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Ransomware: US recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers

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The announcement confirms CNN’s earlier coverage of the FBI-led operation in partnership with Colonial Pipeline, the company that fell victim to the ransomware attack in question.

In particular, the Justice Department said it seized approximately $ 2.3 million worth of bitcoins that were paid to individuals belonging to a criminal hacking group called DarkSide. The FBI has been investigating DarkSide for over a year, which is supposed to share its malware tools with other criminal hackers.

But behind the scenes, the company had taken early steps to notify the FBI and followed instructions that helped investigators track the payment to a cryptocurrency wallet used by the hackers believed to be are based in Russia.

“Following the money remains one of the most basic but powerful tools we have,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday during the DOJ’s announcement that followed CNN’s coverage of the recovery operation. “Ransom payments are the fuel that powers the digital extortion machine, and today’s announcement shows that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal companies.”

The confiscation order was approved by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

“The extortionists will never see this money,” said acting US Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California on Monday at the press conference at the Justice Department. “New financial technologies that seek to anonymize payments will not provide a curtain for criminals to steal the pockets of hard-working Americans.”

Blount made a statement following the DOJ’s announcement.

“When Colonial was attacked on May 7th, we quietly and quickly contacted the local FBI offices in Atlanta and San Francisco and prosecutors in Northern California and Washington DC to tell them what we knew at the time. The Department of Justice and the FBI helped us understand the threat actor and his tactics. Your efforts to hold these criminals accountable and bring them to justice are commendable, “said Blount.

CNN previously reported that US officials were looking for possible loopholes in the hackers’ operational or personal security to identify the actors responsible, sources familiar with the hassle, said.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that coordination between ransomware victims and law enforcement agencies can in some cases produce positive outcomes for both parties.

“I’m not saying that this is the norm, but there have been instances where we have even been able to work with our partners to identify the encryption keys that would then allow a company to actually unlock its data – even” without it to pay the ransom, “he said.

“The abuse of cryptocurrency is a massive enabler”

The Biden administration has focused on the less regulated architecture of cryptocurrency payments that allows for greater anonymity while stepping up efforts to halt the growing and increasingly destructive ransomware attacks following two major incidents in critical infrastructure.

“The abuse of cryptocurrency is a massive trailblazer here,” said Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger to CNN. “This is how people get the money out. On the rise of anonymity and the improvement of cryptocurrencies, the emergence of mixed services that essentially launder funds.”

“Individual companies feel pressured – especially if they haven’t done the cybersecurity work – to pay the ransom and move on,” added Neuberger. “But in the long run, that’s why the ransom is continuing [attacks]. The more people are paid, the more and more ransom money and more and more potential disruptions are generated. “

While the von Biden government has made it clear that it needs help from private companies to contain the latest wave of ransomware attacks, federal agencies have, and are adept at, some skills that go well beyond what industrial partners can do on their own Tracking currency used to pay ransomware groups, CNN previously reported.

Energy Secretary says opponents have the ability to shut down the US electricity grid

But the government’s ability to do this effectively in response to a ransomware attack is very “situational,” two sources said last week.

One of the sources noted that helping to reclaim funds paid to ransomware actors is certainly an area where the US government can provide help, but success varies dramatically and depends largely on whether or not the System of attackers there are loopholes that can be identified and exploited.

In some cases, US officials can find the ransomware operators and “own” their network within hours of an attack, said one of the sources, which allows the competent authorities to monitor the actor’s communications and possibly other key actors in the responsible party Identify group.

When ransomware actors are more cautious about their operational security, including the way they move money, disrupt their networks, or track currency, things get more complicated, the sources added.

“It’s really a mixed bag,” they told CNN, referring to the varying degrees of sophistication demonstrated by the groups involved in these attacks.

CNN previously reported that there is evidence that the individual actors who attacked Colonial in connection with DarkSide were more likely inexperienced or inexperienced hackers than seasoned professionals, according to three sources familiar with the Colonial investigation.

