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Cryptojacking Campaigns Rose 29% in Q1, McAfee Says

In the first quarter of 2019, cryptojacking campaigns aimed at victims’ PCs to mine cryptocurrencies rose 29%, according to a recent report by security software provider McAfee.

Hackers Target Windows PCs to Mine Monero

The antivirus maker founded by crypto fan John McAfee discovered that both Windows and Apple ecosystems are equally vulnerable to cryptojacking campaigns.

Most of the mining attacks on Windows computers use PowerShell for propagation and execution. The latter is a task automation engine and interactive Command-Line Interface (CLI) created by Microsoft for system administration and configuration management.

In the first quarter, one of the most significant crypto malware campaigns discovered by McAfee was PsMiner. Hackers have been using a Trojan to distribute the mining worm. The malware is designed to mine Monero by exploiting the vulnerabilities in servers running Hadoop, ElasticSearch, Weblogic, Redis, SqlServer, Spring, and ThinkPHP.

Monero (XMR) is a cryptocurrency that allows users to make peer-to-peer transactions anonymously without being traced even by their addresses. The coin is among 15 largest cryptocurrencies by market cap. As of August 30, it boasts a capitalization of $1.15 billion. Monero is attractive for miners thanks to its generous reward potential. Also, XMR miners don’t have to use expensive GPUs and ASIC systems as in the case of Bitcoin.

Back to PsMiner, it reaches the victim’s computer by a PowerShell command that downloads the WindowsUpdate.ps1 payload, the McAfee report says.

McAfee Report Says Apple Devices Are Vulnerable Too

Besides PsMiner, another malware family, called CookieMiner, has been attacking macOS devices and sharing code with a past campaign to steal digital wallets and credentials. The malware used EmPyre backdoor to automate the stealing process.

McAfee found that CookieMiner stole data from popular crypto exchanges, including Binance, Coinbase, Bitstamp, Poloniex, Bittrex, and MyEtherWallet. The malware got access to data like passwords to access the crypto exchanges’ sites. However, the main goal was to infect computers to mine Koto.

In general, ransomware attacks rose 118% over the first quarter, the report says. There are new ransomware families, while hackers use innovative techniques. Even so, hackers still need victims’ involuntary cooperation. McAfee concluded:

“Even with all the sophisticated attack techniques being developed, attackers are still highly dependent on human interaction and social engineering.”

Do you think hacking attacks represent one of the most significant problems for the crypto space? Share your thoughts below!

Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

Srp 02

LoafWallet Is the First Server-Free Litecoin Wallet for iOS

Source: bitcoin


Litecoin users with iOS devices finally have a server-free SPV wallet to call their own, with the release of LoafWallet on the App Store.

Also read: Move Over Pokémon: AR Game ‘Takara’ Gives Players Real Money

Although Android users have used the standard Litecoin Wallet app for years, there has never been a widely-used mobile option for iOS. Hive wallet supported LTC sending and receiving, but required central servers.

LoafWallet is based on the popular Bread Wallet for bitcoin, made by developer Aaron Voisine. It is designed to be simple and lightweight, and the code is open source. An Android version is also on the way.

Loshan T, Lead Developer of the Litecoin Association development team, told Bitcoinist the new wallet represents a previously missing piece in Litecoin’s consumer infrastructure that could give Litecoin a greater place in its users’ daily life.

“The community and developers felt we were missing a critical market — mobile would allow more and more users to easily send and receive Litecoin,” Loshan said. “Most people don’t carry around iMacs everywhere. It also allows merchants at retail stores to accept Litecoin, which in the long-term could lead to widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency.”

HD, No Central Servers

LoafWallet is a HD, SPV (single payment verfication) wallet, meaning it synchronizes with nodes that verify the blockchain. This avoids having to download the entire blockchain, while also avoiding the need for accounts, logins and central servers.

All private key data is generated and kept locally on the device, and can be recovered if the device is lost or broken.

