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What is monero? New cryptocurrency of choice for cyber criminals

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When the FBI successfully breached a Colonial Pipeline hacker’s crypto wallet by following the money trail on Bitcoin’s blockchain, it was a wake-up call for cybercriminals who thought cryptocurrency transactions would automatically protect them from scrutiny.

One of the key points about Bitcoin is that its public ledger, which stores all token transactions in its history, is visible to everyone. Because of this, more and more hackers are turning to coins like Dash, Zcash and Monero, which contain additional anonymity.

Monero in particular is increasingly the cryptocurrency of choice for the world’s leading ransomware criminals.

“The more savvy criminals are using Monero,” said Rick Holland, chief information security officer at Digital Shadows, a cyber threat company.

Created in 2014

Monero was released in 2014 by a consortium of developers, many of whom chose to remain anonymous. As stated in his white paper, “privacy and anonymity” are the most important aspects of this digital currency.

The privacy token works on its own blockchain, which hides practically all transaction details. The identity of the sender and recipient as well as the transaction amount itself are concealed.

Because of these anonymity features, Monero allows cybercriminals greater freedom from some of the tracking tools and mechanisms that the Bitcoin blockchain offers.

“On the Bitcoin blockchain you can see which wallet address has been processed, how many Bitcoins, where they come from, where they are going,” said Fred Thiel, former chairman of Ultimaco, one of the largest cryptography companies in Europe Microsoft, Google and others worked on post-quantum encryption.

“With Monero, [the blockchain] obscures the wallet address, the amount of transactions, who the counterparty was, which is pretty much what the bad guys want, “he said.

With Monero, they disguise the wallet address, the amount of transactions, who the counterparty was, which is pretty much what the bad guys want.

Fred Thiel

CEO, Marathon Digital Holdings

Bitcoin still dominates demand for ransomware, but threat actors are starting to ask about Monero, according to Marc Grens, president of DigitalMint, a company that helps corporate victims pay ransom.

“We’ve seen REvil … just in the past few months give discounts or demand payments in Monero,” Holland continued.

Monero was also a popular choice at AlphaBay, a huge underground marketplace that was popular until it closed in 2017.

“It’s almost like we’re seeing a resurgence, at least from a cybercriminal perspective … at Monero because it inherently offers more privacy than some of the other coins out there,” Holland said of the recent surge in popularity from Monero to actors in the ransomware space.

Monero’s limitations

There are some major roadblocks when it comes to mainstreaming Monero, however.

For one, it’s not as liquid as other cryptocurrencies – many regulated exchanges have chosen not to list it due to regulatory concerns, explained Mati Greenspan, portfolio manager and founder of Quantum Economics. “It certainly doesn’t enjoy that much of the recent wave of institutional investment,” he said.

In practice, this means that it is more difficult for cyber criminals to get paid directly in currency.

“If you’re a company and want to get a ton of Monero to pay someone, it’s very difficult,” Thiel told CNBC.

The digital currency could also be more susceptible to regulations on its entry and exit ramps that bridge the gap between fiat cash and crypto tokens.

“I would bet the US and other regulators will shut them down [monero] down pretty hard, “said Thiel.

One way to do this would be to tell an exchange that they risk losing their license if they list Monero.

But while the U.S. government can actually keep Monero in check by marginalizing points of liquidity, Nic Carter, founding partner of Castle Island Ventures, believes that markets that allow peer-to-peer transfers from Monero to Fiat are always difficult to regulate become.

There is also nothing that can keep hackers within the US jurisdiction. Criminals could easily choose to conduct all of their transactions overseas, in places beyond the controls that American regulators might conduct.

Bitcoin still rules ransomware

Cyber ​​insurance is another reason why Bitcoin is still the currency of choice for most ransomware attacks.

“Insurance is so important in this area, and insurers often refuse to reimburse a ransom when it is done in Monero,” said former CIA executive Peter Marta, who now partners with Hogan Lovell’s cyber risk management firm advises.

“One of the things insurers will always ask about is what kind of due diligence the aggrieved company did prior to paying … to try to minimize the likelihood of the payment going to a company on the sanction list.” explained Marta. .

Traceability is easier to achieve with Bitcoin, as its blockchain reveals the transaction amounts and the addresses of both the sender and the recipient participating in the exchange. There is also an established infrastructure for civil servants to oversee these transactions.

