Since mid-March, all development focus has been on the experimental branch, which is a fresh start. The old version of Rust isn’t being updated anymore. As detailed thoroughly on the official playrust blog. Which you say you’ve paid attention to.
And the experimental branch, in addition to VAC and Cheatpunch, both anticheat tools, it’s running Easy Anti Cheat, another, more active layer of anticheat measures.
No game is 100% hacker proof. However, the old version wasn’t designed to be secure against hacking at all, because the devs didn’t expect Rust to sell more than maybe 20,000 copies, and they’d have a year or so to tidy up the code and harden it against hackers. Instead they sold about 1.6 million in six months. The old version simply wasn’t up to the task of keeping up with the demands caused by that level of popularity, so it got abandoned for a fresh start that can be designed for the current conditions: Tons of people owning Rust, lots of hackers as a result.
Also, the game is in alpha. You shouldn’t expect long-term progression to persist. In alpha, wipes can come at any time without any warning or consent from you, erasing everything you’ve done. Hackers, as much as they’re shitlords, are just speeding up the loss process. The sooner you come to terms with losing all your stuff at this early stage, the happier you’ll be.
The side benefit of hackers at this stage of the game is, the faster they exploit glitches and bugs, the sooner they’ll get patched out. If nobody tried hacking in Rust until it was three months away from taking the Early Access tag off, the game would have absolutely unbearable hacking problems while going into a full launch.