It uses AES hardware encryption and app sandboxing as well as keychain and code signatures, to protect users’ litecoins from malware and browser flaws.

Development Team

The wallet’s development was overseen by Loshan T, Lead Developer of the Litecoin Association development team, who also implemented the changes and transitioned the code to Apple’s XCode.

Franklyn Richards (MLPFrank) worked on the UI/UX side, which included redesigning the user interface from the initial launch tutorial to the menus, some of which are coming soon. Core developer Adrian Gallagher (thrasher-au) helped implement some Litecoin-specific parameters. Other team members are listed on the project’s GitHub page.

Part of the Litecoin Renaissance

Releasing HD wallets for Litecoin is a key feature of the Litecoin Association’s recently-released roadmap document, designed to show a way forward and breathe new life into the currency.

According to Loshan, releasing the roadmap last month has raised more interest in Litecoin and reminded everyone it is still going strong into the future.

“Many were uncertain about the future of Litecoin, and the roadmap built a clear foundation of objectives,” he said. “Overall it has seemed to rebuild confidence in most users.”

“Since the release of the roadmap,” Loshan continued, “the /r/Litecoin subreddit has also seen increased user views, which seems to indicate an uptick in interest in LTC.”

A long-standing number two to Bitcoin in terms of market cap and overall awareness, Litecoin has recently slipped to 4th-5th place in cryptocurrency rankings, as projects with more compelling use-cases like Ethereum and Steem soaked up attention and saw their respective values rise.

Its total cap is still over $185 million, though, and the currency is a favorite on Chinese exchanges where it is actively traded.

Are you planning to try out LoafWallet? Do you think it will bring Litecoin into everyday life?

Images courtesy of BTC Keychain via Flickr.

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LoafWallet Is the First Server-Free Litecoin Wallet for iOS

Čvn 15

Apple Plans To Introduce Differential Privacy Very Soon

Source: bitcoin


Apple is taking an unusual stance on privacy. The company has no plans to collaborate with law enforcement on decrypting their own devices, though. Instead, the technology giant will focus on differential privacy, to compete with Google and Facebook.

Also read: One Bitcoin is Worth 51 Million Hacked iMesh Accounts

Apple has been making media headlines regarding privacy in the past few months. Ever since the San Bernardino case, the company has been adamantly clear on its position. CEO Tim Cook stated how Apple will not weaken device encryption because law enforcement agencies feel they need to. After all, the company is primarily in the business of hardware, instead of advertisements.

Differential Privacy is Coming To Apple Devices

But there is more, as Apple wants to introduce differential privacy in the future. Rather than sending data to Apple servers and creating a personal profile of the user, on-device intelligence, and crowdsourced learning will be used. To be more precise, this technology will be part of iOS 10 and macOS, which will replace OS X.

As a result of this different approach, iOS 10 devices can personalize apps for its users. For example, it would be possible to identify objects in Photos, or get more relevant information through the News app. Having these options available without getting information sent to Apple first is a positive take on protecting user privacy.

“Starting with macOS Sierra, Apple is using technology called Differential Privacy to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. In macOS Sierra, this technology will help improve autocorrect suggestions and Lookup Hints in Notes.”

Differential privacy is an interesting concept, which can combine great features with high privacy protection. Moreover, it is important to note this technology is rather statistical analysis, rather than a single piece of technology. Obscure data will be locked behind multiple techniques, including hashing, subsampling, and noise injection.

It is positive to see technology giants taking a clear stance in the privacy world. Although it remains to be seen how Apple will pull off differential privacy, in the long run, the concept holds a lot of promise. Technological solutions like these need to be thoroughly tested before being deployed to the masses, though.

