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Banks have assessed the security of digital ruble payments

Major Russian banks are ready to take part in testing the digital ruble and have no doubt that it will be in demand among customers

According to market participants, special attention should be paid to information security: digital rubles can be paid offline and, according to banks, such operations may become a tidbit for fraudsters.

The Bank of Russia presented the idea of a digital ruble in mid-October. It is assumed that it will be in the form of a unique digital code stored in a special electronic wallet and become a full-fledged means of payment on a par with the ordinary ruble. Its prototype is scheduled to be tested next year and the regulator presented its concept last Thursday.

"VTB is ready to take part in pilot projects related to the introduction of the digital ruble. VTB estimates that it may take about two years to create the infrastructure for the implementation of the digital currency," said Vadim Kulik, Deputy President and Chairman of the Bank's Management Board. Apart from VTB, other major credit institutions, including Russian Standard and Promsvyazbank, are ready to take part in the testing of the digital ruble.

Participants of the pilot project will have to solve a number of issues and put a special emphasis on the safety of operations for clients. "The main risks of payments in digital rubles are gaining unauthorized access to an electronic wallet and committing fraudulent operations using social engineering methods", said Andrei Makosko, head of information security service of Novikombank.

In addition, banks are afraid of the possibility of some overflow of funds from non-cash payments to digital rubles. According to the head of the Raiffeisenbank innovation center, Evgenia Ovchinnikova, this may affect the existing relationship between banks, shops and payment systems.

"It is also important that the digital ruble platform does not result in capital expenditures on the part of banks", emphasized Olga Makhovaya, director of innovations and data management at Rosbank.

The digital ruble is expected to help combat payment slavery when customer service is tied to a single credit institution.

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.

Man Sentenced To 12 Years For Attempting To Purchase Chemical Weapon On The Dark Web

 

A 46-year-old Missouri man has been sentenced to 12 years without parole in US federal prison today for trying to obtain a chemical weapon via an illicit Dark Website with Bitcoin currency; the weapon has the capacity to kill hundreds of people. 

According to the court, the man named Jason Siesser had admitted his cybercrime and accepted that he attempted to purchase a chemical weapon two times between 14 June and August 4, 2018. Additionally, the court document has also mentioned that he had provided the order shipping address in the name of a juvenile, whose name, address he used illegally to acquire this highly toxic weapon including five batches of cadmium arsenide, hydrochloric acid, and other chemical compounds. 

As per the information that the court has provided, three batches of this chemical concoction would be enough to kill more than 300 people at once. On August 4, 2020, Siesser has been to prison for attempting to obtain a chemical weapon. 

Jason had ordered chemical weapons on two different occasions, at first, he ordered two 10 milliliter units of chemical on 4th July of 2018 with the use of cryptocurrencies. When the seller did not ship the order, he contacted him continuously. Then it was on 9th July of 2018, when he contacted the seller and asked him to ship the order as early as possible because he planned to use it immediately after receiving it. 

Jason ordered his second chemical on 5th august of 2018 and again he made the payment with help of Bitcoin, worth roughly $150. Notably, what he ordered, was a very toxic chemical. 

During the investigating officers' raid at Siesser's home, they had found nearly 10 grams of the toxic chemical including cadmium arsenide, which can be deadly if it ingested or inhaled; approximately 100 grams of cadmium metal and more than 500 mL of hydrochloric acid had been found. 

"Writings located within the home articulated Siesser’s heartache, anger and resentment over a breakup, and a desire for the person who caused the heartache to die," said the Department of Justice.

Crypto at Risk After Facebook Leak: Here’s how Hackers Can Exploit Data

 

The tech giant Facebook has been hit with a new wave of data leaks, yet again but this time, the number of users whose records were exposed was not 50 million but a massive 500 million. 

According to a security analyst, sensitive personal information for over half a billion Facebook users was leaked on a well-trafficked hacking forum on April 3, posing a danger to millions of cryptocurrency traders who may now be susceptible to sim swapping and other identity-based attacks.

What should be done? 

In response to the question that how exactly does this most recent breach place at risk the crypto assets of individuals, Dave Jevans, CEO of blockchain security firm CipherTrace, told Cointelegraph that people who have had their phone numbers leaked need to be extra careful because a lot of fraud involving digital assets hinges on such details. 

He further added, “We’ve seen an increase in SIM swaps, phishing attacks, and other types of fraud involving cryptocurrencies that rely on acquiring the phone numbers of victims to execute. Leaked info about the identity of high-profile crypto users gave bad actors the ability to target them.” 

