Bitcoin worth $72 million stolen from Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong

An illustration photo shows a Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin are seen at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris

Bitcoin worth $72 million stolen from Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong

Nearly 120,000 units of digital currency bitcoin worth about US$72 million was stolen from the exchange platform Bitfinex in Hong Kong, rattling the global bitcoin community in the second-biggest security breach ever of such an exchange.

Bitfinex is the world’s largest dollar-based exchange for bitcoin, and is known in the digital currency group for having deep liquidity in the U.S. dollar/bitcoin currency pair.

Zane Tackett, Director of Community & Product Development for Bitfinex, instructed Reuters on Wednesday that 119,756 bitcoin had been stolen from customers’ accounts and that the exchange had not but determined learn how to tackle buyer losses.

“The bitcoin was stolen from customers’ segregated wallets,” he mentioned.

The firm stated it had reported the theft to regulation enforcement and was cooperating with prime blockchain analytic corporations to trace the stolen cash.

Last 12 months, Bitfinex introduced a tie-up with Palo Alto-based BitGo, which makes use of multiple-signature safety to retailer person deposits on-line, permitting for quicker withdrawals.

“Our investigation has discovered no proof of a breach to any BitGo servers,” BitGo mentioned in a Tweet.

“With customers’ funds secured utilizing multi-signature know-how in partnership with BitGo, much more is at stake for the spine of the bitcoin trade, with its stalwarts and prided tech beneath fireplace,” mentioned Charles Hayter, chief government and founding father of digital forex web site CryptoCompare.

The safety breach comes two months after Bitfinex was ordered to pay a $75,000 fantastic by the U.S. Commodity and Futures Trading Commission in half for providing unlawful off-exchange financed commodity transactions in bitcoin and different digital currencies.



Tuesday’s breach triggered a droop in bitcoin costs and was harking back to occasions that led to the 2014 collapse of Tokyo-based exchange Mt Gox, which mentioned it had misplaced about $500 million worth of shoppers’ Bitcoins in a hacking assault.

Bitcoin plunged simply over 23 percent on Tuesday after the information broke. On Wednesday it was up 1 percent at $545.20 on the BitStamp platform.

Tackett added that the breach didn’t “expose any weaknesses in the safety of a blockchain”, the expertise that generates and processes bitcoin, a web-based “cryptocurrency” that may transfer throughout the globe anonymously with out the necessity for a government.

A bitcoin professional mentioned the scandal highlighted the dangers of corporations utilizing cryptography for his or her ledgers.

“The extra you depend on its advantages, the larger the potential for harm when keys are stolen. We nonetheless have some strategy to go to create extremely safe however handy techniques,” stated Singapore-based Antony Lewis.

The quantity of bitcoin stolen quantities to about 0.75 percent of all bitcoin in circulation.

It shouldn’t be but clear whether or not the theft was an inside job or whether or not hackers had been capable of acquire entry to the system externally. On a web-based discussion board, Bitfinex’s Tackett mentioned he was “almost 100 % sure” it was nobody in the corporate.

Bitfinex suspended buying and selling on Tuesday after it found the breach. It stated on its web site that it was investigating and cooperating with the authorities.

The safety breach is the most recent scandal to hit Hong Kong’s bitcoin market after MyCoin turned embroiled in a rip-off final yr that media estimated might have duped buyers of as much as $387 million. The bitcoin buying and selling firm closed after the scandal.

The president of the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association mentioned the one solution to defend info is to disperse it in so many small items that the reward for hacking is simply too small.

“For an attacker, the cost-benefit technique is kind of straightforward: How a lot is in the pot and the way probably is it that I am getting the pot?” mentioned Leonhard Weese.

(Additional reporting by Hera Poon in HONG KONG, Jeremy Wagstaff in SINGAPORE and Jemima Kelly in LONDON; Editing by Will Waterman)

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