Emergent Tech

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Tokyo crypto-cash exchange 'hacked' for half a billion bucks

Forgot to CoinCheck themselves, have now CoinWrecked themselves

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco


Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange CoinCheck says it has been taken for around $530m by hackers.

The Tokyo-based exchange says it is working with cops and Japan's Financial Services Agency to investigate a heist CoinCheck admits went undetected for more than eight hours.

CoinCheck believes the theft occurred Friday around 3am local time when someone was able to access its systems and transfer ownership of 500 million NEM cryptocurrency units.

The attack was reportedly only discovered at 1.30pm, at which time CoinCheck suspended trading.

The ultimate cost of the attack will be tied to the trading value of NEM. With investors selling off the cyber-dosh following the attack, prices have fallen around 10 per cent, making the pilfered coins worth slightly less on the open market.

Apparently, the 523m coins – worth about half a billion dollars for now – were stored by CoinCheck on a remotely accessible hot wallet at the time of the computer security breach. The thieves were able to obtain the wallet's private key and move the currency out without setting off any alarms.

Describing itself as the "Leading Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Exchange in Asia," CoinCheck allows its users to trade in more than a dozen various virtual currencies, including NEM.

The security blunder will for many cryptocurrency speculators bring back unpleasant memories of the 2014 MtGox collapse. Like CoinCheck, MtGox was a Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange that was said to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars worth of virtual currency. Cleanup from that incident took years and remains a point of contention.

The staff of CoinCheck – and the exchange's users – are hoping this incident will have a better outcome. Japan's FSA notes that it has jurisdiction over the exchange, as CoinCheck had applied with it for a license last fall. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

On 20th anniversary of Microsoft antitrust, US Treasury Sec calls for Google monopoly probe

Europe, America getting twitchy about web search dominance

John McAfee ‘goes underground’ in motorcade to flee SEC

Babbles about subpoenas, corruption, corrupt pyramidal power structures and so much more

UK Foreign Sec BoJo asks tech firms to save endangered species

People are suffering in Amazon... I mean THE Amazon

'Vigilance' hacker charged over Minnesota government attacks

Feds finger 19-year-old for failed hacktivism effort

Shazam! The sound of EC shoving probe in Apple's plan to buy name-that-tune app

Show us your data says Euro Commish

SEC 'fesses to security breach, says swiped info likely used for dodgy stock-market trading

EDGAR database a veritable goldmine of financial tips

US watchdog just gave up trying to get Google to explain YouTube's huge financial figures

Don't you worry your pretty little heads about it, says web giant

SEC sends ICO for restaurant app Munchee back to the kitchen

Rules that offering was a cryptocurrency speculation, not real attempt to fund app

Beware Paris Hilton's investment advice, SEC tells investors

Celebrity cryptocurrency endorsements labelled 'potentially unlawful promotion'

German government confirms hackers blitzkrieged its servers to steal data

Probably-Russian Fancy Bear team fingered for attack