Cybercrime Report: Cryptojacking is on the rise at the decline of ransomware

The global security company Kaspersky Lab has recently released a report which looks at how – and why – ransomware attacks have become less common in cybercriminal hacks.

According to the cybersecurity company, “cryptojacking” –  a form of cryptocurrency hacking which sees the attack of mining malware – has become more frequent and is a more attractive means for hackers to illicitly gain cryptocurrency funds.

The report states that the “ total number of users who encountered ransomware fell by almost 30%, from 2,581,026 in 2016-2017 to 1,811,937 in 2017-2018,” and added that the ransomware attacks on mobile devices has also seen a major decline of about 22.5%. Furthermore, the number of individuals and entities who have fallen victim to the malicious miners has swelled by nearly 45% in the last year.

The report has suggested that the increase of cryptojacking is owing to several factors, such as the basic model of mining – which offers a great deal of profit to successful miners – as well as the discrete and pseudonymous nature of mining software. Components related to the mining model, such as how easy it is to develop mining devices have also given cryptojackers a major reason to perform attacks which make lining their pockets an easier endeavour as opposed to ransomware attacks:

“The number of targeted attacks on businesses, for the purpose of installing miners, raises questions about whether mining might eventually follow in the footsteps of ransomware actors. Big money loves silence, and if miner actors attract as much attention to themselves as ransomware did, life will get complicated for them.”

It was found that Venezuela, Myanmar, and Nepal are countries who have seen the most impact by mobile-based cryptojacking attacks, despite the fact that countries such as India and China can be attributed to an entire one-third of the volume the market’s smartphone devices.

Kaspersky Lab’s report has been supported by a similar research by American-based cybersecurity corporation McAfee, who also suggested that “the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, market forces are driving criminals to crypto jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency.”

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VeChain Thor officially launches mainnet blockchain, announces token swap

The VeChain foundation has announced the official launch of its own platform after the first block on the network was mined successfully.

VeChain is aiming to create a decentralized ecosystem with fully traceable products and is hoping successfully to combine blockchain technology with hardware tracking devices.

Using a Proof-of-Authority consensus algorithm, the blockchain’s main network launch was prepared by establishing the first authority master node. This has been criticized over the potential for centralization, but VeChain has suggested instead that this mechanism is going to be beneficial for businesses, as it will offer a higher-performing network and will be best suited to cater for supply management.

Before the launch of its own blockchain, the VeChain Token’s network existed on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 and the project plans to undergo a token swap, changing from VEN to VET in mid-July.

For now the cryptocurrency’s foundation has provided details of the timeline moving forward for the token, stating that mobile wallets and the token swap are still on the way.

Bithumb, a major Korean-based cryptocurrency trading exchange, has announced that it is in support of the token swap and the process will be “carried out automatically without requiring any further actions from [their] customers.”

VeChain’s token is currently down by -2.37% day-on-day, and, at press time, is trading for $2.56 USD.

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Arthur Hayes: Bitcoin could climb to $50,000 USD by the end of 2018

The CEO at BitMEX, Arthur Hayes, believes that bitcoin still has the potential for a $50,000 USD future by the end of this year.

In an interview with CNBC, Hayes said that he thinks the cryptocurrency will reach an all-time high by the end of 2018 and will manage to hit between $20,000 USD and $50,000 USD – despite the bad run it is having in the market at the moment.

Hayes explained his view, saying that since bitcoin is still a young innovation, and has maintained a volatile nature, it has the potential to go up and down from 50% to 200% on an annual basis. The major exchange’s CEO suggested that the crypto-market is one step away from gaining serious momentum – and it will be a move of regulation that will determine the increase.

Hayes stated in another CNBC interview in May of this year that a correction or decline in the cryptocurrency’s value within the market will not have a major impact on the revenue of BitMEX and because of this, is of no benefit for the CEO to exaggerate his opinion on Bitcoin or to inflate any expectations on the cryptocurrency market. At the time, Hayes stated:

“If it goes up, if it goes down, if you have Bill Gates calling it a fraud … Short it, I don’t care. If you think it’s going to be $1 million in a few months, great, buy it. I still don’t care. We just match trades”.

Bearing this in mind, one need not worry that the CEO is attempting to sell the success of bitcoin in order to achieve that of his exchange, and if his predictions are correct, it could spell an increase of massive proportions for cryptocurrencies in the next five months.

Bitcoin is currently down by -0.32% day-on-day, and, at press time, is trading for $6,392.91 USD.

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Report: More than 25% of U.K. male millennials would choose Bitcoin over property

In a recent study conducted by UK-based real estate developer Get Living, it has been found that 27% of the male millennials in the nation would prefer to invest in bitcoin rather than real estate.

