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Bitcoin Touches the Peak at $60,000 – Everything you Need to Know!

 

On Saturday 13 March, Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency, had gone up again, touching an all-time milestone. As per Coin Desk reports, it increased to $60,0,065, up from a preceding $58,330 peak on February 21, by more than 2 percent. At 12.34 GMT on 13th March, the digital monetary reached $60,197 and remained at around $60,000. "It increased almost 6% in the past 24 hours alone." On the other hand,  Ethereum was 4.7% higher at $2,173.63. 

Whereas the volatility has dropped in the crypto market following the six consecutive months of the double-digit returns on bitcoin (BTC). Experts believe that there are indications that the horizon is moving significantly. 

At first, Bitcoin reached heights of $30,000 and $40,000 in January for a couple of days. Bitcoin’s worth is over $1 trillion in circulation. It retreated to $43,000 just after the high of February 21, following uncertainties about stimulus prospects as well as its effect on the US bond returns. Later for seven days, stocks and cryptocurrencies experienced decline alongside lateral trade for weeks before re-starting. After swelling from below $1,000 in January to close to $ 20,000 in December, Bitcoin, which was launched back in 2009, hit the headlines again. 

On Saturday 13th, the record came after the huge $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed on Thursday by US President Joe Biden. The bill would provide most Americans with a check payment of $1,400, assist the unemployed, increase public health, and raise money for vaccine programs. Kraken Intelligence reports that with April being the second most successful month on average, bitcoin could be expected to finish higher and thus to bind up for the longest winning streak since the start of the cryptocurrency. 

Historical information shows that both bitcoin and Ethereum generally achieve a positive return portion in the second quarter of the calendar year. Since 2011, BTC has, on aggregate, returned 256 percent in 2Q, while ETH, on average, returned 141 percent in 2016. 

Due to the $58,786 market price of bitcoin in the March-end, it is assumed that in the second quarter of 2021, the price will end at 256 percent higher, also it can be expected to trade around $209,000 from 1 July 2021. The world's largest crypto-currency will stand at approximately $82,000, based on an average 2nd-quarter return of 39.5%. 

In the meantime, throughout March, Bitcoin's steady upward trend led to a drop in volatility of almost 40% point a month to 63%, almost three months down. The absence of market uncertainty led to a 5 percent decrease in trade volumes and to an annual drop of about 255 billion dollars. 

It has been praised as 'digital gold' by Bitcoin proponents claiming that it will address the inflation risks posed by large central banks and government stimulus packages aimed at tackling the economic effects of the crisis from the pandemic of the Covid-19. Critics consider the rally to be just a stimulus-powered bubble that will soon explode in the same direction as during the boom period 2017-2018.

China and its Humongous Bitcoin Mining Industry has Severe Impact on the Global Climate

 

According to a new study in Nature Communications, electricity consumption and carbon emissions from bitcoin mining in China have accelerated speedily. These effects could weaken global sustainable practices without stricter regulations and policy changes. 

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies depend heavily on "blockchain" technology, a shared transaction database that requires confirmation and encryption of entries. Blockchain is a digital recording device that offers secure means for payments, pacts, and contracts to be documented and authenticated. But uniquely, the database is shared between a network of computers, and not in a place such as the conventional ledger book. Only a few users or hundreds and thousands of people can enter this network. However, the network is secured by people known as "miners," who use high-powered computers to check transactions. These computer systems consume huge quantities of electricity. 

Around 40% of China's Bitcoin mines are coal operated and the rest utilize renewable sources, according to the study. The coal power stations, however, are so large that Beijing's promise to peak carbon emissions by 2030 could be undermined and carbon neutralized by 2060, the study warned. 

With a simulated carbon emissions model, Dabo Guan, Shouyang Wang, and colleagues track carbon emissions streams from Bitcoin blockchain operations in China. Given recent developments in Bitcoin mining, it is estimated that this procedure will spike energy consumption at around 297 terawatt-hours by 2024 and generate approximately 130 million metric tons of carbon emissions. This exceeds the total annual emission volumes of greenhouse gas in entire mid-sized European countries, for example, Italy and the Czech Republic. 

In order to guarantee a stable supply from renewable sources it should concentrate on updating the power grid, said Wang. He further added that “Since energy prices in clean-energy regions of China are lower than that in coal-powered regions … miners would then have more incentives to move to regions with clean energy.” 

In the past year, Bitcoin's price rose five times and reached a record of $61,000 in March, presently it’s just below the mark of $60,000. Due to the available profits, Wang said carbon taxation isn’t sufficient to determiners. The research teams said the "attractive financial incentive of bitcoin mining" has triggered an arms race in the mining hardware industry. The price hike in Bitcoin was further driven by some renowned companies, including electric carmaker Tesla, implementing it as a method of payment. The Covid 19 pandemic also probably played a role, where more people shopped online and left physical currencies in their accounts.

More Businesses are Accepting Bitcoin

 

Bitcoin is turning into an undeniably well-known payment alternative among numerous organizations. Fast-food chains, large tech organizations, and major beverage organizations are accepting cryptocurrency.  

