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Crypto-Crooks Steal Monero Using Compromised FTP Server Swarm

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Cyber-thieves are making away with the cryptocurrency Monero after compromising file transfer protocol servers with a malware that exploits its target’s CPU and power resources.

Monero, a relatively new cryptocurrency that can still be mined on PCs profitably, has captured the attention of malware authors and cybercriminals who have devised an exploit to infect FTP servers to steal the cryptocurrency.

Attila Marosi, a senior researcher from cybersecurity firm Sophos uncovered [PDF] the malware, dubbed Mal/Miner-C. It uses an effective technique to spread and get new nodes to calculate hashes for cryptocurrency as a means of a compromise. The malware also attempts to duplicate itself when spotting open or vulnerable FTP folders, Marosi added.

monero

The senior researcher estimated Mal/Miner C had, so far, mined Monero worth 76,599 EUR, or approximately $86,000. Furthermore, the malware had infected enough machines to earn 428 EUR or $480 every day.

Another startling fact from Marosi’s findings had the researcher state:

Here is what the full Monero mining community looks like: 2.5% of the whole mining capacity comes from infected machines.

The Vulnerability – a Seagate NAS Drive

The report put the spotlight on Seagate Central, a network attached storage (NAS) device which contains a fundamental design flaw. The vulnerability leaves the device open to exploit from hackers who could upload malware to any device configured to allow remote file access to the drive.

With remote access enabled, the FTP servers allows anonymous users to gain access to a public folder, leaving the door ajar to upload any file. In the case of Mal/Miner-C, attackers uploaded a file that resembles a screensaver – Photo.scr, within the folder – Photos. With the premise being innocuous, targets who fall for the exploit trigger the malware by simple double-clicking on the file.

While disabling remote access to the drive can prevent the vulnerability, it also disables remote access to the drive. This defeats the entire purpose of a NAS drive and isn’t the solution. Inevitably, attackers took note.

“Most[ly] all of these devices have already been infected by this threat,” Marosi wrote.

Using IoT search engine Censys, Marosi scanned the internet and some 3 million FTP servers to spot instances of the threat. While 2.1 million FTP servers were active during the test, over 207,000 of those active servers allowed anonymous remote access. Over 7,000 of those anonymous user-friendly servers also had write access enabled. Of that number, 5,137 servers were already compromised with Mal/Miner-C.

While the Seagate Central isn’t the only vulnerable NAS drive, it represents a vast majority of those exploited.

Mal/Miner C targeted moneropool.com as its primary pool, Marosi discovered. Further research revealed that the infected servers have the ability to generate 431,000 hashes per second when mining Monero. That’s roughly half of the entirety of moneropool.com which registers 861,000 hashes per second.

No Server too Small

Alarmingly, attackers have already targeted and compromised over 70% of the servers with write access-enabled, the report’s findings stated.

Furthermore, Marosi added:

If you’ve ever assumed that you’re too small and insignificant to be of interest to cybercriminals, and thus that getting security settings right is only really for bigger organizations, this should convince you otherwise.

Very bluntly put, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re very likely to become part of the problem.

 Images from Shutterstock and Monero.

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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A Bullish Bitcoin Mining Hashrate Prevails Despite Price Uncertainty

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With Beijing-domiciled Bitmain reportedly readying a blockbuster $3 billion IPO, cryptocurrency mining has been thrust into the spotlight once again. Bitmain, which boasts more than three-quarters of the market for mining equipment like ASICs, plans a September regulatory filing in Hong Kong, which based on some market predictions could coincide with when the real market recovery begins.

Bitcoin miners, meanwhile, are a loyal bunch and haven’t abandoned ship in the midst of the cryptocurrency storm, which bodes well for Bitmain’s upcoming listing as well as the outlook for the broader crypto market. This is apparent because the hashrate, which reflects the amount of computing power dedicated to the process of creating new coins, has been on the rise, according to Bloomberg.

Source: Bloomberg

The bullish trend suggests that bitcoin miners continue to generate a profit and have remained committed to the process while more skittish investors have abandoned ship. Bloomberg suggests that there is a lag between the price of bitcoin and the hashrate, but in some instances miners are “willing to run at a loss,” at least for a while.

Which brings us to the breakeven level for bitcoin mining, for which there are various estimates cited by Bloomberg:

  • Fundstrat says $8,000
  • Morgan Stanley says $8,600
  • CoinShares says $6,400

With the bitcoin price hovering at $6,359, miners are about profitable based on CoinShares research. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any collateral damage, as consolidation has left the smaller mining shops out in the cold as the largest miners run the leanest and most efficient operations.

Genesis Mining’s Outlook

Genesis Mining, which is a cloud-fueled bitcoin mining company, is among the firms increasing capacity, with Marco Streng, mathematician, an early bitcoin investor and CEO of Genesis Mining, telling Bloomberg: “There are still major expansions happening, especially from more efficient miners. The expansion is so big that it compensated for the drop-out of not-so-efficient miners.” Indeed, it’s those firms with a grip not only on mining pools but also mining equipment, like Bitmain, that have the most control.

