Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score

Free

Largest cryptocurrency heist of 2019: Upbit exchange loses $50 million to theft

Posted: 28 November 2019 11:35 am
News

Picture not described

With the year drawing to a close, this may stand as 2019's largest cryptocurrency exchange heist.

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit has confirmed that it's lost 342,000 Ether, worth about US$50 million at the time, but now worth more than $52 million following today's ETH price bump.

The exchange says it will cover the lost Ether with its own funds, but services may remain disrupted for two weeks.

This is the largest cryptocurrency exchange heist of 2019, if you measure losses based on cryptocurrency prices at the time of the hack. It surpasses the $40 million at-the-time Binance theft of 7,000 BTC in May of this year.

With the year drawing to a close, it's going to take a truly spectacular effort for anyone to take the crown from Upbit.

If you want to see the pile of stolen money for yourself, the culprit wallet can be found at:

0xa09871AEadF4994Ca12f5c0b6056BBd1d343c029

An inside job? North Korea?

People are noting that the exchange has not used the word "hack" in its official statement on the incident. The timing of the attack coincided with the routine movement of funds from the exchange's hot wallet to its cold wallet, which also suggests some insider knowledge.

Plus, another recent South Korean cryptocurrency exchange hack, in which Bithumb lost $20 million, was an inside job.

The currently circling but considerably more tenuous speculation of a North Korean connection, which is still just unfounded speculation, is based in part on North Korean phishing attempts on Upbit users earlier this year.

It's also based on the fact that another $30 million Bithumb hack (not the inside job, a different one) is believed to have been perpetrated by North Korean hackers.

The world's largest exchange attack to date, in which half a billion dollars worth of XEM was stolen from Japanese exchange CoinCheck, is also believed to have been the work of North Korea.

Incidentally, that half a billion dollars-at-the-time of XEM is collectively worth less than $20 million now. CoinCheck remains the world's largest cryptocurrency theft, but whether it was the most lucrative depends on whether the hackers managed to cash out.

It's possible that they didn't, because cashing out stolen cryptocurrency isn't always easy.

As is typical in these cases, the exchange ecosystem has quickly rallied to Upbit's support, with some platforms promising to freeze any funds that the thieves may attempt to pass through their platforms.



Also watch


Disclosure: The author holds BNB, BTC at the time of writing.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

Latest cryptocurrency news

Picture: Shutterstock

Latest crypto guides

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site