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The Biggest Bitcoin hacks in history

As cryptocurrencies are seeing wider mainstream acceptance and a rise in market prices Bitcoin hacking incidents are getting more and more frequent. If you are passionate about cryptocurrencies and investing your hard-earned savings in Bitcoin or any other digital currencies hoping that one day you can retire and live comfortably, then there is one hard fact that you need to know. The biggest truth is that nothing is 100% safe in the digital world and you need to safeguard your crypto investments. The purpose of this article is not scaremongering of any kind but to provide an unbiased analysis and reality check of the safety of our reader’s crypto investments.

A Wired study published in April 2013 showed that 45 percent of crypto exchanges fail and end up closing, taking with them their user’s money. And it’s true in most of the hacking incidents, poor handling, and storage of unencrypted backup wallet keys was the main reason for the hack. To update and safeguard our readers, Bloqtimes staff brings the list of the biggest bitcoin heists in the history of cryptocurrencies.

The biggest Bitcoin hacks in history are:
  • Mt. Gox Hack – 850,000 BTC 
  • Bitfinex Hack – 120,000 BTC 
  • Bitfloor Hack – 24,000 BTC 
  • Bitstamp Hack – Less than 19,000 BTC 
  • Nicehash Hack – 4700 BTC 
  • Youbit hack #1 – 4000 BTC 
  • Youbit hack #2 – 17% of all BTC holdings

Mt. Gox Hack

  • Year: 2014
  • Amount Hacked: 850,000 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $470 million
  • Current Value: $12 billion
  • Exchange Status: Inactive

In Jan 2014, the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange was one of the largest and leading Bitcoin exchanges in the world handling around 75% of worldwide Bitcoin transactions. But by Feb of the same year, Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy in Japan after they announced that around 850,000 bitcoins valued at more than $470 million at the time, belonging to customers and company were missing and likely stolen by hackers. One of the biggest Bitcoin hacks in history with no doubt.

By today’s bitcoin price total, the stolen value would be a whopping $12 billion making it the world’s biggest heist ever. Although no one knows whether Mt. Gox was hacked from outside or it was an insider job crypto exchanges will always remain the target of sophisticated hackers. As it still remains an ongoing investigation, various leads point out that most of the bitcoins were taken away or stolen from its hot wallets, beginning as early as late 2011.

Mt. Gox Hack
Mt. Gox Hack
200,000 bitcoins!

Although the Mt. Gox website later announced that 200,000 bitcoins have been found in old wallets but a lot of things remain unanswered and fishy. Finally, in August 2015 CEO Mark Karpeles was arrested by Japanese police and charged with fraud, embezzlement, and manipulating the Mt. Gox computer system to misrepresent exchange balances. The investigation is still in progress as creditors and users are still demanding their funds, and still remains one of the biggest Bitcoin hacks in history.

Read also: 5 Tips on how to avoid ICO scams

Even then the majority of users and investors still buy, sell and store most of their cryptocurrencies on exchanges, without understanding the overall risk as no online system is 100% safe and exchange hacking will repeat as Bitcoin price soars. The best way to safeguard your digital currency is by keeping them in cold storage and by minimizing exposure to the internet. Using a hardware wallet is the safest choice available at present, like Nano Ledger S or Trezor.

Bitfinex Hack

  • Year: 2016
  • Amount Hacked: 120,000 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $72 million
  • Current Value: $1.7 billion
  • Exchange Status: Active

This is the second biggest hack of Bitcoin after Mt. Gox. Bitfinex exchange located in Hong Kong was hacked in Aug 2016 and nearly 120,000 BTC were stolen which was valued at $72 million at the time of the hack. By current bitcoin prices, the total value would be jaw-dropping at $1.7 billion. This time Bitcoins were stolen from users’ segregated wallets. Soon after the hacking news was made public, Bitcoin plunged 23% reflecting growing investors’ concerns and anxiety about exchange security and cryptocurrency investment safety. Even though this was a major security lapse from Bitfinex overall exchange has been doing well even after this incident.

Bitfinex Hack
Bitfinex Hack

Bitfloor Hack

  • Year: 2012
  • Amount Hacked: 24,000 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $249,600
  • Current Value: $336 million
  • Exchange Status: Inactive

In another Bitcoin hacking incident in 2012, a New York-based crypto exchange named Bifloor lost around 24,000 bitcoins after a hacker was successful in accessing unencrypted digital wallet backup keys. After months of hassle, finally, Bitfloor shut down its operations in April 2013, after the bank announced it would close the Bitfloor account. The total value of heist by current bitcoin prices would be around $336 million.

Bitfloor Hack
Bitfloor Hack

Bitstamp Hack

  • Year: 2015
  • Amount Hacked: Less than 19,000 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $5 million
  • Current Value: $266 million
  • Exchange Status: Active

In the January of 2015, Europe’s biggest bitcoin exchange Bitstamp was the target of a malicious hacking attack when one of its operational bitcoin storage wallets was compromised. At the time of hacking it was the world’s third busiest bitcoin exchange and roughly 19,000 BTC were stolen, amounting to $5 million. Usually, as a safeguarding policy, all big exchanges keep the majority of their bitcoins reserves in cold storage but there are always some bitcoins in hot wallets which are always at risk. Even though 19,000 bitcoins are no small number, it could have been much worse if the majority of Bitcoins were not stored in cold storage. By current bitcoin price heist was easily around $266 million.

Nicehash Hack

  • Year: 2017
  • Amount Hacked: 4700 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $75 million
  • Current Value: $66 million
  • Marketplace Status: Active

Nicehash describes itself as the largest crypto-mining marketplace where you can sell or buy computing power on demand. It became the victim of the first major mining marketplace hack when a group of hackers was able to infiltrate companies network through a compromised company computer. Roughly 4700 bitcoins were stolen from the website’s account, worth $75 million at the time of the hacking. Just like other hacking incidents, no one knows if this is an insider job or a lapse of the company’s security policy.

Nicehash Hack
Nicehash Hack

Youbit Hack #1

  • Year: 2017
  • Amount Hacked: 4000 BTC
  • Value When Hacked: $5 million
  • Current Value: $56 million
  • Exchange Status: Inactive

Back in April 2017, when Youbit was still called Yapizon hackers were able to breach their exchange security wall and stole nearly 4000 bitcoins, worth $5 million amounting to 37% of its total user’s funds. According to the company’s press release, a hacker was able to gain access to four of the exchange’s hot wallets and siphoned off the bitcoins. This was the first major hacking incident at Youbit exchange only to be followed by another attack in Dec 2017. As of now, it’s not clear who was behind the hacking attack but all fingers are pointing towards North Korea.

Youbit Hack
Youbit Hack

Youbit Hack #2

  • Year: 2017
  • Amount Hacked: 17% of all BTC holdings
  • Value When Hacked: TBD
  • Current Value: TBD
  • Exchange Status: Inactive

According to the Youbit exchange website, after the unfortunate April hacking incident company implemented all the best practices to improve the security of their exchange. But looks like even that was not sufficient to stop hackers from stealing yet again 17% of exchange bitcoin holdings. That was the last nail in the coffin of Yapian company that owns Youbit exchange as they have filed for bankruptcy in South Korea. The hacking investigation is still in progress but the South Korean National Intelligence service believes the hacking is perpetrated by North Korean Hackers.

Did we forget something to add to our list of the biggest Bitcoin hacks in history? Contact us and let us know.


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