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On May 20th, 2023, Tornado Cash, a decentralized privacy protocol built on Ethereum, fell victim to a devastating attack that resulted in approximately $1.1 million in losses. 

The attacker managed to gain full control of the protocol’s governance, raising concerns about the security and governance practices within decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). 

This article delves into the details of the attack, the consequences faced by Tornado Cash, and the lessons that can be learned from this incident.


During the attack, the perpetrator granted themselves a staggering 1,200,000 votes, surpassing the legitimate votes of approximately 700,000. 

As a result, the attacker gained complete control over Tornado Cash’s governance, as noted by cybersecurity researcher Samczsun on Twitter. This breach allowed the attacker to drain all tokens from the governance contract, withdraw locked votes, and disable the router. Fortunately, individual user pools remained unaffected.


The aftermath of the attack led to immediate action from various parties involved. Binance, a prominent cryptocurrency exchange, paused Tornado Cash token (TORN) deposits on its platform as a precautionary measure. 

Meanwhile, the hacker took advantage of their control, withdrawing and selling 10,000 TORN votes.


In response to the breach, Tornado Cash initiated a rebuilding process to regain control of its governance. The protocol reached out to Binance, seeking collaboration due to the exchange holding more TORN tokens than the hacker. 

Additionally, the anonymous hacker proposed a plan to undo the harmful code on May 20th, with the intention of reducing their token ownership to zero. While the proposal gained favorable approval, a final verdict will be reached on May 26th, 2023.


The Tornado Cash attack highlights the critical importance of maintaining robust security measures and adopting a vigilant approach within the realm of decentralized governance. 

Experts from BlockSec emphasized the need to vote responsibly and consider the consequences carefully. DAOs should establish dedicated security teams to thoroughly review proposals and identify potential risks before implementation.


The breach suffered by Tornado Cash serves as a stark reminder that even decentralized systems are susceptible to attacks and malicious actors. DAOs must prioritize security, implement strict governance processes, and remain cautious when voting on proposals. 

Proactive measures, such as comprehensive security audits and continuous vulnerability assessments, can significantly minimize the risk of similar attacks in the future.

In conclusion, the Tornado Cash governance attack showcases the challenges and vulnerabilities that DAOs face in ensuring robust security and governance practices. 

By learning from this incident and adopting stricter security measures, the decentralized finance ecosystem can enhance its resilience and protect the interests of its users.