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Hack North Korea: Information Black Market

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The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) leads the Hack North Korea initiative aimed at disrupting the information monopoly controlled by dictatorship. The Kim Regime does not allow free, independent media. Punishment for political opposition and defiance includes sentencing to the harshest prisons on Earth or death – for you and your family.

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HRF’s Hack North Korea effort is a gathering of defectors, engineers, technologists, activists, designers and investors for smuggling information to North Korean people.

“physically eliminate the kind of human scum that commits such treason.” – Pyongyang promised

Hack North Korea Ideas & Efforts

North KoreaLast August a Hackathon hosted by the Human Rights Foundation and venture capitalist Alexander Lloyd united Silicon Valley experts with refugees to brainstorm. Current efforts include:

  • Balloons carrying leaflets, USB drives, and DVDs
  • Short and medium-wave radio broadcasts
  • Physically smuggling equipment across the North Korea/Chinese border

Hack North Korea began in 2013 when HRF began its work with Fighters for a Free North Korea. Unlike recent efforts, weather balloons carrying information were launched from South Korea over the North Korean border. Characters on the balloons read, “The regime must fall.” Their payloads were carrying copies of the Korean-language Wikipedia, transistor radios and pro-Democracy leaflets.

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Hack North Korea is funded by venture capitalist and angel investor Alexander Lloyd. He is the founder and managing director of Accelerator Ventures, a 10-year-old venture fund focused on seed-stage investments. Prior to his work with Accelerator, Alexander’s bailiwick includes time with Microsoft, Activision, and Apple Computers.

Also read: White House Responds to Sony Hack

Balloon Launch Site Is Within Range of Direct Strike

“The U.S. and the present puppet authorities of South Korea should not forget even a moment that the Rimjin Pavilion,” the balloon launch site, “is within the range of direct sighting strike.”
Pyongyang

In the past, North Korea has threatened to shell South Korea in response to the launches. Seoul denied involvement, despite claims of provocation. South Korean police have been known to shut down such launches, citing claims of security from residents. Hack North Korea has not been specifically identified.

Hack North Korea: Park Sang Hak

Park Sang Hak

Leader of the Fighters for a Free North Korea, Hackaton participant Park Sang Hak, is familiar with the lengths North Korean tyrants will go to get their way. In 2011, South Korean intelligence learned Pyongyang declared Park “Enemy Zero.” An assassin was dispatched to Seoul to murder Park with a poisoned pen. The assassin phoned Park posing as a visitor from Japan interested in helping the movement. Park was alerted by South Korean intelligence prior to his arranged meeting with the would-be investor and escaped demise.

Park is a defector of North Korea. After graduating from college, he was given a job at the government propaganda office in Pyongyang. Park’s father was a North Korean intelligence agent posing as a businessman in Hong Kong. In late 1999, fearing for his life if he returned to North Korea, Park’s father had a message smuggled to his family in North Korea – “Flee to China.”

After bribing North Korean guards, Park, and his brothers swam across the river to China, floating their mother and sisters on innertubes. Once across the border, a car arranged by their father picked them up and smuggled them to South Korea using false passports. Following the escape, an uncle who remained in North Korea was beaten to death in retaliation.

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Images from Human Rights Foundation, Telegraph, Wikimedia Commons, Astrelok and Shutterstock.

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Cybersecurity

The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency

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For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.

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The Pirates Are At It Again

The Pirate Bay has been caught using software called Coinhive, a JavaScript library that essentially serves as a cryptocurrency miner. It basically connects to visitors’ computers to mine Monero, one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrencies.

The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”

Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.

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Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.

CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors  know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.

“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.

The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.

Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally

The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.

Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.

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Breaches

Coders Safeguard Vulnerable Ethereum Wallets Following Security Breach

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hacker extortion bitcoin

Ethereum suffered large-scale security breaches last week after anonymous hackers targeted vulnerable wallets in the network, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. However, it didn’t take long for a volunteer group of coders to “rescue” the funds in 500 at-risk wallets before the same attackers could get to them too.

