LJUBLJANA Bitstamp, one of the largest exchanges for trading the digital bitcoin currency, said it has suspended its service after a security breach on Sunday, resulting in loss of around 19,000 bitcoins.
The breach represented a small fraction of its total bitcoin reserve and the majority was held in secure offline systems, the Slovenia-based firm posted on its website on Tuesday.
Reuters was unable to contact Bitstamp officials in Slovenia or the United Kingdom, but one of the company's founders, Damijan Merlak, told Slovenian state-owned news agency STA that Bitstamp has enough liquid assets to meet its short-term obligations.
"At present we are setting up a duplicate of the whole infrastructure with experts in San Francisco which should be finished within 24 hours. Then we will be able to resume our services," Merlak told STA.
He said he could not give further details on the breach due to an investigation.
Bitstamp said it believed one of its wallets, which store the digital credentials for a customer's bitcoin holdings, had been compromised.
Bitstamp said it had notified all customers after learning of the breach, requesting them not to make any deposits to previously issued bitcoin deposit addresses.
"We would like to reassure all Bitstamp customers that their balances held prior to our temporary suspension of services will not be affected and will be honored in full," the exchange said.
Bitcoin, the best-known virtual currency, started circulating in 2009. Unlike conventional money, bitcoin is generated by computers and is independent of control or backing by any government.
A bitcoin is currently worth $276.80 BTC=BTSP.
In February, Bitstamp claimed that developers had come up with a solution to thwart cyber attacks against its platform after Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, lost an estimated $650 million worth of customer bitcoin when its faulty computer system was hacked.
(Reporting By Shivam Srivastava in Bengaluru and Marja Novak in Ljubljana; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Louise Heavens)