Ben Diggles, co-founder, and chief revenue officer at Constellation, told Cointelegraph that Facebook's latest security lapse is unsurprising, especially given that most Facebook users have a different approach, in which they prefer their world to be managed and structured for them. 

“Those that are crypto holders that were on the list have little to worry about unless they were storing descriptive details of their holdings and access on their Facebook account. However, these hackers have gotten really sophisticated, so I have no idea what tricks they may have [up] their sleeves with regards to scraping info specific to crypto wallets and exchanges.”, he added. 

However, he suggests that most users should update their passwords for all of their social media profiles, as well as all other sites that share their data with Facebook, as a precaution. 

Does decentralization matter? 

As more data leaks occur, a large majority of people around the world are understanding the value proposition that decentralized systems offer in terms of protection, particularly, since they do not feature a single point of failure. 

On the matter, Eli Arkush, a cloud solutions engineer at cybersecurity firm GlobalDots, suggests that having a platform's backend system distributed using blockchain technology could make it more difficult for hackers to obtain user information; however, once credentials fall into the wrong hands, password reuse may become a concern. 

However, Stephen Wilson, the CEO of Lockstep Group and a member of the Australian government's National Blockchain Roadmap Cybersecurity Working Group, believes that, contrary to popular belief, storing personal information on any blockchain ecosystem is never a good idea. He pointed out that the type of personal data breached by Facebook should never be stored in a blockchain, and even if it is, such data can never be completely protected by blockchain in the long run.

“Blockchain and DLTs usually only decentralize some aspects of data management. They don’t usually decentralize data storage in any relevant sense because they tend to duplicate ledger entries across multiple systems. The storage is distributed, but identical copies of information are available in multiple locations and can be vulnerable to attackers or thieves.”, he further added. 

Most hacking schemes in the past have primarily focused on stealing funds from cryptocurrency exchanges. For example, in 2014 and 2018, the total amount of money compromised as a result of exchanges being hacked was $483 million and $875 million, respectively. 

However, an increasing number of offenders are focusing their attention on stealing user data because it provides them with unique opportunities to obtain funds quickly. As a result, cryptocurrency owners must protect their assets.

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.

Hackers Exploit Windows BITS Feature To Launch Malware Attack

Microsoft released the BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) in Windows XP to coordinate and ease uploading and downloading files with large size. Systems and applications component, specifically update in Windows, use this BITS feature to provide application updates and OS so that they can work in minimal user disruption. BITS interact with applications to make jobs with one or more application to download or upload. The BITS feature operates in service and it can make transfers happen at any time. A local database stores file, state and job info.  

How the hackers exploit BITS?

The BITS, like every other technology, is used by applications and exploited by hackers. When harmful apps make BITS jobs, the files are uploaded and downloaded in the service host process context. This helps hackers to avoid firewall detection that may stop suspicious or unusual activities, allowing the attacker to hide the application that requests the transfer. Besides this, the transfers in BITS can be scheduled for later, which allows them to happen at given times, saving the hacker from depending on task-scheduler or long-running processes. 

Transfers in BITS are asynchronous, resulting in a situation where the apps that made jobs may not be working after the transfers that are requested are complete. Addressing this situation, these jobs in BITS can be made through a notification command that is user-specific. The command can be used in case of errors or after a job is complete. The BITS jobs linked with this notification command may authorize any command or executable to run. The hackers have exploited this feature and used it as a technique for continuously launching harmful applications.  

For BITS jobs, the command data is stored in a database rather than the traditional directory register, this helps hackers as the tools that are used to identify persistent executables or commands by unknown actors may overlook it. The jobs in BITS can be made using the BITS-admin command lines tool or via API functions.  Cybersecurity firm FireEye reports, "the Background Intelligent Transfer Service continues to provide utility to applications and attackers alike. The BITS QMGR database can present a useful source of data in an investigation or hunting operation. BitsParser may be utilized with other forensic tools to develop a detailed view of attacker activity." 

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.

Goodbye Cryptocurrencies: Number of 'Dead' Coins Increased by 35% Over Last Year

 

Coinopsy.com, an online firm that tracks dead cryptocurrencies has published a data report regarding the number of dead cryptocurrencies or crypto coins. Interestingly, there is a huge surge in the number of dead cryptocurrencies or crypto coins that had minimal to zero profits for everyone. 