What are your thoughts on Apple venturing into the world of differential privacy? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Sophos

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Apple

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Apple Plans To Introduce Differential Privacy Very Soon

Kvě 24

Tim Cook: “Coding Needs To Be A Part Of Education”

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Coding Education

The topic of coding has been kicked around several times, as there is no dedicated educational program in place which teaches codes how to code. Apple CEO Tim Cook feels there is a growing need for such a platform, as it is equally as important as learning a secondary language.

Also read: Blockchain-based Remittance App AirPocket Comes To Latin America

Coding At A Young Age Needs To Be Stimulated

Earlier today, Startup Fest was kicked off in Amsterdam, and Apple CEO Tim Cook was one of the prominent speakers for the day. It did not take long before he touched upon the subject of stimulating children to learn coding at a very early age, and how schools need to develop an educational course on programming.

Tim Cook explained his vision for education as follows:

“Software development should be a mandatory class. We need to invest in the educational system, and people who can teach young kids how to code. We can’t expect our children to learn coding overnight, as they will need the proper guidance and environment to do so. Children aged nine to ten are the perfect demographic for stimulating an interest in coding and programming.”

This is quite an interesting statement, considering the educational system has not scaled well with the Information Age we live in right now. The methods of passing on knowledge have not changed much over the past thirty years, and children are not being prepared for the future that awaits. Coders are in high demand already, and it is expected that demand will only continue to grow.

Tim Cook also mentioned how there are plenty of opportunities for iOS developers in the enterprise sector. Most employees of big companies use their smartphone for emails and browsing the Internet, because there is a lack of enterprise apps.. The number of iOS apps for the enterprise sector is still relatively small, and Apple sees a lot of opportunities in this segment.

It is impossible to deny the educational system will need to change sooner or later. Coding has become a part of our society, and we need to prepare future generations for the challenges that await. Not everyone will take a liking to coding, and there is nothing wrong with that. But education needs to evolve over time, and it has failed miserably in doing so over the past few decades.

What are your thoughts on sparking an interest in coding at a young age? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tweakers (Dutch)

Images courtesy of Tim Cook, Shutterstock

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Tim Cook: “Coding Needs To Be A Part Of Education”

Úno 17

Apple Pay Set to Launch in China on February 18

Source: bitcoin

Apple Pay

Apple is about to launch it’s move into China, with its Apple Pay mobile payments platform set to go live on Thursday, February 18. Apple’s new digital payments application will be available to customers of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. 

Also read: Apple Responds to Backdoor Order in Effort to Save PR 

Apple Pay Enters a Unique Market

This announcement comes after previous news that Apple planned to expand Apple Pay into China sometime during 2016 without giving a specific date. With this expansion set to be executed on February 18, China will become Apple Pay’s fifth country included in its service area.

Apple has a unique opportunity in China, whose consumers have been used to using mobile payment options for goods and services for some time. This precedence may give Apple Pay a leg up in comparison to its reception in other countries, where retailers have met the new payments platform with skepticism. However, the existing Chinese mobile payment services may also create a challenge to Apple Pay, since it will have to figure out how to compete in an already-populated market.

Apple Pay’s expansion into China will bring stiff competition to Bitcoin, which receives most of its trading volume and mining power from China. As companies like Coinbase and Bitpay work to make bitcoin mobile payments easy for  the average customer, Apple Pay will offer them a method of mobile payments using a currency they are familiar with. Apple Pay allows users to connect their credit cards and checking accounts, so consumers can switch to mobile payments without much of a learning curve.

However, Bitcoin has advantages of its own, which have proven themselves in recent months. Chinese investors seem to look at Bitcoin as a place to preserve wealth in uncertain markets, with an explosion in Chinese trading volume sending the bitcoin price skyward at the onset of the most recent stock market crash. Bitcoin also offers a level of anonymity to a privacy-starved Chinese population, allowing them to conduct their online financial business away from the prying eyes of the government. Bitcoin’s strongest advantage, praised by the currency’s advocates, is its ability to connect the unbanked population to the global economy. This feature makes bitcoin a big contender in the payments market for developing countries, which have large populations of poverty-stricken citizens without access to traditional banking services.

