Hackers just stole $40 million worth of bitcoin from Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It’s hardly the first time crypto has been targeted by thieves. For a technology that’s supposed to be hyper secure, in practice, it’s often proven itself to be, well, not.
Binance, which is based in Taiwan, announced on Tuesday that hackers were able to withdraw about 7,000 bitcoin through a single transaction, amounting to $40 million. Hackers employed various methods, including phishing and viruses, in what the company described as a “large scale security breach.” Withdrawals and deposits on the platform have since been suspended. Fortunately for Binance customers, the company will use its emergency insurance fund, so customers won’t personally incur any losses.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have proven a prime target for hackers despite their characterization by proponents as super safe and impregnable. One of the biggest such cases was Mt. Gox, which collapsed in 2014 after losing $460 million, apparently to hackers. In 2016, hackers stole $72 million worth of bitcoin from exchange Bitfinex. And in 2018, hackers stole $500 million in digital tokens from exchange Coincheck.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency has been stolen over the years, most of which has come from exchanges and been centered around Asia.
The Binance heist, like the previous exchange hacks, should serve as a warning to cryptocurrency investors: Your money might not be as safe as you think it is.
“It’s like robbing a bank, except you can do it from a thousand miles away, from the comfort of your home, and the money you get is virtually untraceable and you can disguise it by laundering it through multiple wallets in a matter of minutes,” said Robert Long, an attorney at GreenbergTraurig and former federal prosecutor.
What happened at Binance, briefly explained
According to a statement from Binance,…