Photo: BTC Keychain / Flickr
Unknown hackers made off with an estimated $40 million in hot cryptocurrency Ether, one of the most popular of the innumerable successors to Bitcoin, this week.
According to CyberScoop, hackers discovered a vulnerability in Parity Wallet, one of many services which offer bank account-like wallet services for users to park cryptocurrencies in. Exploiting the vulnerability allowed the hackers to escape with approximately 153,000 Ether in three separate transactions.
As the attack progressed, a group of white hat hackers (ethical programmers who look for security holes in software) caught on to what was happening. CyberScoop reported they were able to use the same exploit to protect approximately 377,000 Ether worth an estimated $94 million from the thieves.
The attack follows a separate theft of an estimated $13 million in Ether from trading platform CoinDash earlier in the week, though the attacks are far from the first to hit the Ether community: In June 2016, hackers attempted to steal some $67 million in the cryptocurrency from venture capital fund Decentralized Autonomous Organisation.
While everyone claims to know someone who remembered they had 500 Bitcoin stuffed in an old hard drive somewhere, remaining heavily invested in the cryptocurrency market at this point would require ignoring or rationalizing away just a few tiny flags. Those might include the time thieves ran off with millions in Bitcoin from underground site Sheep Marketplace, or that time a former federal investigator stole $1,030,645 in Bitcoin from Silk Road, or that time an estimated $566 million in Bitcoin disappeared from trading hub Mt. Gox.
Perhaps if the surging world of cryptocurrency scams or continually furrowed brows at the SEC weren't enough to make one think twice, they could consider Ethereum co-creator Charles Hoskinson's recent warning to investors too many initial coin offerings had turned Ether and other cryptocurreninto a "a ticking time-bomb," with people "blinded by fast and easy money."
But hey! No one did. So now there's a cryptocurrency market worth an estimated $126 billion, and it is pretty much a totally unregulated speculative bubble riddled with security holes. The prices of cryptocurrencies fluctuate wildly, and cashing out remains difficult. Best of luck getting your money back from a dude in a giant Bitcoin costume, or a cryptocurrency ATM which only takes deposits.