Bitcoin(₿) is a cryptocurrency created in 2008 by an obscure individual or group of people utilizing the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency began use in 2009 when its execution was released as open-source software. Bitcoin utilizes peer-to-peer technology to work with no central authority or banks; overseeing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is completed on the whole by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, no one owns or controls Bitcoin and everybody can take part. 

Its costs on the trading stock exchanges plunged around Thanksgiving a year ago – only to turn back the clock and set an unsurpassed high of $ 19,857 on November 30: a 177% increment since the beginning of the despicable year up 14% of the S&P 500, as Insider recently reported. Then, a month ago, the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high, with costs moving to $ 60,000. A quirk of the increment implied that two pizzas purchased by crypto legend Laszlo Hanyecz would have really been valued at $ 613 million. 

Restaurant Brands International is one of the world's biggest fast-food holding organizations. It is the parent organization of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes. A year ago, Burger King Venezuela declared that it would begin accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It has worked with Cryptobuyer, a platform that generates the conversion of cryptocurrencies into normal currency, Yahoo Finance reported. Yum Brands, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill, likewise accept cryptocurrencies. Yum Brands has additionally collaborated with CryptoBuyer to commence the launch of encrypted payment methods, according to Nasdaq. 

After briefly suspending acceptance of cryptocurrency as a legitimate payment method because of its volatility, Xbox accepts bitcoin payments for Xbox store credits. Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the world's biggest bottlers and distributors of non-alcoholic and ready-to-drink beverages in the Asia-Pacific area. A year ago, the organization declared in a press release that it was partnering with an online asset platform, Centrapay, to permit bitcoin as an official payment method.

$571 Million to be Paid over Bitcoin Scam

 

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission on 26th March 2021 declared that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment against Benjamin Reynolds, purportedly of Manchester, England, finding that he worked a fake plan to request bitcoin from members of the public and misappropriated customers of bitcoin. This case was brought in connection with the Division of Enforcement's Digital Assets Task Force. 

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is an independent agency of the US government made in 1974, that controls the U.S. derivatives markets, which incorporates futures, swaps, and certain kinds of options. The expressed mission of the CFTC is to promote the integrity, strength, and energy of the U.S. derivatives markets through sound guidelines. After the financial crisis of 2007–08 and since 2010 with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFTC has been changing to carry more transparency and sound regulation to the multi-trillion dollar swaps market. 

Between May 2017 and October 2017, Reynolds utilized a public site, different social media accounts, and email communications to request at least 22,190.542 bitcoin, esteemed at around $143 million at that point, from in excess of 1,000 clients around the world, including at least 169 people living in the U.S. 

In addition to other things, Reynolds dishonestly addressed to clients that Control-Finance exchanged their bitcoin deposits in virtual currency markets and utilized particular virtual currency dealers who created ensured trading benefits for all clients. He likewise developed a detailed affiliate marketing network that depended on deceitfully encouraging to pay outsized referral profits, rewards, and bonuses to urge clients to allude new clients to Control-Finance. Truth be told, Reynolds made no trades for clients' benefit, procured no trading benefits for them, and paid them no referral rewards or bonuses. While Reynolds addressed that he would return all bitcoin deposits to clients of Control-Finance by late October 2017, he never did and rather held the deposits for his very own utilization. Clients lost most of the entirety of their bitcoin deposits because of the scheme.

The court's March 2, 2021 order expects Reynolds to pay almost $143 million in compensation to defrauded clients and a civil monetary penalty of $429 million.

A 38-Year-Old Indian Professor, Lost Rs 10 Lakh to a Scammer in Cryptocurrency Trading

 

A Bengaluru-based 38-year-old professor new to the cryptocurrency world lost Rs 10 lakh in bitcoins to a scammer, who assured to manage his cryptocurrency account. This Palace Gutahalli resident and a private university lecturer brought a complaint on Saturday to the Central CEN Police. The incident took place on 22 February, after attempting to register to a cryptocurrency trading platform, as per the complainant.

“As he was unaware of how to handle cryptocurrency, he had visited certain groups on Telegram, where discussions on the same took place. As he (the victim) had doubts regarding how to use CoinSwitch Kuber, the trading platform, the hacker approached him promising to help in handling bitcoins to ensure high returns,” the police said. CoinSwitch Kuber is a simple and safe platform for Indian users, which allows them to purchase more than 100 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc. 

The victim posted a query on a Telegram group following failure to effectively add Rs 90,000 to his account. He also registered into a couple of crypto-currency rooms of the mobile app, Telegram – to understand the trade process and share their views. Later a scammer told the victim himself that he could manage the bitcoins that the latter purchased and make high returns from it. The alleged scammer pursued his credentials, including a one-time password (OTP), and then the Bitcoins worth Rs 10 lakh were transferred from the wallet of the victim to some other wallet in the following few minutes. 

In response to a complaint from the victim, a case was also registered by the Central CEN police, in compliance with the appropriate sections of the Information Technology and Indian Penal Code (IPC). A senior police officer said that this is their first-of-a-kind case and that they are examining how they want to verify. 

“We are exploring options on how to conduct the investigation. To begin with, we will approach CoinSwitch Kuber as there are no other regulators that can be communicated to take this forward,” the officer added. 

