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Bitcoin heist: Hackers loot $350M in virtual currency, cyber exchange shutdown

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A Bitcoin heist resulted in hackers looting over $350 million in the modern virtual currency, even leading to a temporary cyber exchange shutdown for Mt. Gox. Due to a number of recent issues surrounding the security and validity of Bitcoin in past months, the latest massive thefts have only left overall Bitcoin prices plummeting even further this week. The Inquisitr reports this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, that the online threat was likely achieved using computer viruses to infect and attack personnel computers that hold private money or off-limits information.

In addition to a big Bitcoin crash just earlier this Feb., this Bitcoin heist is the priciest looting in recent memory, with an estimated $350 million or more taken in a cyber theft. It is believed that expert hackers used complex viruses, called botnets, to directly infect officials’ and buyers’ computers to steal the virtual currency.

One such botnet group, commonly referred to as simply Pony, was able to successfully steal the basic email and even login credentials for over 500,000 Bitcoin users. Due to such a tremendous amount of money being breached, the cyber Bitcoin Mt. Gox exchange was even shut down for a brief while.

However, it wasn’t just this recent Bitcoin heist — or other virtual currency threat companies like FeatherCoin or LiteCoin — that were struck by the massive hack. Trustwave, a nationally known security firm, announces this week that the cyber looting was able to be accomplished simply due to the “virtual nature” of this modern currency.

“Bitcoins are stored in virtual wallets, which are essentially pairs of private and public keys. Stealing Bitcoins and exchanging them for another currency, even a regulated one such as US dollars, is much easier than stealing money from a bank.”

Yet the previously mentioned Pony botnet by hackers was little more than a drop in the bucket to the latest Bitcoin heist. This recent attack is believed to amount to roughly $350 million from hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin “money” stolen from online accounts, leading to a big drop in sales and stocks. According to one financial expert in the press release, the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange is “the worst-run business with the least amount of safety for its users in the history of the world … The reality is that Mt. Gox can go bankrupt at any moment, and certainly deserves to as a company.”

A Silk Road hack just last year marks another Bitcoin heist that put the virtual currency’s regard and its Mt. Gox exchange site in further poor repute. That looting by hackers resulted in roughly $2.7 million being stolen. The report concludes that this latest cyber theft might act as a way for people to truly consider where they are keeping their money and how safe it is, physically or otherwise.

Nonetheless, Bitcoin wallet-makers say that the cyber exchange is a profitable and secure one, despite the brief shutdown:

“This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company’s abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. There are hundreds of trustworthy and responsible companies involved in bitcoin.”

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