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Hacking Team Promises New Security Measures Following 400 GB Data Breach

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Internet security service Hacking Team claims to be making progress in determining how hackers managed to steal 400 GB worth of data on July 6 and release it on BitTorrent, according to Business Insider. The damage, which included the hijacking of Hacking Team’s Twitter account to tweet screenshots of stolen emails, has created a public relations challenge for the Italy-based security service, which provides surveillance tools to governments worldwide.

The thieves, whose identities remain unknown, got ahold of Hacking Team’s products, email messages, audio recordings, and client information. The leak suggested the company sold its surveillance products to countries that the United Nations, NATO, European Parliament, and the U.S. have placed under export restrictions.

Hacking Team Claims It Has Gained Insight

David Vincenzetti / LinkedIn

David Vincenzetti / LinkedIn

David Vincenzetti, CEO, told Business Insider the company has determined the extent of the attack and the damage incurred. The company is cooperating with Italian law enforcement, and there is an ongoing investigation to determine who was behind it.

Hacking Team is presently developing new systems as it assesses “the new environment for surveillance,” Vincenzetti said, but he could not say how long this will take. He acknowledged there have been a number of attempts to break into Hacking Team’s systems. He said the company deserves the protection of law and order, but it has not received enough protection to prevent significant damage.

The Company Responds To The Attack

Vincenzetti told Business Insider how the company responded to the July 6 attack. After learning about the attack at 3:15 a.m., Vincenzetti had the engineers take all systems offline. They also contacted all company clients and advised them to suspend use of the system.

The attack did not reveal information from government agencies, Vincenzetti said, since Hacking Team does not actually conduct its clients’ investigations. The clients conduct the investigations and maintain the data on their own computer systems. Despite this security measure, Hacking Team told clients to stop operations since they could not immediately determine the extent of the damage.

In the first week following the attack, company engineers built a patch to further protect client data. They also rebuilt the company’s internal communications and data systems.

Also read: Fallout From Hacking Team: Adobe Exploit Patched

‘We Have Analysed And Learned’

Vincenzetti did not wish to explain how much the team has learned about the hackers’ techniques. “We have analysed the attack and learned a good deal about the techniques used, exactly what was taken, and how,” he said. “That has allowed us to take steps to protect new systems that are now in place.”

Hacking Team’s clients have been supportive, Vincenzetti said.

As our clients know from their own experience, the system that we have provided is the most powerful, comprehensive and easy to use software available for digital surveillance.

Selling To Blacklisted Countries?

In response to allegations that Hacking Team sold tools to blacklisted countries like Sudan, Vincenzetti said the company has separated business relations with Sudan, Russia and Ethiopia. While sales to these countries were legal at the time, the company has since decided to end these relationships. The company made these decisions based on the political situations in those countries and Hacking Team’s evolving business practices.

Asked if there are other countries or organizations Hacking Team will not sell its services to, Vincenzetti said this list includes North Korea, Syria, Iran, and other examples that he chose not to divulge.

Helping Governments Spy On People?

Pressed to respond to claims that Hacking Team’s tools help governments abuse citizens’ privacy, Vincenzetti said the company helps government’s fight crime in the digital age with its surveillance tools. “The company believes this is a small step toward a more secure world for all who wish to use the Internet and digital tools lawfully,” he said.

Asked to give his personal views about web privacy, Vincenzetti told he recognizes the need to balance privacy with security. He noted that his company has worked with Italian regulators in implementing the Wassenaar Arrangement’s protocols. The Wassenaar protocols are part of an international agreement among more than 40 nations, including the U.S. and the U.K., and are designed to control and manage arms deals.

“Hacking Team has always followed laws and regulation, and the company has complied immediately with new regulation such as the Wassenaar protocols that went into effect in Italy in January of 2015,” he said.

“We are committed to providing services in accordance with the rules, and as regulation has changed in the past, Hacking Team has taken whatever steps were required to operate under the law. We will do so in the future, should the regulations change again.”

Position On ‘Zero Vulnerabilities’

As for “zero vulnerabilities” – software vulnerabilities that are found by hackers before the general research or tech community – these are not core to Hacking Team’s business, Vincenzetti said. The core business is to provide surveillance tools to law enforcement. “Essential to that is a process of continuous updates to the software to assure that it can be operated securely. Zero day exploits are only one way in which clients may choose to deploy Hacking Team software.”

