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What was the DAO Hack?

The DAO hack of 2016 was a groundbreaking event in the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Let’s explore what the DAO was, how it raised funds, the vulnerability that was exploited, and the impact of the hack. Also the following response from the Ethereum community.

What was the DAO?

  1. The Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, was an innovative concept built on the Ethereum blockchain. It aimed to create a decentralized investment fund. It was allowing participants to pool their funds together and make decisions through a voting process. The DAO’s code was written as a smart contract, a self-executing contract with predefined rules and conditions.

The DAO Crowdsale:

2. To fund its operations, the DAO conducted a crowdsale in May 2016. It offered DAO tokens in exchange for Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. The DAO became the most successful crowdsale at the time. It raised a significant amount of Ether, equal to around $150 million.

The Exploited Vulnerability:

3. Unfortunately, shortly after the crowdsale, a weakness was discovered in the DAO’s smart contract code. The flaw allowed an attacker to exploit the smart contract. The attacker tricked the contract into transferring funds many times before updating the balance. Exploiting this weakness, the attacker initiated a series of recursive calls to withdraw Ether from the DAO. It resulted in the theft of approximately one-third of the funds raised.

Impact of the DAO Hack:

4. The DAO hack had far-reaching consequences. It exposed a critical weakness in the smart contract code. It raised doubts about the security and robustness of blockchain applications. The value of Ether deopped, causing panic among investors and the cryptocurrency community. The incident also highlighted the challenges of resolving disputes and recovering stolen funds in a decentralized environment.

Response and the Hard Fork:

5. In response to the hack, the Ethereum community faced a difficult decision on how to address the stolen funds. A controversial solution emerged: a hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain. A hard fork is a permanent divergence in the blockchain, resulting in two separate networks. In this case, the hard fork aimed to invalidate the stolen Ether and restore confidence in the Ethereum network.

But the decision to hard fork was not universally accepted. Some community members accepted and some of them opposed the idea. They argued that blockchain transactions should be immutable and that the stolen funds should not be reversed. As a result, Ethereum Classic (ETC) was born. ETC represents those who continued to operate on the original, non-forked blockchain.

Lessons Learned and Future Impact:

6. The main lesson learned from the 2016 DAO hack is the importance of security and code audits in decentralized applications. The hack highlighted the need for thorough testing and careful analysis of smart contracts to find out weaknesses.

One of the key takeaways from the hack was that blockchain technology, while revolutionary, is not immune to human error. Even seemingly robust systems can have flaws, and subjecting them to rigorous scrutiny is crucial. Smart contracts, which are self-executing pieces of code, need to be reviewed by experts. Its vulnerabilities need to be identified before posting it on the blockchain.

The DAO hack emphasized the importance of community and consensus in blockchain networks. After the hack, the Ethereum community faced a challenging decision: whether to accept the theft or perform a “hard fork” to revert the transactions and recover the stolen funds. Ultimately, the community decided to conduct a hard fork, creating Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) as separate blockchains.


The DAO hack of 2016 was a pivotal moment in the history of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. It demonstrated the vulnerability of early smart contracts, prompting the Ethereum community to take action through a hard fork. The event sparked important conversations and set the stage for future advancements and improvements in the blockchain ecosystem.

Ruchi Tomar
Ruchi Tomar
A full time blogger from last 1 year. experienced in content writing.


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