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.


Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport expansion delayed until 2030

Updated 19 October 2018
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Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport expansion delayed until 2030

DUBAI: A major expansion of Dubai’s second airport Al Maktoum International will open in 2030, the emirate’s government said, five years later than officials had previously indicated.
The airport will be able to handle 130 million passengers a year when the first phase of a planned expansion opens in 2030, and ultimately more than 260 million passengers a year, the statement, released by the Dubai government’s media office on Thursday, said.
Dubai officials had previously said the first phase would open by 2025. The Dubai government media office could not immediately be reached outside working hours on Friday for comment on the reason for the delay.
Dubai expects to spend around $36 billion on the airport expansion and the Dubai World Central aviation complex where it is located.
Reuters reported on Oct. 3 that the expansion had been delayed and that the second stage of financing for the project had been delayed indefinitely.
It is not the first delay to the airport’s expansion. A smaller capacity increase is a year behind schedule, although it is expected to be finished this year. At that point the airport’s capacity is expected to be 26 million passengers per year.
The government also said that Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP) had launched a tender to build the substructure for the airport, in what would be the largest single value contract issued for the airport to date.
Al Maktoum International, which opened to passengers in 2013, currently handles only a fraction of Dubai’s passenger traffic. It will be larger than main airport Dubai International, currently one of the world’s busiest, when the first phase of the expansion opens and eventually become the new base of Emirates airline.
Dubai Airports said in 2016 it was expanding Dubai International to handle 118 million passengers a year by 2023, 18 million more than initially planned, in case the development of Al Maktoum International was delayed.