Bitcoin tumbles as hackers hit South Korean exchange Coinrail

Bitcoin tumbles as hackers hit South Korean exchange Coinrail

NY time on Friday and was trading at $6,781.19 as of 11:43 a.m.in Hong Kong on Monday, bringing its year-to-date loss to 53 percent.

Coinrail said in a statement on its website that some of the exchange's digital currency appears to have been stolen by hackers, but it did not quantify the value. Most other major virtual currencies also slumped, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a almost two-month low of $294 billion.

Although the exact amount of the coins stolen was not specified, local news outlet Yonhap has suggested that the total value of stolen cryptocurrencies is estimated at $37.1 million. Two-thirds of remaining 30 percent of token compromised have been frozen or recalled through consultation with developers like Pundi X and communication with exchanges like IDEX, the operator said. "Coinrail confirmed in its statement that the exchange is fully cooperating with a police investigation into the hacking, and that trading has been suspended for now".

The exchange said it has managed to freeze all exposed NPXS, NPER and ATX coins, and that other cryptocurrencies are now being kept in a cold wallet, which isn't connected to the Internet and is less vulnerable to theft.

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Bitcoin is now trading at $6,752 - down from an all-time peak of almost $20,000 in the week before Christmas.

In South Korea, 14 major local cryptocurrency exchanges adopted measures aimed at better protecting users in January this year, including restrictions on creating more than one account. It wasn't immediately clear whether the lost coins were stored in the more insecure 'hot wallet'.

Japan in February carried out raids on a number of exchanges following the Coinbase hack, which exceeded the US$480 million in virtually currency stolen in 2014 from another Japanese exchange, MtGox.

The price plunges were also linked to a report on Friday from the Wall Street Journal (paywall) that United States regulators are investigating four major crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Bitstamp, for price manipulation.

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