A hacker has stolen hundreds of NFTs from the popular trading marketplace OpenSea, the company’s Chief Executive Officer has confirmed.

It follows a breach on the OpenSea trading platform, which impacted dozens of users. 

Peer-to-peer cryptogoods marketplace OpenSea was founded in 2017 by tech entrepreneur Devin Finzer. The platform uses smart contracts to arrange the trading of virtual goods such as digital collectibles, gaming items, and NFTs, all backed by a blockchain. In the most recent attack, hundreds of NFTs were stolen from people’s accounts by an unidentified hacker.

Finzer himself confirmed the digital raid on Twitter, saying that OpenSea believes the perpetrator got away with US $1.7m (£1.25m), condemning the circulating rumours that the hack led to US $200m in NFTs stolen from user accounts.

Blockchain analysis company PeckShield has reported that at least 254 tokens were stolen by the unknown party, some of which have been found and returned to the platform, according to Finzer.

The CEO stated OpenSea’s belief that the attack had happened last Saturday. However, Finzer added that the company still doesn’t know what methods have been used to trick users of the platform.

One suspected approach is convincing traders to sign partial digital contracts using phishing emails, which the hacker then used to sign the rest of the contract so that they can legitimately transfer the tokens into an address under their control.

Nadav Hollander, OpenSea Chief Technical Officer, commented on the incident by noting that the amount of people being scammed in such a short period of time ‘suggests a targeted attack as opposed to a systematic issue”.

NFTs are digital assets, most common digital art, whose popularity skyrocketed in recent years. Just like cryptocurrencies, they are peer-to-peer tokens that can be sold and purchased on the blockchain. The only difference comes from NFTs being non-fungible in nature, meaning that they must be sold as a whole, whereas cryptocurrencies can be broken down into smaller parts.

Data from a Chainalysis report shows that 2021 saw more than US $44bn in cryptocurrency used in NFT-related smart contracts – a significant rise from US $106m in 2020.