Cyber thieves steal $5.2 million from Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp

LONDON, ENGLAND (BNO NEWS) -- About $5.2 million worth of Bitcoins have been stolen after cyber criminals compromised digital wallets at one of the world's biggest Bitcoin exchanges, though the vast majority of currency remains secure and unaffected, the company reported on Tuesday.

Bitstamp, which is believed to be based in the United Kingdom, suspended all of its services on early Monday after the company detected a security breach affecting its operational wallets. A statement emphasized that the vast majority of its Bitcoins were safe but warned its customers not to deposit bitcoins to previously issued deposit addresses.

In an update on Tuesday, the digital currency exchange confirmed that Sunday's breach resulted in the loss of "less than 19,000" Bitcoins, which are worth approximately $5.2 million at Tuesday's exchange rate on CoinDesk. It added that all its services remain suspended while it works with law enforcement officials.

"This breach represents a small fraction of Bitstamp's total bitcoin reserves, the overwhelming majority of which are held in secure offline cold storage systems," Tuesday's statement said. "We would like to reassure all Bitstamp customers that their balances held prior to our temporary suspension of services will not be affected and will be honored in full."

Bitstamp said it is working to transfer a secure backup of its website to a safe environment and expects it to be back online "in the coming days."

Bitcoins are intended to serve as an alternative for flat money and is not controlled by any country or central bank, making it an easy way for people to do business online outside of government regulation. The digital cryptocurrency has repeatedly suffered huge security breaches, however, including the loss of approximately $560 million worth of Bitcoins at the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange, forcing the company to file for bankruptcy.

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