China is shaping up to be a battleground for the future of FinTech, as Apple Pay and Bitcoin go head-to-head with well-established mobile payment services in China. The outcome of this competition may give evidence to the fate of Bitcoin in other markets, especially developing economies similar to China.

Do you think Apple Pay poses a threat to Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Reuters

Images courtesy of Cult of Mac, Forbes

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Apple Pay Set to Launch in China on February 18

Úno 17

Apple Responds to FBI Backdoor Order in Effort to Save PR

Source: bitcoin

Apple Responds to FBI Backdoor Order in Effort to Save PR

 February 17, 2016 — Apple is no stranger to handing over its users’ sensitive data to government – they went live on the NSA’s PRISM program back in late 2012, stated in their TOS and EULA documents that there should be expectation of privacy while using their services, and follow the common industry practice of handing over sensitive information they have on file with the issuance of a warrant. So the decision to reject a court ordered backdoor that would allow brute force decryption of their phones, accompanied by an open letter to Apple customers from CEO Tim Cook explaining their stance on the matter, has come as a surprise to many.

Also read: itBit to Expand Blockchain Operations Abroad

Apple’s Long History of Giving up User Data

Apple CEO Tim Cook

The order arrives in the aftermath of the San Bernadino Shootings. Many thought initially that the court was asking Apple to do the impossible: pull private keys out of thin air to give investigators access to the Shooters’ encrypted data, which would have demonstrated a laughable lack of understanding of the data encryption process on the FBI’s part. The open letter from Cook indicates that the government request is much more competent and insidious, though:

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several key security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Essentially, the court order mandates that Apple cooperates in assisting in the creation of a backdoor that would allow brute force decryption of any iPhone, which would be a disaster for Apple customers everywhere. It’s easy to see why Apple seems to have shifted its stance on privacy in this case: cooperation would, in addition to being a PR nightmare, but be setting a disturbing precedent that would allow law enforcement to circumvent 4th amendment rights even further, with corporate assistance. The FBI is citing the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify this court order, contending that the software backdoor is somehow a necessary act in analyzing their evidence.

Secure data, something that has been traditionally protected by 4th and 5th amendment rights, has been accessed previously through use of this law, including one case involving an iPhone 5s in 2014. Since that time, Apple has shifted its stance on personal information handoffs, and this is the first example where they’ve followed through on their new stated policies. While it is refreshing to see a multinational corporation defend it’s customers’ privacy, this protection of individual data may seem counter-intuitive to those who follow Apple’s data collection and analysis practices.

Remember: Apple is an information broker as much as they are a hardware and software company. They do sell their users’ data and metrics, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The problem here is that they lose their information collection capability if people stop using their phones because anyone can crack the built-in encryption. If people perceive your product as insecure and fundamentally flawed, they move away from your ecosystem, and if anyone has access to the information you’re trying to sell, it becomes much less valuable. The move to protect user data, in this case, makes as much sense for their data collection infrastructure as it does from a PR and best practices standpoint.

While it is nice to see Apple stand up to government pressures to invalidate user privacy, know that it is only because it serves Apple’s interests. They have a far from stellar track record when it comes to user data protection. For now, their goals dictate keeping strong encryption on their devices, but that has not and will not always be the case. Their policy on encryption will likely change with their corporate interest as it has several times in the past. Of course, this shifting stance on consumer rights is not unique to Apple, but in recent times, they’ve had the most extreme turnabout.

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

Images courtesy of Apple

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Apple Responds to FBI Backdoor Order in Effort to Save PR

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Local Apple App Store Pricing Changes Show Why Bitcoin is The Only Global Currency

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Bitcoin Global Currency

There are multiple signals that our current global financial structure is not working optimally, and the recent price restructuring by Apple is yet another indication of why things need to change soon.  App store prices will go up in seven countries around the world, as tech giant Apple needs to account for volatile exchange rate changes in the affected regions. Bitcoin remains the only global currency in existence today where the playing field is even for anyone in the world.

