Japan Digital Currency Exchange Hacked, $60M Stolen

by Samuel Abasi Posted on September 20th, 2018

Osaka, Japan : Digital currency worth around 6.7 billion yen ($60 million) has been stolen in Japan following a hacking attack, Startup Tech Bureau Corporation, a virtual exchange operator said on Thursday. Osaka-based Tech Bureau, which operates virtual currency exchange Zaif, said its server had been illegally accessed and money transferred. Tech Bureau Corporation operates a bitcoin exchange platform.

Tech Bureau Corp. said a server for its Zaif exchange was hacked for two hours last week, and some digital currencies got unlawfully relayed from what’s called a “hot wallet,” or where virtual coins are stored at such exchanges.

“We decline to comment on the details of how this illegal access occurred, as it is a crime and we’ve already asked the authorities to investigate,” Tech Bureau said in a statement.

It added that the virtual currencies stolen were bitcoin, monacoin, and bitcoin cash.

“We will prepare measures so that customers’ assets will not be affected” by the hack, it said, adding it would receive financial support from major shareholder Fisco Group.

Tech Bureau said about 2.2 billion yen worth of the stolen currency was its own, and about 4.5 billion yen belonged to customers.

Japan has been bullish on virtual money and has set up a system requiring exchanges to be licensed to help protect consumers. The system is also meant to make Japan a global leader in the technology.

Bitcoin has been a legal form of payment in Japan since April 2017, and a handful of major retailers here already accept bitcoin payments.

But the recurrence of cryptocurrency heists shows problems persist.

Japan is a major center for virtual currencies and as many as 50,000 shops in the country are thought to accept bitcoin.

The incident follows the high-profile theft of US$530 million earlier this year at Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck Inc in one of the world’s biggest cyber heists that forced regulators to order stepped-up risk management protocols. This resulted in a loss worth half a billion U.S. dollars of NEM, the 10th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Coincheck has since been taken over by Japanese online brokerage Monex Group Inc.

Japanese authorities later ordered two cryptocurrency exchanges to suspend operations as part of a clampdown following the hack.

Image : A cryptocurrency mining computer is seen in front of bitcoin logo during the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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