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Zimbabwe's bitcoin exchange security breached

Zimbabwe's bitcoin exchange security breached

Zimbabwe's only crypto-currency exchange www.golix.com has been breached, with malicious activity confirmed on users' accounts in the three weeks leading to 12 March.

The Golix Exchange platform trades in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Zimbabwe has witnessed a sharp rise in bitcoin prices owing to foreign currency shortages, while experts say people are seeking alternative methods to keep money and to remit foreign currency out of the country.

"Please be advised that in the three weeks leading up to the 12th of March 2018 we noticed that a limited number of Golix accounts fell victim to unsolicited third party access," Golix said in a notice to users of the exchange platform last night.

Bitcoin prices in Zimbabwe were around US$13 601 on Tuesday morning against world averages of about US$9400.

"The information gathered so far indicates that this malicious activity was carried out through compromised user email accounts," added Golix.

Zimbabwe, like other regulators across many markets, has cautioned against the use of cryptocurrency, saying they are illegal.

However, local FinTech gurus believe bitcoin to be a lucrative investment option that eases transaction hurdles in light of foreign currency shortages that have hit Zimbabwe.

Innovators have also introduced bitcoin-based solutions to help parents enrol their children at universities in South Africa.

They purchase bitcoin in Zimbabwe using mobile money wallets and bank transfers, and then send their children the cryptocurrency to be transacted in in South Africa for cash.

However, the security breach at Golix may have affected bitcoin purchases for users.

Golix said in its communication to traders and account holders that "as a result of this intrusion, affected users have noticed some changes to their accounts such as the conversion of their cryptocurrencies and/or the acquisition of additional cryptocurrencies" through already held US dollar balances.

The bitcoin exchange has said it is looking into this breach which it is treating as a priority and its technical team has implemented measures "that prevent the withdrawal of any form of currency" from accounts.

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