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Bitcoin Worth Millions Stolen Days Before US Exchange Opens

Bitcoins worth millions stolen, re-think before you invest in cryptocurrency!

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FILE - A bitcoin logo is displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York.
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A bitcoin mining company in Slovenia has been hacked for the possible theft of tens of millions of dollars, just days before the virtual currency, which hit a record above $15,000 on Thursday, is due to start trading on major U.S. exchanges.

NiceHash, a company that mines bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a security breach and will stop operating for 24 hours while it verifies how many bitcoins were taken.

Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. At Thursday’s record price of about $15,000, that puts the value at over $70 million.

There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an emailed request for more details.

“The incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency,” it said. The statement urged users to change their online passwords.

Slovenian police are investigating the case together with authorities in other states, spokesman Bostjan Lindav said, without providing details.

The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established U.S. exchanges. Futures for bitcoin will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday evening and on crosstown rival CME Group’s platforms later in the month.

That has increased the sense among some investors that bitcoin is gaining in mainstream legitimacy after several countries, like China, tried to stifle the virtual currency.

As a result, the price of bitcoin has jumped in the past year, particularly so in recent weeks. On Thursday it surged to over $15,000, up $1,300 in less than a day, according to Coindesk. At the start of the year, one bitcoin was worth less than $1,000.

Bitcoin is the world’s most popular virtual currency. Such currencies are not tied to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously. They are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they are traded.

A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies. Some say they serve merely to facilitate money laundering and illicit, anonymous payments. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed.

Miners of bitcoins and other virtual currencies help keep the systems honest by having their computers keep a global running tally of transactions. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital coin twice.

Online security is a vital concern for such dealings.

In Japan, following the failure of a bitcoin exchange called Mt. Gox, new laws were enacted to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Mt. Gox shut down in February 2014, saying it lost about 850,000 bitcoins, possibly to hackers.

Ali Zerdin in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Carlo Piovano in London contributes to this story.(VOA)

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Tesla Chariman Elon Musk’s Twitter Gets Hacked Again

Musk's tweet caused a financial firestorm with Tesla shares immediately skyrocketing by almost 11 per cent.

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Elon Musk, tesla
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite Twitter attempting to ban scammers and impersonators on its platform, one impersonator broke into Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk’s official account on Thursday with a fake lookalike verified account, promising his 22.5 million followers free Bitcoin and ethereum cryptocurrencies.

As the real Musk was busy penning down some poetic words for his followers in the wee hours of Thursday, the impersonator appeared in his thread line with a fake Twitter verified account, asking his users to trade and gain in cryptocurrencies.

“As many of you know by now, we will soon be making Tesla a private company. It is an important step towards stability and it would be impossible to move forward in a desirable pace without making such decisions,” the impersonator wrote in a fake statement in the name of Musk on Medium.

“As a part of reorganization we will be introducing Bitcoin and Ethereum as official payment methods,” he said, adding that “it is one of the steps in moving forward as a company”.

Elon Musk, tesla
Some of his users, however, fell for the fake account. IANS

Musk, who was awake just before the impersonator joined his thread line to fool his followers, was yet to reply to this.

Some of his users, however, who fell for the fake account, took to his thread line: “Report this account, already stealing from people bitcoins,” wrote one user.

“How did it get verified,” asked another.

The head of SpaceX and Tesla has witnessed such attacks on his Twitter account in the past that use fraudulent accounts to trick his followers into sending them cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

“I want to know who is running the Etherium scambots! Mad skillz,” Musk had earlier tweeted.

Twitter, in a statement, reacted by saying it was working on ways of bringing the issue under control.

“We’re aware of this form of manipulation and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner,” The Verge reported, quoting the statement.

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Cryptocurrency Bitcoin, the growing market (VOA)

Musk last week gave a “tearful” interview to The New York Times, talking about his “excruciating” times at Tesla, his 120-hour a week work schedule and saying that he “nearly missed his brother’s wedding this summer and spent his birthday holed up in Tesla’s offices as the company raced to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model”.

Also Read: Status of Bitcoin in India

On August 7, Musk surprised the investment world with a Twitter announcement that he was considering taking Tesla private and that the funds needed to do so – which some financial analysts estimate at more than $70 billion – were “secured”.

Musk’s tweet caused a financial firestorm with Tesla shares immediately skyrocketing by almost 11 per cent, although subsequently they lost a good part of what they had gained and tanked further after Musk’s interview with the NYT. (IANS)