In 2008, ICANN approved a program to offer on the Internet thousands of new generic Top-Level Domains in addition to existing ones such as .COM and .ORG.
Recognizing what this could mean to financial institutions, their customers and Internet users, a coalition of banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations formed a partnership to establish fTLD Registry Services in order to apply for and operate the .BANK and .INSURANCE gTLDs on behalf of the global banking and insurance communities.
fTLD – a top level domains registry – was granted the right to operate .BANK on September 25, 2014, and .INSURANCE on February 19, 2015. .BANK was not available to would-be registrars until June 25, 2015. Since its release, the domain has been in demand.
“The launch of the .BANK domain is the start of a new online chapter for the global banking community,” Craig Schwartz, Managing Director at fTLD Registry Services, told Hacked.
As a trusted, verified and more secure location on the Internet for the banking industry and its customers, .BANK provides a more secure way for banks to do business and a powerful tool to take immediate ownership of their brands online.
The theory goes that since only verified members of the global banking community are eligible to register domains, a .BANK domain signifies that an organization has been verified as legitimate and committed to implementing security requirements that surpass existing standards. .BANK requires registrants to comply with requirements not currently mandated by the operators of other commercially available gTLDs, including:
- Mandatory Verification Re-Verification of Charter/Licensure for Regulated Entities to ensure that only legitimate members of the global banking community are awarded domain names.
- Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to ensure that Internet users are landing on participants’ actual websites and not being misdirected to malicious ones.
- Email Authentication to mitigate spoofing, phishing and other malicious activities propagated through emails to unsuspecting users.
- Multi-Factor Authentication to ensure that any change to registration data is made only by authorized users of the registered entity.
- Strong Encryption to ensure security of communication over the Internet.
- Prohibition of Proxy/Privacy Registration Services to ensure full disclosure of domain registration information so bad actors cannot hide.
- Domains must be hosted on .BANK Name Name Servers to ensure compliance with all technical security requirements.
Not only can individuals register .Bank domain these days, but also thousands of other new domain extensions.
“There has been a lot of reference to how the new domain extensions are ‘the biggest land rush in Internet history,’ Schwartz said. “In some ways, it’s certainly a land rush, since the domains are like plots of land all mapped out and companies need to register and lay claim to the domains they want.” Schwartz points out this is all in the early stages.
“We’re still in the beginning stages of this transformed Internet, but part of our thinking process for .BANK was to consider the issues banks and their customers currently face online as well as to anticipate the new challenges and dangers that would come from the creation of so many new domains,” he said.
It’s that thinking and care for the community that led in part to the thirty security requirements we have in place for .BANK.
The banking industry is changing, with Internet-only operations in some cases out competing brick-and-mortar locations. Many banks are closing their brick-and-mortar locations. This could bolster the need for .BANK in Schwartz’s eyes.
“Many banks are closing their physical locations and transitioning many of their services online,” Schwartz said. “Another way to look at it is that flow of money has changed from paper bills and coins to digital. The need .BANK meets is that to have a place and a way to conduct business more securely online.” When I ask if .BANK has any plans for Bitcoin businesses, Schwartz informs me they do not at this time. He also said that, at the time of this publication, nobody had filed for the Bitcoin.Bank domain.
“We provide a trusted and identifiable piece of Internet real estate that comes with extensive security requirements that will help safeguard financial transactions and services,” he added. There are many ways a financial institution can use the .BANK domain.
“.BANK is an exceptionally flexible tool in a bank’s toolkit. How to take advantage of the benefits .BANK provides is up to the individual banks who register the domains,” Schwartz told Hacked.
While some organizations will transition some or all of their consumer-facing online presence to .BANK to maximize the value of participation, others may use the new address as a channel to communicate with customers, banks and regulators.
At the time of this writing, fTLD Registry Services had received over 5,700 .BANK applications from members of the global banking community, representing approximately 2,300 individual banks as some banks have applied for more than one domain name. More than 3,700 verifications have been completed and .BANK names are now reserved for the banks that submitted the applications until the verification process is complete.
“The strong demand for owning a .BANK domain shows that banks recognize that the security offered by .BANK will be a critical tool for protecting their customers’ proprietary information,” Schwartz said. “The use of .BANK will signal that the bank has made a visible commitment to online security.”
Featured image from Shutterstock.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency
For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.
The Pirates Are At It Again
The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”
Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.
Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.
CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.
The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.
Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally
The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.
Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
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