According to real estate developer Get Living, part of the reason the particular demographic saw bitcoin as a more attractive investment was the fact that millennials hold the view that the flagship cryptocurrency possesses a higher potential of appreciating compared to real estate.

In the report released, Get Living suggests this trend owes to the fact that millennials are more prone to cryptocurrency as an investment as they believe that it holds a possibility of higher return compared to the value of real estate. It was said that millennials see the “soaring performance of Bitcoin – followed by an almost equally profound correction – [and it] holds more intrigue than the prospect of steady growth in house prices”.

It’s been found that cryptocurrency is also more attractive than stocks or bonds to those aged between 18 and 34, according to a study conducted by venture capital firm Blockchain Capital.

The study, conducted by Harris Poll for the firm, noted that the 27% figure found both male and female of the younger generation in the market would opt to invest in $1,000 USD worth of bitcoin rather than that of the same value in stocks. The study also showed that, if we look at millennial males – a weighty 38% would choose cryptocurrency over buying stocks.

We already know that only 8% of all citizens in America own, or are interested in owning, cryptocurrency and the statistics together suggest that millennials are making up a huge portion of those in the market. This conjecture is backed up with the study that showed that a whopping 20% of students in America use funds from their loans to buy cryptocurrency.

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Bithumb recovers half of the stolen funds and promises full compensation for hack victims

After last week’s attack on one of South Korea’s most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb which was hacked for $31 million USD, it has been announced that the exchange has been able to recover almost fifty percent of the stolen funds.

Bithumb has been keeping investors and users up to date on the progress of any information pertinent to the hack, and has released the latest update, which states that approximately ₩16 billion KRW (which currently translates to around $14 million USD) of the stolen funds have been reclaimed, which brings the total down by almost half the original amount lost.

Bithumb was able to obtain the addresses of lost hot wallets in a partnership with the Cryptographic Fund and Worldwide Cryptographic Exchange and together they are working to recover more of the stolen assets.

In the blog by the exchange, it is explained that this process not only is looking out for the investors but is also hoping to aid in building the cryptocurrency ecosystem in order to prevent other damages from happening in the future.

“The main reason for the reduction is the ongoing participation, support and cooperation of cryptocurrency exchanges and cryptocurrencies foundations across the world… At this moment we will continue our recovery process as well as a preventative measure until this incident is fully concluded.”

Bithumb has also reached out to victims of the hack, and have reassured them that full compensation for stolen funds will be. The initial step of this comes in the form of free commission fee coupons, and users will be able to register for compensation via a cryptocurrency airdrop in the following manner:

“The amount of holding cryptocurrencies will be calculated from 8:00 PM ~ 9:00 PM (UTC+9) each day starting from the date of applying the event until the end of the event. And then annual interest rate of 10% will be prorated to the combined number of days at the end of the event. Then the equivalent value of cryptocurrencies will be given away in a form of airdrop.”

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Mt Gox has been ordered to pay back the money โ€“ totally in Bitcoin

Mt Gox, the cryptocurrency exchange which suffered ‘the most famous Bitcoin hack ever’ in 2014, has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to start paying back victims for the losses.

The order comes in line in accordance with the civil rehabilitation law and not under the rules of bankruptcy. If the victims were to be reimbursed under the bankruptcy proceeding, they would receive compensation in the national currency which would be equal to that of “non-monetary” claims based on value at the time of bankruptcy. This means that if we took the value of the loss at the time of the attack, the payout would amount to around $483 USD per Bitcoin, while if we look at today’s value, one Bitcoin is worth $6127 USD.

If this is, in fact, the way in which investors will receive compensation, it might be in their favor as they might have chosen to trade their assets at a lower value.

And since civil rehabilitation proceedings ensure the recompensation in the original assets – rather than in the equivalent national fiat value  – it entitles the victims to claim back lost Bitcoins making the triple-digit percentage back on what they had lost. Although no official schedule for proceedings for the payments has been set yet, it has been said that investors who lost out in the hack will need to file official claims by October of this year in order to be eligible to claim recompensation.

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Brian Kelly denies the death of Bitcoin and gives hope to investors

Following a recent bad run of the markets which are showing bear-like trends at the moment, many investors are wondering whether this spells the end of cryptocurrency. On 23rd June, the original digital currency saw its decline to below the $6,000 USD mark for the first time in over six months. Not only does this impact other cryptocurrencies and investor sentiments, it has had an effect on the attitude of investors who are wondering if the market will ever see an increase again.

Brian Kelly, however, is not wondering and stated on national television last week with optimism that he thinks that Bitcoin is going to survive.