In response to the incident, CoinSwitch Kuber said in a statement: “It is unfortunate that one of our users has been subjected to fraud by a third party. We will cooperate with the investigating authorities and provide them all possible assistance. We request all our users to be extremely careful in handling their OTPs and account details.” 

Further, the company warned its users by stating that, the credentials are just as sacrosanct as the credentials of one's bank and therefore it should not be shared with any third party. Customers also need to note that CoinSwitch Kuber and its staff never demand for their login credentials.

A Crypto Mining Botnet is Abusing Bitcoin Blockchains

 

Security experts from Akamai have detected another botnet utilized for illegal cryptocurrency mining exercises that are abusing Bitcoin (BTC) transactions to remain under the radar. This procedure permits botnet operators to make their infrastructure resilient to takedown led by law enforcement. 

“A recent piece of malware from a known crypto mining botnet campaign has started leveraging Bitcoin blockchain transactions in order to hide its backup C2 IP address. It’s a simple, yet effective, way to defeat takedown attempts.” reads the post published by Akamai. “Recent infection attempts against Akamai SIRT’s custom honeypots uncovered an interesting means of obfuscating command and control (C2) infrastructure information. The operators of a long-running crypto-mining botnet campaign began creatively disguising their backup C2 IP address on the Bitcoin blockchain.” 

The infection chain starts the exploitation of Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities affecting Hadoop Yarn, Elasticsearch (CVE-2015-1427), and ThinkPHP (CVE-2019-9082). Botnet operators utilized Redis server scanners to discover installs that could be undermined to mine cryptocurrencies. The experts assessed that botnet operators have mined more than $30,000 in Monero in public pools since 2018. Experts distinguished various variations over time, using different techniques and tools. 

The more seasoned variants were utilizing a shell script to do the main functions, for example, disabling security features, killing off competing infections, establishing persistence, and in some cases, propagating within the compromised network. Newer variations of the shell script leverage binary payloads for handling more system interactions, like killing off competition, disabling security features, modifying SSH keys, downloading, and starting the miners. Botnet operators use cron jobs and rootkits to accomplish persistence and re-infect with the most recent rendition of the malware. 

In December 2020, the researchers found a BTC wallet address that was included in new variations of the miner, alongside a URL for a wallet-checking API and bash one-liners. The experts found that the wallet information was being fetched by the API and used to figure an IP address used to maintain persistence. By fetching addresses through the wallet API, botnet operators are able to obfuscate and backup configuration data on the blockchain. Experts noticed that by pushing a modest quantity of BTC into the wallet, operators can recuperate infected systems that have been orphaned.

Bitcoin Surpasses $50,000 Mark For The First Time Ever

 

The cost of Bitcoin on Tuesday hopped above $50,000, carrying its year-to-date gain to 74%. Ongoing interest from Wall Street institutions has added to the momentum. Bitcoin rose by as much as 4.9%, to $50,547.70. The cryptocurrency at that point pared gains slightly, exchanging at $48,853.99 as of 9 a.m. ET. After ending last year with a fourth-quarter surge of 170% to around $29,000, Bitcoin token leaped to $40,000 seven days after the fact. It took just nearly a month and a half to breach the latest threshold, buoyed by endorsements from the likes of Paul Tudor Jones, Stan Druckenmiller, and Elon Musk. Bitcoin exchanged for a few cents for quite a long while after its introduction more than a decade ago. 

Tesla Inc's. declaration that it added $1.5 billion in Bitcoin to its balance sheet was the most noticeable recent impetus, sending the cost up 16% on Feb. 8, the greatest one-day acquire since the Covid-19 inspired financial markets volatility in March. Optimism grew after Mastercard Inc. furthermore, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. moved to make it simpler for clients to utilize cryptocurrencies, while Bloomberg reported on Saturday that Morgan Stanley may add Bitcoin to its rundown of possible bets. 

Sustained interest from organizations decidedly affects Bitcoin's value, pushing it on an upward bend. In December of 2020, it touched an all-time high crossing $24,000 in valuation. This was a 224% expansion from where it began its excursion toward the start of the year. By the start of 2021, BTC had leaped to a $40,000 valuation. In the second seven-day stretch of May 2020 Bitcoin saw its third halving occurred since its inception, in this way getting a further drop in its assessed future supply, Sumit Gupta, CEO, and Co-Founder, CoinDCX said. 

The interest from huge players has upheld the narrative that institutional investors are increasingly interested in Bitcoin. This conviction has been a critical driver of the bewildering rally in the cost of Bitcoin. It has likewise helped other cryptocurrencies, for example, ether, the coin on the Ethereum network. Its cost was roughly flat on Tuesday, at $1,793, in the wake of hitting a record high above $1,870 over the course of the weekend.

Discord Cryptoscam: Scammers Lure Players to Fake Cryptocurrency Exchange Site

 

Experts at Kaspersky have issued a warning alarming that hackers are attacking Discord users, with a scam that focuses on counterfeit cryptocurrency transactions and using the bait of free Ethereum cryptocurrency or Bitcoins to steal user data and money. The cyber scam fools victims on cryptocurrency servers of Discord by sending users a message that looks like a legit ad of an upcoming trading platform that is doing cryptocurrency giveaway. The scammer then deploys social engineering techniques to generate sign-ups, as per the Kaspersky report.  

