Bitcoin tumbles as hackers hit South Korean exchange Coinrail

Bitcoin took a hit over the weekend.                  Karen Bleier  AFP  Getty Images

Bitcoin has once again demonstrated its volatility, dropping in value by 10 percent following news of an attack and theft from the South Korean exchange Coinrail.

In a statement on its website on Monday, Coinrail said its system was under "cyber intrusion", causing a loss for about 30 per cent of the coins traded on the exchange. It did not quantify the value, but local news outlet Yonhap News estimated that about 40 billion won (£27.8m) worth of virtual coins was stolen. Most other major virtual currencies also slumped, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a almost two-month low of $294 billion.

About $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen by hackers in the first half of this year, according to a recent report from cybersecurity company Carbon Black.

Bitcoin is now trading at $6,752 - down from an all-time peak of almost $20,000 in the week before Christmas.

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The hack brought an abrupt end to two weeks of calm for the biggest virtual currency and reignited concerns about the security of lightly regulated crypto exchanges.

In a statement, a representative from the Korea Blockchain Industry Association, a self-regulatory group, revealed the exchange wasn't a member of the working group.

In South Korea, 14 major local cryptocurrency exchanges adopted measures aimed at better protecting users in January this year, including restrictions on creating more than one account.

Coins other than Pundi X seem to have been transferred to a wallet at another decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, Etherdelta. The venue added that 70 percent of the cryptocurrencies it holds are being kept safely in a cold wallet, which isn't connected to the Internet and is less vulnerable to theft. Coinrail only said that it was cooperating with investigators and other exchanges to try and track down the perpetrators and recover the assets. The company wasn't immediately available for further comments.

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