Cross-chain bridges are designed to solve the challenge of interoperability between different blockchains. A cross-chain bridge is a protocol that lets users transfer digital assets from one blockchain to another, allowing them to leverage the low-cost, high scalability, and high speed of other networks. They can even borrow funds and participate in better investment opportunities on other networks.
Cross-chain bridge protocols are a key part of the atomic swap infrastructure. They not only allow you to swap assets between different blockchains, but also enable interoperability between web3 services, as well as between dapps from different chains.
Currently, cross-chain bridges exist for NFTs as well as cryptocurrencies.
These are the most popular cross-chain bridges right now:
Portal Token Bridge.
This used to be known as Wormhole before a recent rebranding. It’s built on Solana and connects seven of DeFi’s leading blockchains including:
Ethereum, BSC, Avalanche, Polygon (formerly MATIC), Terra and Oasis.
It accounts for 88% of the DeFi industry.
Binance Bridge is of course another super-popular one, it supports conversion of ERC-20 tokens along with other networks including XRP, LINK, ATOM, DOT, XTZ, and ONT.
Anyswap is also quite a popular one, currently it supports multiple networks such as: Fusion, Ethereum, Avalanche, Fantom, BNB Smart Chain, Huobi Eco Chain and more.
Plenty Bridge is the rebranded Tezos Wrap Protocol Bridge – As the name suggests, this is a Tezos bridge and it’s mainly for Ethereum-to-Tezos transfers. It supports wrapping ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens – the standard for NFTs.
Avalanche Bridge is a bi-directional cross-chain bridge between the Avalanche and Ethereum networks and also supports both ERC-20 and ERC721 standard for digital assets and non-fungible tokens — meaning that both chains can expand the types of assets that are available for transfer on their platforms.
Synapse cross-chain bridge is another decentralized infrastructure for a seamless transfer of crypto assets across multiple blockchain networks. For instance, BUSD on BNB Smart Chain can be swapped for USDT on Avalanche and vice-versa, using the Synapse Bridge. Other supported blockchain networks include: Polygon, Avalanche, Fantom, Boba, Harmony, and Arbitrum.
Cross-chain bridges are widely used already, despite only being around for a very short time (they came into existence just over three years ago). Their popularity inevitable made them a target for numerous exploits and hacks.
According to the latest Chainalisys report from August 2022:
“Bridges are an attractive target because they often feature a central storage point of funds that back the “bridged” assets on the receiving blockchain. Regardless of how those funds are stored – locked up in a smart contract or with a centralized custodian – that storage point becomes a target.
A prime example of such attacks are the most recent one on BNB Smart Chain, where $600 million worth of BNB tokens were compromised and at least $100 million’ worth were successfully stolen.
Poly Network is another such example. A very popular cross-chain protocol, it is effectively acting as a bridge between over 20 blockchains. In 2021 assets worth over $611 million were stolen.
Thankfully, the hacker admitted to have done it to showcase the exploit and returned all the assets back, adding a few more coming from the $500,000 bug bounty which he had received from the Poly Network.
Unfortunately other networks were not so lucky after being attacked. Ronin Bridge had the most gruesome attack to date, which occurred in March 2022 and suffered a loss of roughly $624 million that greatly affected the uber-popular play-to-earn video game Axie Infinity. Only about $30 million were recovered by law enforcement and the hack was attributed to North Korea’s state-sponsored Lazarus Group.
Other notable hacks on cross-chain bridges include Wormhole‘s hack in Feb 2022 ($326 million), Nomad Bridge lost $190 million in August 2022 and Harmony Bridge lot $100 million in June 2022.
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