Experts believe that the ad offers such generous offers to get user interest, the offer depends on the message to message. However, the gist always remains the same, for instance, if the exchange will help the traders in dire times or is it just trying to lure new users. In this case, says Kaspersky, there'll be a lucky user who'd be chosen for the reward of free Ethereum cryptocurrency or Bitcoins. As we all know, the Discord platform was built solely for gamers, but various users, varying from study groups to cryptocurrency enthusiasts, use Discord's handy servers, channels, and private messages for communication. 

The user diversity becomes an easy target for hackers to scam. In this particular incident, the scammer first tried to send the victim a fake message with emojis and added details that contained a code to free cryptocurrency gifts. The message contained a malicious link that led the user to a fake cryptocurrency exchange domain. When the victim clicks the given link, he's redirected to a website (fake of course). The cryptocurrency exchange site has details like trading info, charts, and trading history (to make it look more genuine). 

"The attention to detail even extends to offering victims two-factor authentication to secure their accounts, plus antiphishing protection. Here, of course, the purpose is purely to add plausibility; the site’s true purpose is to transfer money from victim to criminal," reports Kaspersky. "The scammers claim to need a top-up — in our case, 0.02 BTC or an equivalent amount in Ethereum or US dollars. The scammers appear to be collecting a database to sell; many legitimate services, including financial ones," it further says.

DDoS Attacks increase by 154% in 2020 states Neustar

 

DDoS- Distributed Denial of Service is a cyber attack on a specific server or network. It attempts to disrupt the normal functioning of operations. DDoS attacks do all this by flooding the targeted network or server with constant traffic, such as fraudulent requests which overwhelm the system, causing a disruption or denial of service to legitimate traffic. 

In the past few years, the DDoS attacks have doubled showing a significant hike in the attempts by the attackers to threaten the victim of such attacks unless the required ransom is paid to them. Security analysts in Neustar (a global information services and technology company and leader in identity resolution) studied cyber threats and illegal activities and it was found that the number of DDoS attacks between 2019 and 2020 rose by 154 percent. The areas that took a major hit are financial services, telecommunications, and government departments. This figure indicates the rising number, frequency, and severity of cyber-attacks of network sort as remote operations moved companies and grew employee dependency on the internet.

DDoS attacks are emerging, even more frequently now. One important factor why the DDoS attacks have become more common is that even for low-level cybercriminals they are fairly easy to carry out. The rise in smaller DDoS attacks has been largely linked with the rising attack sophistication and intensity. 

Instead of relying on ransomwares or other viruses to take a network-related hostage, DDoS attackers literally threaten DDoS victims if the payment – usually requested in bitcoin –is not received in time. In order to convince the victim to pay, offenders frequently present an assessment of what could come with a short-lived DDoS attack. All that the DDoS attackers require is a botnet to flood traffic to target networks – which can be recruited at cheap underground forums.

"Organisations should avoid paying these ransoms. Instead, any attack should be reported to the nearest law enforcement field office, as the information may help identify the attackers and ultimately hold them accountable," said Michael Kaczmarek, vice president of security product management at Neustar. 

Yet amid warnings of going off-line, it is advised to refrain from reacting to the demands of cybercriminals, so that ransom-led DDoS attacks can be contained to some extent.

3 Unique Procedures to Counter Money Laundering in India

 

The main weapon used by money launders to launder cash is bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies alternatives. India’s cryptocurrency exchanges deployed their own KYC regulations and anti-money laundering protocols for users.

Nishal Shetty, CEO of India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange WazirX said we follow all the necessary protocols such as asking users for ID and address proof like Aadhar and PAN Card. Our platform also emphasizes that money must come from the concerned customers' bank account and not from the third party bank account.

Cryptocurrency exchanges use various procedures to conduct KYC, one such method is penny drop. Penny drop method helps in verifying the user’s personal information and bank details, for example, a token of 10 rupees is transferred to the user’s account to confirm bank account details. This method confirms the account holder’s name as registered with the bank, to the transferor.

Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder of CoinDCX stated that “for corporate clients who are given higher trading limits, more documents like articles of association, board resolutions authorizing crypto investment, etc. are needed”.

Chainlink is one of the most familiar software among cryptocurrency exchanges which helps in identifying rogue addresses. Khandelwal further stated “we use a globally renowned crypto AML tool to check for blacklisted crypto addresses. If a legitimate user has got crypto from such an address, maybe through peer-to-peer and he or she wants to transact on our exchange, we ask for additional KYC such as source of funds and profession”.

Bitcoins and other cryptos are not held in bank or demat accounts contrary to other financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and FDs. The cold wallet is the method that can be used for holding on to the bitcoins and other cryptos, it is the hardware device or even paper that is not linked to the internet. Therefore, cold wallets cannot be easily seized by law enforcement authorities.

