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NEM Theft Suggests Hacking Is More Lucrative than Mining

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The NEM Foundation has called off its search for the 523 million NEM tokens that were stolen from the Tokyo-based Coincheck exchange. Although the Foundation lauded the effectiveness of the search, the outcome proves yet again that cryptocurrency hackers are benefiting from the dark web, which provides an effective venue for laundering stolen funds.

Search for Stolen Coins Ends

In a statement published Mar. 19, the NEM Foundation informed its community that it had disabled the tracking mosaic used to monitor the movement of XEM funds tied to the massive heist of Coincheck in January. According to the post, the search ended on Mar. 18.

The statement reads:

“Beginning March 18, the NEM.io Foundation has disabled the tracking mosaic that was put into place to monitor XEM movements from the Coincheck theft. This effort was effective at reducing the hacker’s ability to liquidate stolen XEM and provided law enforcement with actionable information. We don’t plan to release further details due to the sensitive nature of this investigation.”

On. Jan. 26, hackers successfully made off with $530 million worth of XEM tokens, marking the biggest crypto heist on record. The theft propagated a new investigation into existing crypto exchanges by Japan’s Financial Services Authority (FSA). Domestic exchanges also announced plans to form a self-governing body to safeguard against illicit activity.

Hacked reported earlier this month that the Coincheck attackers had already laundered some 40% of the stolen NEM funds, primarily through the dark web. The stolen coins have reportedly made their way into exchanges in Japan, China and Canada.

Crypto Heists: A Growing Phenomenon

While the crypto economy has been highly lucrative for early adopters, cyber criminals have managed to steal huge sums of money. Unlike credit card fraud, the theft of major crypto exchanges has reshaped the digital currency market. This was most evident in 2014, when Mt Gox fell prey to a $480 million attack that eventually led to its demise.

As the Coincheck hack demonstrated, locating stolen funds and identifying perpetrators are extremely difficult. That said, NEM’s efforts to blacklist the tokens probably limited how much money the attackers were able to keep.

This brings us to an important question: is hacking more lucrative than legitimate crypto mining? To answer that question, we’ll begin by providing a rundown of the major crypto heists of the last four years.

Since 2014, hackers have made off with more than $1.3 billion in stolen coins. The biggest losses are as follows:

  • Coincheck: $530 million (2018)
  • Mt Gox: $480 million (2014)
  • Parity Wallet: $155 million (2017)
  • Bitfinex: $65 million (2016)
  • NiceHash: $63 million (2017)
  • DAO: $50 million (2016)
  • Tether: $31 million (2017)

For all of 2017, it is estimated that hackers stole nearly $400 million from ICOs. That’s roughly 10% of the total amount raised for the year.

Mining Profitability

Cryptocurrency mining has spearheaded a multi-billion-dollar industry. The recent crackdown on mining rigs in China means there is a large void in the market that several jurisdictions, including Canada and India, are rushing to fill. During the height of bitcoin’s surge, crypto miners earned roughly $240,000 every ten minutes. Miners now earn roughly half that, based on current price levels.

Of course, this doesn’t factor the cost of electricity, power consumption, hardware, manpower and other fees needed to operate a mining operation. These variables, combined with the unknown trajectory of crypto prices, make profitability a lot harder to gauge.

The yearly decline in profitability is also a critical, albeit elusive variable in pricing the success of a mining operation. This variable is tied to the number of miners that join the network – a figure that is extremely difficult to predict. Against this backdrop, 99bitcoins.com has developed a bitcoin mining calculator that provides simple guidance on whether a certain mining operation is profitable.

Other digital currencies provide a potentially more lucrative opportunity to join the mining business. For example, Monero can still be mined with a basic desktop computer. With an average block time of two minutes, users can mine the coin casually using the spare computing power of their home PC.

However, it appears that hackers have already taken over the Monero mining business. There are several recent cases of hackers embedding malware to hijack the computing power of other systems. The Australian government was also a victim of this hacking attempt.

Cryptomining is such a new phenomenon that there are few guidelines in place to ensure trust. Selecting a company to work with an a fair compensation model are two important questions every potential miner needs to consider.

As cryptocurrencies appreciate in value, the allure of cyber crime will continue to grow. As NEM, Mt Gox and other large-scale thefts demonstrate, criminals are succeeding in their quest to compromise online exchanges.

