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Cryptocurrency Markets Are Juicy Targets for Hackers: Timeline

Japanese Crypto-Exchange Hacked for Almost $500M

The $500 million heist of digital tokens from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. on Friday is remarkable for its sheer size, but thefts in the lightly regulated world of cryptocurrencies are woefully frequent.

In less than a decade, hackers have stolen $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and Ether, two of the most popular digital currencies, according to Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP. If measured at today’s elevated prices, the figure would be much higher.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest thefts since 2012.

December 2017

  • NiceHash, a crypto-mining marketplace based in Slovenia, said on its Facebook page that its payment system was compromised and as much as $63 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen. The firm added extra security measures and sought the community’s help to analyze the breach.
  • Youbit said it would file for bankruptcy hours after losing 17 percent of its assets in a cyberattack. The South Korean exchange had suffered what it called an “accident” in April and its owner encouraged clients to keep their tokens in a safer form. South Korean investigators are looking into North Korea’s possible involvement in the hack.

November 2017

  • A security hole in the Parity Wallet resulted in losses of about $155 million, including in Ether and other tokens.
  • The company behind Tether said a “malicious” attacker stole $31 million worth of the cryptocurrency and sent them to an unauthorized Bitcoin address.

July 2017

  • A group calling itself the White Hat Group exploited a bug in the Parity Wallet software and attempted to launder stolen Ether, valued at about $30 million according to Security Week, through exchanges.
  • Just minutes after CoinDash’s launch of an initial coin offering, hackers made off with as much as $6.6 million worth of Ether. The Israel-based firm terminated its token sale. 

April 2017

  • A Bithumb contract worker’s personal computer that stored customers’ data files was hacked, resulting in the leak of personal and trading information of more than 30,000 users. The South Korean crypto-exchange was fined 58.5 million won ($55,000) by the local regulator for the breach.

August 2016

  • Bitfinex said hackers took 119,756 Bitcoin, valued at about $65 million. In April 2017, the exchange said it had repaid all customers.

June 2016

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organization, a leaderless venture-capital fund and what was then the highest-profile project using Ethereum, was hacked. About $50 million of members’ contributions to the fund were siphoned off.

May 2016

  • Hong Kong-based Gatecoin had about $2 million in Bitcoin and Ether stolen following a cyberattack.

March 2015

  • Two former U.S. federal agents who helped probe the illegal Silk Road Internet drug emporium were charged with wrongfully pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.

January 2015

  • Bitstamp’s Chief Executive Officer reassured customers that the bulk of their Bitcoins were safe after $5 million the coins were stolen, according to a Fortune report.

February 2014

  • Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, reported that tokens valued at about $480 million had gone missing. The firm filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the U.S., and said the disappearance was probably the result of a “massive theft.”

September 2012

  • BitFloor, based in New York, lost about $250,000 in Bitcoin after it was hacked. Months later in April 2013, the exchange announced it would shut and refund customer deposits, Bitcoin Magazine reported.

— With assistance by Benjamin Robertson

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