What is cryptojacking? How to prevent, detect, and recover from it

By: Michael Kan

Criminals are using ransomware-like tactics and poisoned websites to get your employees’ computers to mine cryptocurrencies. Here’s what you can do to stop it.

Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers do this by either getting the victim to click on a malicious link in an email that loads crypto mining code on the computer, or by infecting a website or online ad with JavaScript code that auto-executes once loaded in the victim’s browser.

Either way, the crypto mining code then works in the background as unsuspecting victims use their computers normally. The only sign they might notice is slower performance or lags in execution.

Why cryptojacking is on the rise

No one knows for certain how much cryptocurrency is mined through cryptojacking, but there’s no question that the practice is rampant. Browser-based cryptojacking is growing fast. Last November, Adguard reported a 31 percent growth rate for in-browser cryptojacking. Its research found 33,000 websites running crypto mining scripts. Adguard estimated that those site had a billion combined monthly visitors.

This February, Bad Packets Report found 34,474 sites running Coinhive, the most popular JavaScript miner that is also used for legitimate crypto mining activity. In July, Check Point Software Technologies reported that four of the top ten malware it has found are crypto miners, including the top two: Coinhive and Cryptoloot.

“Crypto mining is in its infancy. There’s a lot of room for growth and evolution,” says Marc Laliberte, threat analyst at network security solutions provider WatchGuard Technologies. He notes that Coinhive is easy to deploy and generated $300 thousand in its first month. “It’s grown quite a bit since then. It’s really easy money.”

In January, researchers discovered the Smominru crypto mining botnet, which infected more than a half-million machines, mostly in Russia, India, and Taiwan. The botnet targeted Windows servers to mine Monero, and cybersecurity firm Proofpoint estimated that it had generated as much as $3.6 million in value as of the end of January.

Cryptocurrencies lose $42b after South Korean bourse hack

By: Eric Lam Jiyeun Lee and Jordan Robertson

The 2018 selloff in cryptocurrencies deepened, wiping out about $42 billion of market value over the weekend and extending this year’s slump in Bitcoin to more than 50 percent.

Some observers pinned the latest retreat on an exchange hack in South Korea, while others pointed to lingering concern over a clampdown on trading platforms in China. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.

Bitcoin has dropped about 12 percent since 5 p.m. New York time on Friday and was trading at $6,756, bringing its decline this year to 53 percent. Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a nearly two-month low of $298 billion. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about $830 billion.

Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the nearly $500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. While the latest hacking target — a South Korean venue called Coinrail — is much smaller, the news triggered knee-jerk selling, according to Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda Corp. in Singapore.

 “This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” Innes said.

The 2018 selloff in cryptocurrencies deepened, wiping out about $42 billion of market value over the weekend and extending this year’s slump in Bitcoin to more than 50 percent.

 Some observers pinned the latest retreat on an exchange hack in South Korea, while others pointed to lingering concern over a clampdown on trading platforms in China. Cryptocurrency venues have come under growing scrutiny around the world in recent months amid a range of issues including thefts, market manipulation and money laundering.

Bitcoin has dropped about 12 percent since 5 p.m. New York time on Friday and was trading at $6,756, bringing its decline this year to 53 percent. Most other major virtual currencies also retreated, sending the market value of digital assets tracked by Coinmarketcap.com to a nearly two-month low of $298 billion. At the height of the global crypto-mania in early January, they were worth about $830 billion.

Enthusiasm for virtual currencies has waned partly due to a string of cyber heists, including the nearly $500 million theft from Japanese exchange Coincheck Inc. in late January. While the latest hacking target — a South Korean venue called Coinrail — is much smaller, the news triggered knee-jerk selling, according to Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda Corp. in Singapore.

 “This is ‘If it can happen to A, it can happen to B and it can happen to C,’ then people panic because someone is selling,” Innes said.

The slump may have been exacerbated by low market liquidity during the weekend, Innes added.

“The markets are so thinly traded, primarily by retail accounts, that these guys can get really scared out of positions,” he said. “It actually doesn’t take a lot of money to move the market significantly.”

More: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-10/bitcoin-tumbles-most-in-two-weeks-amid-south-korea-exchange-hack

Bitcoin Payments Are on the Rise in the Baltics

By: Lubomir Tassev

Cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity in the Baltic states where no comprehensive regulations have been introduced yet. Businesses from multiple sectors, including real estate, online trade, the hospitality industry, and even healthcare, are taking advantage of crypto payments. Some companies from the region are already offering their services globally.  

