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Doxing & Defending

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Online conflicts over the last few months have featured a number of notable ‘doxings.’ This bit of hacker/troll slang formerly meant “identifying an anonymous persona to the point that they can be harassed in real life at a known address, or subject to identity theft.”

As online conflicts have spread, concurrent with the growth of social media, the meaning of the term has softened a bit, to the point where it merely means identifying the real owner of a given persona, while the qualified phrase “full dox” is taken to mean date of birth and social security number are available.

This practice is the ‘soft kill’ for anonymous online personas, while swatting is the ‘hard kill.’ The latter is much scarier in the moment, but a SWAT team will leave your home within the hour of arriving, while the effect of being doxed can follow you around for years.

Methodology

Social networksThis DailyDot article, I was taught to dox by a master, is a good review of how a competent amateur will go about doxing someone. Your pursuer will dig up every social media account, every email address, every phone number, the names of your friends and family, and then relentlessly apply Google, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines to the task of finding you.

The three search engines mentioned are all applied because each prioritizes results in a different way. If a pursuit stretches into more than a day or two, the searcher will likely employ a mix of Google Alerts and a similar service from Luxembourg based Talkwalker. Paid services such as LexisNexis or Spokeo may be used as well. The unwary new person may fall into the clutches of MyLife, which features poor quality information and a well nigh impossible to cancel monthly service fee. If forced to use this, be sure to use a prepaid card with no more than the monthly fee on it.

Radaris is another site that gets high marks for individuals, and if you have some employment information Yatedo will often display all sorts of business background data available nowhere else.

Social Media

Social media sites are a boon to the would-be doxer. An open Twitter will reveal your interests, an open Facebook shows where you are and whom your friends and family are while an open LinkedIn provides access to your professional associates. This entire sector is changing as both users and investors realize that social media properties follow a well-defined arc. They start, they take root, they peak, and then they fade away. LinkedIn will never be displaced from professional networking, Twitter has managed to largely eliminate RSS as a way for web sites to publish, but Facebook and every other system that didn’t carve out a defensible niche is doomed to eventually fade.

The great unappreciated hazard in this area is the dormant account. Twitter is full of accounts that were registered, permitted to find friends based on email, and then forgotten. These time capsules can reveal patterns that are inaccessible via accounts that receive daily use. Every year at least one Congressional staffer gets embarrassed when their account on Grindr, a gay hookup site, is discovered. That photo sharing site you haven’t used in two years, but which is still attached to your phone’s camera will be found at a most inconvenient moment.

Facing An Expert

That DailyDot article offers a good overview, but what it represents is by no means what one should expect when facing an expert. Those who are truly dedicated, from skip tracer private detectives, to corporate threat analysts, to political opposition researchers, to the king of the hill trolls, have a bag of tricks that far exceed what that article describes. Tools and tactics can include:

South African penetration toolkit vendor Paterva offers Maltego. This $750 tool can capture the entire details of a domain or a Twitter social network with a few mouse clicks, providing a structured repository for the data collected. Third party queries, referred to as transforms, permit the system to access other data sources, such as blockchain.info’s Bitcoin data. Complexity is no defense against a motivated adversary.

If the target is at all public, which can mean anything from a Congressional candidate to a blogger who writes about a certain niche, they are likely to have Google or Talkwalker alerts for their name. Serve up a page on a blog that mentions them, have something like Sitemeter running, and you’ll get an IP address for them. This gives you either their cellular provider or their home ISP, as well as enough data to narrow down their geographic area.

There are many other ploys available if the pursuer is willing to send a pretext email and unconcerned with the consequences of being caught spearphishing you. Actively engaging a person willing to go to these lengths will end badly, although it might take a while.

Countermeasures

Having a bit of knowledge about the sort of problems out there, how do you protect yourself?

First and foremost, protect your financial information. Your state publishes information on dealing with identity theft. Get this and read it until you find their recommendation for a credit watch. Experian’s LifeLock is an example of this. If you have the slightest hint you are facing pursuit, you should do this at once.

If you are in the habit of keeping email, look for everything you ever signed up for but do not use. Work your way through them and eliminate every single one. If any of the services you do use offer two-factor authentication, absolutely turn this on, and that goes double for anything with fiat currency or cryptocoins on the inside.

Google and Talkwalker alerts are not just for the bad guys. Set up a few of your own – your name, your street address, your cell phone number, and so forth. Once you have them working, see if you can zero out any responses. If you are fairly quiet, you can expect a week or two of these systems finding dated information, which you should inspect for hazards.

The world is awash in privacy violation news, with the Sony intrusion, a Morgan Stanley insider leaking personal information of 10% of their wealth management customers, and a thousand other smaller events. Even American Banker says we need to rethink identity; a clear sign that not just law enforcement, but legislation that will compel those who hold identifying information to be more diligent in their security.

Images from scyther5 and 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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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 548 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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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.”

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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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 548 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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