Hit by a ransomware attack?  Here's what to do

One of the sources also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on US government action, telling CNN that the unique circumstances of each attack and the level of detail required to effectively tackle these groups was one of the reasons for this are that there is “no silver bullet” when it comes to defending against ransomware attacks.

“Stopping this will require improved defenses, ransomware destruction and targeted action against the attackers,” added the source, making it clear that disrupting and tracking cryptocurrency payments is only part of the equation.

This opinion has been confirmed by cybersecurity experts who agree that ransomware actors use cryptocurrency to launder their transactions.

“In the Bitcoin era, money laundering is something any nerd can do. You no longer need a large organized crime apparatus, ”says Alex Stamos, former Facebook chief security officer and co-founder of the Krebs Stamos Group.

“The only way we as a whole society can act against it is to make it illegal … I think we have to ban payments,” he added. “This is going to be really tough. The first companies to be hit when it is illegal to pay will be in a very difficult position. And we will experience a lot of pain and suffering.”

“It happens all the time”

In the past few weeks, cyber criminals have increasingly targeted organizations that play a critical role in much of the US economy. The aftermath of these attacks shows how hackers are now wreaking havoc for ordinary Americans at an unprecedented rate and scale.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warned Sunday that “very malicious actors” targeted the US following attacks on a pipeline, government agencies, Florida water system, schools, health facilities and even last week the meat industry and a ferry service to millionaires’ Martha’s Vineyard.

“Even as we speak, there are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector in general … it happens all the time,” Granholm told CNN’s Jake Tapper on the State of the Union.

Ransomware attackers used a compromised password to access the Colonial Pipeline networkThe Justice Department last week signaled that it plans to coordinate its anti-ransomware efforts using the same protocols used for terrorism after a series of cyberattacks disrupted key infrastructure sectors from gasoline distribution to meat packaging.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco issued an internal memo instructing US attorneys to report any ransomware investigations they may be working on in order to better coordinate the US government’s prosecution of online criminals.

The memo names ransomware – malicious software that takes control of a computer until the victim pays a fee – as an urgent threat to the nation’s interests.

“We need to improve and centralize our internal tracking of investigations and prosecutions of ransomware groups, as well as the infrastructure and networks that keep these threats alive,” Monaco wrote.

The tracking effort is extensive and covers not only the DOJ’s tracking down of ransomware criminals, but also the cryptocurrency tools they use to receive payments, automated computer networks that spread ransomware, and online marketplaces that are used to Promote or sell malicious software.

The DOJ policy requires U.S. law firms to file internal reports of every new ransomware incident they hear about.

CNN’s Christina Carrega, Brian Fung and Geneva Sands contributed to the coverage.

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Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency providers at high risk of financial crime – FMA

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The Financial Market Authority has found that cryptocurrency service providers are at high risk of being targeted by money launderers and terrorist financiers.

Photo: 123RF

The industry received the rating in the FMA’s most recent sector risk assessment (SRA), in which various types of financial service providers were described with regard to illegal financial behavior.

The risk profile for the majority of the nine sectors supervised by the FMA has not changed since 2017.

However, Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) that enable cryptocurrency, token or crypto-asset transactions were added and received the highest risk rating.

“Since our last assessment, the risks of virtual assets, especially cryptocurrencies, have come to the fore,” said FMA supervisory director James Greig.

“Virtual assets allow for a higher level of anonymity and have a global reach, making cross-border payments easy.”

A sector risk rating was determined on the basis of its complexity, liquidity of the transactions and the anonymity granted to clients.

This included the size of the company, the type of products offered, their value, how products can be bought and sold, customer types and country risks.

Virtual Asset Service Providers, or VASPs, that enable cryptocurrency transactions were added to the list and received the highest risk rating.

Virtual Asset Service Providers, or VASPs, that enable cryptocurrency transactions were added to the list and received the highest risk rating.
Photo: Delivered

The FMA expects all reporting offices to familiarize themselves with the risks and weak points in connection with VASPs and virtual assets and, if necessary, to include them in the risk assessment.

The main regulatory agency of cryptocurrency service providers is the Department of Internal Affairs, with the FMA overseeing a very small number of VASPs.

