China’s central bank hacked; angry bitcoin traders may be to blame

As bitcoin halved in value after several Chinese exchanges halted yuan deposits, China’s central bank was the target of a hacking attack on Wednesday, with state media suggesting angry bitcoin investors may be to blame.

pboc_buildingThe official site of People’s Bank of China (PBOC) went down around 5 p.m. local time Wednesday, possibly due to an attack by bitcoin traders after the central bank curbed bitcoin transactions in China, the state-run China News Service said.

The news agency cited central-bank officials as saying were aware of the issue and had been working to bring the site back online, but they didn’t confirm whether the problem was related to bitcoins.

“Some Internet users claimed the central bank was hit by a DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] attack. We strongly condemn those hackers,” BTC38, a Chinese bitcoin exchange, said in an online statement on Wednesday. “Our site has also been DDOS’d several times. No matter what, those attacks are irrational and illegal.”

Last Thursday, the PBOC and several top regulatory agencies warned in a joint statement that bitcoin “is not a real currency” and that Chinese financial institutions and payment processors shouldn’t handle bitcoin transactions.

The central bank also met on Monday with several third-party payment processors and ordered them not to provide service for the bitcoin exchanges, according to China News Service.

On Wednesday, China’s two major bitcoin exchanges — BTC China and OKCoin — announced they would temporarily stop accepting yuan deposits. CHBTC, a Chinese bitcoin trading site, also said it would stop allowing customers to use yuan to buy bitcoins online.