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The CIA Pulled Spies from Beijing after OPM Breach

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A number of CIA officers were taken out of Beijing as a precautionary measure and a direct consequence of the massive data breach involving the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) earlier this year.

The Central Intelligence Agency evacuated officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China after the data breach involving tens of millions of federal employees’ and contractors’ personal details earlier this year, the Washington Post reports.

According to government officials, no employee records from the CIA were among the OPM breach. However, that hasn’t deterred the CIA from pulling “a number of officers” from Beijing, specifically because their names weren’t included in the breached State Department personnel files believed to be in the hands of state-sponsored Chinese cyberespionage operatives.

The breached OPM records contained background checks of State Department employees which, U.S. officials believe that the Chinese could have potentially cross-referenced with employee records of personnel in the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

Rendering_of_Beijing_NEC_Nighttime

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing

Essentially, the pulling of CIA employees from China was a move to ensure the safety of officers; U.S. officials told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

The revelation was made when senior intelligence and defense officials tried to explain their mode of operations and means to keep foreign operatives from launching cyberespionage operations, to a committee of “frustrated lawmakers.”

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr tried to make a distinction between the OPM breach and cyberattacks targeting U.S. industries and enterprise.

The OPM breach, “as egregious as it was,” was not an attack, Clapper said.

“Rather, it would be a form of theft or espionage,” he stated, before adding,

We, too, practice cyberespionage and. . . we’re not bad at it.

He spoke about any sanctions put forth to China for its cyberespionage operations when the U.S. itself does so, would be unwise.

I think it’s a good idea to at least think about the old saw about people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.

Former Republican Presidential nominee and now Senator John McCain, the committee’s chairman responded sharply.

So it’s okay for them to steal our secrets that are most important because we live in a glass house? That is astounding.

To which Clapper clarified his thoughts in the matter by saying:

I’m just saying that both nations (U.S. and China) engage in this.

Images from Shutterstock & Wikimedia.

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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jim Brown

    October 3, 2015 at 12:07 am

    You’ve just got to love this !!!
    OUR spies are mearly “CIA employees”…. just humbly doing their job.
    (in the US embassy that is supposed to be entirely neutral)
    But THEIR SPIES are EVIL Cyber-Espionage Agents.
    OMG !!!!

    Actually, they are packing-up and getting the hell out
    before O’Bomber declares World War 3 against China.
    They just want a plausible excuse for leaving.

    Hmmmm, or maybe they’re planning a false-flag event and
    they are going to blow-up the embassy and blame
    it on the Chinese to start WW3. Yeah, that’s it, I like that one.

    There won’t be anyone in the building, but the “news” will
    say that 300 US citizens were killed in the bombing.
    THIS MEANS WAR !!!!!
    (and lots of money and power for
    the “Zionist Bankers” (google it)
    that are calling all the shots.)
    .
    …….Jim
    .
    .
    .

  2. Yun Zeng

    October 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    2012, China’s cyber attack on the
    United States became to be more and more obviously.

    The United States can’t use cyber
    attack reach to China’s nuclear reactors.

    But China can use cyber attack
    reach to some of the American nuclear reactors, because of Chinese communist
    party (CP) moles.

    In the beginning of this century
    just after September 11, 2001, Chinese cyber experts sneaked into the target
    was the Pentagon. That’s much difficult than sneaked into the Office of
    Personnel Management, this year 2015. Not Chinese cyber experts are smarter
    than American cyber experts. Chinese cyber experts got help from Chinese CP
    moles.

    Therefore, in the beginning of
    2003, I set “human domain stem cell – eurekainla” website, and in “eurekainla
    home” I used the title “Respond” expressed that there are Chinese CP moles
    hiding inside the cyber net of the United States.

    I was opposite that use American
    cyber attack against Chinese cyber attack if don’t count the nuclear issue.
    Marxism is the deeply root of the terrorism. Action to against Marxism is the
    most important thing need to do for the peace of the world.

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Breaches

MyEtherWallet Compromised in Security Breach; Users Urged to Move Tokens

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Popular cryptocurrency service MyEtherWallet (MEW) is urging users to move their tokens after the platform succumbed to its second cyber attack of the year. As the company reported earlier, hackers targeted MEW’s popular VPN service in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency.

Hola VPN Users Compromised

Rather than target MEW directly, hackers took control of the Hola VPN service, which claims nearly 50 million users. For the next five hours, MEW users who had the Hola chrome extension installed and running on their computer were exposed.

MEW took to Twitter to urge users to move their funds immediately.

“Urgent! If you have Hola chrome extension installed and used MEW within the last 24 hrs, please transfer your funds immediately to a brand new account!” the company said. It added the following message shortly thereafter:”We received a report that suggest Hola chrome extension was hacked for approximately 5 hrs and the attack was logging your activity on MEW.”

At the time of writing, MEW’s Twitter feed had no further updates.

MyEtherWallet is used to access cryptocurrency wallets, where users can send and receive tokens from other people.

The company reportedly told TechCrunch that the attack originated from a Russian-based IP address.

“The safety and security of MEW users is our priority. We’d like to remind our users that we do not hold their personal data, including passwords so they can be assured that the hackers would not get their hands on that information if they have not interacted with the Hola chrome extension in the past day,” MEW said, as quoted by TechCrunch.

It’s not yet clear how many users were compromised in the attack or how much, if any, was stolen from their wallets. MEW suffered a similar incident in February after a DNS attack wiped out $365,000 worth of cryptocurrency from users’ accounts.

