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Bithumb Hack: Chinese Hackers Blamed, S Korean Police Stumped

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

South Korean cyber police are still searching for clues – and are yet to make any significant breakthroughs – in the hunt for the perpetrators of last week’s USD 32 million hack on South Korean exchange Bithumb.

Source: iStock/daoleduc

Rumors have been circulating among South Korean crypto-communities, claiming that the Bithumb hackers are based in China, and may not have been aiming to make off with large amounts of money from the exchange, but rather disrupt the market in an attempt to drive prices down. Theorists say investors aligned with the hackers were able buy tokens at lower rates in the immediate wake of the hack.

These rumors will have been stoked by a report in the Seoul Economic Daily, which quotes an unnamed senior executive at “a leading Chinese cryptocurrency exchange” as saying, “The Bithumb attack is likely to have originated in the north of China. Teams of cybercriminals in the northeast provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang are now moving away from phishing and other such crimes, and are now starting to target South Korean exchanges with hacking attacks.”

Jilin borders North Korea, and all three provinces have minority ethnic Korean populations.

However, as Seoul Economic Daily states, suspicion is also falling on Bithumb’s own employees, with many critics keen to point out that Bithumb’s prices, even on the day of the attack, were not affected a great deal – despite the severity of the hack.

North Korean hackers are also under suspicion, mainly due to the fact that, per the Seoul-based National Intelligence Service, Northern cybercriminals were behind a previous hack on Bithumb, which occurred almost exactly a year before last week’s raid.