According to a press release published on January 16, the New Zealand police force has opened investigations into the alleged hack of cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia, where criminals stole at least $3.6 million.
Cryptopia Suffers Crypto Hack
On January 13, up to $3.6 million in crypto assets was transferred to an unknown digital wallet from Cryptopia without authorization. Upon discovery of the transfer by company employees, Cryptopia decided to shut down its website as efforts went into tracing the lost assets and what could have caused the hack.
On January 14, the exchange posted a tweet informing its clients that the website was down due to the necessity of some “unscheduled maintenance.” Over time, the crypto trading platform repeatedly assured its users that trading would be back in a matter of days, as its engineering team was working on a lasting solution to the issue. However, the lack of communication from the company has raised suspicion from some quarters, as customers believe Cryptopia might not be telling the full story.
An Admission from Cryptopia
The exchange confirmed the attack on January 15 via a tweet, calling the hack a “security breach.” The digital asset platform is currently under maintenance, according to its last update. Also, all trading activities have already been reportedly suspended until the police force and the High Tech Crime Consortium (HTCC), an agency that deals with cybercrime, are done with their investigation.
Police Make Clarifications
The police force has established a physical presence at the Colombo Street headquarters of Cryptopia, but contrary to various reports published by the local media, they have not placed the building under a lockdown.
The Latest in a String of Hacks in January
Last year saw an upsurge in the number of digital asset platforms that were hacked. According to an Anti-Money Laundering Report by intelligence firm CipherTrace, the total crypto-related attacks recorded in the first three quarters 2018 saw the loss of about $927 million worth of digital assets.
Still, it looks like 2019 might be picking up right where 2018 stopped.
Just three days into the New Year, Dublin’s local tram system—Luas—had its website hacked, where the details of thousands of users were supposedly stolen. According to the Irish Times, the attacker had sent ransom messages asking for a single Bitcoin (BTC) unit in exchange for surrendering control of the whole system. The attacker threatened to make the publications of private data public if the ransom request wasn’t met within the stipulated time. The local tech department was reportedly able to make modifications to the website to remove the message. However, the page remains offline as of this writing.
On January 5, U.S. crypto trading platform Coinbase suddenly stopped trading Ethereum Classic (ETC) after the exchange discovered that the currency’s underlying blockchain had been the victim of a 51% attack. Crypto exchange platform Gate.io also reported that it had lost 40,000 ETC tokens (worth about $220,000). Assuring users of their safety, the exchange also said that it would take care of all affected users’ losses.
After days of speculations, ARS Technica reported that the total number of ETC tokens stolen as result of the ETC 51% attack was about 85,000, with a reported worth of around $500,000.
On January 12, Gate.io reported that the ETC hacker had returned $100,000 in ETC tokens to the exchange. The exchange claimed that it had no explanation for the hacker’s sudden “change of heart,” speculating that the hack might have been carried out by a white hat hacker.
In the release, Gate.io wrote, “If the attacker didn’t run it for profit, he might be a white hacker who wanted to remind people the risks in blockchain consensus and hashing power security.”