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Online Tool Reportedly Rescues Victims of Petya Ransomware

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An online tool claims to enable computers infected by Petya, a new ransomware, to retrieve data without the user having to pay a ransom, according to betanews.

Petya, like KeRanger and TelsaCrypt 4, targets enterprise users. But in addition, it encrypts complete hard drives instead of just a selection of files. Also known as Ransom_Peyta.A, Peyta ensures that victims are aware that their computers are infected. It overwrites the master boot record (MBR) to display a ransom note during reboot. It uses an encryption algorithm of military grade to lock users out of files. Then it directs users to the dark web using Tor browser to make a bitcoin ransom payment.

Petya Overwrites MBRs

While Petya, unlike TeslaCrypt 4, does not boast of having unbreakable encryption, it also overwrites MBRs. There is no way to interact with the drive on the infected computer.

However, thanks to an online tool created by Leostone, the user can have the data back in seconds. The tool’s website, https://petya-pay-no-ransom.herokuapp.com/, states, “Get your petya encrypted disk back, without paying ransom!”

The user has to connect the infected drive to another computer, then extract some data from it:
• 512 bytes of verification data from sector 55 (0x37) offset 0(0x0) of the disk, converted to Base64
• 8 byte nonce from sector 54 (0x36) offset 33(0x21), also converted to Base64

The Petya Sector Extract will provide the data needed. The website has two fields that the user can paste the requested data to from the infected drive. Once this has been done, the user hits “submit” and waits a few seconds while the key generates. After this, the user returns the infected drive to the original computer, restarts it, enters the key as promoted, and the drive is decrypted.

How Petya Spreads

Petya spreads with a combination of the cloud and email, according to Trend Micro. It targets users by emailing phony job applications and encourages them to click to download a Dropbox file. This installs Petya and causes blue screen of death (BSoD).

In one of the samples Micro Trend examined, the Dropbox folder contained two files, the applicant’s photo and the extracting executable file that appears to be the CV. Investigation revealed the photo is a stock image likely used without the photographer’s permission.

If the user tries rebooting the PC, the modified MBR prevents him from normally loading Windows and presents an ASCII skull and an order to pay a certain amount of bitcoins or lose computer and file access. The edited MBR also prevents restarting in safe mode.

Users face a choice of either paying the ransom or losing access to their files unless there are backups.

Users are advised to be careful when following links or opening attachments when there is no removal tool available.

Featured image from 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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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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Altcoins

Crypto Real Estate: The Time Is Now

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If you’re a Russian oligarch, an Asian billionaire or just a simple kid from South Jersey with giant aspirations, it is time for action in the newly emerging world of crypto real estate.  Here is why.

For the average home buyer the price of a home has increased about 1.72% annually over the past 10 years.  That is just slightly more than the 1.49% rate for the U.S. economy. Things have changed somewhat in recent time and we read Case Shiller numbers placing the rate between 5%-7%.

For investors in bitcoin, the action is taking place elsewhere in the real estate world.  It is in the world of the super high-end real estate where BTC and other cryptos can play a role.

If your soul contains an ounce of cynicism, at this point,  you are probably saying what is new about the connection between crypto and real estate?  The answer is arbitrage. Never have high-end property prices been so high and crypto prices so low.  It would be a classic arbitrage to sell high-end real estate and buy bitcoin.

Natural Buyers For Bitcoin

There are plenty of statistics on housing and loads of public records revealing who owns a given piece of property.  The US government claims that 9.6 million Americans own second homes and perhaps 16% own investment property.

But when it comes to the true high-end market, global real estate is definitely in the billions. For example, take penthouse in 432 Park Ave in New York that, when new, sold for over $100 million in cash and you get the idea.  This is a market where anonymity is prized and protected. This has long represented the “no brainer” for bitcoin to gain acceptance. And best of all, it is perfectly legal medium of exchange.

Enter Propy (PRO)

Here is a company that appears to be positioned to take advantage of transactions in the global ultra high-end real estate market. Before getting started, one thing needs to be disclosed.  I neither own or am being compensated for writing about Propy. I stumbled across the name purely by accident.

Propy.com fancies itself as being dedicated to solving the complexities of purchasing property across borders.  They claim to be the world’s first international marketplace. The PRO token is built on the Ethereum ERC20 standard. Propy raised $15.4 million with their ICO last September which places a value on the company of roundly $100 million.

So PRO may not rank with the likes of Telegram but they are not exactly chopped liver either. With the spread between the price of ultra high-end real estate and bitcoin never having been greater and the perpetual need for anonymity, the team at PRO may find itself in a sweet spot no matter if the like it or not.

The First Crypto Test In Rome On June 28

CCN.com reports that PRO has managed to team up with the Hilton family-owned real estate broker Hilton & Hyland in an auction of a Roman villa named the Palazetto Mansion aiming to snatch $38 million in dollars or crypto from the buyer.  This is not first effort of its kind but it is by far the largest.

Arbitrage In The Air

Events in Rome on June 28 will be most interesting as much for bitcoin as for PRO.  This is not to say that bitcoin is the only crypto in the world, just the largest and best known. Nevertheless, the total value of bitcoin is now just a little over $114 billion so every billion of future real estate transactions will make a difference at these levels.

Perhaps this is all wishful thinking on the part of someone who owns neither PRO nor BTC but several things are obvious.  First, those folks that put their hidden billions in real estate using corporate identities are not casual investors but savvy players with lots of high priced advisors.  Arbitrage spreads between ultra high end real estate and crypto present a pretty irresistible attraction. Just something to consider when investor psychology toward crypto in general stinks.  

