Srp 03

Cyber-Security Hero Who Stopped WannaCry Attack Arrested in Las Vegas

· August 3, 2017 · 4:15 pm

Marcus Hutchins, the British security researcher who aided ailing Wannacry malware victims, including the UK’s National Health Service, arrested by the FBI in Las Vegas.


The security researcher who stopped the Wannacry malware attack by registering an internet domain that the malware communicated with has reportedly been arrested at an airport. According to emerging reports, Hutchins was arrested in Las Vegas as he was leaving the country after attending the Blackhat and Def Con conventions which are held annually for security researchers.

Friends of Hutchins who were with him at the conventions say they do not know his whereabouts and have not heard from him for 18 hours. The US Department of Justice, however, released the following statement:

Marcus Hutchins… a citizen and resident of the United Kingdom, was arrested in the United States on 2 August 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a grand jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin returned a six-count indictment against Hutchins for his role in creating and distributing the Kronos banking Trojan.

Confusion and Coincidence Amid Arrest Details

Members of both cryptocurrency and cyber security communities have taken to Twitter to express their disbelief and confusion:

Others were quick to rush to the 23-year-old security researcher’s defense:

Motherboard was the first to break the story, where there still seemed to be confusion about quite what had happened. In an e-mail to the publication, a U.S. Marshals spokesperson stated:

My colleague in Las Vegas says this was an FBI arrest. Mr. Hutchins is not in U.S. Marshals custody.

Ironically, hours after Hutchins was arrested, more than $130,000 worth of the bitcoin ransom taken by the creators of WannaCry appear to have been tumbled through a mixer for withdrawal. This marks the first movement of the coins on the Bitcoin network since the attack.

It is important to note that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the withdrawal is in any way connected to Hutchins’ arrest.

The Kronos Malware

Bitcoin Wallet Malware

The Kronos malware was spread through emails with malicious attachments, hijacking credentials such as internet banking passwords and other such sensitive information. Malware such as Kronos and Wannacry are increasingly getting media attention and look set to be at record numbers in 2017 if statistics released by antivirus companies are to be believed.

What are your thoughts on this? Is Marcus Hutchins’ arrest possibly only a case of guilt by association? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Čvc 26

Russian National Arrested in Greece with Ties to Money Laundering, BTC-e, Mt. Gox Theft

· July 26, 2017 · 4:30 pm

Alexander Vinnik, 38, has been arrested in Greece on a U.S. warrant. While he is suspected of running one of the largest online money laundering operations, additional reports are emerging naming him as the mastermind behind the Mt. Gox heist that sent Bitcoin spiraling out of control in 2013.


The Man Behind the BTC-e Exchange

For almost seven years, BTC-e has operated as one of the oldest digital currency exchanges in the world. During that entire time, the people behind the company have been completely anonymous.

Until today.

The alleged mastermind behind a multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme and, according to sources close to the exchange, a key person behind BTC-e has been unmasked as Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national who was arrested today in Greece. Vinnik is wanted in the United States on suspicion of money laundering at least $4 billion USD through bitcoin transactions.

Vinnik is currently being held in custody by Greek authorities pending a U.S. extradition request.

Greek police have stated:

An internationally sought ‘mastermind’ of a crime organization has been arrested. Since 2011 the 38-year-old has been running a criminal organization which administers one of the most important websites of electronic crime in the world.

With Vinnik’s extradition, the U.S. investigation will go into full swing. This is the latest in a series of U.S. efforts to curb cybercrime worldwide. Last week, a multi-national coordinated raid involving the U.S. and several other countries resulted in the takedown of the Darknet site known as Alphabay.

BTC-e have long been known for their lax regulations user identity verification and their uncooperative nature when it comes to anti-money laundering organizations. Perhaps coincidentally, the exchange has conspicuously been offline since last Thursday, with the website currently citing “unscheduled maintenance” as the cause of the interruption of service.

A feed of tweets from the BTC-e is on the site as well to keep users informed.

Ties to the Mt. Gox Bitcoin Hack

Vinnik was also found to be in control of a sizable number of Bitcoins that could possibly be traced back to the hack of the Mt. Gox exchange back in 2013. A group of security experts known as WizSec published a blog post earlier today detailing how the hack took place. The group maintains that Vinnik has been their prime suspect in their years-long investigation into the Bitcoin theft and that the same conclusions about his involvement were made independently by other teams working to uncover what really happened.

