NEW YORK (AP) - The price of bitcoin swung wildly Thursday, rising to more than $19,000 only to fall sharply within minutes, as the frenzy surrounding the virtual currency escalated just days before it starts trading on a major US exchange.
NiceHash has temporarily ceased operations following a security breach in which a criminal gained unauthorized access to its Bitcoin wallet.
"We are now investigating the nature of the incident and, as a result, we are stopping all operations for the next 24 hours", said NiceHash.
Two hours later, a user by the name of Erik Callesen posted an image showing an outgoing transaction he claimed he did not make. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed.
When NiceHash admitted that they were hacked, they did not confirm the amount that had been stolen. We are working to verify the precise number of BTC taken.
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However, CoinDesk reported that as many as 4,736.42 bitcoin, worth more than $62 million at the time, was stolen and transferred to one account. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital coin twice.
They came up with that estimate by looking at the total amount sitting in a recently-created bitcoin wallet, which some company users have suggested belongs to the hacker.
The wallet now has a balance of 4,736.42 bitcoin, worth $64,080,393. "In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are co-operating with them as a matter of urgency", the statement reads. NiceHash says it will relaunch itself with improved security "at the earliest opportunity".
The NiceHash team urged users to change their online passwords as a result of the breach and subsequent theft.