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.


Tesla nears 3-month low as JPMorgan adds to private deal doubts

Updated 20 August 2018
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Tesla nears 3-month low as JPMorgan adds to private deal doubts

  • Slashing its price target for Tesla from $308 to $195, the brokerage said it did not believe Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had funds for a plan
  • Tesla shares fell nearly 4 percent

LONDON: Tesla shares fell nearly 4 percent on Monday as a $113 cut in JPMorgan Chase’s price target for the electric carmaker added to growing doubts among market players about a plan to take the company private.
Slashing its price target for Tesla from $308 to $195, the brokerage said it did not believe Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had funds for a plan announced by a tweet that said “funding secured” two weeks ago.
Analysts from the US bank had upped its forecast from $198 to $308 after a roughly $100 surge in Tesla stock following Musk’s tweets on Aug. 7 and the note on Monday was the latest evidence of skepticism about the deal on Wall Street.
People familiar with the matter said on Sunday that PIF, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that Musk says had been pressing to help fund the buyout, is in talks to invest in aspiring Tesla rival Lucid Motors Inc.
“Our interpretation of subsequent events leads us to believe that funding was not secured for a going private transaction, nor was there any formal proposal,” JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a client note.
“Tesla does appear to be exploring a going private transaction, but we now believe that such a process appears much less developed than we had earlier presumed, suggesting formal incorporation into our valuation analysis seems premature at this time,” Brinkman said.
JPM now targets the stock, which it continues to value at underweight, back at $195, versus Friday’s close of $305.50. The median price target of the Wall Street analysts covering Tesla is $336.
Tesla shares touched a three-month low of $285 in premarket trading before recovering to trade around $290, reducing its market value back below that of General Motors as the biggest US carmaker.
An interview with the New York Times, in which Musk said he was under major emotional stress in the “most difficult year” of his life, on Friday added to investors’ concerns over his leadership after a series of social media spats.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters last week that the SEC has opened an inquiry related to Musk’s tweets on the buyout and the billionaire is also facing a class action suite from investors who lost money in the share moves.
“The lack of process to (Musk’s) announcement has now caused governance and competency concerns which are starting to snowball,” said Tigress Financial Partners analyst Ivan Feinseth.