By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) -A blockchain linked to Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, has been hit by a $570 million hack, a Binance spokesperson said on Friday, the latest in a series of hacks to hit the crypto sector this year.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said in a tweet that tokens were stolen from a blockchain "bridge" used in the BNB Chain, which was known as Binance Smart Chain until February. Blockchain bridges are tools used to transfer cryptocurrencies between different applications.
Zhao said the hackers stole around $100 million worth of crypto. BNB Chain later said in a blog post that a total of 2 million of the cryptocurrency BNB - worth around $570 million - was withdrawn by the hacker.
The Binance spokesperson said in emailed comments that "the majority" of the BNB remained in the hacker's digital wallet address, while about $100 million worth was "unrecovered".
Blockchain bridges have increasingly become the target of thefts, which have long plagued the crypto sector.
BNB Chain supports the BNB cryptocurrency, formerly known as Binance Coin, which is the world's fifth-largest token with a market value of some $46 billion, according to CoinGecko data.
Some $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen in 13 different bridge hacks, mostly this year, crypto analytics firm Chainalysis said in August.
In March, hackers stole around $615 million from Ronin Bridge, used to transfer crypto in and out of the game Axie Infinity, in one of the largest crypto heists on record. The United States linked North Korean hackers to the theft.
BNB Chain suspended its blockchain for several hours before resuming at around 0630 GMT, it said in a tweet.
It said in its blog post that BNB Chain was "able to stop the incident from spreading" by contacting the blockchain's "validators," - entities or individuals who verify blockchain transactions. BNB Chain said there are 44 validators across several different time zones, without giving further details.
BNB Chain said it would introduce a new "governance mechanism" to counter future hacks, as well as to expand the number of validators.
On the Binance website, BNB Chain is described as a "community-driven, open-sourced and decentralized ecosystem".
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Tom Wilson, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Louise Heavens)