Hackers have plundered a digital currency exchange, stealing millions of pounds worth of customers’ Bitcoin.
NiceHash, a website which offers Bitcoin in exchange for customers' computing power so it can mine other cryptocurrencies, confirmed that it had suffered a security breach early this morning.
Head of marketing Andrej P. Škraba told Reuters that the hack was “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering” and that about 4,700 Bitcoins, worth about $70m (£52m) at current prices, were lost.
He said the company was co-operating with local authorities but declined to give more information. "Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days," NiceHash said on Facebook.
The hack illustrates a major problem with Bitcoin - while the network itself is seen as almost unhackable, the exchanges that many people rely on to store their money are vulnerable.
"In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency."
It has urged customers to change their online passwords as a precaution.
A new digital wallet with 4,736 Bitcoin (or $70m) appeared shortly after the breach was reported. The mystery wallet, which several have speculated may be where the missing Bitcoin have been sent to, is visible online but its owner is anonymous.
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Crypto-mining has become a popular way to invest in Bitcoin, allowing those who own Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) and can afford to share their computing power to add to the blockchain, also referred to as “mining”.
Some of NiceHash's customers complained of losing upwards of $2,000 stored on the exchange.
The heist is just the latest disaster among digital wallets. Just last month Parity, which is popular among startups who want to exchange their fundraising cash, froze $162m in cryptocurrency Ethereum, after a novice hacker deleted code necessary for accessing the funds.
Earlier this month UK cryptocurrency startup Electroneum, which raised $40m (£30m), was hit by a cyber attack that shut investors out of their accounts.