Apartments Sold for Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies are becoming more widely accepted in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, where buying a cup of coffee with bitcoin is nothing special these days. Cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, and even an orthopedic clinic, are now accepting cryptos, according to local media. It seems that the Baltic Tigers of the EU are becoming the “Bitcoin Tigers” of Europe.

Crypto payments have been introduced in the real estate business by several companies selling land plots and housing units in the Baltics, Novaya Gazeta reports. Potential buyers will soon be able to purchase land and homes in the Auriai cottage settlement, which is currently under construction not far from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Crypto-priced real estate is also sold in neighboring Latvia and Estonia. The Latvian branch of Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty is offering penthouse apartments in Jūrmala for bitcoin. Recently, the Estonian realtor LAAM Kinnisvara announced it is accepting cryptocurrency for apartments in the town of Maardu, 15 minutes car drive from Tallinn. A third of the 44 units built by the company there have been sold already. The next bitcoin deal is scheduled to take place next week.

Cryptos Accepted For Clothes

More than 30 locations in Vilnius accept crypto payments, in Tallinn they are 26, and in Riga – 21, according to Coinmap. Bitcoin ATMs can be found in the capitals of Estonia and Lithuania, according to Coinatmradar. Most of the businesses accepting cryptos are from the hospitality industry – cafes, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, several hotels. Other sectors, however, are quickly catching up.

About a month ago, the United Colors of Benetton franchisee in Lithuania announced it would accept cryptocurrencies. The stores of the fashion brand in Vilnius now take bitcoin, etherium, dash, NEM, and steem through a partnership with Coppay. The Belarus-based payments provider offers instant conversion to fiat at an exchange rate based on data from multiple markets. “Our employees like it because it’s simple and easy. No additional training was needed”, said Arturas Zuokas, co-owner of the company and former mayor of Vilnius.

MORE: https://news.bitcoin.com/bitcoin-payments-are-on-the-rise-in-the-baltics/

The 9 most exciting phones and gadgets from MWC 2018.

By: JEFFREY VAN CAMP

Every spring, the smartphone world revolves around Mobile World Congress. Exhibitors and attendees from more than 200 countries congregate in the halls of the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain, debuting the latest in mobile tech. MWC is the largest mobile trade show on Earth. We’ve surveyed the announcements from every major tech company at the show this week. Here are the highlights.
01
Samsung Galaxy S9
PRICE$720
With the Galaxy S9, Samsung is doubling down on its winning formula. The new GS9 and S9+ have all the features Galaxy phones are known for, plus a few additions. Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor away from the camera so you won’t smudge the lens anymore, and photo performance in low light is improved thanks to the camera’s variable-aperture system. You also get Apple-inspired animated emoji and a new DeX dock that turns the phone into a desktop PC. Ships March 16 for $720. Choose the unlocked option. And did we mention it comes in Lilac Purple?
02
Nokia 8110 4G
Remember that phone from The Matrix where the receiver panel slid out to reveal the number pad? Take the blue pill because it’s back, courtesy of HMD Global, which now makes Nokia phones. The new Nokia 8110 comes shaped and colored like a banana too. The battery lasts over three weeks, but if you’re hoping for Android apps, look elsewhere. This is a standard old-school feature phone with its own download store—and, in true retro fashion, it comes with a copy of Snake.
03
Huawei MateBook X Pro
Just when you think there are no new capabilities to squeeze out of laptops, Huawei pushes the envelope. The new MateBook X Pro has a remarkable 14-inch 3,000 x 2,000 pixel touchscreen with such small bezels that it fits into a standard 12-inch notebook chassis. Huawei claims this ultraportable has the highest screen-to-body ratio of any laptop in the world. It’s also loaded with the latest Intel 8th Generation Core chips, an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card, four Dolby Atmos-approved speakers, a fingerprint sensor, and 12-plus hours of battery life. The coolest detail: a webcam pops out of one of the function keys on the keyboard like the headlights on an old Corvette.
08
SikurPhone
Usually, a new phone at MWC will boast a fancy new screen or camera, but the SikurPhone’s sales pitch is strong security and data encryption. It claims that the SikurPhone is “hack-proof” and that its bespoke wallet app is the perfect way to keep your cryptocurrencies safe. It’s an Android phone with encryption plastered all over it, and a custom app store that only includes vetted apps. To back its claims, the company hired bug bounty hunters HackerOne to try to crack the phone. So far, the experts have failed. Sikur is asking $850 for the device, but that price includes peace of mind.

SikurPhone With a Secure Cryptocurrency Wallet Unveiled at MWC 2018.