According to the data report from Coinopsy.com, the number increased by 35% over last year to 1,949. Around February last year, the total number of dead coins exceeded 1,440. The term dead coins are associated with a cipher that no longer exists for multiple reasons. For example, they are used as a scam, their internet site remains down, there’s a problem with a node or wallet, it’s illiquid or it’s just abandoned, or it’s been stopped by a developer. 

However, if there’s a lack of information on the reasons why a coin died, it falls into the default deserted category. The growth within the quantity of such dead coins had gained momentum again in 2017 when a lot of entrepreneurs or firms went for preliminary coin choices (ICO) and had raised $4.9 billion through the year, as per the reports of Crunchbase. ICOs are meant to develop new blockchain-based cryptos or related apps or companies.

According to CoinMarketCap, ICOs had increased the number of existing coins from 29 to more than 850 projects in 2017. In December last year, the whole cryptos had reached close to 8,000. As of March 3, 2021, there were 9,108 ciphers led by Bitcoin and Ethereum were in circulation. However, many of these coins are no longer present because they never have been scammed, joked, or evolved.

Joke projects and coins have no real or concrete idea, but they are still looking for an investment. For example, according to CoinMarketCap, the Useless Ethereum Token (UET) was one such joke coin that held an ICO and raised over $300,000. The total market capitalization of over 9,000 cryptocurrencies is $1.96 trillion, of which Bitcoin commands a 60 percent share ($1.1 trillion) and Ethereum has an 11% share ($243 billion).

Russian Law Requires Smart Devices To Come Pre-Installed With Domestic Software

Russia is taking security measures against technology that can hurt big tech companies in the region. In light of new laws, every smart device such as TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets that will be purchased in Russia from now it is mandatory for it to come with pre-installed Russian-domestic software in the device. The new law is deciphered as an attempt by the government to shut down online freedom but the government officials are stating that this initiative has been introduced to promote home tech firms and to help Russian home tech companies to compete with foreign counterparts. 

The two Russian tech giants such as Yandex and Mail.ru. will be providing the pre-installed software in smart devices. 

“The law applies from Thursday to all devices and the Company said that it would offer apps from Russian developers to users activating phones but that all apps were checked to make sure they meet Apple's own privacy and security policies", Reuters said. 

In other words, it means that clients will be able to choose Russian-domestic software and apps over multinational companies’ software when setting up their smart devices. Additionally, on Twitter an iOS developer – Tian Zhang has shared a video of the new setup process on Thursday. 

Now a screen in the setup reads, "In compliance with Russian legal requirements, continue to view available apps to download." Tapping "continue" redirect the user to a list of Russian-domestic software and apps, including several from the search giant Yandex. 

Intelligence is saying that Russia is trying to compete with the US tech giants in the country and simultaneously trying to strengthen its reliance on its government-controlled "sovereign internet." 

It is about the last month when the Russian government slowed down Twitter in the response to Twitter's refusal to remove the banned content from the platform, but that ended up blocking several domains, including the Kremlin's website.

Centre of Attraction for Scammers : NFTs

 

NFTs - non-fungible token have been around for a few years now, but recent attention has sparked a surge throughout the market. NFTs are all here to stay, according to proponents, as they're more stable. Though enthusiasts may be correct about NFTs' long-term viability, as they may also no longer be a significant part of the art market once the original frenzy subsides. The art market's key elements are authenticity and originality, and NFTs certainly delivers both. 

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a data unit on a digital ledger known as a blockchain that really can represent a single digital object and therefore is not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to depict digital files like art, audio, video, video game objects, and other types of creative work. However, the definition can appear to be fundamentally abstract, it comes down to being able to assert exclusive possession of a collectible. 

"The higher the value of a cryptocurrency, the higher the volume of fraud targeting its users," says Abhilash Garimella, research scientist at fraud prevention firm Bolster.

NFTs can reflect digital possession of almost everything, for instance we can take, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet, Grimes' original art, Marvel artists' exclusive superhero comic drawings, and every other form of artistic work, including videos and audio. The Marvel comics entered the blockchain world, where an Ethereum-based Spiderman NFT was sold for $25,000. And till now the NFT "cryptocurrency collectibles" have sold for more than $100 million. 

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been questioned, despite proponents believing they are the future of economic systems and opponents dismissing them as nothing but a digital Ponzi scheme. Bitcoin mining is said to use as much energy as used by entire countries. People have become much more hesitant to buy and sell off their assets on the blockchain as they have become more aware of its vast energy requirements. Despite the fact that the blockchain is also said to be safe, there've been numerous cryptocurrency hacks. Both of these factors can deter young people from joining the craze, making it more difficult for NFTs to achieve long-term success. 