WizSec explains:

In September 2011, the MtGox hot wallet private keys were stolen, in a case of a simple copied wallet.dat file. This gave the hacker access to a sizable number of bitcoins immediately, but also were able to spend the incoming trickle of bitcoins deposited to any of the addresses contained. […] By mid-2013 when the funds spendable from the compromised keys had slowed to a near halt, the thief had taken out about 630,000 BTC from MtGox.

Mt. Gox Where is Our Money

Not only can the Mt. Gox coins be traced to Vinnik, but other less known heists can be traced to him as well.

According to WizSec:

Coins stolen from Bitcoinica, Bitfloor and several other thefts from back in 2011 and 2012 were all laundered through the same wallets.

Vinnik has denied all accusations against him in a Greek court of law. More information on this story will surely be released in the coming days, so make sure to stay tuned.

Do you think that Vinnik will be extradited to the States? Or will other countries try and lay their claim to prosecute? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to check back at Bitcoinist.com for more information on this story as it unfolds.


Images courtesy of Japan Times, Reuters/Alexandros Avramidis, Shutterstock

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Led 31

Bitcurex: Owner ‘Disappears’ After Failing to Return 2,300 BTC

· January 31, 2017 · 8:00 am

Poland’s oldest exchange Bitcurex has mysteriously “disappeared” with users losing access to capital and locking 2,300 bitcoins out of users’ hands.


2,300 BTC Gone Forever

Local news sources report that following problems reaching back to October, the platform has now ceased operation altogether, with staff failing to release clear information.

Only social media pages survive, while it appears that a Polish public prosecutor investigation instigated by the exchange is no nearer returning lost funds.

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Bitcurex’s problems began when an attack caused accounts to become unusable for customers. It subsequently transpired that “external interference in automated data collection and processing of information” meant all bitcoins on the platform had gone, Gazeta.pl reports, adding:

One thing is for certain: all the bitcoins in the Bitcurex portfolio have disappeared.

Owners’ Houdini Impression Continues

The exchange’s owners have meanwhile been making a name for themselves for the wrong reasons. Following the initial issues, hardly any official information has surfaced, while users are appealing to each other for leads regarding their identity.

“Anyone got any leads on an owner bitcurex or his next of kin?” one post on Bitcurex’s still live Facebook page read Monday.

Lawyers are also getting involved on the page, offering advice for those affected by the loss of funds.

Similarly, Gazeta postulates that this month’s final disappearance had deliberately fraudulent motives, coming as it did prior to a major uptick in Bitcoin’s price. Evidence for this theory is lacking, however.

Vanbex

The loss of funds marks the final fallout from another of 2016’s exchange casualties. Overall, at least eleven major hacks were recorded last year, underlining the continuing security issues faced by exchanges, as well as trust issues faced by the community, which have been touched on by commentators such as Andreas Antonopoulos.

Bitcoinist reiterates to readers never to leave bitcoins on platforms operated by third-parties, such as exchanges of any sort, which they do not control themselves.

“Not your private keys, not your bitcoin,” should be the mantra of every Bitcoin user. 

It is interesting to note that Bitcurex’s fall from grace was precipitous. Just in July, the company added what it described as a “certified compliance department” to its outfit, ostensibly to ensure stable operations in line with relevant governmental legislation such as AML and KYC requirements.

Launched in 2012 in the Polish city of Lodz, the exchange processed over $50 million worth of BTC transactions in its final six months.

What do you think about the loss of Bitcurex? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Crunchbase

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Led 25

PBOC to ‘Continue Focus’ on Exchanges as Volumes Plummet

· January 25, 2017 · 7:00 am

Bitcoin’s price dropped slightly after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) published a summary of its findings after inspecting major Chinese exchanges.


PBoC: ‘Continued Focus’ on Exchange Activities

“According to the initial inspection and the problems found, the inspection group decided to continue to focus on payment and settlement, anti-money laundering, foreign exchange management, information and financial security and other aspects of further inspection,” the translated statement reads.

Investigators suggested that investors should pay attention to Bitcoin platform transactions, such as legal compliance, market volatility, financial security and other risks, careful participation in Bitcoin investment activities.

The Bitcoin price had remained largely unfazed as new Chinese exchange fees caused trading volumes to crash by over 90% in 24 hours.

Following reported criticism by a regulatory inspectorate last week, major Chinese exchanges BTCC, Okcoin and Huobi all implemented a 0.2% trading fee Monday to “curb manipulation and extreme volatility,” as BTCC described it.

The move hit China’s giant automated trading market, which had previously enjoyed zero-fee transactions.