By: Jagmeet Singh

A long time after launching its security-focused GranitePhone, Brazil’s Sikur at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona on Tuesday brought the SikurPhone that helps you protect your cryptocurrency. The new smartphone comes with a pre-installed cryptocurrency wallet and includes cloud integration to securely store various cryptocurrencies under one roof. Pre-orders for 20,000 units for the SikurPhone have already started at a promotional price of $799 (roughly Rs. 52,100), while the units will ship sometime in August this year.

The SikurPhone is touted to be “hack proof”, protecting user data as well as cryptocurrencies from hackers. To test how the phone can protect users, Sikur hired ethical hackers from bug bounty company HackerOne between November and December who were failed to gain access to any information, as per COO Alexandre Vasconcelos. The company deployed a custom Android version on SikurPhone, which it calls SikurOS, that doesn’t allow you to install any of the third-party apps on your own. This doesn’t mean that the smartphone won’t support your favourite apps – you instead need to ask the Sikur team to configure the apps individually.

Vasconcelos, in an interaction with CNET, pointed out that while the SikurPhone is designed to protect user data, it will not give the same tough protection to save criminals. The executive highlighted that the company would disable access to its services if it gets hints of any criminal behaviour of a user. In a separate interview with Mashable, Vasconcelos revealed that the Sikur will not only secure your digital currencies through its cloud-connected wallet but will also remotely wipe the data in case if you lose your phone to protect your money. “If you lose your phone, we can remotely wipe it for you. You can get a new one, log in, and your funds will be safe, as your private keys are stored in our cloud,” he said.

The SikurPhone additionally includes fingerprint authentication, and the preloaded wallet offers up-to-date market information about pricing, cryptocurrency news, and quotes. The wallet also has multisignature (P2SH) and multiple wallet support to give you an extensive cryptocurrency platform.

On the specification side, the Android 7.0 Nougat-based SikurPhone features a 5.5-inch full-HD display with Gorilla Glass protection on top. It is powered by a MediaTek MT6750 SoC, coupled with 4GB of RAM and has 13-megapixel rear camera sensor and a front camera sensor. Also, there is 64GB of onboard storage and a 2800mAh battery.

More: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/sikurphone-cryptocurrency-wallet-mwc-2018-1818260

If you’ve amassed a cryptocurrency fortune, SikurPhone might be the phone for you.

By: Stan Schroeder

If you’ve amassed a fortune in cryptocurrencies, you probably don’t keep it all (or any of it) on your mobile phone. But a company called Sikur wants you to reconsider that.

On Tuesday, the company has launched a security-oriented smartphone called the SikurPhone. One of its main features is a built-in cryptocurrency wallet which, ideally, would allow you to keep cryptocoins on your phone without having to worry about losing them.

The phone itself is based on a highly customized version of Android 7.0, Sikur’s COO Alexandre Vasconcelos told me at the company’s booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It’s not for the common user: It doesn’t have access to Google’s Play Store, it won’t run any apps that haven’t been vetted by Sikur, and its interface is far more spartan and corporate-looking than that of your typical, everyday Android.

The specs won’t wow you either, thought they’re probably good enough for most users: a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, a MediaTek MT6750 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 2,800mAh battery and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as a 5-megapixel selfie shooter.

But this phone isn’t about playing Android games — in fact, I bet that most users won’t even use it as their main device. “It’s sort of like the Ledger,” said Vasconcelos, referring to a hardware wallet that’s a popular choice for securely storing cryptocurrency. “If you lose your phone, we can remotely wipe it for you. You can get a new one, log in, and your funds will be safe, as your private keys are stored in our cloud.”

There’s a potential problem there: What Vasconcelos is describing is nothing like the Ledger, which keeps the private keys solely on the device itself. Keeping cryptocurrency private keys — which are basically the only thing you need to access your coins — in the cloud has potential drawbacks: The company’s servers could get hacked. It’s not exactly a rare ocurrence; two months into 2018 and we’ve already seen several major exchanges losing hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto due to hackers.

More: https://mashable.com/2018/02/27/sikurphone/#9b6Zq_8ub5qc

What the Coincheck hack means for the future of blockchain security

By: sikur

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by Mike Orcutt

February 1, 2018

The plunder of more than $500 million worth of digital coinsfrom the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck last week has added to a growing perception that cryptocurrencies are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

It’s an expensive reminder that like many things in the cryptocurrency world, security technologies—and the norms, best practices, and rules for using them—are still emerging. Not least because of its enormous size, the  Coincheck hack could go down as a seminal moment in that process.

This piece first appeared in our new twice-weekly newsletter Chain Letter, which covers the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Sign up here – it’s free!