Bitcoin Scammers Tricked People by Using Elon Musk’s Name

 

Security researcher MalwareHunter team exposed a cryptocurrency scam through which scammers were targeting the users on Twitter, this scam was running in the name of TESLA CEO Elon Musk. Scammers were tricking people by hacking verified Twitter accounts and swapping the name to ‘Elon Musk’ and responding to the tweets of real Elon Musk.

The scammers were successful in tricking the users on Twitter by requesting them to send cryptocurrencies in exchange for collecting a huge amount later. The threat actors have managed to earn $587,000 in bitcoin through a scam promoting fake Elon Musk cryptocurrency giveaway.

MalwareHunter team stated that scammers hacked the inoperative accounts, “big % but not all. At least 2-3 was active within a few weeks to few days, of those one looked possible the last activities were not from the original owner but of course couldn’t verify”. This is not the first time that scammers have tricked Twitter users in the name of Elon Musk giveaway, in 2018 scammers successfully managed to earn $180,000 by running an Elon Musk giveaway promotion. 

Cybersecurity organization Adaptiv assembled the data in June 2020 which showed that Bitcoin scammers have managed to earn nearly $2million over a period of two months and no surprise, scammers have used the name of Elon Musk. Elon Musk gave concerning remarks on these scams in February 2020 by stating “the crypto scam level on Twitter is reaching new levels, this is not cool”.

Threat actors targeted the verified Twitter accounts and took advantage of Twitter’s new protocol as Twitter shut down the feature to verify an account in July due to the company was targeted by the scammers in a major cryptocurrency scam.

Worst Plunge Since March Shakes Faith in Bitcoin

 

Bitcoin ride took another twist on Monday, as the worst two-day tumble in the digital currency since March stirred up worry that the polarizing crypto-currency boom may run out of steam. Bitcoin slid as much as 21% over Sunday and Monday in the greatest two-day slide since March. While the digital token recuperated a portion of the misfortunes during the European meeting, it was still down for most of the time.

"Time to take some money off the table," Scott Minerd, chief investment officer with Guggenheim Investments, said in a tweet from his Twitter account. "Bitcoin's illustrative ascent is impractical in the near term." In late December, Minerd anticipated Bitcoin could at last reach $400,000. 

Bitcoin has more than quadrupled in the previous year, bringing out recollections of the 2017 mania that originally made cryptocurrencies a commonly recognized name before costs fell just as quickly. Costs nearly came to $42,000 on Jan. 8 with retail traders and Wall Street investors clamoring for a slice of the pie. 

"It's to be determined whether this is the beginning of a bigger correction, but we have now seen this parabola break so it may very well be," said Vijay Ayyar, head of business development with crypto exchange Luno in Singapore.

People who believe in Bitcoin contend the rally this time is not quite the same as past win fail cycles in light of the fact that the asset has matured with the passage of institutional investors and is progressively seen as authentic support against dollar weakness and inflation risk. Others stress that the rally is untethered from reason and powered by huge swathes of fiscal and monetary related boost, with Bitcoin improbable to actually fill in as a feasible currency alternative. 

"Putting resources into crypto assets, or investments and lending linked to them, for the most part, includes facing extremely high challenges with investor’s money," the Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement. The FCA's concerns incorporate price volatility, the multifaceted nature of items offered, and the absence of customer protection regulation around a significant number of the products. 

With such countless investors wanting to get rich on Bitcoin, the asset is drawing the attention of regulators. On Monday, the UK's financial watchdog gave a distinct admonition for consumers hoping to benefit from crypto: be prepared to lose everything.

Pavel Durov's team advised the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine on cryptocurrencies.

 The Minister of Digital Transformation Mikhail Fedorov said that his department is in contact with the team of the developer of the Telegram messenger Pavel Durov.

According to Fedorov, he is familiar with Durov's team. Employees of the Ministry of Digital Transformation received advice on bills related to virtual assets and cryptocurrency

"I know Durov's team. I know all its management, we communicate, consult even on bills related to cryptocurrency, virtual assets, and so on."

The Minister said that he actively uses the Telegram messenger for fast communications. However, the information exchanged by officials is protected as much as possible, and all documents pass through electronic document management.

"Of course, questions of national importance do not need to be sent in messengers, this is understandable," added Mikhail Fedorov.

Answering the question about which of the messengers is the safest for him, the head of the Ministry of Digital Transformation noted that he most often uses Telegram and WhatsApp.

Recall that on December 2, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the first reading adopted as a basis the draft law "On virtual assets" regulating operations with cryptocurrencies in the country. The bill classifies virtual assets (VA) as an intangible good.

The function of the market regulator is assigned to the Ministry of Digital Transformation, and in some cases to the National Bank and the National Commission on Securities and Stock Market.

According to experts, the daily volume of cryptocurrency transactions in Ukraine is about $150-200 million. One of the authors of the document, Deputy Oleksiy Zhmerenetsky, noted that the bill will allow cryptocurrency companies to pay taxes and allow specialized foreign firms to cooperate with Ukrainian banks and invest in the industry.

Ukraine did not follow the Russian path of banning virtual assets, because this market is a growth point for Ukraine's GDP and an opportunity to become one of the world's technology leaders. In addition, it makes no sense to prohibit something that is technically impossible to control, as we have already seen in the case of blocking Telegram in Russia.

