Major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb halts trading after more than $31 million hack

  • Major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb halts trading after more than $31 million hack

Major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb halts trading after more than $31 million hack

Seoul-based bitcoin exchange Bithumb said Wednesday it had lost over $30 million as the result of being hacked, the second cyberattack in two weeks to hit a major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange as safety concerns hamper the industry and weigh on prices.

In a now-deleted tweet, Bithumb said today that 35 billion won of tokens - around $31 million - were snatched.

The hack forced Bithumb to put up a notice on its site, saying that it had stopped all trading after it had discovered the intrusion and began transferring all of its remaining assets into a "safe cold wallet" that was offline. Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin also retreated, along with some Asia-listed stocks with exposure to digital currencies. Coinrail lost US$28 million (~RM112 million) in the attack.

While news of the latest theft has weighed on sentiment, the reaction has been relatively subdued, said Ryan Rabaglia, head trader at cryptocurrency dealing firm Octagon Strategy Ltd in Hong Kong. "It can weather the storm on these negative reports".

Hyper-wired South Korea has emerged as a hotbed of trading in virtual units, at one point accounting for some 20 percent of global bitcoin transactions - about 10 times the country's share of the global economy.

The speculative fervour has since cooled amid a government crackdown, but South Korean exchanges are still among the world's most active.

The logo of Bithumb is seen at its cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea, January 11, 2018.

The Bithumb theft highlights the security risks and the weak regulation of global cryptocurrency markets.