Bitcoin tops $17,000; hack raises concerns ahead of US tradeDecember 7, 2017 4:18pm

TOKYO (AP) — 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 bitcoin and other virtual currencies 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 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.

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.

___

Ali Zerdin in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Carlo Piovano in London contributed to this story.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

In this Oct. 24,2017 photo,  the logo of Toshiba Corp., is seen at the venue for the company's stockholders' meeting in Chiba near Tokyo. Toshiba and Western Digital have resolved a dispute that was preventing the embattled Japanese electronics giant from selling its flash memory unit to raise cash to stay afloat.  The companies said Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017,  that the deal allows Western Digital to participate in future investments in their joint venture. That clears the way for a consortium led by Bain Capital to buy Toshiba Memory Corp. (Ren Onuma/Kyodo News via AP)
Toshiba, Western Digital make peace on sale of chip unit
A police officer escorts Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik, left, and other detain suspects, as they arrive at Greece's supreme court in Athens, on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Greece's Supreme Court holds an extradition hearing for Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik, wanted in the United States on charges of laundering billions of dollars' worth of bitcoin. Vinnik is the subject of a judicial tug-of-war between the U.S. and Russia, which is also seeking his extradition on lesser charges.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Greek court backs extraditing Russian bitcoin suspect to US
Men plead guilty to creating 'botnet' used to crash the webMen plead guilty to creating Mirai 'botnet' used in 2016 internet attack
FILE - In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, file photo, Anthony Levandowski, then-head of Uber's self-driving program, speaks about their driverless car in San Francisco. A recent letter from the U.S. Attorney's office confirms the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation connected to allegations that Levandowski, a former Uber executive, stole self-driving car technology from a Google spin-off to help the ride-hailing service build robotic vehicles. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Justice Department confirms criminal probe in Uber case
Japan court orders shutdown of nuclear reactor near volcanoA court has ruled that a nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan should not operate because it's too close to an active volcano and could be affected by a major eruption
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing the Hang Seng Index at a bank in Hong Kong, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Asian stocks were mixed on Thursday after the Fed raised rates again, meeting investor expectations but providing few surprises. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Asian shares mixed as Fed hike gives investors few surprises
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices