Bitcoin tops $17,000; hack raises concerns ahead of US trade

December 7, 2017 by Elaine Kurtenbach
Bitcoin tops $17,000; hack raises concerns ahead of US trade
In this Monday, April 7, 2014, file photo, a bitcoin logo is displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York. The bitcoin miner NiceHash says it is investigating a security breach and the theft of the contents of the NiceHash "bitcoin wallet." The company said Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 in a statement posted on its website that it had stopped operations and was working to verify how many bitcoins were taken. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Bitcoin surged past $17,000 Thursday as the frenzy surrounding the virtual currency escalated just days before it starts trading on major U.S. exchanges. Bitcoin has gained more than $5,000 in just the past two days.

At the same time, there are fresh concerns about the security of and other after NiceHash, a company that mines bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a breach that may have resulted in the theft of about $70 million worth of bitcoin.

Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. NiceHash said it will stop operating for 24 hours while it verifies how many bitcoins were taken. Wallet is a nickname for an online account.

As of 11:15 a.m. EST, bitcoin was valued at $17,482, according to Coinbase, the largest bitcoin exchange. At the start of the year, one bitcoin was worth less than $1,000.

The surge in the price and the hack of NiceHash occurred just as the trading community prepares for bitcoin 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.

Bitcoin is the world's most popular virtual . 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.

NiceHash did not respond to an emailed request for more details about the breach.

"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 in a statement, where it also 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.

Explore further: Bitcoin miner NiceHash reports hack, theft of its 'wallet'

Related Stories

Bitcoin miner NiceHash reports hack, theft of its 'wallet'

December 7, 2017

The Slovenian-based bitcoin miner NiceHash says it is investigating a security breach and the possible theft of tens of millions of dollars' worth of bitcoins, as meanwhile the value of the virtual currency has soared to ...

Federal regulator gives OK for bitcoin futures to trade

December 1, 2017

A federal regulator gave the go ahead on Friday to the CME Group to start trading bitcoin futures later this month, the first time the digital currency will be traded on a Wall Street exchange and subject to federal oversight.

What is bitcoin? A look at the digital currency

November 29, 2017

The price of a single bitcoin has pierced the $10,000 level and some experts say it could rise further. The world's most popular virtual currency allows people to buy goods and services and exchange money without involving ...

Bitcoin roars to record past $15,000

December 7, 2017

Bitcoin ploughed past $15,000 to a fresh record on Thursday, triggering a warning the cryptocurrency was "like a charging train with no brakes" and prompting fresh concern about its looming launch on mainstream markets.

Reports: China orders bitcoin exchanges to shut down

September 14, 2017

Regulators have ordered Chinese bitcoin exchanges to close, two business newspapers reported Thursday, after uncertainty about the digital currency's future in China caused its price to plunge.

Recommended for you

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mackita
not rated yet Dec 09, 2017
The cryptocurrencies are economical nonsense from the single reason: whereas normal currencies are based on production of useful commodities (like the gold), the cryptocurrencies are based on energy wasting. Because the only useful commodity at the case of cryptocurrency is encrypting the transactions, the value of cryptocurrency is intrinsically volatile and depending on volume of transactions. Which at the case of bitcoin may be often represented just by empty blocks, which miners will get also payed (by 12.5 Bitcoins per block). Not to say, that most of mines are controlled by Chinese government today.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 10, 2017
Bitcoin's insane energy consumption One estimate suggests the Bitcoin network consumes as much energy as Denmark.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.