Bitcoin exchange NiceHash loses millions to hackers

Bitcoin exchange NiceHash loses millions to hackers

Bitcoin exchange NiceHash loses millions to hackers

The hack illustrates a major problem with Bitcoin - while the network itself is seen as nearly unhackable, the exchanges that many people rely on to store their money are vulnerable.

That's what appears to have done in NiceHash, a Slovenia-based Bitcoin exchange that claims its cryptocurrency wallet has been cleared out of $64 million worth of BTC. The company is now investigating the precise amount stolen, though estimates around the web put it north of $66 million United States dollars worth of the popular cryptocurrency (at time of writing 1 BTC = ~$13970.50).

Online security is a vital concern for cryptocurrency marketplaces and exchanges, with bitcoins contained within digital wallets that have increasingly become a target for hackers as the number of bitcoins stored and their value has skyrocketed over the a year ago. The company said it was halting operations for 24 hours and was now investigating the incident.

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There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an emailed request for more details. As such, it's temporarily suspended operations on its site, and is encouraging users on its platform to change their passwords immediately. "In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency", it said.

The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established USA exchanges.

It comes after the price of bitcoin surged to over $14,100.74, gaining $1,000 in less than a day.

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Bitcoin is the world's most popular digital currency.

A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies.

Miners of bitcoins and other virtual currencies help keep the systems honest by having their computers keep a global running tally of transactions.

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Banks and financial institutions have long cautioned that the volatility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency makes it a risky investment, but for successful attackers, the industry potentially provides a quick method to get rich - much to the frustration of investors.

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