MANILA, Philippines – A whopping 4,700 bitcoins or the equivalent of around $76* million dollars were stolen from Slovenia-based bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash.
The digital heist was reported by NiceHash on Thursday, December 7, Philippine time. It shut down regular operations on the same day to investigate the breach.
The company made the announcement on Facebook, saying, "Importantly, our payment system was compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen."
"Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days," the company said.
NiceHash head of marketing Andrej P. Škraba told Wall Street Journal as to how many coins were stolen and described the heist as “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering” – the symptoms of which started to show as panicked site users reported troubles using the website over the past days.
As posted above, CEO Marko Kobal and co-founder Sasa Coh also went live on Facebook on Friday, November 8, to further explain the situation and to apologize to its users. They said that they will be sharing more in the coming days, and that they have notified cryptocurrency exhanges to see if they can track and recover the stolen funds. "However, this will take time," Kobal said.
The site, a platform that allows users to sell their computer's processing power to miners of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, urged users to change their passwords and informed them that they are working with law enforcement agencies.
The heist comes as Bitcoin continues to surge in value, jumping from $8000 to $16,000 as of Friday, December 8 in a matter of weeks. Bitcoin is stored in digital wallets, and as the value rises, they become more appealing targets for digital thieves. At a time when cybersecurity remains a huge issue with no one certain solution, the hack shows one of the dangers of investing in the volatile digital currency.
While 4,700 bitcoins is a lot, the number pales in comparison to the 850,000 bitcoins lost by Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox potentially to hackers in February 2014. – Rappler.com
*1 BTC = $16,155.02