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Hackers steal over $30 million in latest cryptocurrency heist

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

21 June 2018

This week, Bithumb, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange serving more than a million users, announced that hackers had successfully stolen cryptocoins worth more than $30 million.

This comes just two weeks after another South Korea-based exchange, Coinrail, reported a similar theft, with hackers making off with tokens worth around $40 million in that instance.

Bithumb is one of the most-used cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, and is generally considered to be South Korea’s biggest, so this will affect many users.

In a statement, on Wednesday, the company confirmed:

We checked that some of cryptocurrencies valued about $30,000,000 was stolen. Those stolen cryptocurrencies will be covered from Bithumb and all of assets are being transferring to cold wallet.

However, this statement was quickly retracted, leaving users of the exchange in a state of panic. The following day, the company released another announcement, stating:

After the incident occured on June 20, Bithumb quickly followed the procedure to immediately report [the] incident to KISA announcing that about 35 billion Korean Won worth amount of cryptocurrency was stolen. However, as we undergo recovery process on each cryptocurrency, the overall scale of damage is getting reduced. Hence, we expect that the overall damage will be less than the amount we initially expected.

The company went on to clarify that all investors will be fully compensated following the theft:

Bithumb has been administering company’s asset and customers’ asset, and all customers cryptocurrencies, as well as KRW asset, are safely stored on cold wallet and bank respectively. Moreover, we would like to ensure that Bithumb currently has about 500 billion KRW worth of company’s fund. The amount of damage that occured this time will be fully covered by Bithumb’s own company fund.

At this stage, Bithumb has not yet confirmed which specific vulnerability gave rise to the theft—nor how it will deal with this vulnerability.

Given the two South Korea-based heists mentioned above, and the largest ever crypto-currency theft earlier this year, in which coins worth over $530 million were stolen from Tokyo’s Coincheck, the future security of cryptocurrencies has to be considered.

Following the Coincheck robbery, Japan drew up legislation to issue trading licenses to qualifying exchanges. Might South Korea consider doing the same?

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