Bitcoin worth millions stolen by hackers

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

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.


Carlos Ghosn brings executive training to troubled Lebanon

Updated 30 September 2020

Carlos Ghosn brings executive training to troubled Lebanon

  • Former Nissan and Renault head says programs will boost jobs market and help rebuild crisis-hit country

BEIRUT: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault head who fled Japan where he was facing trial, is launching a university management and business program in Lebanon, a nation mired in a deep crisis blamed on years of misrule, mismanagement and corruption.

Nine months after his dramatic escape to Beirut from Tokyo, the Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Universite Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), a private university north of the Lebanese capital.

Ghosn, credited with turning round the Japanese and French carmakers before he faced charges of financial wrongdoing that he denies, plans programs to coach top executives, offer technology training and help startups that will create jobs.

Ghosn, a fugitive from a Japanese justice system he says was rigged against him, has found refuge in his childhood home Lebanon where the economy is collapsing under debts amassed since the 1975-1990 civil war. A devastating blast in Beirut on Aug. 4 compounded Lebanon’s woes.

“Obviously I am not interested in politics but I will dedicate time and effort into supporting Lebanon during this difficult period,” he told Reuters at the weekend, ahead of Tuesday’s formal launch during a press conference of his new university program.

“This is about creating jobs, employment and entrepreneurs to allow society to take its role into the reconstruction of the country,” Ghosn told a press conference at USEK on Tuesday.

Ghosn, who was approached by USEK in the weeks after arriving in Lebanon at the end of December, said the programs aimed to offer practical help. He will help supervise.

Drawing on his experience, the focus for the executive program would be turning around companies in trouble, corporations struggling with a troubled environment and how to “make yourself invaluable” in a company.

Ghosn said several international executives had agreed to give pro bono courses, such as Jaguar and Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore, former Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Ken Curtis and venture capitalist Raymond Debbane.

The short courses, expected to start in March, would be open to 15 to 20 senior executives in Lebanon and the Middle East.

“The role model is my experience, what I think are the basic needs of a top executive in a very competitive environment,” he said, adding that, when he was in charge, Nissan’s executive training program in Japan had been open to other companies.

The second USEK program, subsidised by the executive program, would train people on new technologies, such as computer-assisted design and artificial intelligence.

Ghosn said Lebanon’s jewelry exporters were among those who would benefit from the use of software to help with designs.

The third program would act as an incubator for start-ups, and he aimed to invest in two projects. “I am mainly interested in projects that have environmental impact,” he said, citing the example of a project to turn sewage into fertilizer.

“You are creating entrepreneurs which are badly needed, you are creating employment,” he said, adding he had been persuaded to work with USEK by the president of the Maronite Christian institution, Father Talal Hachem, and his young team.

Ghosn said he had also chosen to work with USEK, rather than some of the bigger Lebanese universities, because he liked the idea of working with an institution that drew in a broad range of students, not just the wealthy.

“These students need help more than anybody else. This is the class that has been smashed by the situation today,” he told Reuters.

“I’m going to help in the way I can,” he said. “I’m going to help build the economy by helping to solve problems that every Lebanese is facing today.”