Cryptocurrency Exchange Loses More Than $500 Million in Possible Hack
UPDATE 1/29: Coincheck says it will repay approximately 260,000 customers who lost money in the hack.
A Japanese cryptocurrency exchange called Coincheck has lost currency worth approximately $500 million.
The heist involved 523 million tokens from a cryptocurrency known as NEM, which belonged to Coincheck customers. On Friday morning, the funds had been "illegally remitted" outside the exchange.
Coincheck is investigating the incident, including whether any computer hacking was involved, the company's executives said during a Friday press conference. For now, the exchange has suspended some trading over the site.
The heist is one of the biggest to hit the cryptocurrency market. It exceeds the initial $460 million in bitcoin the Mt. Gox exchange reported losing to hackers in 2014. (Due to the rising price of Bitcoin, the stolen funds from Mt. Gox are now worth over $7 billion.)
While details about the Coincheck theft remain scant, the number of cryptocurrency-related hacks has only been growing. In December, a cryptocurrency mining platform known as NiceHash reported losing $70 million in bitcoin. Cybercriminals managed to snatch the funds by compromising a company computer and stealing an engineer's login credentials. In 2016, another bitcoin exchange named Bitfinex lost what was then $60 million in a separate breach.
Security experts have warned that hackers, including those from North Korea, have been targeting the cryptocurrency industry. Some of the attacks have involved sending phishing emails that try to trick the victims into installing malware.
The heist at Coincheck is certainly a worrisome sign for investors. Using unique passwords and two-factor authentication can better protect your cryptocurrency account from hacking. But the protections go to waste when the companies themselves experience a breach.