Bitcoin's Highest Highs, Lowest Lows

A quick look at Bitcoin's up-and-down year.

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The virtual currency known as Bitcoin has had a bumpy ride with concerns about its actual value – over $1,200 a share at this point, and concerns about security issues. 

Bitcoins started circulating in 2009 and have since become the most prominent of several fledgling digital currencies. The system is alternatively praised by officials across the globe on a weekly basis. Most recently Virgin Group founder Richard Branson endorsed the currency. Here we take a look at Bitcoin and some of its highs and lows.

[RELATED: Million-dollar robbery rocks Bitcoin exchange]

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REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Another chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining.

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REUTERS/Stephen Lam

A chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining is pictured at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, Calif. Since discovering digital currency Bitcoins a few months ago, Aaron Jackson-Wilde has paid about $2,000 for "rigs" powered by specialized computer chips which are designed to help operate and maintain the Bitcoin network - and, in return, generate a small reward in a process known as "Bitcoin mining."

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REUTERS/Stephen Lam

A rack of ASICs and block erupters used in Bitcoin mining.

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REUTERS/Andy Clark

Customers line-up to use the world's first ever permanent bitcoin ATM unveiled at a coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, Oct. 29, 2013. The kiosk, built by Las Vegas RoboCoin and operated by local dealer Bitcoiniacs, will allow users to withdraw their bit coins in the form of Canadian dollars or deposit cash to buy more bitcoins.

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REUTERS/Andy Clark

Here a customer uses the world's first ever permanent bitcoin ATM.

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REUTERS/Andy Clark

A customer registers his hand print before proceeding on the bitcoin ATM.

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REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Bitcoins created by enthusiast Mike Caldwell are seen in a photo illustration at his office in Sandy, Utah.

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REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Bitcoin miner Aaron Jackson-Wilde (R) and Scott Robinson, webmaster and core organizer for the Silicon Valley Bitcoin meet-up group, stand together for a portrait at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

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IDG News Service

Bitcoin core developer Jeff Garzik, now works at Bitpay, a bitcoin transaction processing company.

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IDG News Service

The largest bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox.

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IDG News Service

The Bitcoin price plunge on Nov. 27, 2013.

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In October the FBI seized approximately 144,336 Bitcoins found on computer hardware belonging to Ross Ulbright, the alleged owner and operator of “Silk Road,” a hidden website designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. Along with a September seizure of approximately 29,655 Bitcoins, in connection with a take down of Silk Road, the FBI said federal law enforcement agents have now seized a total of approximately 173,991 Bitcoins which, at September’s Bitcoin exchange rate, were worth over $33.6 million.

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Security remains a concern. A popular Bitcoin discussion forum warned recently some user passwords may have been intercepted after the site's DNS (Domain Name System) registrar was breached. An attacker found a flaw in Bitcointalk.org's domain name registrar, a company based in Japan called Anonymous Speech, wrote an administrator for the forum who goes by the nickname "Theymos." The cybercrooks behind CryptoLocker have also gotten in on the game charging 2 to 5 bitcoins as ransom on your machine.

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REUTERS/Andy Clark

Most recently, Bitcoin Internet Payment Services, a Denmark-based exchange billing itself as Europe's biggest, was robbed of bitcoins worth more than $1 million. BIPS was apparently targeted by a distributed denial-of-service attack earlier this month. A follow-up attack, according to bitcoin news site Coindesk, subsequently knocked out key security systems and allowed the thieves to make off with 1,295 BTC. Smaller thefts, which affected consumer exchanges in the Czech Republic and Poland, have also taken place in the past few weeks.

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REUTERS/Stephen Lam

On the bright side: Here an employee creates cupcakes at Cups And Cakes Bakery, a bakery that accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment in San Francisco.