How is a bitcoin mined? A look at the virtual currency


The Associated Press

LONDON — A company in Slovenia that mines bitcoin says it has been hacked, for a potential loss of tens of millions of dollars.

The company, NiceHash, gives customers the ability to mine for bitcoins. As the price of the world’s most popular virtual currency keeps surging — to a record $15,000 on Thursday — here’s a look at what it is and how it is “mined.”

More: What’s Bitcoin exactly, and should I invest in it?

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More: Bitcoin miner NiceHash reports hack, theft of its ‘wallet’

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that’s not tied to any bank or government. Like cash, it lets users spend or receive money anonymously, or mostly so; like other online payment services, it also lets them do so over the internet. There are several other virtual currencies, such as ethereum, but bitcoin is the most popular.

Bitcoins are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they travel from one owner to the next. Transactions can be made anonymously, making the currency popular with libertarians as well as tech enthusiasts, speculators — and criminals.

How is bitcoin mined?

Tech-savvy users called “miners” use their computers to make complex calculations that…

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