Cyber-attack on South Korean cryptocurrency exchange compromises 30,000 customer accounts

Hackers may have managed to steal at least $1 million and information on thousands of customers from South Korea's largest etherium cryptocurrency exchange.

Hackers managed to get inside a cryptocurrency exchange employee's PC to steal information on 30,000 customers as well as their money.

Bithumb, South Korea's largest and the world's fourth largest ethereum cryptocurrency exchange, has been allegedly hit by a cyber-attack through which hackers managed to get their hands on information on 30,000 customers as well as money equivalent to a million dollars. Bithumb is as popular as Bitcoin in South Korea and trades entirely in South Korean currency.

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According to South Korean Yonhap News, the country's internet watchdog Korea Internet & Security Agency has launched an investigation into the cyber-attack on Bithumb and is working with the Korea Communications Commission at the moment.

Bithumb has confirmed that it was hit by a cyber-attack last week that compromised customer details but also said that the stolen data did not contain any passwords. However, the exchange's statement may not be accurate as a large number of customers have reported that funds were stolen from their Bithumb accounts following he incident.

This isn't the first time that hackers have targeted a cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea. In April, South Korean bitcoin exchange Yapizon suffered a major cyber-attack that resulted in a loss of $5 million worth of Bitcoin. Hackers managed to steal 3,816 bitcoins as well as 37% of user funds stored in the exchange.

In August of last year, another South Korean cryptocurrency exchange named Bitfinex lost $72 million worth of bitcoin following a cyber-attack. The incident also resulted in a fall in the value of Bitcoin by 20 percent in the days that followed. In both cases, the exchanges purchased special tokens and issued them to affected customers so that the latter could recoup their losses.

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“Although Bitcoin itself is inherently secure, a hacker can steal the keys to your wallet if you don’t store the keys securely. This isn’t an inherent flaw of the Bitcoin protocol, and this is what happened with Bitfinex," said Mustafa Al-Bassam, IT security advisor at Secure Trading.

“The community has come a long way over the past few years with technology to allow secure wallets, such as hardware wallets and cold wallet software, but there is still a lot more to be done. Users who store a large amount of Bitcoin in an exchange should be aware that if they don’t have the cryptographic keys to their Bitcoin, they don’t have total control over it,” he added.