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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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Cryptocurrency Theft Reaches $1.1 Billion This Year: Carbon Black

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The cryptocurrency market continues to be extremely lucrative for cyber criminals. Through the first five months of 2018, they managed to steal roughly $1.1 billion worth of digital assets, according to a new study conducted by Carbon Black.

Dark Web Targets Crypto

In a newly released study, analysts at Carbon Black estimated 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings targeting crypto theft.  Their weapon of choice: malware.

“As was the case during the physical gold rush in the mid-1800s, there are criminals looking to exploit innocent parties of their earnings,” Carbon Black security strategist Rick McElroy said in a statement. “Carbon Black has found that modern-day cybercriminals are increasingly using the dark web to facilitate cryptocurrency theft on a large scale.”

McElroy later told CNBC in an interview that malware costs an average of $224, though it can be had for as little as $1.04. Although small on the surface, the malware market has grown to become a $6.7 million economy.

The crypto universe, which includes initial coin offerings and exchanges, is being ever more targeted by cyber criminals. Although dark web elements have been exploiting digital assets for several years, their efforts have increased since the bull market began in January 2017.

Earlier this year, hackers made off with $530 million worth of NEM tokens in a coordinated attack on Coincheck, a Tokyo-based digital currency exchange. The attack is the second largest on record in terms of monetary value.

The first high-profile attack on an exchange occurred in 2014 when thieves stole 750,000 bitcoins from Mt. Gox, another Tokyo-based platform. The exchange filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Privacy Coins and the Dark Web

While bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency on the market, the dark web would much rather deal with privacy coins such as Monero.
A recent study by Recorded Future found Monero to be the most popular cryptocurrency on the dark web. Dash was second, followed by Ethereum, Litecoin and bitcoin.  Coins like Dash have attracted a larger following for their ease of use and low fees.

Despite Monero’s popularity, it is accepted only by a tiny minority of dark web vendors. Interestingly, Litecoin had the highest acceptance rate for coins other than bitcoin. Virtually every dark web vendor accepts bitcoin as a method of payment.

When it comes to absolute privacy, Zcash is considered one of the best cryptocurrencies on the market – at least, when compared with other major assets. However, when it comes to fungibility, Zcash is said to have limitations relative to bitcoin, Monero and others.

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 457 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 Launder 40% of Stolen NEM Funds, Experts Say

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The hackers behind Coincheck’s massive NEM heist have successfully offloaded 40% of the stolen funds, according to new research by Tokyo-based consultancy group L Plus. The successful money laundering campaign highlights the ongoing challenges authorities face in bringing cyber criminals to justice.

Hackers Launder NEM

Analysts at L Plus believe that roughly 200 million NEM tokens, worth $79 million, have already been laundered through the dark web. However, the hackers likely pocketed a much smaller amount amid ongoing efforts to blacklist the tokens.

Nikkei Asian Review reported Monday that Coincheck was targeted with “suspicious traffic” for weeks leading up to the Jan. 26 heist. Citing a person close to the investigation, Nikkei said the attackers hacked an employee email and stole a private key needed to transfer the NEM tokens to the desired accounts. L Plus indicated that the attacker must have repeatedly accessed the Coincheck server to obtain the private key.

When the hack took place, the stolen NEM tokens were worth more than $400 million. Today, they are worth less than half that amount. The identity of the attackers remains unknown to this day. However, authorities have speculated that North Korea may have been responsible for the attack.

Coincheck plans to resume operations this week following a government-mandated freeze on all trading activity.

Japan Boosts Oversight

The attack has prompted Japan’s financial regulators to step up their oversight efforts of the cryptocurrency market. Last week, regulators penalized seven exchanges after deeming their internal controls insufficient to deal with a cyber attack.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) slapped two exchanges – FSHO and Bit Station – with month-long suspensions. The remaining five exchanges – Bicrements, Coincheck, GMO Coin, Mr. Exchange and Tech Bureau – were given business improvement orders.

The FSA began conducting on-site inspections in late January following the Coincheck attack. Regulators have uncovered several issues, including a lack of customer protection measures and insufficient anti-money laundering controls.

Japan remains one of the most welcoming jurisdictions for cryptocurrency trading, but repeated attacks may prompt regulators to reconsider their relatively lax approach. Digital currency exchanges in Japan and elsewhere face a growing threat from cyber criminals looking to capitalize on the rising value of digital assets.

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 457 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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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.

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.”

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 457 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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