Keeping Tabs On 2019’s Major Crypto Hacks (So Far)

hacked bitcoin smartphone

Days after admitting to a hack that caused the loss of $32 million in cryptocurrency, Bitpoint Japan, a cryptocurrency exchange operator run by Remixpoint, said on Sunday (July 14) it has discovered an additional $2.3 million was stolen.

Of the initial hack of $32 million, two-thirds belonged to customers of the exchange — the rest to the company. This marks the eighth major cyberattack on a cryptocurrency in 2019 and is one of the largest.

Just last year, cryptocurrency was lauded as a safe and sophisticated FinTech — even “unhackable,” according to an article in the MIT Technology Review — but with its unique security features have come unique security threats that advance just as fast as countermeasures.

Only three weeks ago, hackers stole $4.5 million in personal funds from 90 users of Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitrue. They accessed Bitrue’s hot wallet, which is connected to the internet and is easily accessible, unlike a cold wallet, which is stored offline and therefore cannot be hacked.

Binance, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, was also hacked through its hot wallet, reporting $41 million worth of stolen bitcoin on May 7. The hackers were able to pass security checks completely, although the company acted quickly and halted all withdrawals once aware of the breach.

Likewise, Bithumb, a South-Korean crypto exchange, confirmed the hack of $13.1 million from its hot wallet on March 30, which the firm suspected to be an insider job. After discovering the cyberattack, the exchange moved the rest of the funds in its hot wallet to its cold wallet while it identified the cause of the breach and secured any vulnerabilities.

It’s no surprise, then, that 14 percent of respondents to a recent survey published by global security company Kaspersky said they don’t trust cryptocurrency anymore, and 31 percent called it “too volatile.”

Of those who have opted out of using cryptocurrency, 19 percent stopped after hacking attacks and 15 percent stopped after losing money due to cryptocurrency fraud, according to the report, titled “Uncharted Territory: Why Consumers are Still Wary about Adopting Cryptocurrency.”

Back on June 6, cryptocurrency wallet service Gatehub revealed a $10.1 million hack that compromised nearly 100 customers’ wallets. The breach was discovered only after several users notified the exchange that funds from their wallets were missing.

According to Kaspersky’s survey, thefts, hacks and breaches have cost the cryptocurrency market $882 million to date. Other major cyberattacks this year hit crypto exchanges Dragonex, Coinmama, and Cryptopia.

Dragonex, based in Singapore, reported on March 25 that hackers had stolen funds owned by both users and the company.

Israeli crypto brokerage Coinmama announced on Feb. 15 that 450,000 users’ data was breached, in part of a massive cyberattack that targeted 24 companies.

And on Jan. 15, New Zealand exchange Cryptopia notified the public of a security breach, and it was later revealed that $16 million in digital currency was lost.

There have now been more hacking attacks in the first seven months of 2019 than in all of last year — and attacks on larger exchanges than before, according to Coindesk. And as cryptocurrencies continue to grow in popularity and funding, hackers’ technologies and ambitions will, too.


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