Recall that Roskomnadzor has added the site of the Binance crypto exchange to the list of banned sites in Russia.

New Wave of Cryptocurrency Misappropriation, Hacking, Theft and Fraud Targeting Users Massively in 2020


Crypto criminals have ramped up cryptocurrency theft, hacking, and fraud by a significant margin in the year 2020. They have amassed a sum of $1.36 billion in ill-gotten crypto from January 2020 to May 2020, according to the blockchain analytics firm. The year 2020 is recorded being on the track to become the second-costliest year of all in the history of crypto; only behind 2019’s record of $4.5 billion. The largest contribution in the year’s ongoing standings came from Chinese scam ‘WOTOKEN’ that allegedly scammed more than 700,000 users and stole over $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies – 46,000 bitcoin, 2.04 million ethereum, 56,000 bitcoin cash, 292,000 litecoin, and 684,000 EOS.

Cryptocurrency is a virtual or digital currency that uses cryptographical functions to make financial transactions. In order to gain transparency and immutability, it makes use of blockchain technology. It is decentralized in nature as there is no central authority controlling or interfering in the processes that include making cryptocurrency exchanges directly between two parties using private and public keys. Equating to money in the real-world it attracts a large possibility of cyber fraud.

On June 2, 2020, CipherTrace released its Cryptocurrency Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Report covering the global trends and latest developments to fight money laundering, terrorism financing, and sanctions evasion. It highlighted the need for regulation and compliance while reporting that 74% of bitcoin in exchange-to-exchange transactions was the cross border and 88% of funds sent to exchanges in 2019 by US Bitcoin ATMs were offshore. Researchers also noted that phishing sites are the most popular COVID-19 related products marketed on the dark web.

“While only 9.8% of the dark market’s one-hop (direct) interactions went directly to exchanges, 30.7% of its two-hop (once removed) interactions went to exchanges—more than tripling the risk exposure to exchanges,” the report read.

In addition, cryptocriminals are also employing several new malware to target cryptocurrencies, an undocumented Trojan called ‘KryptoCibule’ has been found targeting various cryptocurrencies by replacing wallet addresses and stealing cryptocurrency-related files. Previously reported P2P botnet, FritzFrog attempted to brute-force SSH servers of government, education and medical institutions, and telecom players, with an objective of mining cryptocurrency via XMRig miner. Over two weeks ago, a new botnet, dubbed as TeamTNT was observed stealing AWS credentials from affected servers.

With the old techniques being upgraded and the new ones being continually introduced to mine illicit financial gains, cryptocurrencies have become one of the most increasingly targeted areas at present. Users are advised to stay perceptive to indicatives of criminal behavior.

The Blue Mockingbird Malware Group Exploits Vulnerabilities in Organizations' Networks


Another notorious crypto-currency mining malware has surfaced which allegedly has been infecting the systems of countless organizations. The group with the control of operations goes by the code name of “Blue Mockingbird”.

The researchers who discovered it have reasons to believe that the Blue Mockingbird has been active since 2019’s last month. Per them, it also targets “public-facing servers” that run “ASP.NET” apps that use the “Telerik framework” for their User Interface (UI) aspect.

Reportedly, the vulnerability that the hackers exploit in the process is the “CVE-2019-18395” vulnerability which is then employed to embed a web shell on the target’s server. Per the same report, later on they employ a version of “the Juicy Potato technique” to obtain the admin-access and alter the server settings to get access to the “(re)boot persistence”.

After having obtained complete access to a system, sources mention, the malware group installs a version of XMRRig which is a famous crypto-currency mining application particularly for the “Monero (XMR)” crypto-currency.

As per reports, if the public-facing IIS servers are linked with a company’s internal network, the malware group has a probability of trying to expand internally through an improperly-secured Server Message Block (SMB) connections or Remote Desktop Protocol ((RDP).

The exact number of infections that the botnet has caused isn’t all too clear but if an estimate was to be made the operations include 1,000 infections at the least. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to find the intensity of the threat.

Not many organizations out of the ones that were being observed by the researchers have been hit with this particular threat. And over a really little amount of time that they were tracked the above-mentioned number of infections surfaced.

Nevertheless, all companies alike are susceptible to this attack, even the ones that think they are safe and the number of infections could be more than estimated.

As per sources, the Telerik UI component which is allegedly vulnerable is a part of ASP.NET applications that run on their latest versions, even then the Telerik component may have versions that are out-dated but harmful to organizations, nonetheless. This component could exist in the applications used by a company and they might not even know about it leaving them endangered.

The Telerik UI CVE-2019-18935 vulnerability, per reports, has been widely let known as the one that is employed to embed web shells on servers. Another mentioned that this vulnerability is the most exploited and organizations need to better their firewalls to fight it. If for some reason the organizations don’t happen to have a web firewall they could always look for warning precursors in the server and workstation, reports cite.

Russia puts cryptocurrency under a ban


Russian parliamentarians have developed a package of bills that assume administrative and criminal responsibility for the use of cryptocurrencies. Experts believe that such measures can lead to the destruction of the blockchain industry in Russia.