With respect to mining, profitability remains an elusive question, especially with the recent downturn in the market. That said, there are many alternative motivations involved in mining digital currency, including supporting the network, influencing the market and using additional revenues to fund other business operations.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 772 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Altcoins

Monero Price Analysis: Stronger Malware to Mine Monero; XMR/USD Has Room for Another Potential Squeeze South

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  • Researchers: a stronger malware has been uncovered, which can mine Monero.
  • XMR/USD price action remains stuck in a narrowing range, subject to an imminent breakout.

The XMR/USD price has seen some upside on Saturday, holding gains of around 3% towards the latter stages of the day. Despite the press higher from the bulls, a move which has been observed across the cryptocurrency market, vulnerabilities remain. Price action has been ranging for the past nine sessions. Once again, this isn’t specifically just XMR, as this type of behavior is witnessed across the board. The narrowing in play came after the steep drop that rippled across the market on 10th January.

Price action was initially well-supported to the upside by an ascending trend line, which was in play from 15th December. This at the time was a very promising recovery, as XMR/USD had gained as much as 55%. Unfortunately, however, the bulls were unable to break down supply heading into the $60 region and were eventually dealt a big hammer blow. On 10th January, the market bears forced a heavy breach to the downside, smashing through this support. The price had dropped a big double-digits, some 20%.

Stronger Malware Mining Monero (XMR)

There is a dangerous form of malware that can bypass being detected and mine Monero (XMR) on cloud-based servers. A recent notice was put out by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, an intelligence team that specializes in cyber threats, regarding a Linux mining malware. This was detailed to have been developed by Rocke group, which has the ability uninstall cloud security products. It can do this to the likes of Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud, to then illegally mine Monero on compromised machines.

The two researchers from Palo Alto Networks, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, detailed the findings of their studies. Once the malware is downloaded, it takes administrative control to initially uninstall all cloud security products. Shortly after, it will then then transmit code that will mine the Monero (XMR). Further within their press release, they said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products.”

Technical Review – XMR/USD

XMR/USD daily chart.

Given the current range block formation, eyes should be on the key near-term technical areas. Firstly, to the downside, $43, which is the lower part of the range. A breach here will likely see a retest of the December low, $38. To the upside, resistance be observed at around the mid $46 level. Should a breakout be observed here, then a potential retest of the broken trend line will be watched.

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 125 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

Dash 51% Attack Fears Cooled as Core Dev Group Suggest Benevolent Miner

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Dash investors may have been starting to question the security of their holdings in light of Ethereum Classic’s (ETC) recent attack, and the subsequent fallout which revealed Dash’s own vulnerability to 51% attacks.

Three addresses, all controlled by the same user, were in control of more than 51% of the Dash mining hashrate, as reported on CCN a few days ago. On top of that, over 74% of the entire Dash hashrate was accessible via Nicehash – a cloud-mining marketplace – where it could be purchased for as little as $3,104 per hour.

Hashing Power Removed from Nicehash

As of Saturday’s statement by the Dash Core Group, the same individual still controls the majority of the Dash hashrate. However, the group pointed out that since the news concerning a 51% attack broke out earlier this week, the individual has begun to remove their hashing power from Nicehash, and spread it around separate mining pools.

The team stated clearly that they do not believe the miner in question to be malicious:

“…we don’t believe the entity in control of the wallets in question plans or wants to attack because their mining activities began at least 4 months ago and their blocks have been published for all to see.”

The group believe the sudden removal of hashing power from Nicehash – as shown above – is a signal of benevolent intentions on the part of the miner. As a major holder of Dash, they reason that the miner would want to secure the network as best they could.

“This removes the risk of a malicious party renting the hashing power via NiceHash and simultaneously signals that the entity in control of the hashing power does not have negative intent. We believe the miner behind the hashing power was made aware by the same info we discovered online and quickly moved to more protected pools as they appear to be a major stakeholder of Dash.”

Future Proof?

The announcement ends with a look to the future in the form of Dash’s upcoming ChainLocks technology. To be implemented in an as yet unspecified future update, ChainLocks will unite the mining layer with that of the Dash’s masternodes.

