Bitcoin worth millions stolen by hackers

Bitcoin is due to start trading on major US exchanges within days. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Bitcoin worth millions stolen by hackers

TOKYO: A bitcoin mining company in Slovenia has been hacked for the possible theft of tens of millions of dollars, just days before the virtual currency, which hit a record above $15,000 on Thursday, is due to start trading on major US exchanges.
NiceHash, a company that mines bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a security breach and will stop operating for 24 hours while it verifies how many bitcoins were taken.
Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. At Thursday’s record price of about $15,000, that puts the value at more than $70 ­million.
There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an emailed request for more details.
“The incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency,” it said. The statement urged users to change their online passwords.
Slovenian police are investigating the case together with authorities in other states, spokesman Bostjan Lindav said, without providing details.
The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established US exchanges. Futures for bitcoin will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday evening and on crosstown rival CME Group’s platforms later in the month.
That has increased the sense among some investors that bitcoin is gaining in mainstream legitimacy after several countries, like China, tried to stifle the virtual currency.
As a result, the price of bitcoin has jumped in the past year, particularly so in recent weeks. On Thursday it surged to more than $15,000, up $1,300 in less than a day, according to Coindesk. At the start of the year, one bitcoin was worth less than $1,000.
Bitcoin is the world’s most popular virtual currency. Such currencies are not tied to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously.
They are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they are traded.
A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies. Some say they serve merely to facilitate money laundering and illicit, anonymous payments. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed.
Miners of bitcoins and other virtual currencies help keep the systems honest by having their computers record a global running tally of transactions. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital coin twice.
Online security is a vital concern for such dealings.
In Japan, following the failure of a bitcoin exchange called Mt. Gox, new laws were enacted to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Mt. Gox shut down in February 2014, saying it lost about 850,000 bitcoins, possibly to hackers.


British Airways launches first direct flight from Dammam to London

Updated 18 min 55 sec ago
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British Airways launches first direct flight from Dammam to London

  • Flights will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777-200 departing year-round
  • Dammam will become the third route the airline flies to in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: British Airways has launched the first ever direct flight from Dammam to London Heathrow.
The carrier has already started selling tickets priced from SR2,480 ($660) for the new route which will start Dec. 1, 2019.
Flights will be operated by a four-class Boeing 777-200 departing year-round from Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport and landing in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, British Airways said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dammam will become the third route the airline flies to in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah.
“This new link between Dammam and London underlines the importance of the Eastern province and the need for smooth onward connections to Europe and the United States, said Moran Birger, BA head of sales for the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
It will cut journey times between the two airports by three hours or more because passengers will no longer need to either drive to Bahrain or transit through Riyadh for a connecting flight, the airline said.