Also read: Cryptsy Announces 1000 BTC Reward for Stolen Coins

App Store Price Increase Due To Volatile Financial Markets

Similar to nearly every type of business in the world, an online application store – such as the one run by Apple – needs to adjust its pricing now and then. In most cases, the prices for applications are set by the developers themselves, and Apple will just take a cut from every transaction made on their platform.

However, this App Store price change is quite different from the rest, as the volatile financial markets are to blame for more expensive apps and games. Apple has established a global presence with their App Store, although a lot of the foreign currency transactions will need to be converted to other instruments, such as the US Dollar.

Due to high volatility in certain markets, Apple is forced to up the pricing, as the country does not want to risk losing any of its profits during the process. It is not the first Apple makes such a drastic change, though, as the company has upped prices in 10 different countries over the past few months.

Among the affected countries are Canada, Russia, Israel, and Mexico. Apple users living in those countries – or in Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand – have slightly under 72 hours left to make any App Store purchases at the normal price. Once that period has elapsed, prices will be inflated artificially to cover change in the value of these traditional currencies.

Furthermore, customers who have an ongoing subscription for any of the games, apps, or services offered by the Apple App store, will see prices increasing as well. Before that happens, they will be notified by Apple via an email, however. The world of traditional finance is far less stable than most people would like to believe, and Bitcoin presents a welcome alternative for the [near] future.

Why Apple Needs To Start Working With Bitcoin Payments

While it is true Bitcoin has seen its fair share of volatility, there is still a good reason for Apple to use the popular digital currency as a payment method for their App Store. Bitcoin is a global payment method and a change in the Bitcoin price would affect all customers in the world in the same manner. A change in local fiat currency affects a specific part of the population, which is not fair by any means.

Furthermore, by using Bitcoin, Apple would be able to let the prices adjust automatically, as third-party payment processors will provide the exchange rate at any given moment. No further manual intervention would be needed in the App Store, allowing more people to work on future innovation for the tech giant. In the end, everybody will win when using Bitcoin.

What are your thoughts on these local price changes in the App Store? Will Bitcoin provide a more stable alternative in this regard? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tech Radar

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Apple

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Local Apple App Store Pricing Changes Show Why Bitcoin is The Only Global Currency

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Ongoing OS X Gatekeeper Vulnerability Puts Bitcoin Users At Risk

Source: bitcoin

Ongoing OS X Gatekeeper Vulnerability Puts Bitcoin Users At Risk

Computer users operating on the Mac OS X platform are safer from harm compared to their Windows-using counterparts. With a much smaller market share, hackers are not targeting OS X users as often as they could, although that doesn’t mean the platform is completely secure. Security tool Gatekeeper is still vulnerable, despite a recent patch released by Apple. Bitcoin users are advised to remain careful when installing new applications until this security flaw has been patched properly.

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

Apple Fails To Make Gatekeeper Secure Again

It is not the first time OS X’s Gatekeeper is coming under fire from security experts. At one point in 2015, researchers had discovered a major vulnerability in this security protocol that puts all Mac users at risk.  This tool is designed to check the certification of every executable file during an installation.

However, Gatekeeper in its pre-patch form was not doing an adequate job, as the software only checked the certification validity of the first executable. As a result, hackers could easily bypass this security protocol by infecting a legitimate install file with other tools being executed once the certification check had passed.

Keeping in mind Gatekeeper was created to prevent these things from happening, Apple was scrambling to release a security patch to fix the problem. Even though that patch has been released, the protocol is still not as secure as it should be. Assailants can still execute arbitrary code as part of improper certification checks, which is a cause of great concern.

