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Hackers steal $41M in bitcoin from world's largest cryptocurrency exchange

By Nicholas Sakelaris   |   Updated May 8, 2019 at 9:23 AM
Binance said 7,000 bitcoins were stolen by hackers in a single transaction. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

May 8 (UPI) -- Hackers have stolen more than $40 million worth of bitcoin from the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, officials said.

The Binance exchange said it discovered the breach Tuesday, and learned hackers stole 7,000 bitcoins in a single transaction. The company said it will cover the incident "in full" so no users' funds will be affected.

As of early Wednesday, 7,000 bitcoins carried a value of about $41,009,000.

The multi-prong attack used phishing, viruses and other methods to breach the accounts, Binance said. Sensitive user data was also mined, officials said.

"The hackers had the patience to wait and execute well-orchestrated actions through the multiple seemingly independent accounts at the most opportune time," Binance said in a statement. "The transaction is structured in a way that passed our existing security checks. It was unfortunate that we were not able to block this withdrawal before it was executed.

Bnance said the withdrawal set off multiple alarms in the system.

"We stopped all withdrawals immediately after that," it added.

Binance is planning a security review of systems and data and said it will give updates throughout the process.

"Most importantly, deposits and withdrawals will need to REMAIN SUSPENDED during this period of time," the exchange said. "We beg for your understanding in this difficult situation."

Trading will not be suspended, but Binance cautioned that the hackers could still control certain user accounts and may use those to influence prices.

"But we believe with withdrawals disabled, there isn't much incentive for hackers to influence markets," Binance said.

Founded in 2017, Binance is a global platform that hosts trading for more than 100 cryptocurrencies. It's the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, by trading volume.

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