Slovenian-based bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash has reported that it has become the victim of a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering that has resulted in the theft of bitcoin to an estimated value of $80m.
The 4,700 bitcoin(s) were reported stolen in a hack of the NiceHash digital currency marketplace’s payment system last week. Users of NiceHash were advised to change online passwords, and operations in the NiceHash marketplace were halted last Wednesday.
NiceHash’s chief executive Marko Kobal is reported to have said that attackers (probably based outside the European Union) accessed the company's systems at 00:18 GMT, and by 03:37 they had begun stealing Bitcoin. The exact nature of the hack, however, has not yet been released.
What Is NiceHash?
NiceHash is a digital currency marketplace with an estimated 750,000 registered users that matches people looking to sell processing time on their computers with users who are willing to pay to use it to mine for new bitcoin.
Bitcoin miners essentially use special software to solve maths problems, and are issued a certain number of bitcoins in exchange. This provides a smart way to issue bitcoins, and creates an incentive for more people to mine.
NiceHash’s social media accounts experienced a rise in the number of posts by bitcoin owners after it became apparent that there were problems with the website.
It has been reported that NiceHash are working on a solution to reimburse all those affected by the hack.
Not The First Time
There have been dozens of reported attacks on digital currency exchanges over the last 6 years, such as the one that led to the collapse of the world’s largest bitcoin market Mt. Gox back in 2014. It is estimated that the many attacks have resulted in the theft of 980,000+ bitcoins which equates to more than $15 billion value at current exchange rates.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
A huge surge in the value of bitcoin from $1,000 per bitcoin at the beginning of the year to around $15,000 now, coupled with the accompanying rise in the number of bitcoins contained within digital wallets have attracted the attention of hackers. The criminals have found that they are able to take advantage of exchanges and firms in the young crypto-currency industry sector that may not be secure against sophisticated attacks by criminal groups.
Those individuals and businesses involved in bitcoin speculation, investing and mining should therefore make sure that they get the best possible advice and help, and crypto-currency firms and exchanges need to invest in the most up to date systems and practices to ensure protection for their customers and users.