The Stack Archive

Hackers steal almost $2mn in Bitcoin from Chinese exchange

Mon 16 Feb 2015

Bter, a Chinese Bitcoin exchange, was hacked on Valentine’s Day with the cyber criminals stealing an expected $1.75mn (approx. £1.1mn) worth of the cryptocurrency.

The popular China-based firm has not yet released much detail about the breach, but has revealed that 7,170 BTC was stolen from its offline store, or ‘cold wallet’, on the 14th February, and that the company is suspending operations pending further investigation.

The crime was executed in a single transaction at 5am EST, and the Chinese exchange hopes that the funds can be recovered by tracking this exact transaction and with help from local authorities. Bter has offered a bounty 720 BTC for the return of stolen currency. However, many believe that the likelihood of retrieving the stash is very slim considering that the stolen funds have most certainly already passed through anonymising Bitcoin mixers.

The company has said that it plans to arrange fund withdrawals of unaffected fiat and altcoins shortly. No time scale has been reported.

Concerns have been raised as to how the bitcoins were taken from an offline cryptocurrency store, which should not have been exposed to hackers and hidden on a server disconnected from the web. Bitcoin experts are discussing the speculation that the theft may have been an ‘inside job’, or committed by someone within the exchange network.

The price of Bitcoin rose by $40 to $270 on Sunday morning just before the attack, causing some to believe that the market may have been intentionally manipulated and artificially inflated to favour the hackers.

Another Chinese Bitcoin exchange, Huobi, was also down yesterday due to an alleged DDOS attack – security was not breached. It is unclear whether these two attacks are related.

This Bitcoin hack is the second of its scale this year; with the Solvenian exchange Bitstamp losing approximately $5mn worth of the currency last month. Bitstamp has since resumed its operations.


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