Although it is not confirmed, one security researcher feels how Apple has attempted to fix the issue by blacklisting priority executables based on a list provided by himself. However, if this were to be the case, the vulnerability itself is still present in Gatekeeper, and it took the researchers roughly thirty seconds to bypass the newly implemented security checks.

For the time being, OS X users remain vulnerable to attacks and computer hijacking when installing new applications. Downloading any executable from a website rather than the App Store should be avoided at all costs until Gatekeeper is properly secured again. Apple has already indicated a major patch will be coming soon, although no official date has been released.

Bitcoin Users Remain Vulnerable

It goes without saying this Gatekeeper vulnerability is a major threat to Bitcoin users on the OS X platform. If they were to install a new application, there is always a chance of additional software being installed behind the scenes. As Bitcoin become more popular, hackers all over the world will do their best to steal user wallets, regardless of operating system.

OS X users are advised not to install any new applications on their systems – other than those in the App Store – to avoid Bitcoins being stolen. Even though the risk may seem small right now, it only takes one mistake to lose money in the Bitcoin world, and chargebacks do not exist in the digital currency ecosystem.

What are your thoughts on the Gatekeeper vulnerability? Will it affect bitcoin users in the long run? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tweakers

Images courtesy of Gatekeeper, Apple, Shutterstock

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Ongoing OS X Gatekeeper Vulnerability Puts Bitcoin Users At Risk

Led 01

Apple Is Betting On The Peer-to-Peer Payment Demographic

Source: bitcoin

Apple Is Betting On The Peer-to-Peer Payment Demographic

Apple has been filing patents lately and is seemingly planning to add payments to its messaging service IMessage. Last month it was reported by Quartz that the tech giant was exploring new methods of payment processing to its messaging features. Now a new patent filed in December has shown a stronger interest in the subject, and Apple may proceed forward with its payment plan soon.

Also read: Solving The Bitcoin Block Size Debate With A Two-Pronged Proposal

Apple must notice that Bitcoin and alternative methods of payments are quite popular. In fact, it’s said that people using non-banking methods are increasing exponentially and should double by the end of 2016. Digital currencies like Bitcoin and payment concepts coming from companies like Facebook, WeChat and others are steadily growing more popular as each day passes. All of these businesses are trying to consolidate its user base into a network of people using their payment processor. And why wouldn’t they as they encompass millions of people signed up already for their service?  

Typically it’s hard to make a profit with methods like this due to low margins. Despite this Apple and other tech magnates can attempt to conquer their demographics which are the same as users of this technology. Peer-to-Peer currencies like Bitcoin are often used by people 18-24 and 25-34-year-olds. This is the exact demographic that Apple and others already have within their user base. Quartz assumes when they reported the patent filing that the company will try and get people to spend at Apple locations whether physical or online. This is where the business gets a large chunk of its monetary supply and may be betting on peer-to-peer transactions for more revenue.

The patent filed is not only looking to integrate with messenger but also with email and calendar as well. The file gives a description to how two iPhone users can use the payment service. A pop-up in the top right corner appears with a payment option during a message and also can pay more than one recipient. The system is not related to Apple Pay and notes that it is differentiated by “phone call, text messaging conversations, an email thread, calendar events,” the memo reads.

It’s hard to say if Apple will succeed in getting its paws into the peer-to-peer payment world. Unfortunately most know that these services like the current Apple Pay are completely centralized and tied to your current banking institutions. Account freezes, rules and regulations, and limits may also apply as the company is 100% in charge of the system. This is the major difference between a true P2P protocol like cryptocurrencies that cannot be frozen or limited in contrast to Apple services. Bitcoin is a network that is decentralized and owned by no person or organization and continues to prosper because of these factors. Filing for this patent justifies how centralized Apple really is and shows it’s only looking out for one fruit in the orchard.

What do you think about Apple’s attempts to enter the  P2P payment world? Let us know in the comments below. 

Images courtesy of Quartz, and Shutterstock


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Apple Is Betting On The Peer-to-Peer Payment Demographic