"People who currently own cryptocurrency will be forced to get rid of it before the law comes into force, or risk "going underground", and this is a loss or risk," said Dmitry Kirillov, a senior tax lawyer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. Based on the amendments, mining or exchanging 3.5 bitcoins will lead to criminal liability.

Penalties are provided for any use of digital assets, from the organization of a crypto exchange and mining farm, attempts to pay with cryptocurrency on the Internet.  Fines range from 500 thousand rubles ($7,000) for individuals and up to 2 million rubles ($28,000) for legal entities.

Founder of the stable cryptocurrency platform Stasis.net Gregory Klumov called the new amendments "putting nails in the coffin of financial innovation and technological progress."
"In fact, it is proposed to build a new iron curtain in the digital economy with their own hands," said Yuri Pripachkin, president of the Russian Association of Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain.

Currently, in the Russian Federation, in addition to software, the hardware is being actively developed - means for storing tokens, cryptocurrencies. Many young specialists from the Russian Federation are already involved in this industry, and experts are worried that the adoption of this bill will put an end to the innovative economy.

Earlier, E Hacking News reported that, according to First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia, Blockchain is not a panacea, and cryptocurrency is not money. So, the Central Bank of Russia is not going to change its negative attitude to these assets.

Phishing Attacks Can Now Dodge Microsoft 365's Multi-Factor Authentication


Of late a phishing attack was found to be stealing confidential user data that was stored on the cloud.
As per sources, this is the work of a new phishing campaign that dodges the Office 365 Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to acquire the target’s cloud-stored data and uses it as bait to extract a ransom in Bitcoin.

Per reports, researchers discovered that the campaign influences the “OAuth2 framework and OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocol”. It employs a malicious “SharePoint” link to fool the targets into giving permission to “rogue” applications.

MFAs are used as a plan B in cases where the users’ passwords have been discovered. This phishing attack is different because it tries to fool its targets into helping the mal-actors dodge the MFA by giving permissions.

This campaign is not just about gaining ransoms via exploiting the stolen data it is that and the additional threat of having sensitive and personal information at large for others to exploit as well. Extortion and blackmail are among the first things that the data could be misused for.

Sources mentioned that via obtaining basic emails and information from the target’s device, the attacker could easily design “hyper-realistic Reply-Chain phishing emails.”

The phishing campaign employs a commonplace invite for a SharePoint file, which happens to be providing information regarding a “salary bonus”, which is good enough for perfunctory readers to get trapped, mention reports.

The link when clicked on redirects the target to an authentic login page of Microsoft Office 365. But if looked on closely, the URL looks fishy and created without much attention to detail, thus say the security experts.

Reportedly, access to Office 365 is acquired by getting a token from the Microsoft Identity Platform and then through Microsoft Graph authorizations. OIDC is used to check on the user granting the access if authentication comes through then the OAuth2 grants access for the application. During the process, the credentials aren’t revealed to the application.

The URL contains “key parameters” that explain how targets could be tricked into granting permissions to rogue applications on their account. Key parameters signify the kind of access that is being demanded by the Microsoft Identity Platform. In the above-mentioned attack, the request included the ID token and authentication code, mentioned sources.

If the target signs in on the SharePoint link that was delivered via the email they’ll be providing the above-mentioned permissions. If the target doesn’t do so, it will be the job of the domain administrators to handle any dubious activities.

This phishing campaign is just an example of how these attack mechanisms have evolved over the years, to such an extent that they could now try to extort sensitive data out of people seemingly by tricking them into providing permissions without an inkling of an idea of what is actually up.

The database of Russian car owners is sold for bitcoins


According to the description of the database, it contains 129 million leads obtained from the traffic police register. This is information about vehicles registered in Russia: the place of registration, make and model of the car, date of initial and last registration.

An employee of the car-sharing company whose vehicle data is contained in the registry confirmed the authenticity of the data.
Moreover, cybersecurity experts have already verified the authenticity of the documents. They also noted that this database was most likely stolen from the traffic police or insurance companies.

"Most often leaks occur in the traffic police and insurance companies", said Ashot Hovhannisyan, founder and technical director of DeviceLock, said that the database of motorists is regularly sold on the Darknet.

According to him, now this database is unique, as it contains information about the initial registration of cars since the 1990s.
For an additional fee, sellers offer to provide personal data of car owners, including last name, first name and patronymic, address, date of birth, passport number, and contact information. They also sell the TIN of legal entities where the car is registered.

The full version of the database with all data costs 0.3 bitcoin (approximately $2.8 thousand). 1.5 bitcoins (about $14 thousand) will cost the transfer to exclusive use.

Mikhail Firsov, Technical Director of Information Security Systems, believes that companies that buy such databases can use them to conduct illegal financial transactions, execute transactions, and fake legal documents.

Earlier, E Hacking News reported about the sale of data of 9 million customers of the Express transportation service CDEK in the Darknet. This is the largest leak of personal data in Russian delivery services.

Attention! Fake Extensions on the Chrome Web Store Again!


Reportedly, Google was in the news about having removed 49 Chrome extensions from its browser’s store for robbing crypto-wallet credentials. What’s more, after that, there surfaced an additional set of password-swiping “extensions” aka “add-ons”, which are up for download even now.

