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Could Digital Currencies Become a Target in the Fight Against Ransomware?

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According to a former assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, tackling the rise in ransomware attacks could see action taken against hard-to-trace digital currencies such as bitcoin.

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In the last year, there has been an increase in the number of ransomware attacks.

Earlier this year, a Canadian university had to pay bitcoin to malicious hackers so that it could access its computer systems after a cyberattack denied access to its data. In February, a Hollywood hospital was the target of ransomware attack and had to pay $17,000 in bitcoins to the extortionists.

Unsurprisingly, due to the rise in ransomware attacks, banks are now keeping hold of bitcoins to pay ransom demands in case they become targeted by a cyberattack.

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Speaking to Business Insider, David S. Kris, former assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division said that:

I think the way to attack this – and I think the way you’re probably going to see some legal change over the next few years – is on the other end, with respect to the payments.

According to the tech firm Kaspersky Lab, this summer has seen a rise in the number of cyberattack victims. In 2014-2015, the number was around 131,000, but in 2015-2016 it had risen to an alarming 718,000, as reported by Business Insider.

A report from CCN last month found that, according to Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a Kaspersky Lab ZAO researcher, criminals employ ransomware because it’s easier to launch and because it’s more profitable compared to breaking into computers to steal funds through online banking.

Unfortunately, with various companies and organizations being targeted by ransomware attacks, it seems as though the threat from hackers is not going away anytime soon.

With the wide use of digital currencies making it easier for criminals to demand ransom payments coupled with a low risk of being caught, the use of digital currencies such as bitcoin will also continue for now.

Featured image from iStock/skodonnell.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pete RePete

    September 23, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Why not catch the hackers and prosecute them? There is no footprint?
    And how about doing backups? Taking responsibility?

  2. 梁致朗

    September 23, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Could GOLD Become a Target in the Fight Against Ransom?

  3. dCo3lh0

    September 23, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I agree with pete with the backups, but catching them is a little hard with such things as untraceable monero or dash, the bitcoin revolution as any kind of technology that has been created in human history have pros and cons, nice uses and evil too, we have to adapt.

    • Chris Wiedner

      September 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      What are the pros of a virtually untraceable currency? What legal use does it have that other currencies cannot fill?

      • Sam Spade

        September 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        The answer depends on whether you think government is always the good guy. If we our world is run by angles, than there is no use for anonymity in any area. If not, the latter is as essential as the dome over a nuclear power plant.

  4. Rory Smith

    September 24, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Bitcoins are built on a blockchain database that is decentralized. If organizations move to using the same decentalized databases to store their info, hackers couldn’t lock up the data in the first place and make ransomware a thing of the past.

    • Sam Spade

      September 24, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      In the case of information, sounds like just another way to make a back-up because you are too lazy to use the tools that already exist.

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Analysis

Notable Bitcoin Price Growth Events in October

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October has been an interesting month for Bitcoin, with growth of about 40% so far, breaking a market cap of over $101,881,681,652.

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But if you are looking at Bitcoin long-term, this is more than just numbers now. Yes, Bitcoin did experience some explosive growth this month (and has been this entire year), but we shouldn’t let that distract us from some of the main components that will fuel Bitcoin’s growth in the long-term.

  1. Not only did the price break $6,000 per Bitcoin for the first time ever, we started to see Bitcoin’s market cap rate surpass that of big banks such as Goldman Sachs ($93 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($89 billion). While comparing the market capitalization of a cryptocurrency with that of publicly traded companies doesn’t make much financial sense, it’s entertaining to watch financial institutions stress out about Bitcoin.

For example, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon can’t stop talking about Bitcoin and venting his frustration with the topic by calling Bitcoin a “fraud” and threatening to fire any employee trading it for the simple reason of “being stupid”.

We also saw Goldman Sachs state that Bitcoin is not the “new gold” in terms of currency, calling it volatile and the methods of storage vulnerable. Goldman Sachs also stated that precious metals like gold are still the best way to store value-long term. While this may be historically accurate, the world hasn’t seen anything like Bitcoin before. Understanding Bitcoin’s growth a matter of equipping yourself with the perspective and ideology that Bitcoin (or  if/when whatever cryptocurrency evolves to take its place) can play a substantial long-term role in how society views money.

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Traditional financial institutions such as investment banks are at an interesting point. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ripple are inherent threats to the very foundation that these multi-hundred-billion dollar companies operate on, and they can’t be defeated because of their decentralized nature. Additionally, many of the same banks that are threatened are also investors looking to reap the rewards of Bitcoin’s explosive growth, and also are incubating similar blockchain concepts to not get left in the dust.

  1. People are starting to look at Bitcoin as an oasis of solidity in an otherwise tumultuous alt-coin market.

In September, we saw an unprecedented crackdown on ICOs and alt-coins by government entities. China and South Korea outright banned the sales of ICOs, and the United States warned investors to be skeptical. While there are hundreds (soon to be thousands) of dubious ICOs, this crackdown did have effects on how investors view legitimate alt-coins. For this reason, many investors flocked to Bitcoin and were able to enjoy some solid growth in October.

