A bitcoin mining company in Slovenia said it had been hacked by the possible theft of tens of millions of dollars. As the price of the virtual currency rose beyond $ 17,000, NiceHash, a company that exploits bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a security breach that may have resulted in the theft of about $ 70 million of bitcoin. .
said it would stop working for 24 hours while verifying how many bitcoins were taken.
The research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that some 4,700 bitcoins have been stolen. NiceHash said it will stop working for 24 hours while verifying how many bitcoins were taken. Wallet is a nickname for an online account.
Bitcoin hit a record price on Thursday, reaching more than $ 19,000 just to drop abruptly in minutes, settling near $ 17,000 on early Thursday afternoon. Even so, that price represents an increase of more than $ 5,000 in less than 48 hours for the digital currency.
That puts the value of the entire cryptocurrency market at more than $ 400 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.com.
At 1:35 p.m. EST, Bitcoin was valued at $ 17,032, according to Coinbase, after briefly rising above $ 19,000 on Thursday morning. At the beginning of the year, a bitcoin was worth less than $ 1,000. Coinbase, the largest bitcoin exchange, tweeted at one point that record traffic had caused service interruptions.
The research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred by NiceHash users indicates that some 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. At Thursday's record price of around $ 16,200, that represents a value of more than $ 76 million.
There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an email request for more details.
"The incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency," he said. The statement urged users to change their passwords online.
Slovenian police are investigating the case along with authorities from other states, said spokesman Bostjan Lindav, without providing details.
The trick will highlight the safety of bitcoin as the business community prepares for the currency to begin trading on two established US exchanges. Bitcoin futures will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday night and on the rival platforms of CME Group at the end of the month.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been transformed from an esoteric idea born on the Internet into the mainstream of the financial world with market valuations that eclipse some publicly traded corporations, including Goldman Sachs (GS). Bitcoin prices were $ 960 at the beginning of the year. In 2010, they were 8 cents.
That has increased the feeling among some investors that bitcoin is gaining legitimacy after several countries, such as China, that tried to quell the virtual currency.
Price swings occurred just as the business community prepares for bitcoin to start trading on two established US exchanges. Bitcoin futures will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday night and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange a week later.
The Futures Industry Association, which represents the largest banks and clearing houses on Wall Street, sent a letter to Commodities Futures. Trade Commission, saying that as the guarantors of customer transactions, they should have been consulted before the negotiation of bitcoin futures was approved. They expressed concern that the extreme volatility linked to bitcoin could leave banks exposed when futures move too violently.
Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the world. These currencies are not linked to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously. Basically they are lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they are marketed.
A debate is taking place on the merits of these currencies. Some say they serve simply to facilitate money laundering and illicit and anonymous payments. Others say that they can be useful payment methods, as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed.
Bitcoin miners and other virtual currencies help keep systems honest by having their computers maintain a global record of transactions. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital currency twice.
Online security is a vital concern for these deals. In Japan, after the failure of a bitcoin exchange called Mt. Gox, new laws were enacted to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Mount Gox closed in February 2014, saying it lost around 850,000 bitcoins, possibly to hackers.