Authorities keep lists of Bitcoin wallets that are tied to various sanction regimes.

While Monero offers a higher level of privacy compared to Bitcoin, Holland points out that threat actors have mastered certain techniques to anonymize transactions in Bitcoin in order to obscure the custody chain.

He says cyber criminals often turn to a mixing or tumbling service where they can combine the illegal funds with clean crypto to essentially create a new type of bitcoin, and then turn to currency swaps.

“Just like you would convert dollars to pounds … you can get to bitcoin, to monero, then back to bitcoin, and then get a bitcoin ATM card that you can use to easily withdraw dollars,” said Holland.

Even if Bitcoin’s blockchain is public, there are still ways to make it difficult for investigators to trace transactions back to their ultimate destination.

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1 in every 10 Irish investors hold cryptocurrency: Competition and Consumer Protection Commission survey

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The Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) poll, published on September 16, revealed important facets of investment trends among the masses. CCPC is the legal body for promoting compliance and enforcement of consumer competition and protection laws in Ireland.
The survey came to the following results:
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  • Information medium:
    • 62 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed used the Internet to obtain information about investments. The resources used by these people include online banking or investment websites, financial news websites, blogs, and social media platforms.
    • 38 percent sought advice from a bank or a financial advisor.

  • Investment form:
    • More than half, 56 percent of investors, prefer online investments.
    • Online investment options are more popular among those under 35.
      • In the under 35 age group, 36 percent preferred to use a trading platform or a mobile app such as XTB or Etoro
      • 29 percent of this age group use an online financial service provider like Revoult.
      • 22 percent of them preferred to invest through a bank or investment company.
      • 10 percent preferred brokers or agents.
  • Popular investment options:
    • For 1 in 5 people, stocks are the most popular investment option.
    • The second most popular investment option is government or corporate bonds, which are preferred by 12 percent of Irish investors.
    • 11 percent of investors held digital assets and a quarter of young Irish citizens speculated in cryptocurrencies.
      • The survey shows that more than 1 in 10 Irish investors have invested in one or more crypto assets.
      • Cryptocurrency investors in the 25 to 34 age bracket have grown to 25 percent. This group of investors is most open to savings in bitcoins or other digital coins.
  • Investment motivation:
    • 79 percent invested in order to achieve better returns for their money in the long term
    • 46 percent invested due to the current low interest rates.
      • In this 46 percent, 51 percent men invested more than 38 percent women because of low interest rates.
    • 26 percent invested in personal satisfaction
      • 47 percent of them were under 35 who invested in experiments.

Based on the results of the survey, Gráinne Griffin, Director of Communications at CCPC, concluded that Irish citizens switch online both when it comes to investing and looking for information about investing. The survey clearly indicates a transition to digitized investment, especially among the younger Irish population, Griffin said.
For the latest crypto news, investment tips, and real-time price updates, follow our Cryptocurrency page.

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Cryptocurrency: Here’s How the Top 5 Coins Have Performed Since April 2021

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Cryptocurrencies have got off to a slow start this year, largely due to an order from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to banks telling them not to trade crypto. Cryptocurrency trading accelerated after the Supreme Court lifted the RBI ban in March and allowed coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and others to be traded. Since then, several online exchanges such as CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX have flourished. But investing in these virtual assets requires due diligence given the extreme volatility of most cryptocurrencies. One way to do this is to look at the historical dates of these coins.

How cryptocurrencies have behaved in the past few weeks and months can give an idea of ​​their potential in the near future and whether a person should invest now or wait.

This is how the top 5 digital coins have behaved since the beginning of this financial year (as of April 1):

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the oldest cryptocurrency in the world. Since its introduction in 2009, it has remained an undisputed leader in the cryptocurrency market. It was Rs. 42 lakh on April 1st of that year, but by the end of May, when the market collapsed massively due to a Chinese crackdown on mining, it had hit a low of Rs. 22 lakh. However, Bitcoin has recovered. On September 17th it was Rs. 37 lakhs.

ether

Experts say this is the only virtual currency that has a chance to challenge Bitcoin’s dominance, but it is far from realizing its true potential. At the beginning of this fiscal year, Ethereum was trading at Rs. 1.40 lakh. It broke the Rs. 2 lakh barrier by early August. This was the time when the Ethereum blockchain had the big London upgrade. Since then, it has grown in value continuously. As of September 17, at the time of writing, it was Rs. 2.76 lakhs.

