According to media reports hackers stole the entire contents of the Bitcoin wallet of NiceHash, a Slovenian mining and Bitcoin exchange service. NiceHash are trying to determine exactly how many Bitcoins were stolen, but the figure is being widely reported as being over 4000, worth over £50 million at today’s Bitcoin exchange rate.
As the value of digital currencies, especially Bitcoin, has continued to increase, so has the investment interest in them, making digital currency exchanges a newly attractive target for cyber criminals. The last year has seen thefts from several cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea and Israel. There has also been a reported increase in DDoS attacks against digital currency exchanges.
The attacks do temporarily affect the value of digital currencies, but have not deterred investors. However, potential investors should be aware that there is no physical acknowledgement of ownership when dealing with digital currencies and no underlying institutional backing. Nor is there a financial ombudsman or regulatory recourse to turn to. In a separate news report, Chris Ensor, the Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth at the National Cyber Security Centre, told The Sunday Telegraph it was investigating potential security risks associated with Bitcoin on behalf of government departments (paywall).
Chris Ensor said: “We are interested in anything that could affect the country, so Bitcoin is a major thing now.” He said work on the cryptocurrency included assessing how it worked as the Treasury considered a crackdown, as well as the potential benefits of blockchain, its underlying technology.
Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.