But even Genesis Mining has its limits. The company stated in a blog post today that “miners around the globe are struggling to stay in the game,” pointing to “declining rewards,” which the company has no control over.

Genesis in the blog pointed to a perfect storm of a falling bitcoin price since January, a “rising difficulty” surrounding the mining process, which increases computing power requirements, and subsequent weak mining output by some users. As a result, these miners are in jeopardy of having their accounts closed once a grace period expires unless they upgrade to a different contract.

So in a sense, “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times” for crypto miners in a script whose next act has yet to unfold.

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 37 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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Dan Morehead Weighs In on Bitcoin’s Seventh Bear Market

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Bear markets are nothing new for bitcoin, with the latest devaluation marking the seventh such occurrence since 2009. According to Pantera Capital’s Dan Morehead, now is the ideal time to increase your position. He also had a few choice words for the traditional banking industry.

Bitcoin: Time To Buy

In a recent interview, Morehead described blockchain investments as the most “asymmetric risk-reward trade” he has ever seen. In other words, if you invest in blockchain, there’s no way you can lose everything. What’s more, many of the funds currently invested in bitcoin can increase their value 25 times.

With bitcoin hovering around $6,300, now is “actually a good time to increase your position,” Morehead said, as quoted by CCN.

“It’s highly likely to be the low point for the industry,” he said, reminding investors that the bitcoin price has been steadily increasing since 2009. “My normal view is that it’s going to return to its trend.”

Since inception, bitcoin has had only one down year (2015). In all other years, the cryptocurrency has returned at least 145%.

Morehead also responded to Warren Buffett’s claim that bitcoin is “rat poison squared.”

“It is rat poison; it’s just the banks and credit card companies are the rats.”

As Hacked recently reported, Pantera Capital has engineered returns of more than 10,000% since its inception.

Institutional Money

Despite the recent downturn, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the crypto hedge fund. A total of 96 cryptocurrency funds have come into existence this year, according to Crypto Fund Research. This figure is expected to reach 165 in 2018 compared with 156 all of last year.

There are now 466 cryptocurrency funds around the world, with more than half coming into existence since the start of 2017. Crypto hedge funds account for more than half of the total.

The crypto market is expected to receive a huge boost from institutional capital once regulators change existing rules allowing for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to be listed. The launch of Bakkt – a startup company backed by Intercontinental Exchange, Microsoft and Starbucks – is also expected to streamline mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency both at the investor and consumer levels.

Leading digital currency exchanges such as Coinbase are expanding custody services to appeal to Wall Street. Crypto custody is one of the biggest developments currently underway in the industry.

However, institutional involvement in crypto may be a double-edged sword. Multiple researchers, including the San Francisco Federal Reserve, believe institutional meddling is responsible for the 2018 bear market. They cite the launch of bitcoin futures in December as the main catalyst for the selloff.

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 550 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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Bitcoin Price Holds Steady as Signs of Bullish Reversal Emerge

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Bitcoin’s price was little changed Thursday, though the technical charts suggest that a bullish reversal is in the works following a successful defense of a key psychological threshold.

BTC/USD Update

The bitcoin price is currently trading at $6,350 on Bitfinex, having gained 1.3% during the session. Compared with 24 hours ago, BTC is virtually unchanged.

At current values, bitcoin has a total market capitalization of $109.3 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That represents more than 53% of the entire market value for cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin is trading comfortably above $6,000 after briefly piercing below that level earlier in the week. On Wednesday, the leading digital currency returned above $6,600, a sign that the short-sellers were running out of steam.

With the latest recovery, BTC has crossed the 50-day moving average, with the bulls eyeing yesterday’s high as a short-term target. A return above $6,600 could set the tone for a bigger breakout toward $7,000 in the near future. However, as Hacked previously reported, investors’ psychology remains severely damaged after the latest rout, which means the bulls aren’t out the woods yet.

According to the Relative Strength Index (RSI), bitcoin is gaining momentum after its recent brush with oversold levels.

Bitcoin ETF: More Problems Than Its Worth?

Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it would delay a ruling on a keenly awaited bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) – a non-decision that seems to have sparked the latest selloff in cryptocurrencies. (As we’ve reported all week, the selloff seems to have morphed into an ICO cash-out, with those of us still invested in the market diverting our assets into bitcoin.)

According to crypto pioneer Nick Szabo, bitcoin ETFs may not be the ‘holy grail’ investors have been waiting for; instead, they could lower the barrier to entry for “dumb money” to flood the market.

“I for one am not lobbying for an ETF or for Wall Street-managed money in general,” Szabo tweeted earlier this week. “It might cause more problems than it’s worth. The recent sell-off by dumb money has or soon will deprecate many opinionated know-nothings in this space. We don’t need new ones to take their place.”

Several researchers have linked bitcoin futures to increased market manipulation and volatility, a sign that institutional money isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. An ETF, in Szabo’s view, could invite many of the same problems. (Prior to the launch of bitcoin futures, “shorting” the digital currency was virtually impossible.)

Total assets under management held in ETFs crossed the $5 trillion mark earlier this year.

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 550 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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