Cryptocurrency prices plunge over concerns of hackers stealing millions of NFTs

Cryptocurrency prices have plunged in the last 24 hours as investors panic – and some believe hackers are to blame.

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Cryptocurrency has taken a battering on Sunday and into Monday – and some believe hackers are to blame.

At the time of writing, the top-ranked blockchain, bitcoin, was trading at $US38,179 ($A53,207), representing a drop of almost 5 per cent in 24 hours. Other prominent cryptocurrencies were faring even worse, with BNB, Solana and Cardano crashing by between 6 per cent and 8 per cent.

A whopping $US300 million ($A418 million) has been lost as the market dropped in value in recent days.

And there’s an ominous explanation as to why.

A prominent NFT (non-fungible token) trading platform is concerned that the sudden price drop is a result of malicious actors hacking people’s accounts and leading to thieves stealing NFTs. Devin Finzer, co-founder and chief executive of OpenSea, a US NFT marketplace, said on Sunday that his company was investigating “rumours of an exploit”.

“I know you’re all worried. We’re running an all hands on deck investigation,” he said on Twitter.

“As far as we can tell, this is a phishing attack. We don’t believe it’s connected to the OpenSea website. It appears 32 users thus far have signed a malicious payload from an attacker, and some of their NFTs were stolen.”

By the time he made the post, he said it appeared the hackers hadn’t been active for two hours and that the issue may have been resolved.

The NFT CEO continued: “Importantly, rumours that this was a $US200 million ($A278 million) hack are false.

“The attacker has $US1.7 million ($A2.37 million) of ETH (ethereum) in his wallet from selling some of the stolen NFTs.”

However, this was enough to spark panic among NFT investors, leading to a price plunge.

It’s not the first time the threat of a hack has caused confidence in cryptocurrency to sag.

Last month, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges was forced to suspend all deposits and withdrawals after a major security breach.

Crypto.com received concerning reports from a “small” pool of customers that they had spotted unauthorised activity in their accounts.

Money was leaving their accounts despite them never issuing a directive for it to do so.

Users took to social media, with one man saying he could see a withdrawal had taken place in his crypto wallet, with 4.28 ethereum tokens disappearing from his account. He described it as them being “stolen out of nowhere”. At the time, those ethereum tokens were worth about $US14,000 ($A19,500).

Crypto.com issued a statement assuring customers that their funds were safe, but it encouraged users to log out and back in out of an “abundance of caution”.

All the money was eventually returned to customers by the exchange.


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