Hackers have stolen over $73 million in bitcoin after cryptocurrency mining platform NiceHash reported a security breach yesterday.
NiceHash, which lets people offer their computer capacity for bitcoin miners to mine cryptocurrencies in exchange for bitcoin, initially said yesterday morning on Twitter that it was undergoing ‘maintenance.’ A message posted to its website, however, now shows that its service is ‘unavailable,’ highlighting that a security breach had occurred and that all operations would cease for the next 24 hours.
In a statement, the company said:
“Importantly, our payment system was compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen. We are working to verify the precise number of BTC taken. Clearly, this is a matter of deep concern and we are working hard to rectify the matter in the coming days. In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency.”
While the team didn’t disclose the amount of bitcoin stolen, a wallet address has been circulated by NiceHash users suggesting that 4,736.42 bitcoin has been stolen, a figure, at the time of publishing, that puts its value at $73.1 million.
In the company statement, the NiceHash teamed urged its users to change their online passwords as a precaution as it determines the full scope of what occurred, adding:
“We are truly sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused and are committing every resource towards solving this issue as soon as possible.”
The security breach comes at a time when the digital currency is experiencing a surge in value. Yesterday, it was reported that bitcoin had scaled the $14,000 milestone, ahead of the upcoming launch of several bitcoin futures contracts. Today, bitcoin continues to go one step further and is currently trading at over $15,000, at $15,655, according to CoinMarketCap. This represents a near 60 percent rise in value over the past seven days.
With an increase in price, however, the digital currency becomes more attractive to criminals. So much so, that according to cybersecurity firms, cybercriminals are working at targeting victims with malware to mine digital coins. Anti-malware software company Malwarebytes, claims that it has prevented 250 million attempts to put coin-mining malware on computers.
Once the malware is on the computer it then works at 100 percent to get as much mining done as possible. However, even if a victim shuts down their computer, the malware can still function in the background as hidden browsers remain open enabling it to continue working.