This means that a 51% attacker would also have to secure a majority of the blockchain’s masternodes to execute their plans. More can be read on ChainLocks here.

Dash Coin Price

Almost mid-way through the first month of 2019, Dash has recovered 26% of its value since the market lows of mid-December. That’s when one unit of DASH was valued at $58.27 – a 96% decline since December 2017.

Dash’s 26% recovery in the past month still leaves the coin 95% off its all-time high. As of Saturday the coin had settled down along with the broader market, after a sharp 17.5% decline 48 hours before.

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 146 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Cryptocurrencies

Where to Store Your Crypto?

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Storing crypto on virtual exchanges has some inherent security risks that have been exploited by hackers and cyber criminals. This article will touch upon this important topic and provide you with alternative methods in which to store your digital assets.

Cold and Hot Wallets

The main thing in cryptocurrency storage is the private key and who has access to it.

Cold storage wallets operate offline and without a constant internet connection. If your key is not on the Internet, then it is much more difficult to steal.

A hot storage wallet is a wallet with constant connection to the Internet.

So, all storage options can be distinguished by the following criteria:

  1. private keys are kept by you or by third parties.
  2. without internet connection or with internet connection

A cold storage wallet with a private key is considered the most reliable storage option. Such a wallet is suitable for long-term storage of large amounts. However, it is not convenient if, for example, you do trading and need access to your wallet for transferring small amounts.

Hardware Wallets

hardware wallets like Ledger, Trezor, Pi Wallet, Keepkey, Opendime, Bitlox, etc. have a flash drive within the software without an internet connection. You can connect to the Internet only when sending a transaction. You need to confirm the transaction physically, from the device itself. This is a “cold” method of storage without an internet connection (connection only at the time of the transaction). The user keeps private keys.

Paper Wallets

This method of storage will be also convenient for you if you want to conserve your funds for an extended period. In offline mode, you can generate a public and private key. For example, if you are using the service walletgenerator.net it will transfer those keys in the form of a QR-code, which can be printed and stored by you.

Physical Bitcoin Wallet

A physical bitcoin wallet has almost the same properties as a paper wallet. Encrypted bitcoins cannot be spent until the seal protecting the secret key has been broken. However, the security of the seal is not considered very reliable.

Desktop Offline Wallets.

There are also two main types of offline wallets:

  1. Wallets, where the user is the only one with the access to private keys. You can install such wallets on a personal computer as a separate program. As a rule, these are the wallets from the developers of that cryptocurrency. For example, Bitcoin Core. Litecoin Core, Mist, etc. Such wallets are also called “heavy” wallets since during installation they take up quite a lot of space (for example, you will have to free up at least 200 GB for a Bitcoin wallet in 2018). When installing such wallets on laptops flash drives that are disconnected from the Internet can also be called “cold” wallets. In general, they are also considered safe.
  2. The so-called “light” offline wallets. These are desktop wallets that allow you to store cryptocurrency without downloading its full registry to a bunch of gigabytes. Some of them give you private keys and the ability to restore a lost wallet at any time using seed phrases. There is a drawback – they do not always contain the full version of the blockchain, and sometimes won’t show up-to-date transaction information. Examples of such a wallet are Electrum and Armory.

Light wallets can be multi-currency, with a built-in internal exchange for example Exodus. Its private keys can also be restored using seed-phrases. However, inside such wallets, not only you but also developers have access to your private keys.

It is also worth to mention an essential aspect of light wallets, which are open source code. If something happens to the wallet, then it will be only possible to restore the wallet using the seed phrase only if the function is restored.

As a conclusion on cold wallets, I can say that their main advantage is reliability and security, and the main drawback is that it is difficult to move cryptocurrencies quickly. Therefore, cold wallets are suitable for long-term storage. For everyday transactions, hot wallets are the best. The exceptions are some hardware wallets that are compatible with online cryptocurrency storage and exchange services.

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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4.9 stars on average, based on 43 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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Hacked.com and its team members have pledged to reject any form of advertisement or sponsorships from 3rd parties. We will always be neutral and we strive towards a fully unbiased view on all topics. Whenever an author has a conflicting interest, that should be clearly stated in the post itself with a disclaimer. If you suspect that one of our team members are biased, please notify me immediately at jonas.borchgrevink(at)hacked.com.

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