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Technology

Cryptocurrency markets are juicy targets for hackers: Timeline

More than US$1 billion in thefts – most of which are unsolved – is becoming a growing concern for would-be participants in the cryptocurrency sector

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 2:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 2:50pm

Investors’ shaky confidence in virtual currencies took another hit after crypto exchange Bithumb, ranked seventh in the world by traded value on Coinmarketcap.com, suffered a hack that saw about 35 billion won (US$32 million) worth of coins stolen.

The South Korean exchange became the nation’s second venue in as many weeks to report a theft, triggering renewed fears about the safety of markets that trade and hold crypto assets.

Boosters still present a bullish picture about the future of digital assets. But the more than US$1 billion in thefts – most of which are unsolved – is becoming a growing concern for would-be participants.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest thefts since 2012.

June

Cryptocurrencies lost about US$42 billion in market value in the days after South Korean venue Coinrail said some of its digital currency appeared to have been stolen by hackers, though it did not say how much. While Coinrail is relatively small, analysts said the news triggered knee-jerk selling.

January

Japanese exchange Coincheck said it suffered a heist worth US$500 million. In the wake of the hack, clients withdrew at least US$540 million, and months later the company was sold to brokerage Monex for US$34 million. Turnover on the exchange in April was about 95 per cent lower than in December.

December 2017

NiceHash, a crypto-mining marketplace based in Slovenia, said on its Facebook page that its payment system was compromised and as much as US$63 million worth of bitcoin was stolen. The firm added extra security measures and sought the community’s help to analyse the breach. Youbit said it would file for bankruptcy hours after losing 17 per cent of its assets in a cyberattack. The South Korean exchange had suffered what it called an “accident” in April and its owner encouraged clients to keep their tokens in a safer form. South Korean investigators are looking into North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

November 2017

A security hole in the Parity Wallet resulted in losses of about US$155 million, including in Ether and other tokens. The company behind Tether said a “malicious” attacker stole US$31 million worth of the cryptocurrency and sent them to an unauthorised bitcoin address.

July 2017

A group calling itself the White Hat Group exploited a bug in the Parity Wallet software and attempted to launder stolen Ether, valued at about US$30 million according to Security Week, through exchanges. Just minutes after CoinDash’s launch of an initial coin offering, hackers made off with as much as US$6.6 million worth of Ether. The Israel-based firm terminated its token sale.

April 2017

A Bithumb contract worker’s personal computer that stored customers’ data files was hacked, resulting in the leak of personal and trading information of more than 30,000 users. The South Korean crypto-exchange was fined 58.5 million won (US$55,000) by the local regulator for the breach.

Largest cryptocurrency bitcoin falls most in three months after Korean exchange hacked

August 2016

Bitfinex said hackers took 119,756 bitcoin, valued at about US$65 million. In April 2017, the exchange said it had repaid all customers.

June 2016

Decentralised Autonomous Organisation, a leaderless venture-capital fund and what was then the highest-profile project using Ethereum, was hacked. About US$50 million of members’ contributions to the fund were siphoned off.

May 2016

Hong Kong-based Gatecoin had about US$2 million in bitcoin and Ether stolen following a cyberattack.

March 2015

Two former United States federal agents who helped probe the illegal Silk Road internet drug emporium were charged with wrongfully pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin.

Macau issues cryptocurrency crime warning after link to former triad boss emerges

January 2015

Bitstamp’s chief executive reassured customers that the bulk of their bitcoin were safe after US$5 million of the coins were stolen, according to a Fortune report.

February 2014

Mt Gox, once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, reported that tokens valued at about US$480 million had gone missing. The firm filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the US, and said the disappearance was probably the result of a “massive theft”.

September 2012

BitFloor, based in New York, lost about US$250,000 in bitcoin after it was hacked. Months later in April 2013, the exchange announced it would shut and refund customer deposits, bitcoin Magazine reported.