Bitcoin hack: $41m stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Binance

Online theft affected about two percent of its total bitcoin holdings, company says.

    Bitcoin hack: $41m stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Binance
    The 7,000 bitcoins were withdrawn by hackers using a variety of techniques [File: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

    Hackers stole bitcoin worth $41m from Binance, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, the latest in a string of thefts around the world.

    The 7,000 bitcoins were withdrawn by hackers using a variety of techniques, "including phishing, viruses and other attacks", according to a post on Binance's website by Chief Executive Officer Zhao Changpeng on Wednesday.

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    The post said users would not be affected because the company would use its secure asset fund to cover the loss.

    According to the company, the theft affected about two percent of its total bitcoin holdings.

    "All of our other wallets are secure and unharmed," the statement said.

    "The hackers had the patience to wait and execute well-orchestrated actions through multiple seemingly independent accounts at the most opportune time. 

    "Once executed, the withdrawal triggered various alarms in our system. We stopped all withdrawals immediately after that," it added.

    Binance has said all deposits and withdrawals from the exchange would remain suspended while the company conducted a thorough security review, which it estimated would take a week.

    Bitcoin's price dropped by as much as 4.2 percent in early Asian trading as news of the hack broke, although it later recovered some of its losses.

    Zhao said on Twitter that other crypto exchanges, including Coinbase, had blocked deposits from addresses linked to the hack.

    After the attack, Zhao said his team has begun to converse with exchanges to see if the funds can be rescued, or if the Bitcoins stolen can be blocked from further operations. 

    Last year, $950m in cryptocurrencies was stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges and infrastructure services such as wallets, up nearly 260 percent from the previous year, research from US-based cyber security firm CiptherTrace showed.

    Exchanges in Japan and South Korea accounted for 58 percent of the thefts last year, the research found.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies