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Botnet Ad Fraud Will Net Criminals $7.2 Billion in 2016

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Ad-clicking swarms of computers in their botnets are clicking online ads and faking traffic, enough to the tune of an expected $7.62 billion this year, a study revealed.

Here’s a scam that’s seldom heard of. A study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) along with White Ops, a security vendor has revealed that scamming botnets will see advertisers cough up an incredible $7.2 billion this year.

The global advertising market, according to the previous ANA/White Ops study stood at approximately $40 billion spent on display ads and an estimated $8.3 billion spent on video ads.

A press release revealed the estimated figure of $7.2 billion is up from a collective loss of $6.3 billion toward fake traffic generating bots last year. The increased estimate is drawn from an expected 15 percent increase in digital ad budgets by marketers this year.

In statements, ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice said:

The level of criminal, non-human traffic literally robbing marketers’ brand-building investments is a travesty.

The overall rate of fraud has remained steady with increasing ad budgets, with 2015 seeing a rise in bot percentages among advertisers. The year saw a total of 49 advertisers polled in the study, compared to 36 in 2014 and the numbers make for interesting reading.

All participants polled deployed detection tags developed by White Ops in order to gauge bot fraud. Altogether, data was collected across 1,300 ad campaigns over 61 days between August and September, resulting in 10 billion online advertising impressions.

Those polled revealed bot percentages between 3 and 37 percent, compared to 2 and 22 percent in 2014, signaling an increase along with the rise in ad budgets. Sourced traffic, or traffic that is acquired through third parties contribute to greater fraud. Unsurprisingly, sourcing traffic sees more than three times the bot percentage than the overall study average.

Predictably, media with higher cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) were and are more vulnerable to bots. Display media that reward over $10 for CPMs had nearly 40 percent higher bot infestation than lower CPM media. Video media with CPMs over $15 had a soaring 173 higher bot rate than lower CPM video media.

Similarly, demographically positioned campaigns typically resulted in higher bot percentages. For instance, programming buys targeting Hispanic demographics were nearly twice as likely to see bot traffic than media for a general audience, the study revealed.

Some of the measures suggested by the study to combat ad-fraud included the use of third-party monitoring tools on a consistent basis to monitor all traffic. Additional suggestions include using ‘language on non-human traffic’ among the terms and conditions and the suggestion that advertisers do not pay for fraudulent impressions.

White OPS CEO Michael Tiffany said the following with regards to ad-fraud and cybersecurity, as a whole:

In problems of security and fraud, the attacker’s advantage of only needing to find one weakness in a defense is well understood. We are still facing an uphill battle to achieve broad acceptance of the need for deeper focus on the fraud problem and ultimately to reverse these financial trends.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsSamburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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Altcoins

Monero Price Analysis: Stronger Malware to Mine Monero; XMR/USD Has Room for Another Potential Squeeze South

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  • Researchers: a stronger malware has been uncovered, which can mine Monero.
  • XMR/USD price action remains stuck in a narrowing range, subject to an imminent breakout.

The XMR/USD price has seen some upside on Saturday, holding gains of around 3% towards the latter stages of the day. Despite the press higher from the bulls, a move which has been observed across the cryptocurrency market, vulnerabilities remain. Price action has been ranging for the past nine sessions. Once again, this isn’t specifically just XMR, as this type of behavior is witnessed across the board. The narrowing in play came after the steep drop that rippled across the market on 10th January.

Price action was initially well-supported to the upside by an ascending trend line, which was in play from 15th December. This at the time was a very promising recovery, as XMR/USD had gained as much as 55%. Unfortunately, however, the bulls were unable to break down supply heading into the $60 region and were eventually dealt a big hammer blow. On 10th January, the market bears forced a heavy breach to the downside, smashing through this support. The price had dropped a big double-digits, some 20%.

Stronger Malware Mining Monero (XMR)

There is a dangerous form of malware that can bypass being detected and mine Monero (XMR) on cloud-based servers. A recent notice was put out by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, an intelligence team that specializes in cyber threats, regarding a Linux mining malware. This was detailed to have been developed by Rocke group, which has the ability uninstall cloud security products. It can do this to the likes of Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud, to then illegally mine Monero on compromised machines.

The two researchers from Palo Alto Networks, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, detailed the findings of their studies. Once the malware is downloaded, it takes administrative control to initially uninstall all cloud security products. Shortly after, it will then then transmit code that will mine the Monero (XMR). Further within their press release, they said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products.”

Technical Review – XMR/USD

XMR/USD daily chart.

Given the current range block formation, eyes should be on the key near-term technical areas. Firstly, to the downside, $43, which is the lower part of the range. A breach here will likely see a retest of the December low, $38. To the upside, resistance be observed at around the mid $46 level. Should a breakout be observed here, then a potential retest of the broken trend line will be watched.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 124 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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Altcoins

Dash 51% Attack Fears Cooled as Core Dev Group Suggest Benevolent Miner

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Dash investors may have been starting to question the security of their holdings in light of Ethereum Classic’s (ETC) recent attack, and the subsequent fallout which revealed Dash’s own vulnerability to 51% attacks.

Three addresses, all controlled by the same user, were in control of more than 51% of the Dash mining hashrate, as reported on CCN a few days ago. On top of that, over 74% of the entire Dash hashrate was accessible via Nicehash – a cloud-mining marketplace – where it could be purchased for as little as $3,104 per hour.

Hashing Power Removed from Nicehash

As of Saturday’s statement by the Dash Core Group, the same individual still controls the majority of the Dash hashrate. However, the group pointed out that since the news concerning a 51% attack broke out earlier this week, the individual has begun to remove their hashing power from Nicehash, and spread it around separate mining pools.

The team stated clearly that they do not believe the miner in question to be malicious:

“…we don’t believe the entity in control of the wallets in question plans or wants to attack because their mining activities began at least 4 months ago and their blocks have been published for all to see.”

The group believe the sudden removal of hashing power from Nicehash – as shown above – is a signal of benevolent intentions on the part of the miner. As a major holder of Dash, they reason that the miner would want to secure the network as best they could.

“This removes the risk of a malicious party renting the hashing power via NiceHash and simultaneously signals that the entity in control of the hashing power does not have negative intent. We believe the miner behind the hashing power was made aware by the same info we discovered online and quickly moved to more protected pools as they appear to be a major stakeholder of Dash.”

Future Proof?

The announcement ends with a look to the future in the form of Dash’s upcoming ChainLocks technology. To be implemented in an as yet unspecified future update, ChainLocks will unite the mining layer with that of the Dash’s masternodes.

This means that a 51% attacker would also have to secure a majority of the blockchain’s masternodes to execute their plans. More can be read on ChainLocks here.

Dash Coin Price

Almost mid-way through the first month of 2019, Dash has recovered 26% of its value since the market lows of mid-December. That’s when one unit of DASH was valued at $58.27 – a 96% decline since December 2017.

Dash’s 26% recovery in the past month still leaves the coin 95% off its all-time high. As of Saturday the coin had settled down along with the broader market, after a sharp 17.5% decline 48 hours before.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 146 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Cryptocurrencies

Where to Store Your Crypto?

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Storing crypto on virtual exchanges has some inherent security risks that have been exploited by hackers and cyber criminals. This article will touch upon this important topic and provide you with alternative methods in which to store your digital assets.

Cold and Hot Wallets

The main thing in cryptocurrency storage is the private key and who has access to it.

Cold storage wallets operate offline and without a constant internet connection. If your key is not on the Internet, then it is much more difficult to steal.

A hot storage wallet is a wallet with constant connection to the Internet.

So, all storage options can be distinguished by the following criteria:

  1. private keys are kept by you or by third parties.
  2. without internet connection or with internet connection

A cold storage wallet with a private key is considered the most reliable storage option. Such a wallet is suitable for long-term storage of large amounts. However, it is not convenient if, for example, you do trading and need access to your wallet for transferring small amounts.

Hardware Wallets

hardware wallets like Ledger, Trezor, Pi Wallet, Keepkey, Opendime, Bitlox, etc. have a flash drive within the software without an internet connection. You can connect to the Internet only when sending a transaction. You need to confirm the transaction physically, from the device itself. This is a “cold” method of storage without an internet connection (connection only at the time of the transaction). The user keeps private keys.

Paper Wallets

This method of storage will be also convenient for you if you want to conserve your funds for an extended period. In offline mode, you can generate a public and private key. For example, if you are using the service walletgenerator.net it will transfer those keys in the form of a QR-code, which can be printed and stored by you.

Physical Bitcoin Wallet

A physical bitcoin wallet has almost the same properties as a paper wallet. Encrypted bitcoins cannot be spent until the seal protecting the secret key has been broken. However, the security of the seal is not considered very reliable.

Desktop Offline Wallets.

There are also two main types of offline wallets:

  1. Wallets, where the user is the only one with the access to private keys. You can install such wallets on a personal computer as a separate program. As a rule, these are the wallets from the developers of that cryptocurrency. For example, Bitcoin Core. Litecoin Core, Mist, etc. Such wallets are also called “heavy” wallets since during installation they take up quite a lot of space (for example, you will have to free up at least 200 GB for a Bitcoin wallet in 2018). When installing such wallets on laptops flash drives that are disconnected from the Internet can also be called “cold” wallets. In general, they are also considered safe.
  2. The so-called “light” offline wallets. These are desktop wallets that allow you to store cryptocurrency without downloading its full registry to a bunch of gigabytes. Some of them give you private keys and the ability to restore a lost wallet at any time using seed phrases. There is a drawback – they do not always contain the full version of the blockchain, and sometimes won’t show up-to-date transaction information. Examples of such a wallet are Electrum and Armory.

Light wallets can be multi-currency, with a built-in internal exchange for example Exodus. Its private keys can also be restored using seed-phrases. However, inside such wallets, not only you but also developers have access to your private keys.

It is also worth to mention an essential aspect of light wallets, which are open source code. If something happens to the wallet, then it will be only possible to restore the wallet using the seed phrase only if the function is restored.

As a conclusion on cold wallets, I can say that their main advantage is reliability and security, and the main drawback is that it is difficult to move cryptocurrencies quickly. Therefore, cold wallets are suitable for long-term storage. For everyday transactions, hot wallets are the best. The exceptions are some hardware wallets that are compatible with online cryptocurrency storage and exchange services.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.9 stars on average, based on 43 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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