Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Bitcoin falls over 50%, cryptocurrencies lose $46 billion after South Korean hack

Bitcoin falls over 50%, cryptocurrencies lose $46 billion after South Korean hack

The prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and all other major cryptocurrencies have experienced big drops in the last 24 hours, following the news that South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail has been hacked. Two-thirds of the stolen assets - which the exchange identified as NPXS, NPER and ATX coins - have been frozen or collected, while the remaining one third is being examined by investigators, other exchanges and cryptocurrency development companies, it said.

Led by a drop in bitcoin's price, the value of cryptocurrencies fell by more than $40 billion over the weekend and into Monday.

Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the almost $500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc.in late January.

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Cryptocurrencies plunged in Asia on Monday (Jun 11) after a hack on a South Korean exchange sparked fresh concerns about the safety of the digital units.

South Korea has emerged as a hotbed for trading in virtual currencies over the past year.

Global policy makers have warned investors to be cautious in trading the digital currency given the lack of broad regulatory oversight.

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Korea remains a hugely influential large-volume crypto exchange market, but has experienced multiple hacking attempts in the past few years, with many Seoul law enforcement agents saying North Korea is to blame. Coinrail said 70 per cent of its digital assets have been moved to what is known as a cold wallet - storage that isn't connected to the internet - and that it is working with authorities on finding the lost assets. It wasn't immediately clear whether the lost coins were stored in the more insecure 'hot wallet'.

Coinrail said the "cyber intrusion" it experienced on Sunday saw the theft of around 30 percent of coins traded on the exchange.

"Though the CoinRail hack may have set us off-track, I don't think that this will have very significant ramifications in the long run", he said.

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