The 2021 sector risk assessment also confirmed the high risks associated with derivative issuers.

This follows on from the recent measures taken by the FMA against a handful of companies that failed to meet their obligations to combat money laundering.

“Derivatives issuers are inherently high risk because their products are highly liquid, accounts are easy to open, and they can have many overseas clients in higher risk countries,” Greig said.

Greig also said the rapid growth of retail investment platforms meant they could be targeted by money launderers as their compliance with their anti-money laundering commitments may not have kept pace.

This became clear at the beginning of the year when the FMA informed the retail trading platform Sharesies of failing to verify the identity of almost 8,000 customers and of insufficient customer due diligence.

“These platforms are highly liquid, so large volumes of trade can take place without suspicion, and customers can quickly create online accounts without personal verification, which favors anonymity,” said Greig.

“While these platforms often have sophisticated systems for monitoring accounts, they need to collect sufficient information about the nature and purpose of the investment.”

The FMA expected all entities subject to the FMA reporting obligation to review the new SRA and update their own risk assessments accordingly and to take into account all new risks and findings, said Greig.

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Cryptocurrency ‘mainstream’ in Australia | Bega District News

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News, latest news

Cryptocurrency has become mainstream in Australia, and according to a survey by a leading exchange, more and more women are punted. More than a quarter (28.8 percent) say they own or have owned cryptocurrencies, according to the Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index (IRCI) 2021 published on Tuesday. The proportion of women who deal with cryptocurrencies has doubled this year from 10.3 percent to 20 percent. Despite the amazing volatility, most of those surveyed (89 percent) made or even broke money this year. Adrian Przelozny, CEO of the Independent Reserve, said the sector urgently needs regulation to provide more security for both investors and cryptocurrency companies. “Our IRCI results this year support this as 28.6 percent of Australians who currently do not own cryptocurrency tell us that if there was better consumer protection, they would invest,” he said. Now in its third year, the annual survey of over 2,000 people tracks awareness, acceptance, trust and trust in the cryptocurrency. 26.6 percent said they would buy crypto if regulation of the industry improved. “While Australian regulators and government agencies may have taken a while to delve into cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, the Australians themselves have moved faster and we really see crypto as an asset class from the edge of the mainstream over the past year,” said Przelozny. According to the survey, Bitcoin remains the most famous and popular cryptocurrency ahead of Ethereum. The age group of 24 to 34 year olds trusted crypto the most. 27.6 percent said they shopped to get rich while people over 65 years of age said they did shopping to get rich Stay skeptical. The latest data from the Australian Tax Service shows that more than 800,000 people are making transactions in cryptocurrency. The Independent Reserve cryptocurrency exchange was developed and established in Australia in 2013 and is now licensed in Singapore. Australian Associated Press

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December 7, 2021 – 10:16 a.m.

Cryptocurrency has become mainstream in Australia, and according to a survey by a leading exchange, more and more women are punted.

More than a quarter (28.8 percent) say they own or have owned cryptocurrencies, according to the Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index (IRCI) 2021 published on Tuesday.

The proportion of women who deal with cryptocurrencies has doubled this year from 10.3 percent to 20 percent.

Despite the amazing volatility, most of those surveyed (89 percent) made or even broke money this year.

Adrian Przelozny, CEO of the Independent Reserve, said the sector urgently needs regulation to provide more security for both investors and cryptocurrency companies.

“Our IRCI results this year support this as 28.6 percent of Australians who currently do not own cryptocurrency tell us that if there was better consumer protection, they would invest,” he said.

Now in its third year, the annual survey of over 2,000 people tracks awareness, acceptance, trust and trust in the cryptocurrency.

26.6 percent said they would buy crypto if regulation of the industry improved.

“While Australian regulators and government agencies may have taken a while to delve into cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, the Australians themselves have moved faster and we really see crypto as an asset class from the edge of the mainstream over the past year,” said Przelozny.

According to the survey, Bitcoin remains the best known and most popular cryptocurrency ahead of Ethereum.