Per sources, the allegedly corrupt add-ons exist on the browser store disguised as authentic crypto-wallet extensions. These absolutely uncertified add-ons invite people to fill in their credentials so as to make siphoning off them easy and the digital money accessible.

Reports mention that the security researchers have affirmative information as to 8 of the 11 fake add-ons impersonating legitimate crypto-wallet software being removed including "Jaxx Ledger, KeyKeep, and MetaMask." A list of “extension identifiers” which was reported to Google was also provided.

Per researchers, there was a lack of vigilance by the Google Web Store because it apparently sanctions phisher-made extensions without giving the issue the attention it demands. Another thing that is disturbing for the researchers is that these extensions had premium ad space and are the first thing a user sees while searching.

According to sources, much like the Google Play Store with malicious apps, the Google Web Store had been facing difficulty in guarding itself against mal-actors. There also hadn’t been much of a response from their team about the issue.

One solution that was most talked about was that Google should at the least put into effect mechanisms in the Chrome Web Store that automatically impose trademark restrictions for the store and the ad platforms in it.

Per sources, Google’s Chrome Web Store “developer agreement” bars developers from violating intellectual property rights and also clearly mentions “Google is not obligated to monitor the products or their content”. Reports mention that as per the ad policy of Google, it could review trademarks complaints from trademarks holders only when it has received a complaint.

Google heeding all the hue and cry about the extensions did herald more restrictions with the motive of wiping away traces of any fake extensions and spammers creating bad quality extensions that were causing people trouble.

The alterations in the policy will block the spammers and developers from swarming the store with similar extensions and elements with questionable behavior. Word has it that because of hateful comments the Chrome Web Store was “locked down” in January.

But, as promising as it may be, allegedly Google has been making such promises about the Chrome Web Store security strengthening for more than half a decade. So no one can blame researchers for their skepticism.

Double Extortion- A Ransomware Tactic That Leaves The Victims With No Choice!


In addition to all the reasons ransomware were already dangerous and compulsive, there’s another one that the recent operators are employing to scare the wits out of their targets.

Cyber-criminals now tend to be threatening their victims with publishing and compromising their stolen data if the ransom doesn’t get paid or any other conditions aren’t followed through with.

The tactic in question is referred to as “Double Extortion” and quite aptly so. Per sources, its usage emerged in the latter half of 2019 apparently in use, by the Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer and Clop ransomware families.

Double extortion is all about doubling the malicious impact a normal ransomware attack could create. So the cyber-criminals try and stack up all sorts of pressure on the victims in the form of leaked information on the dark web, etc.

They just want to make sure that the victims are left with no other option but to pay the ransom and meet all the conditions of the attack, no matter how outrageous they are.

The pattern of Double Extortion was tracked after a well-known security staffing company from America experienced the “Maze ransomware” attack and didn’t pay up the 300 Bitcoin which totaled up to $2.3 Million. Even after they were threatened that their stolen email data and domain name certificates would be used for impersonating the company!

Per sources, all of the threatening wasn’t without proof. The attackers released 700 MB of data which allegedly was only 10% of what they had wrested from the company! And what’s more, they HIKED the ransom demand by 50%!

According to sources, the Maze ransomware group has a website especially fabricated to release data of the disobliging organizations and parties that don’t accept their highly interesting “deals” in exchange for the data.

Reportedly, ranging from extra sensitive to averagely confidential data of dozens of companies and firms from all the industries has found its way to the Maze ransomware website.

Clearly impressed by it many other operators of similar intentions opened up their own versions of the above-mentioned website to carry forward their “business” of threatening companies for digital currency and whatnot! They sure seem to have a good sense of humor because per sources the blog names are the likes of “Happy Blog”.

Per reports, the Sodinokibi ransomware bullied to leak a complete database from the global currency exchange, Travelex. The company had to pay $2.3 Million worth Bitcoin to get the attackers to bring their company back online.


Per reports of the researchers, the attackers would always release some kind of proof that they have the extremely valuable data of the company, before publishing it, to give the company a fair chance at paying up the ransom demanded.

Usually, these attacks are a win-win for the attackers and a “lose-lose” for the victims because if they decide not to pay up they would be putting their company in a very dangerous situation with all the valuable data compromised online for anyone to exploit, they would have to report the breach and they would have to pay a considerably high fine to the data privacy regulator. And if they pay up, they would be losing a giant plop of money! And sadly the latter feels like a better option.

Hospitals happen to be the organizations that are the most vulnerable to these attacks because of all the sensitive health-related data their databases are jam-packed with on any other day and additionally due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The organizations could always follow the most widely adapted multi-layered security measures for keeping their data safe obviously including updating systems, keeping backups and keeping data protected in any way they possibly can.

The most conscientious gangs of the many ransomware families, per sources, have promised to not attack hospitals amidst this pandemic. But that doesn’t stop the other mal-actors from employing cyber-attacks.

The cyber-crime forecasters have mentioned that the year 2020 would be quite a difficult year for these organizations what with the lock-down and no easier (malicious) way to earn money, apparently? Food for thought!