First, hackers laid bare the fact that Coincheck had opted not to implement some basic security measures. The company’s executives told news reporters that the stolen coins had been stored in an internet-connected “hot” wallet. It’s far more secure to keep funds offline, in “cold” storage—often hardware specially designed for the task. Many exchanges already claim in their marketing material that they hold the vast majority of their users’ funds offline. Going forward, this will presumably become standard practice.

With that taken care of, there’s a more weighty question on the table. Every public cryptocurrency address is associated with a private key; without it, money can’t be moved from that address. Someone who manages to acquire your private key, though, can send your money away. That’s what happened in the Coincheck heist. So how do we make the private cryptographic keys owners need to access their coins more secure?

One answer, known as a multisignature address, is conceptually simple: a “multisig” requires more than one cryptographic key in order execute a transaction. It’s a bit like the multifactor authentication process you may use to access your e-mail account. Business partners can use multisig technology to, for example, create a wallet that requires each of them to sign off on transactions. That would make it substantially more difficult for hackers to access funds.

MORE: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610092/what-the-coincheck-hack-means-for-the-future-of-blockchain-security/

 

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Lawyers Are Taking Payment in Bitcoin Despite Conflict of Interest Concerns

By: sikur

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by  Kai Sedgwick

January 28, 2018

An increasing number of lawyers are taking payment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. With many ICO startups destitute until their crowdsale, ether or tokens are often all they can offer. Rather than turn away business, some lawyers have admitted to taking payment in crypto. While increased acceptance of cryptocurrency – especially in such circles – is to be welcomed, it’s led to concerns that lawyers who are financially invested in a project may struggle to dispense impartial advice.

Meet the Crypto-Chasing Lawyers

It would be easy to assume that cryptocurrency acceptance in the legal profession is limited to a handful of fringe mavericks and libertarians, but it’s attracted a number of mainstream advocates. A recent article in Law.com (paywalled) quotes several lawyers who now accept crypto including Washington-based lawyer Carol Van Cleef, who helps crypto clients with compliance matters. She explains: “I’ve known for a long time that my opportunity to expand in certain areas has been affected by not taking [cryptocurrency]”.

Historically, lawyers who’ve served the poorest and most marginalized members of society have done so for ideological reasons rather than pecuniary gain. In times gone by, it was not unheard of for defense attorneys to take payment in the form of firewood, food or whatever else their clients could spare. Had Breaking Bad been filmed five years later, it’s easy to imagine wheeler-dealer lawyer Saul Goodman accepting crypto and using it to help Walter White account for his vertiginous pallets of $20 bills.

Lawyers Are Taking Payment in Bitcoin Despite Conflict of Interest Concerns

Tokens for Attorneys

As cryptocurrencies have entered the mainstream, their association with illicit activities has diminished, and so has the stigma of accepting them. Lawyers must tread more carefully than professionals from other sectors however and accepting crypto from startups they’re advising raise possible conflict of interest concerns. It’s common practice for cash-strapped startups to offer team members payment in tokens.

Everyone from web designers to marketers can be pacified with the promise of tokens as soon as the project launches. Any legal expert entering into such an agreement would be obliged to rule that the token constituted a utility and not a security, as to do otherwise would mean they wouldn’t get paid.

Lawyers Are Taking Payment in Bitcoin Despite Conflict of Interest Concerns

Conflict of Interest or Credibility Booster?

If a lawyer has never sent or received cryptocurrency, they seem ill-equipped to advise crypto startups on their structuring model. Cryptocurrency theory is all well and good, but to truly appreciate and understand it, proponents insist, it is necessary to experience it in action, and not just once for test purposes, but as part of everyday life. Lawyers who have gotten their hands dirty, so to speak, by using crypto should be able to understand and explain it more effectively than their counterparts who are still crypto virgins. It would be hard to see bitcoin or ethereum acceptance as presenting a conflict of interest; a lawyer taking tokens for the platform they’re advising on, however, would be a much narrower crypto case, and one that is much harder to defend.

Lawyers Are Taking Payment in Bitcoin Despite Conflict of Interest ConcernsMainstream media organizations such as the New York Times forbid their bitcoin reporters from owning cryptocurrency, while other news sites expect their journalists to disclose any potential conflict of interest. While scribes such as the NYT’s Nathaniel Popper have earned praise for the quality of their reporting, it’s hard to shake the feeling that by watching from the sidelines, their reporting is in danger of being too detached. Just as Vietnam war journos had no qualms about hunkering down with the troops, crypto reporters with personal experience of the subject matter are likely to be better informed and more attuned to community matters.

MORE: https://news.bitcoin.com/lawyers-taking-payment-bitcoin-despite-conflict-interest-concerns/?utm_source=OneSignal%20Push&&utm_medium=notification&&utm_campaign=Push%20Notifications

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