Cyber Attacks on the Rise

The attack on MEW came less than 24 hours after Hacked reported another major cyber breach involving Bancor, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange. The security breach compromised roughly $23.5 million worth of digital currency, including Ethereum, NPXS and BNT, Bancor’s native token.

Last month, a pair of South Korean exchanges fell prey to cyber criminals, prompting local regulators to expedite their approval of new cryptocurrency laws.

It has been estimated that a total of $761 million has been stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges in the first half of the year, up from $266 million in all of 2017. That figure is expected to rise to $1.5 billion this year.

CipherTrace, the company behind the estimates, told Reuters last week that stolen cryptocurrencies are mainly used to launder money and aid criminals in concealing their identities.

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 612 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Breaches

Mt. Gox vs. Bithumb: That Was Then, This Is Now

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Bithumb now shares something in common with the Tokyo-based shuttered bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox — both suffered a hack on about the same date, June 19. It’s a club that no exchange wants to belong to and that Bithumb happened on the seven-year anniversary of Mt. Gox’s maiden attack has to be more than an eerie coincidence.

It’s a stark reminder of the risks involved with keeping funds on an unregulated exchange, vulnerabilities that cost South Korea’s Bithumb some $36.6 million in digital cash and Mt. Gox $450 million in hacked bitcoin and its future. The Mt. Gox theft unfolded over a series of hacks that culminated in 2014. Though it’s still early on in the Bithumb hack, it appears the South Korean exchange will recover from the security breach. So what do we know now that we didn’t on June 19, 2011?

Then vs. Now

Former Coinbase official Nick Tomaino, who is also the founder of crypto fund 1 confirmation, reflected on the Mt. Gox hack in what proved to be a prescient tweet given the Bithumb attack that was about to surface.

The thing to note about Mt. Gox is that the Japan-based exchange in 2011 controlled most of the BTC trading volume, approximately three-quarters of it by average estimates — more if you ask Tomaino. Since bitcoin fever caught on in 2017, there are more than 500 cryptocurrency exchanges on which trading volume is shared. Binance boasts the highest trading volume and captures nearly 15% of bitcoin trading. It’s much less than Mt. Gox days but still a little high.

The other thing to note is that the Mt. Gox hack or actually hacks, as there were multiple attacks on the exchange over several years, was a mysterious event that was shrouded in controversy and mistrust of a key executive. Bithumb, on the other hand, confronted the hack seemingly right away on Twitter and has not let any grass grow under its feet in the interim, which is a key difference in the way Mt. Gox was handled.

Also, the bitcoin price didn’t tank in response to the Bithumb hack. It traded lower for a while, but less than 24 hours it was back in the green, which is a reflection of the fact that bitcoin trading is no longer dependent on a single exchange.

Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin (LTC), the No. 6 cryptocurrency by market cap, was among the first to respond to the Bithumb hack. He tweeted:

Indeed, Bithumb does expect to be able to cover the losses via their reserves.

Crypto Security

It’s still early on in Bithumb’s security breach, and more details are sure to emerge in time. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to use the hack as an opportunity to examine the security of your cryptocurrency investment portfolio. There are several hardware wallet options out there for you to choose from — whether it’s Trezor or Ledger Nano S, to name a couple — and as Charlie Lee advised, “only keep on exchange coins that you are actively trading.”

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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 62 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Bithumb Hack Prompts South Korea to Hasten Cryptocurrency Regulation

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South Korea’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange suffered a security breach on Wednesday, prompting local authorities to hasten their adoption of stricter regulations.

Bithumb Hack

Bithumb confirmed Wednesday that cyber criminals “seized” 35 billion won ($31.6 million) worth of digital cash in an apparent attack targeting user accounts. The exchange halted deposits at approximately 00:53 UTC and began a wholesale transfer of funds to cold storage to prevent further theft.

“We checked that some of cryptocurrencies valued about $30,000,000 was stolen,” Bithumb tweeted Wednesday. “Those stolen cryptocurrencies will be covered from Bithumb and all of assets are being transferring to cold wallet.”

The exchange has confirmed that it will fully compensate affected users.

An earlier update on Bithumb’s Twitter account reveals that a security upgrade was being carried out last week where it transferred to a cold wallet for safe storage. However, it is unclear whether the upgrade is linked to the theft.

In terms of trade volume, Bithumb is the world’s sixth-largest cryptocurrency exchange. The platform processed more than $355 million worth of digital currency transactions in the last 24 hours, according to data provided by CoinMarketCap.

Bithumb is the second South Korean exchange this month to have been hacked. Less than two weeks ago, more than $37 million was compromised in a coordinated attack on Coinrail. The attackers went after the exchange’s coins and lesser-known ERC-20 tokens.

South Korea to Boost Regulation

South Korea’s financial regulators have announced plans to implement stricter guidelines for virtual exchanges, and to do so more expeditiously than previously planned. The announcement, which came on the heels of the Bitthumb attack, follows months of deliberation about whether to regulate cryptocurrency exchanges like banks and other financial institutions.

As CCN notes, cryptocurrency exchanges are presently regulated as “communication vendors,” which means virtually anyone can launch an online trading platform. This designation prevents direct oversight of digital currency exchanges by financial regulators.

New crypto regulations are expected to be rolled out in the coming months, which will put South Korea’s financial authorities on par with their counterparts in the United States and Japan. In those countries, cryptocurrency exchanges must comply with laws pertaining to security and consumer protection.

Park Yong-kin, a committee member of the National Assembly, has championed stricter regulations since last year. According to local media, his views are now being echoed by other government officials.

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 612 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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