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 106 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Technology

Apple Bans Bitcoin Mining in New Developer Guidelines

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Apple has introduced new developer guidelines that contain a sweeping ban on cryptocurrency mining, a sign the world’s most profitable company was carving out an explicit policy for apps and related services tied to the booming crypto economy.

Mining Ban

Apple’s sprawling App Store has updated its guidelines to address new developments in the cryptocurrency industry. In a section titled Hardware Compatibility, the company outlines that “apps, including third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.”

The App Store guidelines now include an entire section on cryptocurrency, touching upon approved apps and services related to virtual exchanges, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and mining.

In Section 3.1.5 (b), the guidelines state:

Wallet apps that facilitate cryptocurrency storage are permitted, provided they are offered by developers enrolled in an organization;Apps may not perform mining unless it is conducted via cloud computing;Apps facilitating ICO trading are permitted only if they are offered by regulated institutions abiding by relevant securities laws;Apps providing cryptocurrency payments for completing certain tasks are not permitted.

The guidelines were released after the Developers Union successfully lobbied Apple to publish its free apps.

Cryptocurrency Apps

Apple’s stance on cryptocurrency is much stricter than its rivals at Google Play. About four years ago, the Cupertino-based company removed all bitcoin-related applications as part of a crackdown on cryptocurrency activity. Around the same time, the company de-listed Coinbase, citing an “unresolved issue.” Apple has also asked businesses to to stop supporting cryptocurrencies on their apps.

The ban on mining could prevent cyber criminals from exploiting customers through covert operations, as well as limit developers’ ability to consume reams of processing power from Apple devices. That largely explains why the new guidelines make explicit mention of cloud-based mining.

At the time of writing, cryptocurrency cloud mining apps are readily available on the App Store.

Apple may be vindicated in its strict approach to cryptocurrency apps if one considers the recent wave of cyber attacks targeting the industry. In December, it was estimated that more than 10,000 people had downloaded fake cryptocurrency apps designed to defraud users.

Digital currency applications continue to grow in popularity as more traders embrace crypto assets. Exchanges have poured significant capital into updating their mobile app services to enable mobile trading and cold storage.

Meanwhile, crypto traders routinely make use of apps such as Telegram, which has become the de facto platform for ICO communities.

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 609 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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Analysis

Crypto: The Best Reason To Buy Now

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If you have been looking for a reason to buy a cryptocurrency, look around at what is happening with the threat of trade wars and the inflated price of stocks and bonds.  The investment world hasn’t been this nervous in years.

I can make this statement after checking in on the VIX. Without going into the mathematical gobbledegook, the VIX index is considered as good a gage of investor anxiety as any. You can get a chart of the VIX from any source that offers stock prices.

When you look over the index, you will see that for most of last year when stocks were soaring ever higher, the VIX was slumbering around the 10-12 level.  For point of reference, the VIX hit around 60 during the 2008 financial crisis.

Since the beginning of 2018, the VIX has spiked as high as 38 in early February and is currently hovering around the 23 level.  In simple terms, traditional stock investors are twice as edgy. There is good reason for this.

The spontaneous eruptions from the White House and a bubbling economy are behind this. In the past few sessions, stock prices have become as volatile as bitcoin. The President’s bellicose over steel and aluminum tariffs is now expanding to other tariffs on Chinese robotics, IT, communication technology and aerospace.

To this the Chinese responded with a list of their own tariffs. The result is a stock market pullback of over 600 Dow points.  By comparison, the crypto markets lately have been placid.

A full blown trade war may never develop.  In these situations lots of sword rattling is common and with the present administration, it is practically guaranteed.  But when the threats extend to the possibilities of China suspending purchase of U.S. debt, things could get serious. Currency markets will feel the force of these fears.

All Good Things Come To An End At Sometime

U.S. stock prices last year rose 27.4% based on the Nasdaq.  By the end of the year GDP was moving up 2.9%, almost double 2016.  Projections for 3% growth this year are common. Good economic news is coming out daily.

The point is we have just had the best year in stocks and the economy is running at full steam. All this good news is not a secret, we all see it everyday. After almost a decade since the financial crisis, things have steadly improved.  This leads to complacency – even the feeling of economic entitlement. Almost universally, this is a danger signal.

Inflation is not a big issue at this moment but pressures are raising.  The Fed is likely to face greater urgency to raise rates as this year progresses.  That would put the kibosh on stock prices.

Crypto: Saving The Best For Last

I received a comment the other day that was very interesting.  The reader believed that people were interested in finding reasons to buy cryptocurrencies.  As easy as it is to understand this logic, given the collapse of prices, recent crypto news hasn’t provided much help. Yes, the general tone has gone from poor to mixed, but there hasn’t been much that is compelling.  As the keynote speaker at last weeks Ethereum conference stated it, “we are in a war”. That is hardly inspirational.

There is no way of sugar coating some of the battles in the war.  Nevertheless, it would not surprise me in the least if suddenly cryptocurrency prices began to perform better.  We start to receive technical analysis about certain coins breaking through resistance. News stories start to find something new and exciting about cryptocurrencies and predictions start coming out of the woodwork once again about lofty prices.

The root cause of this is nothing more than relative value.  In times of uncertainty and fear, investors seek a safe place to store assets.  If stock and bond investors are nervous (remember the VIX) that sets the stage. If the price of these assets are suddenly tumbling, investors look for a hiding place.  It could be gold or something less conventional like bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple or a thousand plus other names.

There is a deeply held belief among institutional investors. It goes something like this: asset prices reverse direction for no apparent reason whatsoever.  After this happens, we all scramble around looking for reasons. That is often how relative value operates.

As more institutional capital makes its way into the crypto market, as it will this year, relative value will become an important consideration.  That day is coming.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 106 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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