Figures now show that for all three exchanges, trading has decreased in volume by roughly 90%.

Far from causing panic, many are suggesting the move will remove volatility from Bitcoin’s price for good, given that China’s toll-free environment had previously comprised up to 98% of trading.

While mainstream media attempted to spread its oft-quoted doom and gloom, BTCC COO Samson Mow said the publicity was simply “good for Bitcoin.”

Former Bitcoin Foundation Director Jon Matonis added that Chinese exchanges had effectively “taken one for the team,” however, echoing comments by a local Bitcoin hedge fund owner that they were “cutting off their aim to stay alive.”

Japan Overtakes China

Commentators on social media continued the positive speculation, citing “organic growth” and less manipulation making Bitcoin more appealing for wary investors in the long term.

These could potentially include instruments such as Bitcoin ETFs, the first of which has spent three years awaiting US regulatory approval and is still considered by analysts to have slim chances of slipping through the net.

Meanwhile, statistics are providing interesting reading in terms of how the Bitcoin trading landscape could look in the future. As Bitcoinist reported previously, Japan’s exchange scene had reached the number two spot prior to the Chinese drop, and volumes in the country are now topping global charts, beating even the US.

What do you think about the People’s Bank of China’s latest announcement and the impact of lower Chinese trading volumes? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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Říj 19

GameCredits Currency Now Listed on the Largest Exchange in China

Source: bitcoin

GameCredits Currency Now Listed on the Largest Exchange in China

GameCredits is proud to announce the addition of their gaming cryptocurrency to Yuanbao, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in China. Established in 2013, Yuanbao is one of the oldest Chinese exchanges, and now has over 200,000 registered traders on its platform.

GameCredits is a three year old currency developed specifically for integration into the gaming industry. To date, it is the only cryptocurrency adopted by real world gaming developers for inclusion into popular mainstream games. Currently, these games have an audience of over 15 million registered gamers.

GameCredits was able to pass what many in the industry consider the most intense review process of any altcoin currency exchange in the world. Yuanbao did a comprehensive three month review of GameCredits history, development team, and leadership. Because of its strong reputation among Chinese currency traders, Yuanbao only lists the most popular and useful cryptocurrencies. To date, Yuanbao lists only 40 of the over 1000 cryptocurrencies that exist today.

In coordination with the launch, GameCredits is running a promotional outreach campaign to Chinese cryptocurrency traders. The outreach includes advertising and engagement on the Yuanbao community forums, as well as reaching out to influential members of the Chinese trading community.

GameCredits is dedicated not only to establishing relationships with Chinese traders, but also with the Chinese gaming community. GameCredits has a comprehensive development road-map that includes expanding into the Chinese gaming market.

“For us this is the ideal partnership at the perfect time. Being able to develop a relationship with Yuanbao in advance of our plans for the Chinese gaming industry, is something we felt was very necessary,” said GameCredits CMO Jon Comer.

To learn more about GameCredits visit GameCredits.net.

To learn more about Yuanbao visit Yuanbao.com

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Srp 20

Mycelium May Roll out P2P Tumbling Soon

Source: bitcoin

P2P Tumbling

There’s been no official statements as of yet – but it looks like the Mycelium Wallet will be getting built-in peer-to-peer bitcoin mixing/tumbling later this year.  The first testnet transaction from devs went out four days ago, and discussion on internal channels confirms that they’re working on integrating P2P tumbling into their popular Android wallet.

Read also: Comedy Tor Forks Emerge In Response to Appelbaum Scandal

P2P Tumbling In Mycelium Pipeline

As for details, so far we know they’re using the CoinShuffle protocol (whitepaper available here) and that it will be integrated into their growing number of peer-to-peer features, including local sales and messaging. It also shows a firm commitment to privacy and anonymity from a company previously criticised for their approach to open-source and free software.

Tumbling, for those new to Bitcoin, is a process used to obfuscate ownership of Bitcoin by pooling your coins with a group of other holders, and run them through a series of transactions designed to make determining their origin difficult. The biggest flaw with this system up to date was the reliance on a trusted third party to mix the coin, and return it to the participants in the proper amounts. By adding P2P tumbling to their already formidable decentralised network, Mycelium hopes to remove that flaw, and since they’re using a spec-faithful implementation of CoinShuffle, it means that the update with this change may prompt other mobile wallets to follow suit.

