We won't be bringing you any updates on the price of Bitcoin for the next 10 hours or so.
That's because Mt. Gox, the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, has halted trading in the virtual currency until 10 PM ET "to allow the market to cooldown following the drop in price" that happened yesterday.
Below is a screenshot of the trading log-in page on the Mt. Gox website:
Click to enlarge
Mt. Gox said in a Facebook post overnight that a serious lag in the Bitcoin trading platform – due to a rapid influx of new users in recent days – caused a panic that resulted in yesterday's big sell-off.
Lags like that can also be caused by "distributed denial of service" attacks, wherein hackers use large groups of computers to flood a website with connections, such that no one else can connect to it.
Last week, Mt. Gox said it had been subjected to a " a DDoS attack like we have never seen."
This morning, in a note to clients, ConvergEx Group Chief Market Strategist Nick Colas – one of the only Wall Street analysts who has paid any attention to Bitcoin – wrote that ongoing DDoS attacks on Bitcoin exchanges and services were hackers trying to send the virtual currency plunging in order to scoop it up for lower prices.
Whatever the cause of yesterday's sell-off – whether it was hackers trying to manipulate the market down or just a massive influx of new users – exchanges like Mt. Gox will have to figure out ways to mitigate the conditions that lead to massive price swings like that in order to attract a wider user base.
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