Hackers are indeed searching for ways to get as many Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and other valuable digital coins as feasible, as shown by their fondness for ransomware, crypto mining, and hacking through cryptocurrency exchanges and extracting all of their assets in recent times. 

In 2020, two Florida teens and a British man duped a number of people into thinking that the 130 high-profile Twitter accounts they'd took over might potentially double people's bitcoin assets once they'd been collected by Elon Musk and Bill Gates. Many people have fallen for the scam which involves Musk allegedly offering "free" NFTs after victims "verified" themselves by giving a small number of bitcoins "temporarily". This was one of the NFTs scams.

$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.

The first IPO of a cybersecurity company is being prepared in Russia

Russian cybersecurity company Positive Technologies is about to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) on the Moscow Stock Exchange. In Russia, firms from this segment have not yet been listed on the stock exchange.

Positive Technologies plans to go for an IPO. The company plans to float about 10 percent of its shares on the Moscow Stock Exchange, which may correspond to $200-300 million if the company is valued at $2-4 billion by the end of 2021. Positive Technologies declined to comment.

Apart from Russia, Positive Technologies is also present in Europe, the United States, the CIS and Africa. According to the Telegram channel SecAtor, the company values itself at $1 billion. Forbes has rated Positive Technologies as one of the most valuable Runet companies at $580 million.

The company relies on the active participation of individuals in the IPO. It should be noted that Positive Technologies primarily considers investors in the IT-sphere to be its target audience. 

Yandex, Mail.ru Group and Ozon are present on the Moscow Stock Exchange, but so far there is no cyber security company, said Andrey Konusov, general director of Avanpost. "This is a new move for the Russian market, and it is a very right and timely idea," he believes. 

According to Oleg Zhelezko, the founder and managing partner of Da Vinci Capital Management, any technology company will be in great demand from investors, because it is currently the most promising segment.

Positive Technologies' competitors are still skeptical about the company's decision. "The bureaucratization of public companies often prevents them from making quick decisions, which is a critical condition for the development of innovations in the cybersecurity market," said Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab. According to him, Kaspersky Lab has enough internal resources for financing and does not need to raise additional investments, so it is not planning an IPO.

Russian search engine will be required to be installed in the browser on smartphones

The authorities plan to oblige manufacturers of smartphones and tablets to install domestic search engines by default in the browser. Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, also known as MinTsifry, plans to prepare a corresponding government decree by April.

In the current version of the law on pre-installation of the software, manufacturers can offer certain services to choose from when activating a device. Users can skip their installation. According to the forthcoming decree, the domestic search engine must be installed by default in the browser.

The authorities want to oblige device manufacturers to install domestic search by default in order to level the market between Russian and foreign players. It is primarily a question of supporting Yandex.

Yandex reported that they had not seen the final version of the decree. "We believe that everyone should be able to choose freely and the most optimal solution could be a "window of choice" for a search engine", said the company.

Karen Kazaryan, an analyst at the Russian Association of Electronic Communications, believes that if the initiative of the authorities is implemented, Google's revenues will decrease and the corporation may change its strategy of work in the Russian market, for example, revise agreements with smartphone manufacturers.

On April 1, the rules will come into force obliging manufacturers to pre-install Russian applications on tablets and smartphones. According to the approved rules, 16 services will be obligatory, including browsers, search engines, social networks, messengers, mail services, news aggregators and the State Service application.

According to Yandex's own data, the company's share of the Russian search market was 59.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Mobile traffic accounted for 53.3% of ad sales on the search results page. Mobile Research Group analyst Eldar Murtazin predicts that if the Ministry's initiative is implemented, Yandex's share in mobile search may quickly increase because most users will not want to spend time replacing the default search engine.

Russian authorities slow access to Twitter over banned content

The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor)  accused Twitter of numerous violations and failure to remove prohibited information. On March 10, the work of the social network in Russia began to slow down.

Russian parliamentarians supported Roskomnadzor's decision to slow down Twitter.

Earlier, the press service of the department said that they would reduce the speed of the social network on all mobile devices. This decision is due to the reluctance of the Twitter administration to block illegal content, including calls to suicide, child pornography and information about drugs. Roskomnadzor did not rule out a complete blocking of the service if nothing changes.

The Kremlin considered Roskomnadzor's claims to the social network justified and called on the company to comply with the requirements of Russian legislation.