Cardano

Launched in 2017, Cardano is a relatively new cryptocurrency coin that has skipped the line to find its place in the top 5. Billed as a third-generation blockchain (Bitcoin and Ethereum are the first and second generation, respectively), Cardano achieved a return of almost 150 percent in just one month. On July 20, it was trading at Rs. 79.71 but by August it had peaked at Rs. 191.41. It saw further gains over the next few weeks, hitting an all-time high of Rs. 227 earlier this month. But profits have since started to decline. On September 17, at the time of writing, it was Rs. 187.82.

Tether

Tether is a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar. As the first coin, it is the most popular stablecoin. Since it is pegged to the dollar, meaning that each Tether coin should be backed by actual dollars in Tether Limited’s reserves, it is very stable compared to other cryptocurrencies. If this stability is predictable, it also limits the ability to grow wealth quickly. It stayed within the Rs. 73–75 this fiscal year. It was about Rs. 77 on 09/17.

Ripple

It is the fifth ranked cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization. Technically, Ripple is not a cryptocurrency. It facilitates open source payments and XRP is the cryptocurrency that runs on this network. The price has doubled from Rs since April 1st. 41 to Rs. 80 now. But it hasn’t seen a rally similar to what it did in late 2017, which hit its all-time high of Rs 242 in early January 2018. At the time of writing, it was Rs. 84.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss everything about crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and anywhere you get your podcasts.

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financial: Cryptocurrency Hyper Fund under government scanner

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NEW DELHI: The government is closely monitoring the cryptocurrency in the market based outside of the country after alerting that the authorities responsible for investigating financial fraud are watching a company called Hyper Fund.

Sources said Hyper Fund, a DEFI from the Hyper Tech Group, recently got under the radar. The group claims to have launched the Hyperfonds to provide a decentralized financial infrastructure. Hyper Fund was announced in mid-2020.

However, according to the company’s website, it is run by Ryan Xu, however, using the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) model, Hyper Fund has attracted investors with higher returns and such offers, a common practice with Ponzi programs that have alerted authorities first place.

According to sources, complaints against such funds are piling up in several states. In India, the RBI, the Union Finance Ministry and SEBI had warned against trading in cryptocurrencies. The RBI plans to launch India’s official digital currency – E rupee – shortly.

The Treasury Department has made it clear that virtual currencies are not legal tender either. Therefore, VCs are not currencies. The RBI has also made it clear that it has not granted any company / company a license / authorization to operate or trade in Bitcoin or a virtual currency.

In June 2018, Amit Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek Bhardwaj were arrested by Pune police at Delhi Airport in connection with an alleged pyramid scheme. Bhardwaj, started his own Bitcoin mining operation and reportedly defrauded more than 8,000 people across the country for Rs 2,000 crore.

He has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police Department’s special cell alleging that he received a blackmail call and was asked to pay protection money on September 6, 2021 in exchange for promised higher returns.

UK regulators have issued warnings about such funds, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued warnings for both hyper-funds and fund advisers.

On its website, first published March 23, 2021 and later updated on August 31, the FCA said, “We believe this company may offer, advertise or sell financial services or products in the UK without our approval Any financial service or product required in the UK must be authorized or registered by us. This company is not authorized by us and is aimed at individuals in the UK. ”

She warns investors against such a fund and goes on to say, “You do not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so you are unlikely to get your money back if something goes wrong . ”

The website used by these companies under the FCA is http://thehyperfund.online, https://thehyperfund.com/

Decentralized finance offering (DEFI) via blockchain technology from HyperTech Group, which is said to be based in Hong Kong, sources said Indian regulators and agencies have started monitoring the situation.

Following actions by financial regulators such as the US Security and Exchange Commission and the UK Financial Conduct Authority, Indian regulators and enforcement agencies have started overseeing investments in Hyper Fund – a decentralized financial offering powered by blockchain technology from the HyperTech Group.

Financial regulators around the world recognize the fact that Ponzi program organizers often use the latest innovations, technologies, products, or growth industries to attract investors and promise high returns on their program. Potential investors are often less skeptical of an investment opportunity when they judge something new, new or “current”. On its website, Hyper Fund claims to be “the strongest rocket in blockchain funding”.

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