There’s been a lot of talk about the changes coming to Mycelium with the next major release – but this feature – one not advertised in their roadmap or goals, will likely have the biggest impact on mobile Bitcoin users – the ones that benefit most from this type of secure tumbling. More to come as we investigate the issue further.

Thoughts on P2P shuffling? Leave them in the comments!


 

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Srp 02

Bitfinex Hacked, Bitcoin Confirmed Stolen

Source: bitcoin

bitfinex

On August 2, 2016, it has been reported that the major cryptocurrency exchange, Bitfinex, was hacked with some customers losing Bitcoin as a result. Additionally, BitGo has commented on the event.

Also read: Indacoin: Buying Bitcoin, Litecoin with a Credit Card

The Breach of Bitfinex

Bitfinex itself confirmed the hack in a press release earlier today, saying they have halted all trading on the platform. Additionally, all deposits to and withdrawals from Bitfinex have been temporarily stopped.

The exchange does not have much information about the hack, but the press release confirmed that customers of the exchange have lost Bitcoin following the breach.

Now, Bitfinex has launched an investigation into the matter and will “secure the environment,” as the bitfinex.com domain will be taken down with the maintenance page left up. They will also be conducting a review to determine who has actually been affected by the hack.

Furthermore, Bitfinex has also reported the theft to law enforcement and is now working with them to presumably help with the investigation.

According to the press release, Bitfnex says they will have to settle open margin positions in the wake of the hack as they attempt to account for individualized customer losses. Also, it has also been stated that all settlements will be at market prices as of 18:00 UTC. This action has been taken with the intention of normalizing account balances and resuming operations.

The blockchain security company, BitGo, recently released a statement regarding the hack at Bitfinex, saying:

Dear BitGo customer:

You may have read that Bitfinex announced a security breach today. We are working with Bitfinex to determine what happened.
To date, our investigation has found no evidence of any compromise of BitGo servers or services.  We believe the compromise is isolated to Bitfinex.
The security of your transactions is our highest priority.  We will keep you up to date as the situation evolves.
BitGo Team
The Bitfinex team will be posting status updates on the event when appropriate at their status page, bitfinex.statuspage.io.

What do you think of Bitfinex’s confirmed hack? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitfinex, BitGo

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Čvc 31

Floridian Thieves use Local Bitcoin Exchange to Rob Customers

Source: bitcoin

Floridian Thieves use Local Bitcoin Exchange to Rob Customers

With all the coverage surrounding massive Crypto Theft and Scams recently, whether it’s The DAO, OneCoin, or questionable ETC ownership policies on major exchanges, it’s easy to ignore the more mundane events in this arena. Luckily, Steve Manos, A man in Lake Worth Florida, was brave enough to ignore best practices and common sense to bring us this gem of an example of how not to buy Bitcoin.

Read Also: New Polaris GPUs Shake Up GPU Mining

 

Thieves Ill-Informed as Their Victim

 

Manos apparently needed several thousand dollars in Bitcoin, and quickly. Instead of waiting a few days on the verification process integral to services like Circle or CoinBase, he tried to source his Crypto locally, and all in one place. This unfolded with disastrous results according to the original article at the Sun Sentinel:

Andre Allen, Arrested for Theft of Manos’ 28K

“The exchange took place outside the restaurant at 2024 Military Trail. One of the men got into the front passenger seat of Manos’ car, while the second man sat behind Manos, according to the report.

Manos handed over 28 bundles of $1,000 in a gift bag. The front seat passenger took out a laptop to finish the exchange, but he also pulled out a knife. He pressed it to Manos’ chest; Manos told deputies.

Manos told the men to just take the money and leave. But a struggle ensued as the backseat passenger tried to grab Manos’ gun out of the driver’s door pocket.

The two robbers ran with the money. Manos chased them, but couldn’t keep up, the report said. The suspects got into an Acura, and sped off.”

Luckily, Manos was able to provide Law Enforcement with the would be Thieves’ Contact info, Resulting in their arrest when he later picked them from a lineup. Had he not had the presence of mind to do so, they would have got away with 28,000 dollars of Manos’ Cash.

So what can we learn from this misadventure, brought to us by a woefully ill-informed Cryptocurrency enthusiast? Surely local and decentralized bitcoin exchanges aren’t to blame! Well, of course they aren’t. By that logic, Pokemon Go is responsible for human stupidity, and Harambe was accountable Zoo Safety Oversight. Your main takeaway should be to go with reputable sellers, use multiple sources to limit your risk, and use multisig/escrow where possible. Had Manos done any of this, he likely wouldn’t be a contributor to the “Florida Man” Twitter account.

