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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.

First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia: Blockchain is not a panacea, and cryptocurrency is not money


First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova said that blockchain is perfect for letters of credit and guarantees because it solves the problem of trust. However, this is not a universal technology for all occasions.

According to her, many people overestimate the advantages and prospects of blockchain technologies. As negative aspects of cryptocurrencies, the banker noted their high level of volatility, lack of guarantees for saving investments, and the possibility of their use for money laundering and terrorist financing.

This position of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation was one of the reasons for the delay in the adoption of the bill on digital financial assets, which should become the main legislative act regulating the cryptocurrency industry. Recently it became known that the adoption of the law is being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the rejection of cryptocurrencies, Olga Skorobogatova spoke positively about stablecoins.
“We believe that this is a more reliable type of crypto-assets since they are provided with real assets and give users certain guarantees,” she said, adding that in order to protect consumers, it is necessary to effectively regulate this sector at the global level.

The Central Bank is actively collaborating with other regulators regarding stablecoins and coins such as Libra. According to Skorobogatova, many Central Banks are actively studying the possibility of creating a national digital currency, and the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is no exception in this regard, but at this stage, the authorities have more questions than answers.
In particular, she does not yet see what real benefits the digital currencies of the Central Banks (CBDC) will bring to the economy, people and business.

It is worth noting that the beginning of the pandemic of coronavirus infection served as a kind of trigger for the introduction of remote voting. This was recently stated by the political party United Russia" For this purpose, an electronic voting system based on blockchain technology has been developed. Experts believe that this will reduce the negative effect of the quarantine regime, which has somehow slowed or stopped the political activities of most other parties, not only in Russia but also in the world.

Blockchain will become a part of the Russian economy


The Ministry of Communications published a document of the new project according to which the introduction of blockchain will bring the state 1635 million rubles (25 million $). This result will be achieved thanks to the fight against counterfeit products and cost savings.

According to the document, "total investments will amount to 23.1 million rubles ($360 000)... Private investors are expected to raise funds in the amount of 50.17 million rubles ($780 000)".

Through the introduction of blockchain, it is planned to reduce the turnover of counterfeit drugs, ensure the security of storage and exchange of personal medical data and increase the availability of financial services for the poorest segments of the population. According to forecasts of the Ministry of communications, 100% of the population will use banking services upon completion of the project.

The project should be implemented by 2024 and the network throughput will be 100 thousand transactions per second. The average throughput of Bitcoin at the moment is 4 transactions per second.

However, the Chairman of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina argues that investing in cryptocurrency is a casino game, because such investments are risky and not protected by the state. She agreed with the comparison of digital money with the 17th-century tulip fever in Holland and added that everyone knows "how it all ended."

"Easily earned money quickly goes away. Here, the state does not protect your investments in cryptocurrencies in any way, unlike investments in banks. But here you risk very much," says Nabiullina.

She added that the people who invested in digital money at the peak of value have now lost a lot. According to the head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, those who want to "make money very quickly and easily" are investing in a new type of asset.

Earlier, Nabiullina said that the Bank of Russia is studying the sphere of cryptocurrencies, but can’t yet assess the advantage of issuing national digital money. The Chairman of the financial regulator noted that the new type of assets carries a lot of risks.

Are MNCs and big consultants misleading Governments on Cryptocurrency and Blockchain?


MNCs and big consultants are well known to use heavyweight lobbying techniques to twist national policies in a manner that suit their interests. This is even more valid in the context of new technologies where governments usually lack the required domain skills and perspectives to make meaningful judgements. This appears to be the case with Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains.

The arguments being presented to make cryptocurrencies illegal is that they have no real value and can be used for Ponzi schemes and other such inappropriate or illegal operations. True. But then the Rupee is also used for Ponzi schemes such as chit business and various rackets. Does that mean that the Rupee should be banned? No, one bans ponzi investment schemes, not the Rupee. No rational arguments have yet been presented on why cryptocurrencies should be banned. Why not provide regulatory sandboxes and give entrepreneurs the freedom to test and present their case. With Blockchain based crypto currencies, one can publically store hash of information which can be later verified. This time stamping and hash information in public block chain can be used to verify time stamp of data.

The underlying technology in cryptocurrencies is Blockchain. While these MNCs rally against cryptocurrencies, they are pushing blockchain technology in a big way. But then here is the catch. No one has asked MNC company to show the source code of their Blockchain technology. Originally, Blockchain source code is public MIT license. It's very interesting that no one asks these MCNS to open the blockchain source codes. Can open source code like Blockchain be made into closed source code by MNCs?

MNCs claim that the blockchain(technically it's a DLT) is not charged. They charge only for "consulting,support and services"!

Why do governments need to invest millions and transfer wealth to MNCs and big consultants who already have fat wallets? The concept of private Blockchains is going to drain money from governments around the world. Fancy multiple databases across different stake holders – this is what is being presented as private blockchains. Why not instead governments develop software which run on public blockchain? Such applications can be written for US $ 200,000 to US $ 300,000 instead of the US $ 10 mn or so that fat cat consultants and MNCs will charge for private blockchains?

Some one scared everyone banks can't put data(even hash) on public blockchain. You don't need crypto currency to use public blockchain.

