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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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Altcoins

Targeted Marketing: How to Sell Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency to the Masses

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According to recent data from data management platform Lotame, advertisers have abandoned their usual broad-stroke marketing efforts in favour of more specific methods.

The ‘parent’ demographic once ranked as the highest possible target an advertiser could aim for – get the parents and you get the entire household. But that’s changed in recent years, and advertisers now aim for ‘advanced demographics’.

Such advanced demographic markers vary wildly, and advertising spending has been re-allocated to reflect newly identified buyer groups.

This has seen advertisers increase their spending by 451% to attract ‘animal lovers’. One advertiser increased its spending 98% to target the hispanic population – the largest racial minority in the U.S. Others boosted their budgets by various amounts in order to snare millennials (32%) and ‘young Gen-X’ (29%)

The Problem with Blockchain and Crypto Marketing?

If advertisers can see the wisdom in laser-targeted marketing, why shouldn’t blockchain marketers take the same route?

In my experience, most current blockchain marketing is stuck on a small scale. The general public is not being marketed to. Instead, PR is mostly directed towards other people already in the space, such as journalists (No, Ms. Xhu, I can’t publish an ad for your new coin).

I went to the discord server of a prominent altcoin recently, and the ‘marketing’ channel was full of coordinated attempts to ride the coat-tails of prominent twitter personalities and their tweets. ‘This tweet’s getting traction…jump on it and promote our coin!’

Marketing efforts are directed at ICO reviewers, YouTube personalities and cryptocurrency news outlets. In other words, marketers are only doing enough to get noticed by people who are already here. Most of this is done with the simple goal of making it successfully out of the ICO stage – like an independent movie producer pulling every dirty trick they can just to get a strong opening.

Can Targeted Marketing Help the Crypto Space?

As things stand, the default sales pitch of Bitcoin and/or cryptocurrency is that it has the potential to bring down the banksters, revolutionize the financial system, and put financial control in the hands of the people.

Maybe I’m not the best salesman, because when I explain it to people they rarely display the kind of enthusiasm described in the field-manual.

My point is not everyone wants to be a revolutionary – or even a libertarian. Rather than market the full terrifying potential of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to one and all, wouldn’t it be wiser to break it up into chunks and spread it around various advanced demographics?

Advanced Demographics of the Crypto Space?

Well, the animal lovers demo might already be sewn up by Cryptokitties; and it seems like Dentacoin has dentists covered for now.

But what about the demographic difference between the young and old? Rich and poor? Can cryptocurrency serve working class people more than middle class people? We know Bitcoin is adopted by people desperate to avoid taxes, but so too is it used by those who give to charity.

To push the point further, one can imagine immortal enemies Alex Jones and George Soros being equally enthusiastic about cryptocurrency, but for radically different reasons.

I suspect the early battles in the blockchain revolution will be won in the front end of the shop, through careful targeting of the everyday needs of specific individuals. The internet didn’t spread to everyone in equal time – its outreach never exceeded the applicability it held for whatever individual was next in line to use it.

The goal of cryptocurrency marketers must be to find those applications in the real world and magnify them to such an extent that they can’t be ignored.

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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Crypto Markets are Up $16 Billion Since Sunday; What’s Behind the Rally?

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Cryptocurrency prices are flashing green on Tuesday, as bitcoin and the major altcoins extended an early-week rally that was brought on by a sudden surge in trade volumes. The market’s performance over the past two days suggests that the big buyers are absorbing selling pressure following weeks of mostly lateral moves for the majors.

Market Update

The combined value of all coins reached $135.8 billion on Tuesday, the highest since early January, according to CoinMarketCap. The total market capitalization has increased by nearly $16 billion since Sunday.

At the time of writing, the top 30 coins were all reporting gains. Double-digit gainers included EOS (+15.3%), bitcoin cash (+10.6%) and Stellar (+11.6). Each of these top cryptocurrencies were considered severely oversold during the latest bout of selling pressure that extended into February.

EOS is tracking weekly gains of 30% and has moved well north of $3.60. The cryptocurrency had been firmly capped below $3.00 since November amid the wider market downturn and fallout from the ICO bust. EOS currently has a market capitalization of more than $3.3 billion, inching closer to its ICO value of $4 billion.

Oversized gains for EOS pushed Litecoin back down to the no. 5 spot in the crypto market cap index. Litecoin is currently trading below $49.00, having gained 5.3%.

