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CryptoWall 4.0: Why the Ransomware Presents a Bigger Threat than Its Predecessor

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CryptoWall 4.0 is a harder ransomware to protect against than its predecessor, CrptoWall 3.0, according to Heimdal Security. This is pretty serious news, considering CryptoWall 3.0 has raked in an estimated $325 million from hundreds of thousands of victims by demanding ransom payments in bitcoin since the ransomware debuted less than a year ago.

Andrfa Zaharia, a security and marketing/communication specialist at Heimdal Security, offers an overview on why the new strain is a more dangerous threat and offers some pointers on how to avoid becoming a victim. Following is a summary of this overview from the Heimdal blog.

Code Has Been Enhanced

The CryptoWall code has been enhanced in several ways. It includes an advanced malware dropper mechanism to avoid antivirus detection. It possesses improved communication capabilities, including a modified protocol enabling it to evade detection, even by second generation firewall systems. The code lowers detection rates significantly in comparison to CryptoWall 3.0.

Malware creators have additionally developed changes in the text method that is dropped on infected systems. The files are now referred to as:

HELP_YOUR_FILES.TXT
HELP_YOUR_FILES.HTML
HELP_YOUR_FILES.PNG

An example of such a text is as follows:

\C: \ Documents and Settings \ User \ Desktop \ HELP_YOUR_FILES.TXT

The condescending message includes an FAQ directing answers to the victim.

Heimdal 2

CryptoWall 4.0 encrypts more than the data in the files; it also encrypts the file names. This technique confuses the victim further. It also enhances the pressure to retrieve the data faster. This raises the “success” ratio of the number of victims who see the message compared to the number who pay the ransom.

Cryptoware Creators Get Professional

Cryptoware creators behave as if they run software firms. They enhance their code to make it more effective in finding vulnerabilities. They address IT security market trends in making the ransomware highly undetectable, and they use social and emotional triggers to enhance their return on investment.

What has stayed the same is that CryptoWall 4.0 still uses TOR to guide victims to make payments. This allows them to ransom their data by paying for a decryption key in a way that does not undermine the anonymity of attackers.

Heimdal 3

CryptoWall 4.0 also connects to a sequence of compromised web pages to download as pay onto the target system. The pages connect the infected system to a botnet and use it to spread malware to more computers.

Also read: Hackers use cryptoware against police for bitcoin ransom

Infrastructure Unchanged From 3.0

The infrastructure is not changed from CryptoWall 3.0, and the antivirus detection for the new variant is very low.

CrytoWall 4.0 spreads by means of drive-by attacks and spam mail, its preferred main attack vectors due to the low cost.

Once data is encrypted, there is not much that can be done. Options include:

  • Format the system and restore information from a backup.
  • Pay the ransom and get a decryption key. This does not guarantee you will get the decryption key, and Heimdal does not recommend paying the ransom.

How To Prevent Infection

To prevent an infection, Heimdal recommends:

  • Keep the system up to date and install the latest updates.
  • Back up data frequently.
  • Don’t keep important information on the computer.
  • Don’t open spam emails or emails from unknown senders.
  • Don’t open attachments from suspicious emails.
  • Use products that can detect and block ransomware.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Additional images from Heimdal Security.

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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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Altcoins

Monero Price Analysis: XMR/USD Slips Below Crucial Daily Support Ahead of System Update

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  • Monero’s navitve token XMR is forced to breach a key area of support by the market bears.
  • XMR/USD was being support by an ascending trend line, running from 14th August.
  • The Monero foundation is scheduled for a routine network upgrade.

Monero Network Update

The Monero foundation is scheduled to update its network on 18th October, as a result this will be bringing a new hard fork to its token. They have been making it a routine process now, hard forking every six months. Their focus being on the likes of increased ring-size for more privacy, with large transactions and tweaking their proof of work algorithm.

In terms of this upgrade, the goal is to enhance efficiency and make some adjustments to the current proof of work algorithm. Ultimately, to make it resistant and curb the threat of ASIC mining. Developers at Monero will be implementing the new Bulletproofs protocol. This will see greater privacy, lower fees and faster verification. It will reduce transaction size by an estimated 80%.

Technical Review – Daily Chart

XMR/USD daily chart

XMR/USD slipped out to the downside from an ascending trend line. As a result, the market bears managed to push for a breach and daily close below on 7th October. The support had been running since 14th August, where the price hit a low of $76.739.  A retest has been seen and pressure is now gradually mounting on Monero’s XMR. In terms of support, the 50DMA has provided some initial comfort for now. Furthermore, the next major downside support is observed in a chunky demand area. This is seen tracking from $86 down to $76. Resistance will now be eyed at $116.550 area, underneath the breached ascending trend line. In proximity to the 100DMA, which may cause some difficulty for the bulls. Elsewhere, further to the north, resistance can be seen within the $125.000 territory. Finally, heavy supply is tracking from $140 up to $150.

Technical Review – 4-hour Chart

XMR/USD 4-hour chart

Despite the above-mentioned daily breakout from the supporting trend line, there is still some hope for XMR/USD in the near-term, because from looking at the 4-hour chart view, the price has been moving within a range-bound block. This narrowing area has been running since 26th September. Fortunately for the price, a fresh wave of selling pressure has been prevented for now.  The lower part of the mentioned range has proven to see some near-term support. Therefore, the protection has been observed from around $112 to the high $111 territory. Although, a breach of this area could see a fast fall back down to sub $100, last traded below here on 12th September. While further downside pressure could force a retreat back down to a firm demand zone. Eyes would be on $86-77 range for buying.

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 33 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

Monero Price Analysis: XMR/USD Bulls Cooking Up Big Potential Moves

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  • XMR/USD price action surprisingly this week has been generally muted.
  • Current price behavior looks more favorable to see upside surprises, rather than any heavy selling pressure.

The Monero price this trading week has been somewhat muted. This comes as quite a surprise given the recent updates from the foundation. The foundation introduced the Maleware Workgroup, a huge step in efforts to protect the Monero community. Elsewhere, the foundation was also finally able to patch the ongoing ‘burning bug’ issue, which was proving to be a big problem. Full details of both developments posted in previous Monero article.

Near-term Analysis (60-Minute Chart)

XMR/USD 60-minute chart

Looking at the 60-minute chart for XMR/USD, it is very much clear to see how tight the trading range is. The vast majority of price action, aside from a couple of spikes here and there, has been swinging between $117 down to $111. This behavior has been observed since the bull run seen on 19th September, which was then paired after 23rd September fall.

Daily Chart View

XMR/USD daily chart

Price action is being supported by an ascending trend line on the daily chart. This has been running from 13th August, proving its strength. XMR/USD is currently stuck in between the 100DMA ($116.795), which is seen above, and the 50DMA ($110.877) below.  The price has seen a bounce on several occasions in September, off the trend line.

Next Move for Monero

The above-mentioned tracking ascending trend line is going to be vital in Monero’s recovery. Market bulls will need comfort, in case of another failed break down of above chunky supply area. This is seen tracking from $140-$150. There were several occasions in July and one in September, where the bulls failed to break this down. On each time the price has come into contact with this territory, it has been hit pretty hard by the sellers.

XMR/USD daily view

A breakout to the upside from the mentioned supply, could see a fast move towards $170, where some resistance can be seen. The price most recently found difficulty within this area at the early part of June. Enough bullish momentum should see it clear this territory, with $200 being reclaimed to the upside. XMR/USD was last trading above $200 back on 21st May.

Looking to the downside, a breach in the ascending trend line to the downside, could be catastrophic. Sellers would likely pile in with a high amount of volatility, sending the price down to sub-$100. The next chunky demand area is seen down within the $90-75 range. XMR/USD traded within this zone on 14th August, where the market managed receive a firm bounce.

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 33 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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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Network Faced One-Two Punch of Inflation and DoS Threats

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Bitcoin Core has emerged seemingly unscathed from a major vulnerability that threatened to shut down parts of the network in a denial-of-service (DoS) attack. But apparently, the bug was even worse than originally thought. According to a Bitcoin Core Full Disclosure Report, the issue included an “inflation vulnerability,” one in which if seized upon could have bolstered the supply of bitcoin beyond the famous 21 million coin ceiling. By pouring more coins into the supply, the hackers would have diminished the value of the circulating bitcoins.

The decision to expose only the lesser extreme part of the bug to the public was deliberate. According to the report:

“In order to encourage rapid upgrades, the decision was made to immediately patch and disclose the less serious Denial of Service vulnerability, concurrently with reaching out to miners, businesses, and other affected systems while delaying publication of the full issue to give times for systems to upgrade. On September 20th a post in a public forum reported the full impact and although it was quickly retracted the claim was further circulated.”

Double-Edged Sword

The strategy was a success and the bug is no longer a threat, as evidenced by more than 50% of the bitcoin mining hashrate having been upgraded to the patched nodes with no known attempts to “exploit this vulnerability.”

Here’s what we know, according to the report –

“A developer by the title earlz independently discovered and reported the vulnerability to the Bitcoin Core security contact email.”

Meanwhile, on social media, a contributor identified as a Bitcoin Cash developer who goes by the handle “Awemany” was cheered on Reddit for discovering and reporting the bug and cementing their place in “bitcoin’s history book.” Awemany in a blog post pointed to bitcoin developer Matt Corallo, whose 2016 pull request in an attempt to accelerate validation times led to what Awemany characterized as “one of the most catastrophic bugs in Bitcoin ever.”

The bottom line is that the bug was discovered and the threat has been lifted. It’s both a reminder of the risks associated with the consensus mechanism and a demonstration of good faith among the decision makers.

While it’s mostly the future of ETH that has been contemplated of late, given the plummeting of the No. 2 cryptocurrency’s value this year along with the confidence of investors, bitcoin has its own issues. In an exclusive interview with CCN, Sheffield Clark, who is at the helm of bitcoin ATM maker Coinsource, pointed to potentially “stagnant” mainstream adoption of bitcoin amid a lack of regulatory framework to help resolve issues like extreme volatility.

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 69 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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