Bitcoin wallets on Android OS smartphones are at risk of theft, Bitcoin Foundation said in a statement today. The problem actually lies in the Android operating system. It affects wallet apps like Bitcoin Wallet and BitcoinSpinner. The operating system generates sequences of unique and secure random numbers for the safety of wallets. But certain bugs cause the SecureRandom Java program in Android to repeat the sequences.


Protect your Bitcoin Wallet by changing private keys

Bitcoin Foundation said that users have to update their apps whenever the new version is available to protect their Bitcoin Wallet on Android. The organization has already notified app developers, who are trying to resolve the issue. On Bitcoin Forum, several experts expressed concern that the virtual currency worth thousands of dollars might already have been stolen.

Only the wallets generated by Android apps will be at risk. The apps for Bitcoin exchanges like Mt. Gox and Coinbase will not be affected. Their private keys are not generated by the user’s Android operating system. Users whose Bitcoin Wallet apps are vulnerable will have to change their private keys.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. The currency gained in popularity and importance due to global economic uncertainty. The falling value of print money gave it a further boost as central banks across the world continue to print cash. Due to their anonymous nature, Bitcoins can’t be traced. If they are stolen, you can’t track down the thief or get your virtual currency back.

Bitcoin under regulatory umbrella

The news comes at a time when the New York Department of Financial Services is investigating into 24 Bitcoin related companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. Regulators argued that virtual currencies were not complying with money transfer rules. The New York state is planning to bring legislation specifically for virtual currencies.

Experts believe that such issues will become very common with virtual currencies because of their nature. Dr. Joss Wright of Oxford Internet Institute told Pia Gadkari of BBC News that Bitcoin Foundation relies on computers to generate private keys to protect the information. But computers don’t always do it reliably.