US and UK Government Websites Were Attacked By the Virus for Mining Cryptocurrency

Each person who visited the virus-infected resources, launched the software, which was mining cryptocurrency for hackers.

The criminals infected more than 4,200 sites, including those belonging to state organizations, with a virus which was used to secretly mine cryprocurrency.

A cyber security specialist discovered thousands of sites that did not cause fear before, which were now using scripts for hidden cryptocurrency mining through the browsers of their visitors.

https://twitter.com/Scott_Helme/status/962684239975272450

Scott Helm, an expert who discovered the code, determined that malicious software used 40% of the processing power of the victims’ processors and sent the received cryptocurrency to the address 1GdQGpY1pivrGlVHSp5P2IIr9cyTzzXq. In total, 4,275 sites were infected in this way.

This virus is a malicious version of the plug-in for people with eyesight problems Browsealoud. In the course of several hours anyone who visited virus-infected resources launched the software, which was mining Monero cryptocurrency for hackers. The company Texthelp, which developed Browsealoud, claimed that it suspended the plug-in until the investigation. American and British law enforcement agencies have not yet commented on the information.

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CryptoMining.Farm Scam: 30 Victims Lost $1.34 Million

Thirty people have filed complaints to Thailand’s Technology Crime Suppression Division stating that they were victims of crypto mining scam, they allegedly lost 42 million baht ($1.34 million). The police thinks that the amount of victims can be bigger.

According to the victims’ words, the leaders of the scam convinced them to invest money into CryptoMining.Farm, a blockchain-mining website. One anonymous victim said to the Bangkok Post that one of the leaders promised investor an impossibly high return – 70% a year.

The victims signed contracts when they entered the website, the documents said that a customer may withdraw money at any time he/she wanted without any additional condition. However, the situation has changed since August. The victim stated that:

“From August the owner began imposing conditions for withdrawing the money. Then at the start of this month, the site announced it would start paying back investors in 84 installments which would take over seven years to complete. The payments were supposed to be made in foreign currencies [which] is not permitted by Thai laws.”

After a preliminary investigation, the police is sure that not 30, but 140 people became victims of the scam. Moreover, it can be related to a big scandal which happened in August 2018, when a popular Thai actor and his siblings stole about 797 million baht ($25.5 million).

According to the Bangkok Post, the company has two official offices in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, which may make the victims think that the company’s operations are legal.

Thailand treats digital money with caution and tries to regulate it. The Thai Ministry of Finance even issued a document last year where all the country’s cryptocurrency activities were regulated, including the taxation of participants of crypto market.

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Romance Scams: Total Loss Accounts For More Than $143 Million

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently published a report showing that romance scams are relentlessly gathering momentum. The number of romance scams has increased in 2.5 times, from 8,500 in 2015 to 21,368 last year, overtaking the number of any other type of consumer fraud.

Romance scams data

The data provided below shows that in 2015 the number of reports did not exceed 10,000, and the total loss was estimated at about $33 million. The situation has been worsening since 2016, when the reported loss accounted for $75 million, two times bigger than in 2015. However, the year of 2018 broke all the records when the total loss comprised over $143 million.   

Source: www.ftc.gov

How do scammers lure people?

Romance scammers usually create attractive and convincing personas on the dating sites and apps or social media, like Facebook, for example. They frequently use fake photos and names, but there were cases of assuming the identities of real people. The scammers lure people with their sob stories to convince victims to send them large amounts of money.

Once the romance scammers have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money for medical treatment or for any other quite sad reason. The fraudsters usually explain to victims that they are in the military and stationed abroad, thus, they cannot meet. The report says that most affected are people from 40 to 69, the rate of their losing money to romance scams is higher more than twice in compare to the rate of people in their 20s.

Tips how to not get engaged in a romance scam

  1. Do not send money or anything else to the sweetheart you have never met in person before.
  2. Tell your close friends about your sweetheart. People can become blinded when they are in love, thus, pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
  3. Do not rush, just take it slowly. Try to ask questions, use a reverse-image search of the profile picture. If something does not match, it is a scam.

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Japanese Giant GMO Internet Lost ¥1.3 Billion in 2018: Report

One of the biggest Internet companies in the world, Japan-based GMO Internet Inc., posted a report on its financial performance. An operating loss accounts for ¥1.3 billion (~$11.75 million) in 2018.