In a spot of banter on national television on CNBC, the hosts of Fast Money, Melissa Lee and Dylan Ratigan, attempted to have a “funeral” for Bitcoin before Brian Kelly, the CEO of BKCM, interrupted, expressing that a bright future is still ahead for the cryptocurrency.

Kelly believes that Bitcoin’s decline is going to be followed with a reverse pattern and will be on the rise for Bitcoin’s prices. He also thinks that the new regulations, such as in Japanese exchanges, will bring long-term benefits to cryptocurrencies, despite the current downturned market.

Kelly also gave his confident insight regarding the scene – reminding investors that Bitcoin’s price might be down from its highest peak but is still way up from a year ago, by about 150% more than it was.

This is the third expert we’ve heard convey optimism on the matter, along with Cardano’s Charles Hoskinson and Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong.

Currently, Bitcoin is down by 0.04% day-on-day, and presently trades at $ 6,114.36 USD.

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DigiByte up by 19% after Vertpig listing, AtomicWallet support

DigiByte has risen by some 19.21% over the past twenty-four hours, thanks to the fact that the cryptocurrency asset has not only listed on Vertpig – an exchange dedicated to Vertcoin trading pairs – but is now supported on AtomicWallet.

Earlier today, Vertpig announced that it had opened a VRT/DGB trading pair with a 0% makers fee, and a 0.25% takers fee. The exchange further confirmed that the cryptocurrency would be added to its Vertpig Swap feature once the trading pair has established sufficient liquidity on the platform.

The announcement was joined by the news that DigiByte will now be supported on AtomicWallet – a decentralized exchange supporting cross-chain atomic swaps between cryptocurrency pairs.

DigiByte may be in for a busy semester in the latter half of 2018 – DigiByte spokesman Josiah Spackman revealed offered that the cryptocurrency may undergo a hard fork to introduce proof-of-stake mechanics in the near future, though it remains to be seen if the upgrade will indeed be implemented.

DigiByte has risen sharply as a result of the news – the cryptocurrency began trading at $0.020 USD on January 27th, and at press time trades at $0.025 USD.

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From โ€˜Godโ€™ to โ€˜Pizzaโ€™ โ€“ Three of the weirdest Bitcoin forks yet

The closing months of 2017 – and the opening days of 2018 – yielded something of a ‘silly season’ for Bitcoin forks.

At a time when regulatory pressure disrupted several ongoing ICOs, new projects – both zany and reasonable – took to forking existing projects as a means to guarantee early interest and liquidity.

For every good idea, however, there’s usually a wacky one – and Bitcoin is no exception.  Here, we’ll explore three bizarre Bitcoin forks that either debuted with ludicrously ambitious objectives, dubious ‘charitable’ aims, or those which where simply left behind by larger players.

Bitcoin Pizza

Bitcoiners might enthusiastically share the tale of the purchase that saw one happy customer part with 10k BTC for two pizzas, and now Bitcoin Pizza has picked up the banner.

Having forked on the first of January at block height 501888, Bitcoin holders received BPA tokens on a 1:1 ratio with BTC.

Instead of implementing new blockchain tweaks or long-term strategies, Bitcoin Pizza is unique in that it intended to marry Bitcoin with a directed acyclic graph – the same technology that underpins IOTA and Byteball.

A directed acyclic graph differs from blockchain technology, which underpins most cryptocurrencies. Whereas a blockchain is essentially a cryptographically verifiable list where every new entry references the previous one, directed acyclic graphs use a tree-like structure wherein files can contain sub-folders that continually branch off, so long as they are forward-facing.

With claims that its “DAG supported blockchain would be the most widely used one with the highest market cap”, and a mission to “make Bitcoin great again”, Bitcoin Pizza intended to fork the Bitcoin blockchain, reward its holders with airdropped tokens, and then able its participants to exchange those tokens for the official ‘BPA token’ at a later stage, given that blockchains and directed acyclic graphs are not interoperable.

Bitcoin Pizza has ultimately faded into the ether, and its official website has since been taken offline.

Bitcoin God

Bitcoin might be called the ‘father’ of cryptocurrency, but Bitcoin ‘God’ takes things to a whole new level.

Tipped as “the first charity platform built on a blockchain”, Bitcoin God forked on December 27th of 2017 at block height 501225.

Ironically, Bitcoin God was the result of a lengthy labour, and was actually intended for launch on Christmas Day – December 25th.

Bitcoin God delivered 17 million GOD tokens one a 1:1 ration to BTC holders where, of the remaining four million tokens, 400 thousand would be used as Proof-of-Stake mining rewards while an additional 3.6 million tokens would be airdropped to charities.

