Bitcoin has been dealt another blow after a major European bitcoin exchange admitted it was targeted by hackers, who stole £3.4 million worth of the cryptocurrency.
Bitstamp said around 19,000 bitcoin, worth £180 each, have been taken from customers online 'wallets' and urged customers not to make any more deposits. Bitstamp is the world's third largest bitcoin market by volume and is based between Slovenia and the UK.
Services have been temporarily suspended while the four-year-old company investigates the incident and Bitstamp said in a statement on its website that it will “actively engage with law enforcement officials”.
he company stressed that the amount stolen “represents a small fraction of Bitstamp's total bitcoin reserves” and said the majority are held in 'cold storage', a term for computers or hard drives that are not connected to the internet and therefore beyond the reach of cyber hackers.
The Bitstamp breach is another blow for bitcoin enthusiasts who hope the online-only cryptocurrency can enter the mainstream.
Bitcoin has a number of high-profile backers including Sir Richard Branson, who has invested in bitcoin payment company BitPay and is understood to own bitcoin himself.
Last summer the then biggest bitcoin exchange in the world MtGox collapsed, claiming it was targeted by hackers who made off with around 850,000 bitcoin. Other smaller exchanges have also been beset by similar operational and security issues.
Bloomberg recently claimed that bitcoin was also the worst investment of 2014. The cryptocurrency's value halved against the dollar across the year, making it an even worse performer than the Russian rouble.
Bitcoin was worth $1240 at its peak, but now worth around $274.Reuse content