Hack raises concerns ahead of U.S. trade in bitcoin
TOKYO - As the value of bitcoin has surged in recent days, there are fresh concerns about the security of it and other virtual currencies.
NiceHash, a company that mines bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a breach that may have resulted in the theft of about $70 million worth of bitcoin.
Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. NiceHash said it will stop operating for 24 hours while it verifies how many bitcoins were taken. Wallet is a nickname for an online account.
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.
Miners of bitcoins and other virtual currencies help keep the systems honest by having their computers keep a global running tally of transactions. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital coin twice.
Online security is a vital concern for such dealings.
NiceHash did not respond to an emailed request for more details about the breach.
“The incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency,” it said in a statement.