In a system where the user is ‘God’, Bitcoin God enables a community of token holders to vote on the ratio and amount of tokens issued to ‘charitable’ causes.

Users wishing to nominate a charity can leave their wallet address on Bitcoin Gold’s social network, whereafter the cryptocurrency’s community will ‘vote to decide on the ratio and amount of airdrops’.

Bitcoin God not only introduces Proof-of-Stake mining and a planned extension to include smart contracts (beyond Bitcoin’s existing Script capabilities) but further plans to implement a larger block size and a zero-knowledge proof in the future.

If you still don’t understand the nature and existence of Bitcoin God, neither do we.

BitcoinBoy

While its name might invoke the nostalgia of the ’90s and Nintendo’s favored GameBoy, BitcoinBoy has nothing in common with either.

Having forked on December 31st of 2017 at block height 501888, BitcoinBoy introduced “Huge Blocks” (at 8-megabytes), zero-knowledge proofs, and smart contracts. Bitcoin holders received BitcoinBoy coins (BCB) on a 1:1 ratio.

Describing itself as “not just an experiment”, BitcoinBoy debuted with the vision of ‘upgrading’ the Bitcoin network with a  ‘built-in intelligent contract’ to issue assets on the network, and facilitate the establishment of applications.

Over time, however – and save for the introduction of zero-knowledge proofs – BitcoinBoy’s goals have largely been achieved by Bitcoin Cash.

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$1.1 billion USD worth of cryptocurrency looted thus far, according to report

Carbon Black, a company which deals with cybersecurity, has reported that an approximation of a massive $1.1 billion USD worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen from a number of crypto-spaces this year so far.

Apparently, the cybercriminals had a relatively easy time with their pilfering and conducted the activity by taking advantage of the fact that cryptocurrency is so closely associated with the dark web owing to the anonymous nature of digital currencies which use blockchain technology.

Carbon Black has reckoned that there are about 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings linked to “cryptotheft” that hackers can use to their benefit. The report also points out that the majority of the thefts can be attributed to a skilled software engineer working alone to score big on a cryptocurrency’s vulnerable security system, as opposed to the commonly thought organized crime cartels and criminal gangs.

Rick McElroy of Carbon Black’s security team has said that cyber-theft is “pretty easy to do” and anyone could be capable of committing the cybercrimes. He said that there are “nations that are teaching coding” but with no jobs, it “could just be two people in Romania needing to pay rent.”

The report further shows the favorite target for the cybertheft is cryptocurrency trading exchanges, making up a chunk of 27% of the attacked with businesses taking a close second with 21%.

Unfortunately, owing to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, these hacking attacks are not only easier to conduct but are also essentially untraceable and since there is no protection or support from a banking institution to compensate for the stolen funds, the loss is felt by all involved. McElroy said:

“Usually we rely on banks, the tools are out there but investors need to know how to do this. A lot of people are unaware in this new gold rush, people are using cloud wallets and not securing their money.”

In recent months, cryptocurrencies such as Verge, ZenCash, and NEM have all witnessed high-profile hacks resulting in the theft of millions in Dollar-terms.

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Massive crypto exchange Coinbase is โ€œon trackโ€ to procure trading licence

Coinbase has announced that they are on the right track to receiving a necessary registration from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

With the SEC looking to nail cryptocurrency regulation (finally), things for cryptocurrencies in the US will take a massive shift, such as the fact that initial coin offerings (ICOs) will be classified as securities and rules on private sales will be both stricter and enforced.

As a response to the new regulations, massive US-based cryptocurrency trading exchange Coinbase has announced that it is taking every step to being granted an SEC registration. The exchange has been making efforts to ensure that everything is in order, such as gaining the proper licenses and registrations in order to meet the regulations and the rules to trade in a legitimate and legal manner.

According to a public announcement from Coinbase, they are “on track” with the SEC registration and are currently pending approval to manage a regulated broker-dealer.

The exchange suggested that the approval will be able to grant the opportunity for them to offer more exciting features on the platform such as “future services that include crypto securities trading, margin and over-the-counter (OTC) trading, and new market data products.”

Coinbase has also recently obtained Keystone Capital Corp., Venovate Marketplace, Inc., and Digital Wealth LLC to assist in the endeavor of procuring the license.

Coinbase’s chief operating officer Asiff Hirji stated in the announcement:

There are now many types of blockchain-based digital assets, from cryptocurrencies to security tokens to collectibles. In the United States, some of these assets will be subject to SEC oversight. With this in mind, securing these licenses will bring us a step closer to our goal, which is to be the most trusted way for our customers to buy, sell, and use many different types of crypto assets.”

The news comes in the wake of several new products from the service – including a new venture fund as well as a new passively-managed index fund.

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