Will Governments including the Indian Government wake up? Especially at a time when there is so much demand on public exchequers from the poor and the needy.

(J Prasanna is founder of Cyber security and privacy foundation. This articles is their personal view)

Bitcoin SV’s blockchain suffers block reorganisation

While Bitcoin SV or Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV)’s staunchest supporter Craig Wright is busy with lawsuits against people who criticize him, the project is crumbling under the weight of its own expectations.

On April 18th , BitcoinSV blockchain has suffered a series of “block re-oganizations,” putting the integrity of its network in question.

According to BitMEX Research, the analysis wing of cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX, their “Bitcoin Cash SV [sic] node experienced two block re-organizations. First, a three-block re-organization, followed by a six-block re-organization.”

The company announced it on its Twitter account, raising questions about the series of block organizations that the blockchain is suffering from.

Block re-organizations occur when cryptocurrency miners are forced to “orphan” blocks after they’ve been mined. This can happen when the network is too slow to “propagate” blocks effectively, and bigger blocks (like the ones featured by BitcoinSV) are especially susceptible to orphaning.

Blockchain reorgs occur when miners are forced to orphan blocks after mining them. This usually happens when the size of a block is too large or when the network is too slow to propagate these new blocks. BSV has an especially large maximum block size of 128 MB, which was one of the major points of contentions of its fork. Note that a few months ago, Bitcoin Cash blockchain forked to create two parallel chains- Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision.

While BitMEX detected two block reorgs, the trouble runs deeper. The last time this occurred was in November 2018, when two blocks – one 16MB and another 13MB in size – were orphaned for being too large. At the time, BitMEX researchers also blamed bad network connectivity. This means that the chain has undergone three reorgs in just six months.

BitcoinSV is a fork of Bitcoin Cash (which is a fork of Bitcoin). It raised Bitcoin Cash‘s block size limit from 32MB to 128MB. Bitcoin‘s block size limit is still 1MB.

Bitcoin hacker steals money and passwords from Dark Web users, jailed

Blockchain and cryptocurrency related crimes are something heard about in a very scarce quantity. But this week, a 37 year-old man in the US has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for fraud in connection with a Bitcoin $BTC▲2.4% phishing scheme designed to rob victims of their cryptocurrency.

Michael Richo was allegedly running an elaborate bitcoin phishing scheme, all with the purpose of stealing confidential information from unaware victims, including various sums of cryptocurrency which they held.

Richo, of New Haven, was also ordered to forfeit $352,000 in cash, various computers and electronic devices, such as digital and hardware-based wallets, which contained a vast array of different precious metals and virtual coins that he purchased with the proceeds of his offense.

It was during the trial that evidence, such as court documents from the trial in question, as well as supplementary statements, illustrate just where Richo was going in order to target individuals for his Phishing attacks – The Dark Web.

Per court documents associated with Richo’s case, he will be subject to three years of supervised release once he’s out of prison. His operation involved targeting individuals on the dark web using marketplaces.

He did so by posting fake links to online marketplaces on dark web forums. Once users clicked on them, these links would then direct users to fake login pages that resembled the real login pages for various dark web marketplaces. Once the victim entered his credentials, the hacker would steal them. He would then monitor the individual’s Bitcoin balance at the real marketplace and would withdraw the coins once the person deposited the funds. He would then either deposit the funds directly to his bitcoin wallet, or sell them on cryptocurrency exchanges for US dollars. The US dollars obtained as a result were deposited into bank accounts under his control or provided to him through Green Dot Cards, Western Union transfers, and MoneyGram transfers.

Kodak Launches Own Cryptocurrency KODAKCoin — Stocks Surge

In a tie-up with WENN Digital, a blockchain development firm, Kodak photo-centric cryptocurrency, KODAKCoin, causing a 60 percent stock rise after the surprise announcement.

This is a part of a larger initiative called KODAKOne which will reportedly give photographers a new revenue stream and a secure work platform. The blockchain-powered image management system will supposedly create a digital ledger of rights ownership that photographers can use to register and license new and old work.

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement, “For photographers who’ve long struggled to assert control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords [“blockchain” and “cryptocurrency”] are the keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem.”

Kodak’s choice to move towards blockchain rather than introduce a new social media platform to serve the same purpose has sparked some discussions that the company is trying to capitalise on the current cryptocurrency fad.

KODAKCoin’s initial coin offering opens on January 31st, under SEC guidelines as a security token, and it’s open to US, UK, Canadian, and other investors.

Further information can be obtained on their website.

Russian Airline "S7 Airlines" started using blockchain to issue tickets

"Alfa-Bank" and "S7 Airlines" started the innovative block chain platform for automation of commercial transactions, namely the sale of air tickets.

The solution implemented by companies, is based on the Ethereum platform to create decentralized online services on the basis of the block chain.

Reportedly, the calculation speed increased from 14 days to a record 23 seconds. Thus, the airline does not provide deferred payment to agent and gaines revenue immediately after booking the ticket. The agent, in turn, is free of a Bank Guarantee paperwork.

Moreover, the implementation of block chain allows to minimize a human factor and to increase the reliability of transactions.

In the future S7 Airlines hops to extend the scope of the block chain platform. The suppliers of fuel and food, for example, can be engaged in the project.

 - Christina