Prices in bitcoin fell over 20% on Tuesday after a security breach at Bitfinex, a Hong Kong-based exchange. Reuters reported that almost 120,000 units of bitcoin, together worth $72 million at the time, had been stolen from online customers.
The exchange halted trading after discovering the security breach. “We are investigating the breach to determine what happened, but we know that some of our users have had their bitcoins stolen,” the company said in a blog post. “We are undertaking a review to determine which users have been affected by the breach. While we conduct this initial investigation and secure our environment, bitfinex.com will be taken down and the maintenance page will be left up,” read the post. After discovering the breach the company took its website down and halted all deposits and withdrawals before notifying authorities.
Prices in bitcoin fell from $600 to as low as $480 after the announcement of the security breach and eventually settled around $550 at the end of the trading day.
The scale of the theft equates to 0.75% of the entire circulation of bitcoin.
This is the second time security on a bitcoin exchange has been breached. This attack on Bitfinex is similar to a 2014 attack on MtGox, a Tokyo based bitcoin exchange that resulted in the firm going bankrupt when 850,000 bitcoins, which at the time were valued at $450 million, were stolen.