So, that brings up the question of whether Bitcoin will be a source of stability in the future. Although the price has gone up a lot this month, that doesn’t make it any less volatile.

  1. Bitcoin still has a long way to go. One of the key pieces of news in October that influenced the writing of this piece was the prediction that Bitcoin will hit $27,000 in four months by an avid cryptocurrency investor and enthusiast called Trace Mayer. While Twitter is filled with all kinds of Bitcoin hooplah, Mayer’s prediction was based on a simple 200 day moving average. This 200 day moving average would put Bitcoin well over $27,000.

Four months is close enough in the future to anticipate, so I’m really interested to see where BTC ends up between then and now. The counter-argument against this would be that Bitcoin may just be experience a state of exponential growth and will cool off, but that’s what people have been saying for years.

It’s also important to note that Bitcoin’s main competitors for value storage and a medium of exchange are the US Dollar and gold. Bitcoin was able to earn a market capitalization of over $100 billion in just a few short years, but this hardly holds a candle to its competitors. The US Dollar money supply circles around $12,500 billion. All the gold that has ever been mined is worth around $8,000 billion.

This means that Bitcoin, this innovative new technology with exponential growth is only around 1% of its two main competitors. This leaves Bitcoin a long way to grow, and I personally don’t think it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

Final Thoughts

By all means, this isn’t a conclusive argument for where Bitcoin’s price will end up. These are just a few points I want to bring up regardless of whatever you choose to do with your money.

There are a handful good of arguments on both sides of the Bitcoin growth discussion, but it all comes down to how well you can either respond to short-term events, or how cemented you are in your long-term beliefs.

Personally, I don’t recommend day-trading or trying to “game” exchanges for the simple fact that losing money sucks, and this is an easy way to lose money.

However, what I can advocate is the thorough research of the fundamental factors influencing the growth of particular cryptocurrencies and how the world responds to it. For example, in October we saw investment banks start commenting more about Bitcoin (which at the very least hints at more media coverage), how many users decided to stick with Bitcoin instead of liquidating for fiat during rough alt-coin times, and some explosive growth that backs up the lofty price goal assumptions by crypto enthusiasts.

 

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Bitcoin

We Have to Talk About Bitcoin Again

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It hasn’t been a day since our last bitcoin article, but the world’s leading cryptocurrency has soared to fresh all-time highs yet again. This time, prices approached $6,200 for the first time ever.

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Bitcoin’s Bull Market

BTC/USD touched a session high of $6,180.00, bringing its total market cap to $103 billion. Prices were last seen hovering around $6,100, according to Bitstamp.

The rally on Saturday came less than 24 hours after the bulls tested the waters near $6,000. Analysts are almost certain that prices can still go higher, making a compelling case for investors who are still on the sidelines of the crypto rally. FundStrat Global Advisor’s Tom Lee believes prices could top $25,000 over the next five years. In fact, he says this is a conservative estimate.

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Bitcoin’s epic run has dwarfed Wall Street’s post-election rally, and has defied repeated warnings from big banks and policymakers.

Bitcoin Gold’s Private Fork

Coinbase made a startling revelation Friday in its FAQ section, where it claimed that Bitcoin Gold (BTG) has already privately forked. The private fork occurred “at a point known only to the Bitcoin Gold development team.” The newly minted digital currency will be made publicly available when the Bitcoin blockchain reaches block no. 491,407. That’s estimated to occur Wednesday.

Bitcoin Gold isn’t your typical fork in the traditional sense of the term. The Wednesday fork date is when the first Genesis block will be mined. The Bitcoin network will have no part in this process whatsoever.

Market participants are still skeptical whether BTG is legitimate. The code has not been made available, and its developers have already mined tens of thousands of blocks.

BTG’s reluctance to release its code publicly is a “major security risk,” according to Coinbase. As such, the U.S.-based exchange will not support the new coin. The broker remains committed to adding support for the Segwit2x hard fork in November.

“After the fork, we will enable access when we have determined each blockchain is secure and stable,” Coinbase Dan Romero said in a blog post earlier this month. “We expect this to happen within a few days after the fork, but it may take longer if additional risks emerge.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Analysis

Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: Bitcoin Outshines Altcoins Again

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The most valuable coin had another encouraging week, as it emerged from a brief but violent correction, just to reach new highs towards the end of the week, draining capital from altcoins. The total value of the market is stagnating near the all-time high, but BTC crossed the $100 billion mark as it surged past the $6000 price level, controlling 58% of the market.

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With the long-term MACD clearly being overbought, and as the long-term target has been hit, investors should now be looking for exit points, even as the short-term uptrend is intact. The range projection target of the recent correction is found at $7000, but correction risks are already high, and only small positions should be kept in the current setup.

BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

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Most of the major altcoins are trading in narrow ranges this weekend after a slightly bearish week, as the optimism surrounding Ethereum’s major update faded and the second largest coin re-entered its previous range.

Litecoin, Dash, and Monero are still looking encouraging despite the lengthy correction, while the recently, while the relatively weak Ethereum Classic IOTA continue to show worrying signs. As the Bitcoin long trade is getting stretched,  let’s see the how the daily charts of the altcoins are shaping up.

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