GMO’s mining business

According to the report, mining business fared very poorly in 2018 which resulted in great losses. The company explained that the business did not increase as expected due to the collapse of cryptocurrency market in Q4. The report provides  the table where we can see the real revenue and real loss of the company. The data provided below does not include “extraordinary losses” of approximately $319.2 million.

Source: GMO Fiscal Report 2018

Alongside, Internet giant announced that it would implement a policy change regarding to their mining business model. The company will sell its bitcoin mining assets at cheaper rates to compensate for a portion of its annual losses.

Moreover, GMO plans to relocate mining centers to the regions where power supply is cheaper. The centers allegedly will be somewhere in Northern Europe.

GMO’s Bitcoin exchange

Source: GMO Fiscal Report 2018

According to the report, the company’s quarter-revenue has fallen by 66.7%, even though the company annually posts about its 7% profit from its crypto exchange GMOCoin.

In 2018, GMOCoin recorded a net sales of ¥4.02 billion (~$36.33 million). In Q1, crypto exchange has lost about ¥76 million, yet, high sales of next quarters compensated them. The fall of cryptocurrency market has also played a significant role in GMO’s revenues. Each phase ended on a lower note than a previous one in terms of sales, while the profits remained marginal.

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The Most Dangerous Crypto Crimes: What About SIM Swappers?

Cyber attack and crypto crimes in every shape and form are quite abundant on the market of digital assets right now. They all have different goals and different levels of harm. The careful and thorough analysis of such attacks will make it possible to predict them and protect sites, platforms and companies from breaches and money losses.

However, there is a weird tendency going on among the analytical reports, which we will try to explain down below.

Two major cyber security companies Chainalysis and CipherTrace released their analytical statements at the end of last year. Both reports contained statistics on hacker attacks and crypto crimes and an outline of current trends.

The main focus of CipherTrace was different money laundering techniques, cryptocurrencies that are the easiest targets for crypto criminals that choose this path, AML regulations and other related info.

Whereas Chainalysis told its readers on the scale and profitability of such Ethereum scams as phishing and various Ponzi schemes.

Surprisingly, there seems to be nothing about the infamous SIM-swapping.

Just to remind you, SIM-swapping is a kind of a cyber attack aimed at money theft. Simply speaking, a hacker convinces the phone provider to “swap” the number of a victim to a new device. In such way, criminals get full access to the personal information of their victims, still their identity, and later money.

SIM-swapping scams have been involved in multiple scandals with the biggest cell-phone providers of America, the crimes involving this technique resulted in huge money thefts and loud arrests of witty hackers, yet very few reports actually mention it.

However, this still does not diminish the dominance of SIM-swapping over many other types of crypto crimes. In order to fight it, we not only need more coverage from the mass media and analytical firms, but also the cooperation from the cell phone companies to protect the users, their info and their money.

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Mozilla Firefox Is Working On Security To Adopt Crypto Mining and Fingerprinting Blockers

Mozilla Firefox has become the fastest and safest web browser in the world after a major upgrade in 2018. The browser has always been known for its flexibility and support for extensions, yet, it does not stop here. According to the report of Techdows, Firefox decided to pursue implementation of strong privacy tools, creating blockers for crypto mining and fingerprints.  

How did it all start?

At the end of August, 2018, Mozilla Firefox made a post in its blog stating that they would change the approach to the anti-tracking. To be more specific, they made a decision to improve load page performance.

In accordance with the study made by Ghostery, more than half of time required to open a page is spent to load third-party trackers. On this reason, Mozilla ran a test version of a feature that blocked trackers and other “harmful practices”, including cryptocurrency mining malware scripts, in Firefox Nightly with the possibility to make it automatically in Firefox 63.  

Keeping in mind that cross-site tracking protection may break all the websites in the browser, Mozilla decided to add features one by one and they go even further in Firefox 67.

What does Mozilla offer now?

First is the ability to block cryptocurrency miners. As we all know, operating systems are often affected by different mining malwares, like it happened with Linux system back in November, 2018. That is why, Mozilla takes measures to prevent it.