Thoughts on the risk thieves present to decentralized exchanges or Bad security? Leave them in the comments!


 

Images courtesy of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

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Čvc 07

Israeli Advertising Firm TargetingEdge Spreads Pirrit Adware

Source: bitcoin

Pirrit Adware

Malware is being distributed in a wide variety of ways these days. Security researchers have managed to track down the distribution of Pirrit aware to an online marketing company based in Israel. As it turns out, a new version of the adware is in circulation right now. Albeit this adware is targeting Mac OS X users specifically, it is still a significant threat.

Also read: The Halving Month Is Here; What Will Happen to the Bitcoin Price?

People who have been following technology as of late may have come across the name Pirrit before. This particular type of adware targets Mac OS X users, and can cause some serious harm to infected devices. One security researcher from Cybereason wrote a script to automatically remove the adware from compromised machines. However, that script is no longer functioning, warranting further investigation into the matter.

Pirrit Adware Returns Thanks To TargetingEdge

Among the things Pirrit can do is obtain root access of the infected computer. Additionally, the adware will inject ads on the machine, but it can also hijack Internet traffic by using proxy servers. Interestingly enough, the most recent iteration of Pirrit is also actively removing competitive adware from the infected device.

Security researcher Amit Serper explained the discovery as follows:

“The variant’s creators made a crucial mistake that caused their entire operation to topple like a house of cards. The tar.gz archive format is a Posix format, which means that it also saves all of the file attributes (like owners and permissions) inside of the archive as they were on the computer that the archive was created on. So when I listed the files inside the archive, I could see the user name of the person who created the archive.”

Tracking down the distribution of Pirrit to an Israeli advertising firm is rather surprising. TargetingEdge, while still a stealth startup, offers a Mac-approved installer for its clients. The company also focuses on monetizing ad traffic. Interestingly enough, the email address on the company website does not exist, making it difficult to get a hold of the people in charge.

Selling ad space on people’s computers without consent is punishable by law. While using Pirrit may seem like a great way to sell ads for customers, it is doing far more harm than good. Moreover, it also makes TargetingEdge look like a very sketchy company.

What are your thoughts on this story and how the Israeli ad company is going about their business? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Threatpost

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Softpedia

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Čvc 04

Japanese Cryptocurrency Exchange Zaif Adds XEM Trading Market

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_New Economy Movement XEM

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif continues to make media headlines in quick succession as of late. The company announced on July 3rd how they had added the XEM cryptocurrency to their trading platform. Keeping in mind how XEM has seen a spectacular value increase over the past few months, this is not entirely surprising.

Also read: Litecoin Is Back: New Roadmap Signals the Start of a Renaissance

It is not uncommon for cryptocurrency exchanges to add new coins to their platform. The addition of XEM to Zaif is quite noteworthy, though, considering how the New Economy Movement concept has a huge following in Japan. In fact, Japan is the driving power behind the recent XEM price increase, which is now nearing the US$100m market cap.

Zaif Exchange Expands List of Supported Cryptocurrencies

The reason for XEM’s success can be attributed to Takao Asayama, CEO of the Zaif exchange. He is also the official spokesperson for New Economy Movement in Japan. As a result of his efforts, Asayama has been appointed as NEM Japan Director and represent the movement in the country from now on.

Dragonfly Fintech CEO Lon Wong told the media:

“It is timely that we can engage someone in Japan to spearhead the development and promotion of the NEM blockchain technology. Japan seems quick to jump onto this technology ahead of the rest of the world, although this solution was mooted and developed in the USA and Europe. Given Takao Asayama’s commitment and involvement, we are confident that he will be able to take NEM to the next level in Japan.”

Zaif has become quite a popular exchange platform in Japan, and it is considered to be one of the premier cryptocurrency platforms. Up until this point, only two currencies were supported: Bitcoin and Monacoin. As of July 3rd, users can trade XEM against the Japanese Yen. A Bitcoin trading pair for XEM will be added in the coming weeks.

The correlation between Zaif and New Economy Movement goes much further. The Mijin blockchain solution, developed by Zaif parent company Tech Bureau Corp, uses NEM blockchain technology. All of the pieces of this puzzle are falling into place as we speak. Exciting times are ahead for cryptocurrency in Japan; that much is certain.

What are your thoughts on the NEW concept and Zaif adding this cryptocurrency to its platform? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Zaif

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zaif

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Japanese Cryptocurrency Exchange Zaif Adds XEM Trading Market

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