According to the deputy of the State Duma Anton Gorelkin, the state has no other tools left to influence the violator, except for tough measures.

"It is impossible to ignore the fact that Twitter acts in Russia as an instrument of political manipulation of public opinion, blocks the Russian media. At the same time, it continues to earn money in our country," he wrote in his Telegram channel.

The parliamentarian explained that slowing down the service is a way to affect the company's commercial profit, which it prioritizes. Gorelkin expressed hope that the new measures will be more effective than "modest Russian fines."

Head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy Alexander Khinshtein called the actions of the department adequate. According to him, "it is impossible to look further and put up" with Twitter's policy.

Senator Alexander Bashkin believes that the decision of Roskomnadzor will serve as a "sobering shower" for other social networks that do not comply with the requirements of Russian legislation. In his opinion, Twitter has long been "a weapon that is used not only against Russia but also against freedom of speech, information and democratic foundations."

The first deputy chairman of the Committee of the Federation Council on International Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov warned that other platforms in the event of serious violations may face retaliatory measures - up to the closure.

Earlier, E Hacking News reported that, according to  the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, Western Internet giants (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google) "operate in our environment, but at the same time they often do not obey any Russian laws."

Recall,  Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram previously blocked Trump's accounts for various periods of time due to his statements about the riots in Washington on January 6.


After OTP Issues,TRAI Suspends New SMS Rules For 7 Days

 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has temporarily suspended its new rules for curbing spam messages, following major disruptions in SMS and OTP deliveries for banking, payment, and other transactions.

In a statement on Tuesday, TRAI noted that the move to suspend the new norms would enable the principal entities to register the template of SMS so that no inconvenience is faced by the customers. Even though telcos executed the scrubbing norms, some companies did not adopt them, leading to text messages getting dropped and transaction failures. 

Telecom operators, meanwhile, said several companies and government bodies faced glitches as they did not register their content template until 7th March despite multiple reminders.

“TSPs (telecom service providers) are following Trai regulations and have activated the due process of content scrubbing to address the issue of unsolicited commercial communication. TSPs have sent various communications to the principal entities to register their content template with TSPs before 7 March,” S.P. Kochhar, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) stated.

Millions of mobile phone users were facing disruption in receiving OTP after telecom firms on Monday initiated the execution of Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations (TCCCPR), impacting a host of OTP services including banking, E-commerce, and Aadhar. The new Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) was in place to clamp down on spam messages by making verification of every SMS mandatory with a registered template. 

However, the DLT in place disrupted the existing system in place to deliver OTPs. Services like Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Aadhar services, and mainly the banking services faced major authentication issues on Tuesday. Many customers who tried to check their bank balance, could not log in to their mobile wallets, as the servers were down. According to sources, at least 40% of one billion daily average commercial messages were not delivered to respective customers.

Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the need for universal regulation of the Internet

According to the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, the actions of social networks that block political content should be regulated at the international level

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated the need for an international legal approach to regulating the Internet against the background of the blocking of publications of Russian media by the social network Facebook. Ms. Zakharova noted that Western Internet giants (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google) "operate in our environment, but at the same time they often do not obey any Russian laws."

On March 7, Facebook blocked access to information materials about the detention in Voronezh of supporters of the Ukrainian youth radical group "Maniacs. The cult of murderers." Articles of such newspapers as TASS, RBC and Vedomosti were blocked. The materials were written on the basis of the official release of the FSB and the Investigative Committee of Russia.

"All this requires a regulation. Our legislators and the relevant authorities are now engaged in all this. We believe that there should be some common international legal approach to regulating the Internet," said Zakharova.

Maria Zakharova noted that Russia has long-faced blocking of accounts, materials and pages. "For many years, we have been offering an initiative in the field of international information security. And now such an initiative has been announced," added she.

Internet giants, according to Ms. Zakharova, "behave outside the legal framework, if we talk about the jurisdiction of our country, our legal framework". They often do not obey, but "sometimes directly violate, and despite the violation of these laws and regulations, sometimes the fines are completely ignored, which is unacceptable."

Earlier, Roskomnadzor demanded that the social network restore access to information materials. In addition, the speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin condemned the blocking of the Russian media materials by the social network Facebook. He said that the deputies intend to "propose legislative solutions that would not allow such a thing," as well as discuss the issue at the international level.

Brave Browser is About to Launch its Own Search Engine

 

Brave is a free and open-source web browser based on the Chromium web browser that had been established by Brave Software, Inc. It offers an ad-free browsing experience and website trackers, and also accepts cryptocurrency from facility takers as a contribution in the form of Basic Attention Tokens to websites and content creators.
 
