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Hackers Siphon $196 Million of Crypto From BitMart

Thieves relieved BitMart of $196 million of cryptocurrency by purloining a private key that gave them access to two BitMart wallets.
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Hackers have relieved cryptocurrency exchange BitMart of $196 million of crypto lucre by purloining a private key that gave them access to two BitMart wallets.

One could call that a high-tech pickpocket.

The hackers helped themselves to $100 million worth of various cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum blockchain and $96 million on Binance Smart Chain, crypto security firm Peckshield reported Sunday.

BitMart CEO Sheldon Xia tweeted about the heist over the weekend and Monday.

“In response to this incident, BitMart has completed initial security checks and identified affected assets. This security breach was mainly caused by a stolen private key that had two of our hot wallets compromised. Other assets with BitMart are safe and unharmed,” Xia said

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He wrote in a letter to users Monday that withdrawals have temporarily been suspended.

One touted advantage of cryptocurrency: security. So what else do digital currencies offer?

According to their advocates, they provide a convenient, efficient way to conduct legal transactions for goods and services. But Bitcoin’s massive volatility since it began in 2009 -- it has dropped 30% from its record high just last month -- casts doubt on that.

Bitcoin USD trading on Coindesk Monday was down $516, or 1.26%, at $48,706.

Advocates also say Bitcoin is a hedge against declines in many other assets, such as stocks and the dollar. That hasn’t quite worked out either. Nor has the claim that Bitcoin is a hedge against inflation.

So far, what Bitcoin has proven to be is a vehicle for speculation. To be sure, it’s been a very profitable vehicle for many people who bought their Bitcoin last year or earlier.