The age group of 24 to 34 year olds trusted crypto the most. 27.6 percent said they shopped to get rich, while people over 65 remain skeptical.

The latest data from the Australian Tax Service shows that more than 800,000 people are making transactions in cryptocurrency.

The Independent Reserve cryptocurrency exchange was developed and established in Australia in 2013 and is now licensed in Singapore.

Australian Associated Press

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bitcoin volatility, $196M Bitmart hack, new OpenSea CFO

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The entire cryptocurrency market suffered a slump over the weekend.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, plunged to a low of nearly $ 43,000 on Saturday night. The price has since bounced back and is currently trading at around $ 49,149, according to Coin Metrics.

Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, also fell to around $ 3,500 on Saturday. Ether is currently trading at around $ 4,179.

Aside from the volatility this weekend, here are seven things that have happened in crypto over the past week.

1. Metaverse Land Sales Exceed $ 100 Million In One Week

Virtual real estate has become more and more a coveted commodity.

Sales of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens representing Metaverse land, exceeded $ 100 million in the last week alone, cryptanalysis firm DappRadar reported on Tuesday.

The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based metaverse and game that allows users to purchase land and in-game assets as NFTs, had a trading volume of more than $ 86 million. Decentraland, a virtual reality platform operated by Ethereum, had traded more than $ 15 million for land NFTs.

“With record sales and constantly rising NFT prices, virtual worlds are the new top product in the crypto space,” wrote DappRadar in a blog post.

2. Jack Dorsey’s Square changes company name to block

On Wednesday, Jack Dorsey’s payment company Square announced that it was renaming itself to Block effective December 10th.

Block “has many related meanings for the company – building blocks, neighborhood blocks and their local businesses, communities gathering at block parties full of music, a blockchain, a chunk of code and obstacles to overcome,” Block said in a statement.

Square Crypto, a separate part of the company dedicated to advancing Bitcoin, will change its name to Spiral.

“We built the Square brand for our seller business where it belongs,” said Dorsey, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “Block is a new name, but our purpose of economic empowerment remains the same. No matter how we grow or change, we will continue to develop tools to improve access to the economy. “

The name change came after Dorsey announced his resignation as CEO of Twitter. Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal will take on the role, the company announced on Monday.

3. Facebook withdraws from the crypto advertising ban

4. BadgerDAO DeFi project hacked, approximately $ 120 million loss

On Wednesday evening, BadgerDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization focused on bridging Bitcoin with decentralized financial applications, was reportedly hacked and lost about $ 120 million, according to blockchain security and data analytics firm Peckshield.

An investigation to find out what happened is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, BadgerDAO has frozen all smart contracts, which are digital agreements written in code and stored on the blockchain. Again, according to the BadgerDAO website, users will not be able to request deposits, rewards, or withdraw funds.

This is happening amid many new DeFi-related hacks, which is why financial experts caution against doing thorough research before investing in projects. They recommend investing only what you can afford to lose.

5. Hackers take $ 196 million from Bitmart crypto exchange

The Bitmart cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked, the company confirmed in a statement on Saturday evening.

Bitmart called it “a large-scale security breach” and estimated that hackers withdrew about $ 150 million, but Peckshield estimates the loss was closer to $ 200 million.

In the statement, Bitmart said all withdrawals have been temporarily suspended and a security clearance is ongoing.

As of Sunday, CNBC reached out to several Bitmart employees asking for more clarity about the hack and whether the targets would be reimbursed. CNBC hasn’t heard anything yet.

6. Charlie Munger Says He Wishes Cryptocurrencies “Never Made Up”

Billionaire investor Charlie Munger is still not a fan of cryptocurrency.

“I wish they had never been invented,” said Munger, according to The Australian Financial Review, at the Son conference in Sydney on Friday. “I admire the Chinese, I think they made the right decision to just ban them.”

This isn’t a new attitude for the 97-year-old vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. In May, during a question-and-answer session at Berkshire’s annual shareholders meeting, Munger said his aversion to Bitcoin had increased amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

7. OpenSea appoints former Lyft CFO. a

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