Cryptocurrencies tumble after S Korea hack


Bitcoin extended losses for a third day, tumbling as much as 12 per cent Sunday as South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said there was a "cyber intrusion" in its system. 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.

On Monday morning, cryptocurrency prices slumped following the news reports that Coinrail lost more than 40 billion in altcoins.

"Two-thirds of stolen cryptocurrencies were withdrawn or frozen in partnership with related exchanges and coin companies".

Investors and regulators were jolted earlier this year after Japan's cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck was hacked in a high-profile theft of over half a billion dollars worth of digital currency.

On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin was last trading at $6,763.96, down a sharp 11.2 per cent from Friday, having fallen roughly 65 per cent from its all-time peak hit around mid-December 2017. South Korea has been the third largest market for Bitcoin trading in the world after Japan and the U.S. and has also suffered several major exchange hacks resulting in both fear driven activity on the trading side and calls for more stringent regulation from the government.

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All assets of CoinRail, which have not been leaked, are moved to a cold wallet and are kept safe, and transactions and withdrawals will resume after stabilizing the service.

The price plunges were also linked to a report on Friday from the Wall Street Journal (paywall) that United States regulators are investigating four major crypto exchanges, including Coinbase and Bitstamp, for price manipulation. More recently, in December previous year, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit shut down and filed for bankruptcy after being hacked twice.

Coinrail said in a statement on its website that it's reviewing its system due to hacking attempts.

The Korean National Police Agency didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.