Bitcoin, the market’s primary bellwether, reached an average aggregate price of $4,010.15, according to CoinMarketCap. That represents a gain of 5% over the past 24 hours. The bitcoin price traded as high as $4.083 on Bitfinex. More on this story: Bitcoin Blows Past $4,000 as Volume Surges to 10-Month High.

Volumes Tell a Story

An eye-popping surge in trade volume across all exchanges and cryptocurrencies was the primary catalyst behind the rally. But what’s driving volume, and why was the burst so sudden? A closer look at exchange-based volumes reveals that market activity has been rising steadily since at least October. In fact, data from Flipside Crypto reveals that the volume pump may have originated last summer when long-dormant bitcoin accounts began transferring funds onto exchanges.

Bitcoin’s circulating supply has been rising since last July, with the most dramatic surge occurring over a 30-day stretch between December and January. As Hacked reported at the time, “It’s clear that many of these dormant account holders are preparing to become active traders once again.”

Volumes have been consistently higher throughout the year. Ethereum, the market’s no. 2 cryptocurrency by total capitalization, recently printed its largest-ever volume on Bitfinex. Over a three-week period ending Feb. 15, so-called “smart money” absorbed selling pressure to the tune of 13.627 million ETH. That was equivalent to $1.8 billion at the time. As Hacked analyst Kiril Nikolaev noted, “Whales had to commit such an amount to keep prices from falling further. Even for rich people, this is a huge investment.”

Related: Ethereum Price Analysis: Volume Spike Pushes ETH/USD to Monthly Highs.

Trade volumes across all exchanges and cryptocurrencies topped $36 billion on Tuesday. During long stretches of ‘crypto winter,’ daily trade volumes were in the $10-$12 billion range. Since the new year, daily turnover has averaged more than $15 billion.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 772 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Bitcoin Blows Past $4,000 as Volume Surges to 10-Month High

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Bitcoin’s bulls maintained full control of the market on Tuesday, as the BTC/USD exchange rate crossed $4,000 for the first time since early January. In the process, exchange-based volumes surged to their highest levels in ten months.

BTC/USD: Breakout Eyed

The bitcoin price crossed $4,000 on Bitfinex and reached a session high of $4,048, the highest since Jan. 8. At the time of writing, BTC/USD printed $4,006.30 on Bitfinex, having gained 0.7%. The leading digital currency has maintained strong momentum amid the latest rally, according to the hourly relative strength index (RSI).

Aggregate data provided by CoinMarketCap show an average bitcoin price of $3,921.67 as of Tuesday morning. That’s a gain of 4.2% over 24-hour cycle.

Read more: Bitcoin Surges to Five-Week High; Crypto Bulls Reignite?

In terms of technical indicators, bitcoin must return above $4,200 to negate the long-term down trend This represents the high from late December and was also the 15-week moving average prior to the last breakout attempt. Beyond that, the bulls must return above $5,500 and eventually break the 50-week moving average near $6,800 to convince traders that a full-blown recovery was afoot.

Has Bitcoin Bottomed? A Closer Look at the Bullish and Bearish Cases

Trade Volumes Surge

The rally on Tuesday is a continuation of a sudden breakout that began more than 24 hours ago. On Monday, bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency market rose to five-week highs thanks to a confluence of technical and fundamental forces.

A significant rise in trade volumes has underpinned the market’s push north. More than $10 billion worth of bitcoin traded hands on virtual exchanges in the last 24 hours. According to CoinMarketCap data, that the highest since April 2018. Virtual currency exchanges processed nearly $36 billion worth of cryptocurrency transactions over the same period.

The following chart highlights the extent of the volume surge on individual exchanges. Three exchanges processed more than $1 billion in adjusted volume; 12 more reported adjusted volumes of $500 million or greater. The billion-dollar exchanges are Binance, Bit-Z and OKEx.

The volume surge has contributed to higher volatility over the past two days. As of Monday, bitcoin’s 30-day volatility index rose to 2.24%, according to bitvol.info. That’s a gain of 32 basis points from Sunday, when volatility fell to three-month lows.

For crypto traders, volatility is a double-edged sword. Dramatic swings in prices make it more difficult to time their market entry or to rely on technical analysis to determine future positions. High volatility can also lead to rapid declines in prices. At the same time, the 2017 bull market showed that volatility can lead to parabolic gains for bitcoin and its altcoin peers.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 772 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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