Just days after reports of a whopping $1.1 billion in global cryptocurrency thefts so far this year, a major South Korean crypto exchange has revealed it was hacked and lost some $30 million in digital coin, leading to a temporary shut-down of its services.
The exchange, Bithumb, is the sixth-biggest in the world by trading volume, and there’s no indication of when it might relaunch services, or when withdrawals can be made.
Adding to the worry of crypto holders using this exchange, Bithumb has provided no further details about the hack and theft.
However, the company tried to ease traders’ concerns by vowing to compensate losses from its own funds and that all customers' assets have been saved in the company's “cold wallet”, the offline version of storage.
Earlier this month, Bithumb was said to be facing a $28 million tax bill from the Korean government. The exchange has been found not guilty of tax evasion by country's National Tax Service but was left with a hefty fine to pay. The agency launched the investigation into the firm back in January amid a wider crackdown on crypto exchanges.
The South Korean authorities have been intensifying their actions against the country's crypto exchange, following a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in September last year.
In 2017, South Korea emerged as one of the world's major markets for trading in bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
The Bithumb heist is just the latest in a series of thefts reported by cryptocurrency exchanges in recent months. Related: U.S. Market Growth Weighs On The Global Economy
In this case, Bithumb is big enough to cover the losses, but that isn’t always the case, highlighting the enormous risk associated with digital coin. Another South Korean exchange Youbit, filed for bankruptcy in December last year after losing 17 percent of its assets in a heist.
Earlier this month, one more South Korean exchange, Coinrail, said it had been targeted by thieves, who stole approximately 30 percent of its virtual currencies, possibly losing as much as $40 million.
In January, the digital wallet of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck was hacked and nearly $500 million in digital tokens were stolen.
All of these heists spurred calls among several world leaders for regulating the cryptocurrency market.
Global policymakers have warned investors to be cautious in trading the digital currency, given the lack of broad regulatory oversight. Experts say the problem is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
Last week, Cybersecurity firm Carbon Black reported that $1.1 billion in cryptocurrency has been stolen so far in 2018, as a result of global hacks, Ponzi scams, phishing attacks and digital currency theft.
Exchanges were the most vulnerable group for cybercriminals, making up 27 percent of attacks this year. Businesses were the second target, making up 21 percent of those hacked.
By Damir Kaletovic for Safehaven.com
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