassed Arbitrum in transaction volume for the first time in six months, according to July 27 data from blockchain analytics platform Artemis. Both networks are Ethereum layer 2s that use optimistic rollup technology, which compresses and batches transactions before submitting them to Ethereum, potentially lowering transaction fees.

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Volume on Optimism fell behind Arbitrum in January, as season one of its “quest” feature ended. However, it recovered the top spot on July 25 as Worldcoin launched.

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DeFi market overview

DeFi’s total market value saw a bullish surge after three bearish weeks. Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView shows that DeFi’s top 100 tokens by market capitalization had a bullish week, with most tokens trading in the green. The total value locked in DeFi protocols remained below $50 billion.

Thanks for reading our summary of this week’s most impactful DeFi developments. Join us next Friday for more stories, insights and education regarding this dynamically advancing space.