Second is blocking of fingerprinting. Identifying your unique device may not be as harmful as mining malwares, yet still it is better to use it as a privacy matter. Only generic information will be sent to the websites that you visit, and your hardware configuration will be harder to distinguish from others on the web.

The way these extensions will look in the browser is shown below:


Source: https://techdows.com/

In fact, Mozilla continues to do what other browsers have already started long ago.

Opera thought about how to protect users from miners in December, 2017, showing the world its beta version of a browser extension NoCoin that had an embedded anti-mining mode to protect users from hidden miners. Later, it turned to mobile version of the browser.

Google Chrome also launched extensions for protection from illegitimate mining and cryptocurrency theft in October, 2018.

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Ethereum Mining: Features, Pools and Prospects in 2019

Ethereum has became a real sensation in the cryptocurrency world, the launch of this platform has served as a catalyst in the development of the entire industry. In this article we will talk in detail about the mining of this cryptocurrency, as well as discuss its prospects in 2019.

1. General information about the Ethereum project

Ethereum is a platform where you can create other decentralized projects. ETH is a coin of the same name which is needed for working with the platform.

The well-known programmer, Vitalik Buterin, has been at the origins of the Ethereum, he still takes an active part in the life of the project, but most of the tasks are performed by a large staff. The total capitalization of the project, as of beginning of 2019, is just over $11 billion. Ethereum firmly consolidated on the third place in the global Coinmarketcap rating.

2. ETH mining algorithm

The growing popularity of the coin have forced many miners to transfer their computing power into Ethereum blockchain. The unlimited emission is one of the features of Ether. This is a both plus and minus of the project: on the one hand, miners, potentially, can endlessly mine new coins, but on the other hand, such an approach can lead to inflation and devaluation of coins.

Now, the confirmation in the network is made by using PoW algorithm (Proof of Work), which allows you to mine coins in the usual way, by providing the network with your computing power. But the development team has worked quite a while on transferring the network to the PoS (Proof of Stake). According to Buterin, this innovation will reduce the inflation of the coin by several times. But all the people who are now engaged in the ETH mining will be forced to reconfigure their equipment for mining other coins.

3. What do you need for ETH mining?

  • Computing equipment, you can use the power of the CPU on a PC, but it is better to have several video cards (ideally, DDR 5 memory).
  • Uninterrupted access to the Internet, whereby high speed is not needed, a good ping is more important.
  • A good and reliable pool for mining, as the mining of ETH cryptocurrency in solo mode is absolutely unpromising for the vast majority of people. Only real giants who are engaged in mining on an industrial scale can afford their own mining, but even they often prefer to work in a pool.
  • A wallet that supports ETH, fortunately, there are so many of them.
  • Proper equipment maintenance and overheating protection. For that, you need to carefully consider the system of ventilation and space cooling.

4. Pools for mining

Choosing the right pool is very important. Below you find a list of the most popular and relevant pools of the second half of 2018:

  • Minergate works not only with Ethereum. It is one of the most popular pools in the world. Best of all it works with nvidia graphics cards. The resource has a simple and intuitive interface, which is clear for any average person.
  • NiceHash is also a multi-currency pool. Mining software is very easy to set up. The software automatically selects the best algorithm, based on the features of the video card or CPU.
  • Ethereumpool. From the name it is already clear that this pool is focused exclusively on Ethereum. It works relatively recently, but its computing power already reaches almost 2% of the total power.
  • WeiPool. Another young pool that can impress with small commissions (1.5%) and a user-friendly interface.
  • ETH Supernova. This pool is quite famous for many users, but recently it has begun to operate with Ethereum. The issue of reliability and safety comes first. The pool has been operating for more than one year and during this time has managed to gain the confidence of the miners.

5. Conclusion

Now, Ether is not having its finest hour, the coin rate has fallen to the psychological mark of $108. The profitability of Ethereum mining significantly decreased in 2018, but by and large, it can be said about almost any cryptocurrency.

It is important to remember that fundamentally nothing has changed and Ethereum is still the most technologically advanced platform. ETH mining should not be considered as a short-term opportunity to earn money, this should be treated as an investment in the future. Now the development team is actively working on elimination of the system shortcomings. Taking into account this information, we can make a conclusion that the project’s chances of a bright future are quite high.

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