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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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Úno 26

Bitcoin Demand Rises as U.S. Corporations are Stocking Up

· February 26, 2017 · 9:00 am

Bitcoin has attracted a great deal of interest over the last couple of years, and mainstream investing has skyrocketed with the ever-growing Bitcoin price. Now, a new market sector is starting to emerge as American corporations are stocking up on digital currency to combat cybercrime.

Corporations Fuel Bitcoin Demand as Ransomware Spreads

Hackers with an eye towards gaining valuable Bitcoins are hitting corporations more and more with dreaded ransomware, and this problem seems to be getting worse and worse. How to handle this growing epidemic is also a matter of some controversy. It seems to put companies in a no win situation.

“The official FBI policy is that you shouldn’t pay the ransom,” said Leo Taddeo, chief security officer for Crypt-zone to Newsfactor. Taddeo ran the cyber division of the FBI’s New York City office.

It’s an option to pay the ransom to get back up and running. Sometimes it’s the only option. But it has downsides. Paying ransom just invites the next attack.


A vicious cycle has begun. The more companies pay out in Bitcoin, the more attacks become likely. The more valuable Bitcoins become, the more attacks become likely. Those who do not pay the ransomware demands may lose the trust of their customers or their valuable business data altogether. From the criminal’s side of it, they can rationalize their dastardly deeds by blaming the victims for not expecting this outcome from now on.

“They’ll actually explore your system to see how much money they can squeeze from you,” said Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection at Recorded Future. “They actually think they are on the moral high ground. They think the companies should have paid more for security.”

Ransomware Attacks Hit $1 Billion

A corporate cyber-hitman can demand up to $75000 USD in Bitcoin, or about 65 BTC. Individuals can get hit as well, but they can only be taken for a few hundred dollars. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Mass., threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds, becoming a true epidemic.

Bitcoinist_Kaspersky Labs CryptXXX Bitcoin Ransomware

Another problem is just because you have paid a cyber-criminal does not mean they will kindly do as they said and provide you decryption keys to restore your files. Criminals aren’t the most ethical people in the world, so you may have to pay a couple of times. Authorities say backing up all your computer files on a regular basis may be the best way to protect yourself.

This may save file information, but may not restore computer systems that are needed to continue running the business on a daily basis. It depends upon the attack if you will need to pay up or not. About 25% of companies never get restoration after an attack.

Have you been the victim of a ransomware attack? What’s the best way to prevent such an attack besides backing up your files? Share below!

Image provided by Business Insider, Shutterstock

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Led 16

Europol: Bitcoin Playing an Increasing Role in Crime

Source: bitcoin


After law enforcement agencies from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, and the United Kingdom met in December to plan an operation against the cybercriminal group DD4BC (Distributed Denial of Service – DDoS – for Bitcoin), an official with Europol has told Bitcoinist that Bitcoin, and other crypto-currencies, is playing an increasing role in all criminal activities.

Also read: Carl Force’s Lawyer is Pessimistic About Ulbricht’s Appeal

Europol Says Bitcoin is Being Used in Cybercrime

The UK Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit (MPCCU) found key members of the criminal organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina leading to “vital information.” Activities were coordinated among law enforcement in Australia, France, Japan, Romania, the USA, Switzerland and INTERPOL.

Law enforcement initiated Operation Pleiades, during the course of which a member of DD4BC was arrested, and one more suspect detained. Numerous property searches took place and evidence was gathered in an operation started by Austrian authorities, and supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-Cat).

Operation meetings took place in The Hague to plan actions against DD4BC. Of DD4BC preferred methods, Europol stated: 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks remain a considerable threat in the European Union and beyond. This type of extortion attack has become a well-established criminal enterprise and has affected thousands of victims globally, with the number of unreported incidents believed to be much higher. The absence of reporting by private companies and individuals poses particular difficulties in law enforcement’s efforts to prosecute these cyber threats.

DD4BC made headlines after using Bitcoin to extort money from people whose laptops the criminal organization had hijacked. Primarily having targeted the online gambling industry, DD4BC also targeted the financial services and entertainment sector, as well as high-profile companies.

“Law enforcement and its partners have to act now to ensure that the cyberspace affecting nearly every part of our daily life is secure against new threats posed by malicious groups,” Wil van Gemert, Europol’s Deputy Director Operations, said. “These groups employ aggressive measures to silence the victims with the threat of public exposure and reputation damage. Without enhanced reporting mechanisms law enforcement is missing vital means to protect companies and users from recurring cyber-attacks.”

According to Europol, Bitcoin played a role in detaining the suspects.

“As Bitcoin was the payment system exploited by the cybercriminal group to receive the ransom payments, it played a role,” a Europol representative wrote Bitcoinist via e-mail. “However there were many other elements in this investigation.”

According to the representative, the arrests could unravel more clues.

“All operations, arrests and house searches performed are new sources of information and they could entail new developments in the criminal cases investigated by the law enforcement agencies; therefore, the case is not fully closed until all the information from the operation has been properly analysed,” the representative wrote. “This work is currently ongoing, therefore we cannot provide more details on this for the time being.”

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre has investigated cases involving Bitcoin before Operation Pleiades, such as Operation Onymous against dark net marketplaces. Law enforcement agencies have been forced to grow more familiar with the new technology. 

“Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are playing an increasing role in all criminal activities, not only cybercrime,” the Europol representative wrote. “EC3 cooperates with law enforcement, the private sector and academia to find suitable solutions to tackle this phenomenon.” According to the representative, it is likely the threats will change.

“Technology is in continuous development, offering new possibilities for cyber-criminals but also to law enforcement agencies that are investigating their criminal activities,” the representative wrote. “Law enforcement investigations face a number of challenges, for example the use of crypto-currencies, anonymisation, etc.; however, as stated above, there is a continuous effort to improve the existing investigative techniques and analytical possibilities. EC3 will constantly monitor these developments to provide a better support to our stakeholders.”

As federal agents have enunciated at FinTech conferences in the past, there are numerous investigations ongoing in the crypto-currency space at any given time. In many cases, as seems to be the case in Operation Pleiades, Bitcoin helps lead investigators to suspects.

What do you think about this statement from Europol? Let us know in the comments below!

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Europol: Bitcoin Playing an Increasing Role in Crime