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An electric board shows exchange rates between the South Korean won and bitcoin at a cryptocurrency exchange in Seoul.   © Reuters

Hack casts North Korea's shadow over crypto exchanges

Youbit heist in South Korea spotlights security vulnerability

SOTARO SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer | North Korea

SEOUL -- The hacking and collapse of a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange this week has heightened suspicions that the North is targeting the virtual coins as a source of foreign currency, raising concerns over the security vulnerability of such exchanges.

Yapian, the operating company behind the exchange Youbit, posted an apology Tuesday informing users it was filing for bankruptcy protection. Around 4:35 a.m. that day, Yapian said, hackers broke into a Youbit "hot wallet" -- cryptocurrency storage kept constantly online and ready for exchange. The exchange lost about 17% of its assets.

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