Bře 21

Switzerland Moves Forward to Fit Cryptocurrency Into Traditional Regulations

 The Federal Assembly of Switzerland has voted in favor of putting cryptocurrency on equal footing as traditional assets.

A Hesitant Vote

99 members of the National Council, Switzerland’s lower house of the Federal Assembly, have supported a motion to put forward proposed regulations by liberal public representative Giovanni Merlini. 83 people voted against, while 10 refrained from voting at all.

The proposed regulations will now have to be considered by the Council of States, which is the Federal Assembly’s upper house. Switzerland’s Federal Assembly is the country’s legislative authority.

Per the proposed regulations, the existing legislation of both administrative and judicial authorities should be adapted and applied to cryptocurrencies as well.

While making his proposition, Merlini argued that:

Cryptocurrencies could be issued to anyone with a decentralized, cryptographic-based peer-to-peer data network. A large part of the cryptocurrencies is completely anonymous, which favored extortion and money laundering.

It’s worth noting that this narrative has little support given Europol’s assessment from late 2018. Reads Europol’s Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment:

The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions — their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.

Surprising Move?

Merlini’s arguments, as well as the proposed regulations, seem somewhat surprising given the country’s pro-cryptocurrency stance. The country classifies virtual currencies as assets and it has fairly relaxed regulatory burdens and low entry barriers.

In December, the country’s finance minister Ueli Maurer said that instead of coming up with new cryptocurrency-specific regulations, the Federal Assembly will be adapting existing ones to fit the needs of the industry.

Following the motion’s approval, however, Maurer, stated that the proposal has gone further than the scope of the planned regulations.

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Arguments have also been made against the motion, as it had failed to clarify how and if there are measures to be taken to mitigate any risks.

Additional doubts have been raised whether cryptocurrency trading platforms “should be equated with the financial intermediaries and subjected to Switzerland’s Financial market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Switzerland’s progress in terms of cryptocurrency adoption, on the other hand, can’t be unnoticed. Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported that the country’s biggest online retailer started accepting bitcoin for payments on their platform.

What do you think of the latest move by Switzerland to approve regulatory changes proposed by Merlini? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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!

The post Europol: Bitcoin Playing an Increasing Role in Crime appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

Europol: Bitcoin Playing an Increasing Role in Crime

Led 08

No Bitcoin Teller Machines Affected By Recently Arrested ATM Malware Crime Group

Source: bitcoin

No Bitcoin Teller Machines Affected By Recently Arrested ATM Malware Crime Group

ATM Malware attacks have been a thorn in the side of both consumers and government officials in Europe over the past few months. By infecting bank ATMs with malware, user’s card information can be obtained without them realizing it. As a result, plenty of user funds is at risk, and Europol started a major investigation. Late last night, the news broke several arrests were made, and how the international criminal group responsible for this malware attack has been dismantled.

Also read: Cybersecurity Regulators Feel Companies Need To Step Up To Protect Consumer Privacy

ATM Malware Crime Group Arrested

Thanks to a collaboration between Europol, the Romanian National Police, and the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crimes and Terrorism,  a major crime group responsible for bank ATM malware infections has been dismantled. Even though it was the first malware attack of this kind on European soil, it turned out to be a well-organized crime ring. A total of eight arrests were made in Romania and Moldova.

ATM malware attacks are quite a nasty deal, as hackers use a piece of code to infect a bank teller machine’s software. For the end user, all of the operations will be available, and nothing will look out of the ordinary. However, the malware is capable of emptying the entire ATN’s cash reserve, as the pin pad can be used for command manipulation.

Tyupkin ATM malware, as this nasty piece of code is used allowed the crime group to manipulate bank ATMs all over Europe, as well as empty several cash cassettes. Government officials refer to this term as “jackpotting”, by which assailants physically launch a Trojan Horse through an executable file. As a result, they can then deliberately cause major losses to the European ATM industry.

It took a joint effort by police forces throughout all of Europe, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, and Eurojust to bring these attacks to a halt. It is not the first time these parties are confronted with this type of ATM malware attack, although there hadn’t been any incident report sin Europe up until a few months ago.

Europol’s Deputy Director Operations Wil Van Gemert stated:

“Over the last few years we have seen a major increase in ATM attacks using malicious software. The sophisticated cybercrime aspect of these cases illustrates how offenders are constantly identifying new ways to evolve their methodologies to commit crimes. To match these new technologically savvy criminals, it is essential, as it was done in this case, that law enforcement agencies cooperate with their counterparts via Europol to share information and collaborate on transnational investigations”.

Bitcoin Remains Unaffected By ATM Malware

Even though this type of malware deliberately targets ATMs, the software seems to be only compatible with bank teller machines. Bitcoin ATMs, of which there are now over 500 around the world, have not been affected by this malware attack. This can be partially attributed to a different type of security used, combined with custom-tailored solutions, rather than using a generic software.

Furthermore, Bitcoin ATMs present a less likely target for hackers, as the machines provide certain limitations in terms of how much funds they can process before the owner needs to empty the cash cassette. It is simply not worth the effort to attack a Bitcoin ATM with malware, whereas bank teller machines can hold up to several tens of thousands of Euros in cash.

What are your thoughts on the shutdown of this ATM malware crime group? Will we see these types of attacks against Bitcoin ATMs too? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Europol

Images courtesy of Europol, Shutterstock

The post No Bitcoin Teller Machines Affected By Recently Arrested ATM Malware Crime Group appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

No Bitcoin Teller Machines Affected By Recently Arrested ATM Malware Crime Group