At present, Brave works on macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. In recent updates, Brave organization is about to launch its own independent privacy-focused search engine that will support both ads and ad-free search results. 

As per the Company’s briefings, the search engine is developed by the former Cliqz team. The company had already announced the name of its upcoming search engine known as 'Brave Search'. The Tailcat search engine will be a foundation of Brave Search that will be integrated into the Brave browser. 

Additionally, the Search engine can be accessed outside of the company’s browser by navigating to brave.com/search. However, right now if you go there you will be seeing an option to sign up to the mailing list. For now, the company has not disclosed the date of launching for its Brave Search. Though, those who already signed up for the mailing list they will be first to use the new search engine when it will be launched. 

This alternative is being touted as “the first private alternative to Google Search and Google Chrome on both mobile and desktop.” However, it seems true. There exist some private alternatives to Google, but they do not provide both a browser and search engine on mobile and desktop. At present, the DuckDuckGo search engine is best known for its successful private alternative to Google, but it does not offer a desktop browser. 

In a press release, the company explained that how its search engine will be different from the previous ones developed by “Big Tech”: 

“Under the hood, nearly all of today’s search engines are either built by, or rely on, results from Big Tech companies. In contrast, the Tailcat search engine is built on top of a completely independent index, capable of delivering the quality people expect, but without compromising their privacy. Tailcat does not collect IP addresses or use personally identifiable information to improve search results.” 

Brave’s privacy-oriented web browser witnessed its own grown list of monthly active users from 11 million to 25 million. The company stated that right now we are considering offering both paid and free and versions of its search engine.

Crypto Exchange Platform WazirX Hit a Record High of $2 Billion in Trading Volumes

 

Cryptocurrency exchange platform, WazirX has almost doubled its trading volumes since February 1st, 2021 regardless of fears of a government-imposed ban on crypto assets. According to a tweet by Nischal Shetty, founder of WazirX, India’s largest crypto exchange platform reached $2.3 billion in trading volumes on 21 February. On 21 January, exactly a month, ago volumes were at $1.4 billion and on 20 December volumes were at $500 million.

The future of crypto trading in India looks very bleak, the government of India will be introducing a bill in parliament that will explicitly ban private cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 as named by the government will “create a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.”

However, the government didn’t define the word ‘private cryptocurrency’ but experts believed that the bill will make it illegal to buy, sell or deal in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies in the country.

In April 2018, the Reserve Bank of India issued a notice directing all the financial institutions to cut all ties with individuals or companies trading with virtual currencies such as Bitcoin within three months. For those trading with digital currency, the commission further proposed a prison sentence of up to 10 years and substantial penalties. Two years later in 2020, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Reserve Bank of India and allowed banks to control exchanges and traders’ cryptocurrency transactions.

Nischal Shetty told Mint that “crypto is a global phenomenon. The moment a Tesla spends $1.5 billion, your wealth in India has increased. Most of your investments are very local, but in crypto, anyone anywhere in the world can affect your wealth. People in India have been joining based on all of this positive news that’s been coming.”

FacePay fare payment system to launch in Moscow metro by the end of the year

"In the Moscow metro, by the end of 2021, we plan to launch contactless fare payment for travel through a face recognition system", said deputy head of the metro Andrey Kichigin. This payment method will be available at the turnstiles and at the ticket offices. This feature is currently being tested.

According to him, to pay for the fare, you only need to go to the camera, and it counts the face of the passenger, even in a mask. Similar systems have proven themselves in London, Singapore and Dubai.

"First of all, the facial recognition system ensures the safety of trips. We all want to live and move around in a safe city and provide our passengers with the highest level of security," added Kichigin.

According to the deputy head of the metro, the facial recognition system does not know any surnames, names, or other personal data.

The information is stored in a data center that only law enforcement agencies have access to. The protection is reliable, the system can not be connected from the outside, unauthorized access is impossible. The system records each operation, which allows you to understand who, when and what data was requested.

Information security expert Sergei Vakulin criticized the FacePay fare payment system.

"No system is secure. There is a possibility that the data will leak somewhere, and it may be discovered years later. As for security in general, facial recognition, biometric data, then the situation is 50-50. The fact is that the system will not be fully debugged with our technologies, because the person is changing. Clearly, there will be some mistakes, maybe he will grow a beard, and how will he be recognized?" noted the expert.