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White Hat Group Takes Charge

The so-called White Hat Group showed initiative by “rescuing” the funds using the same techniques the thieves employed to compromise $32 million USD worth of ether from three multi-signature wallets. As of Monday, the White Hat Group of ethical hackers was in possession of $86 million worth of ether and an additional $122 million in tokens.

Tokens are digital assets that are sold during an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraising event. They have proven to be extremely popular.

Tens of millions of dollars worth of ether and tokens have already been returned to their owners. The White Hat Group says it will issue full refunds by the end of July.

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Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also breached last week, resulting in the loss of more than $7 million worth of ether.

Security Breaches Nothing New in Crypto World

For all its benefits, cryptocurrency has been vulnerable to several high-profile security breaches. Last summer, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex was the target of a major attack that resulted in the theft of around $70 million worth of bitcoins. In response, the exchange announced a controversial plans to “socialize” its losses among all users. Each Bitfinex trader was docked 36% as a result.

Bitcoin prices declined sharply following the attack, stopping what had been a blistering summer of gains.

Ethereum Enterprise Alliance

For anyone doubting the potential of the ether, take a look at the list of companies participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a forum that connects Fortune 500 companies, startups and academics with ethereum subject matter experts.  The EEA is made up of multinational banks and some of the world’s biggest technology companies.

The forum has made cyber security a top priority, according to a May 22 press release. In the release, companies like Infosys, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Synechron and others expressed their intent to contribute to the future of ethereum’s security.

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Hacking

Hackers Only Need Seconds to Figure Out Card Details

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Experts from Newcastle University in England has found that hackers only need six seconds to figure out the card number, expiry date, and security code for a Visa debit or credit card by simple guesswork, according to a report from The Telegraph.

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According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, in the U.K. the number of bank account fraud cases reported up to June 2016, from the beginning of the year, amounted to over 2.3 million.

The researchers found that all that a hacker needs is a computer and an Internet connection. It is believed that hackers simply utilize what is known as a Distributed Guessing Attack enabling them to get around security features that help prevent online fraud.

By using the Distributed Guessing Attack, the system was unable to detect multiple attempts made by hackers.

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Process of Elimination

As such, within a matter of seconds hackers were able to determine the correct information on a person’s card by a process of elimination.

Only recently Tesco bank account customers were subjected to hacking after criminals were able to gain access to their accounts. It is believed that these hackers may have used the Distributed Guessing Attack to siphon money from peoples’ accounts.

Payment Cards Remain Vulnerable

Unfortunately, even though Visa debit and credit cards remain popular and convenient forms of payment, they remain vulnerable as well.

And hackers know this, which is why reports of online card fraud are becoming more prevalent in today’s technologically-advanced world.

Visa states though:

The research does not take into account the multiple layers of fraud prevention that exist within the payments system, each of which must be met in order to make a transaction possible in the real world.

However, while this may be the case, it seems something is amiss if cybercriminals can simply determine a person’s card details in six seconds through guesswork.

Bitcoin to the Rescue?

The digital currency bitcoin, however, may provide an answer to this problem.

As a type of digital currency that is held and created electronically with no central bank governing it, bitcoin is considered the cash of the Internet.

Due to its popularity more people are turning to it instead of fiat currency.

It was recently reported that Sweden is considering the issuance of its own digital currency, ekrona, in an effort to address the significant decline of the use of cash in the country.

Whereas India has announced that digital currency will become the new normal in the country as it attempts to reduce the amount of cash transactions with the banning of its biggest banknotes, the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

While these are just a few instances of how bitcoin is revolutionizing how we see money, many are quickly catching on to how safe and effective bitcoin is as a form of payment in a world where hackers are gaining easy access to a person’s Visa debit and credit cards.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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