Cryptocurrency marketplace NiceHash said the contents of its bitcoin wallet had been stolen in a security breach and one executive said nearly $64 million had been lost. NiceHash head of marketing Andrej P. Škraba told Reuters on Thursday that the hack was “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering” and that about 4,700 bitcoin, worth about $63.92 million at current prices, were lost. He said the company was co-operating with local authorities but declined to give more information.
Earlier, Slovenia-based NiceHash said in a statement posted on its website that it had halted operations for 24 hours as it investigated the breach. NiceHash is a digital currency marketplace that matches people looking to sell processing time on their computers in exchange for the digital currency bitcoin. Bitcoin reached a record price of more than $15,000, with the virtual currency surging more than $3,000 in 36 hours. That places the value of the entire crytocurrency market at more than $400 billion, according to Coinmarketcap.com.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have transformed from an esoteric idea hatched on the internet to the financial world's mainstream with market valuations that eclipse some publicly traded corporations, including Goldman Sachs (GS). Bitcoin prices were $960 at the start of the year. In 2010, they were 8 cents.
That has increased the sense among some investors that bitcoin is gaining in mainstream legitimacy after several countries, like China, tried to stifle the virtual currency. Bitcoin is the world's most popular virtual currency. Such currencies are not tied to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously. They are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they are traded. A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies. Some say they serve merely to facilitate money laundering and illicit, anonymous payments. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed. Source: