Treading the Floods: Cryptocurrency Prices Stable Following Bithumb Attack 

Cryptocurrencies emerged unscathed Wednesday following yet another security breach of a South Korean exchange, as the market continued to favor a corrective rally for bitcoin and the major altcoins.

Crypto Prices Hold Steady

Bitcoin fell by as much as $200 Wednesday on news of a cyber attack targeting South Korea’s Bithumb exchange. However, the coin quickly recovered and now sits just shy of $6,800, according to data provider CoinMarketCap. Prices peaked at $6,821.56 at 12:34 UTC.

Compared with 24 hours ago, bitcoin’s per-coin value was virtually unchanged.

The ten biggest altcoins by market cap exhibited the same pattern, with prices treading water compared with Tuesday afternoon. The total cryptocurrency market was valued above $290 billion, up from an earlier low of around $282 billion.

Bitcoin and the major altcoins have more or less retained their bullish bias, which suggests that a continuation of the upward trend is likely. Since bottoming last week, coins have rebounded $26 billion.

Bithumb Attack: What We Know

Hackers made off with roughly $31 million in stolen cryptocurrency on Wednesday as Bithumb suffered its third cyber breach in 12 months. The attackers reportedly targeted users’ holdings of XRP, the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, by running a series of unauthorized access attempts.

Bithumb was unable to prevent the attack despite spending upwards of 10 billion won ($9 million) on security enhancements. This includes complying with new guidelines for financial institutions requiring 5% of company staff be made up of IT specialists. Bithumb has reportedly exceeded that quota by a wide margin.

The Seoul-based exchange confirmed that it had migrated outstanding crypto balances to cold storage and said it will fully refund affected users. Transactions on the exchange remain suspended for now.

Although news of the attack hit the airwaves on Wednesday, some analysts believe the theft occurred several days earlier as part of Bithumb’s data upgrade. However, the exact cause of the breach remains unclear.

Goldman Sachs Weighs Crypto Trading as an Option

U.S. multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs is considering taking a bigger dive into cryptocurrency by launching a full-scale trading operation, according to COO David Solomon.

“We are clearing some futures around bitcoin, talking about doing some other activities there, but it’s going very cautiously,” Solomon said during an interview in China, as reported by CCN. “We’re listening to our clients and trying to help our clients as they’re exploring those things too.”

Currently, the Wall Street investment giant is clearing bitcoin futures contracts. It has also announced plans to introduce a new bitcoin trading operation, which includes using its own money to trade with clients in a variety of contracts linked to bitcoin.

Institutional traders are awaiting the arrival of custodial services dedicated to cryptocurrency before taking the full plunge into digital assets. To that effect, the San Francisco-based  Coinbase exchange is leading the charge by announcing a new line of crypto custodial services to unlock up to $10 billion in institutional capital.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi