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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.”

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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.

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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

Skepticism Grows Over BitGrail’s Supposed $167 Million Hack

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A relatively unknown cryptocurrency exchange by the name of BitGrail has informed its users of a coordinated cyber attack targeting Nano (XRB) tokens. However, the incident does not appear to be holding up to scrutiny after the founder of the exchange made an odd request to the developers of Nano shortly after discovering the alleged theft.

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BitGrail Exchange Allegedly Compromised

The Italian exchange issued a notice to its clients last week informing them that 17 million XRB tokens were compromised in a cyber attack. The XRB token, formerly known known as Raiblocks, is valued at $9.80 at the time of writing for a total market cap of $1.3 billion. That puts the total monetary loss of the supposed heist at nearly $167 million.

Parts of the notice have been translated into English from the original Italian by Tech Crunch, a media company dedicated to startups and technology news. According to the agency,  BitGrail has stated the following:

“… Internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano shortfall, an amount forming part of the wallet managed by BitGrail… Today a charge about those fraudulent activities has been submitted to the competent authorities and now is under police investigation.”

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The notice indicated that all transactions have been put on hold until authorities complete their investigation.

Very little is known about BitGrail, as it is not listed among the 183 exchanges whose volume is ranked by CoinMarketCap.

Suspicion Grows

Unlike other crypto heists, the circumstances surrounding the alleged BitGrail attack have been met with widespread suspicion. As David Z. Morris of Fortune rightly notes, this isn’t the first time BitGrail has suspended Nano withdrawals. The same thing happened in early January when the exchange halted not only Nano, but Lisk and CryptoForecast transactions as well.

The suspension was followed by an announcement that the exchange was taking measured steps to verify users and enforce anti-money laundering requirements. It was around this time that users became suspicious that BitGrail was going to cut and run with their tokens.

BitGrail founder Francesco Firano made an unusual request to the developers of Nano following the alleged attack: he asked them to fork their record, a move that would essentially restore the stolen funds.

Nano officially rejected the request on Friday, the day after Firano supposedly discovered the stolen coins. In a post that appeared on the Nano Medium page, the team said:

“We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.”

Last month, hackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens stolen from Coincheck, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange. The coins have yet to be recovered and the perpetrators remain at large. In 2014, a cyber heist brought down Mt Gox, which was the world’s largest exchange.

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 141 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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Coincheck Hackers Are Trying to Sell Their Stolen NEM Coins

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The hackers behind the biggest crypto heist of all time are attempting to sell their stolen coins, according to an executive at the NEM Foundation. The revelations are the latest in a four-day saga that has authorities still struggling to identify perpetrators or locate the account in receipt of the stolen funds.

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Hackers Try to Profit

Jeff McDonald, Vice President of the NEM Foundation, said Tuesday that his organization had traced stolen XEM coins to an unidentified address. It was here that the thief tried to unload the stolen funds onto six online exchanges for the purpose of selling them. McDonald said the exchanges have since been notified.

It was not immediately apparent how many of the stolen coins were spent or even the whereabouts of the account. A spokeswoman at the NEM Foundation later said the attacker sent the cryptocurrency to several random accounts in 100-token increments.

Last Friday, the attackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck. The monetary value of the heist has fluctuated several times over the past four days, reflecting regular price moves in NEM’s native XEM token. However, Coincheck said it would reimburse account holders at a rate of 81 U.S. cents per token, which reflects the average price between Jan. 26 and 27.

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Coincheck has been fined administrative penalties for failing to secure client funds. It was later revealed by the executive management team that the exchange failed to implement basic security features, such as multi-signature capability and cold storage. Rather, the XEM tokens were held in accounts connected to the internet.

Although the NEM Foundation is trying to prevent the liquidation of stolen funds, MacDonald said the attackers will likely get away with some of the money. However, the likelihood that they spend all of it is virtually zero given the market’s underlying liquidity constraints.

NEM Price Volatility

News of the heist on Friday triggered significant volatility in the price of XEM and the broader cryptocurrency market. Following a brief recovery, XEM has declined steadily over the past three days, with prices reaching new six-week lows on Tuesday. The coin touched a session low of 79 cents on volumes of more than $32 million. At press time, the coin was worth a little more than 80 cents.

Even with the decline, NEM held on to tenth spot in the global cryptocurrency rankings based on market cap. The coin’s overall value remains well north of $7 billion, according to CCN.

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 141 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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Coincheck Update: Exchange Announces Plan to Compensate 260,000 NEM Holders

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Japanese digital currency exchange Coincheck has announced plans to compensate hundreds of thousands of traders exposed to the recent theft of NEM (XEM) cryptocurrency. Roughly 523 million units of NEM were illegally redirected from the exchange early Friday, forcing management to suspend trading activity for all digital assets except bitcoin.

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Calculating Losses

Coincheck announced Saturday that 260,000 XEM holders were affected by the theft. The exchange plans to compensate them for their loss using a weighted average of volume, according to CCN. Volumes were calculated based on trading activity between 12:09 on Jan. 26 and 23:00 on Jan. 27 (Japan time). Based on this calculation method, the compensation amount for each unit of XEM will be 88.549 yen (81 US cents) multiplied by the number of units held.

Given the compensation amount, it can be assumed that the total loss of the heist was roughly $423 million.

Coincheck, which has apologized for the ordeal, says it is still investigating the matter further. During a press conference on Friday, the management team revealed several details about the exchange’s underlying infrastructure. According to media sources present at the conference, Coincheck admitted it had not integrated multi-signature technology or cold storage security, which would have held the tokens offline in a secure location. These capabilities are key selling points for most major exchanges keen on touting their security features. They are also considered necessary, albeit insufficient, in combating the growing threat of cyber criminals.

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The company’s management team has vowed to continue services once it concludes initial investigations. The exchange also said it will pursue registration with Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), something it neglected to do prior to the hack.

Biggest of All Time

The heist of Coincheck has been described as the biggest the cryptocurrency market has ever seen, even surpassing the implosion of Mt Gox back in 2014. At the time, the theft of 85,000 bitcoins from the world’s biggest crypto exchange was a wake up call for regulators, market participants and service providers.

Unlike other modern-day cryptocurrency exchanges, Coincheck had severe security flaws that made it a prime target of hackers. According to analysts, storing the funds in a hot wallet connected to the Internet was the most serious flaw in the exchange’s setup.

The hack initially sent shock waves throughout the cryptocurrency market, with NEM and several coins suffering broad declines. As Hacked reported earlier, the value of NEM’s native token rebounded sharply on Saturday to trade well above $1.00. At press time, XEM was up more than 22% to $1.02.

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 141 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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