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San Francisco Metro System Blackmailed for 100 Bitcoins by Ransomware Extortionists

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On the 26th of November, the San Francisco Examiner reported the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) was hacked. Infected computers at Muni stations were reportedly downed by HDDCryptor ransomware, whose masters attempted to extort the station for bitcoin. As a result, passengers got a free ride throughout the weekend as the agency was forced to open up the gates, since they were unable to process fare payments.

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Muni ticket machines, kiosks, employee laptops, email and printed services, payroll systems and SQL databases were compromised according to The Register. Out of a total of 8.656 PCs and Macs on the agency’s network, a total of 2,112 were compromised by the attack.

Typically, a machine is infected with HDDCryptor ransomware whenever an employee accidentally opens a trapped executable, that can come in an email or a download. It took one infection for the ransomware to spread throughout the network.

SFMTA’s computers showed a black screen with the message:

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You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted. Contact For Key([email protected])ID:681 ,Enter.

Paul Rose, n SFMTA spokesperson said: “There’s no impact to the transit service, but we have opened the fare gates as a precaution to minimize customer impact”

According to an n update by the Examiner, Muni drivers were assigned routes via handwritten notes posted on bulletin boards, as they didn’t have access to their computers. The attacker was identified as “Andy Saolis”, who said he had not yet been contacted by officials.

A 100 bitcoin ransom

The Verge, however, did contact Saolis. Reportedly, whenever the email in the message was contacted, the following message would come as a reply:

If You are Responsible in MUNI-RAILWAY ! All Your Computer’s/Server’s in MUNI-RAILWAY Domain Encrypted By AES 2048Bit! We have 2000 Decryption Key ! Send 100BTC to My Bitcoin Wallet , then We Send you Decryption key For Your All Server’s HDD!! We Only Accept Bitcoin , it’s So easy! you can use Brokers to exchange your money to BTC ASAP it’s Fast way!

The Verge got past that reply and managed to contact Saolis, who claimed the software was “working completely automatically”, and that it wasn’t a targeted attack. SFMTA’s computers were compromised because they were vulnerable. 100 bitcoins are worth roughly $73.000.

The hacker claimed if he didn’t get contacted, he would shut down the email today. This would let SFMTA’s network down for an undetermined period of time.

No reports state Saolis got paid or even contacted by SFTMA. The agency’s employees, however, may also not get paid as the system was compromised by the ransomware. Per the company’s operating budget, daily losses are of approximately $559.000.

According to reports, fare machines are now back online, but it is still unknown how the system got back up. The rest of the network is still under hacker control.

Image of San Francisco cable car from Shutterstock.

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Fears of Regulatory Crackdown Flush $190 Billion Out of Crypto Market

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Bitcoin, Ethereum and every other major cryptocurrency collapsed on Tuesday, as fears of regulatory clampdown in South Korea triggered a mass exodus from the digital asset class. The collapse comes as mainstream media reports continue to push the idea of an imminent ban on cryptocurrency exchanges even as lawmakers cautioned no decision had been reached.

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Cryptocurrency Market in Free Fall

The cryptocurrency market declined rog $190 billion on Tuesday, marking one of the biggest single-day drops on record. At its lowest, the market was valued at $510 billion,  which was than $200 billion below its peak earlier this month.

The top 20 coins were each down in excess of 17%, according to data provider CoinMarketCap. Nearly $49 billion worth of cryptocurrency exchanged hands over the past 24 hours.

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Bitcoin plunged below $12,000, reaching its lowest level since early December. Ethereum, its biggest rival, fell back toward $1,000, while Ripple bottomed out at $1.23 after peaking above $3 just a few weeks ago.

South Korea Jolts Market

It was mainly regulatory issues that jolted cryptocurrencies on Tuesday, with South Korea mulling new legislation to stamp out excessive risk from the market.

South Korea’s finance minister Kim Dong-yeon reportedly told local radio that an all-out ban on cryptocurrency trading was a “live option, but that government officials still need to “seriously review it.” Seoul’s biggest issue with cryptocurrency trading is the level of speculation in the market and the role of anonymous accounts in spurring volatility. New regulations have already banned anonymous trading on domestic exchanges and barred foreigners from participating in the market.

Last week, some of South Korea’s busiest crypto exchanges were raided by police and tax agents over alleged tax evasion. The raids were confirmed by an employee at Coinone, who spoke to Reuters anonymously.

Seoul’s financial authorities had previously indicated they were investigating six banks that offer cryptocurrency accounts. In addition to speculative risks, authorities are also concerned about the link between cryptocurrency trading and organized crime.

South Korea is a major center for cryptocurrency and is home to some of the largest exchanges. Local traders have been the main catalysts behind some of the crypto market’s biggest gainers, including Ripple.

Some analysts believe that further regulatory crackdown will be ineffective given the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. When China banned cryptocurrencies, traders there migrated their accounts offshore to Hong Kong or Korea. This suggests that a regulatory crackdown can only succeed with broad international cooperation, which does not exist at the time.

Chinese regulators know that their measures have done very little to limit virtual capital flight from the country. That’s why they are moving to block domestic access to offshore exchanges, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

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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Analysis

Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: Broad Correction Enters Next Phase

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The overbought BTC-led correction that has been the dominating technical process in the cryptocurrency segment in the last month or so continued in earnest today, amid the intensifying regulatory steps concerning the sector. The three-week-long consolidation that followed the initial mini-crash concluded with a sharp sell-off overnight rearranging the long-term charts, while likely kicking off another volatile period.

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While most of the crash lows held up today in early trading in the majors, especially in the case of the late leaders like Ethereum and NEO, some of the relatively weaker coins are already trading below the December minimums. We expect most of the majors to follow Dash and LTC, the weakest of the largest coins, lower and trade below the previous lows, as sentiment will likely swing to a bearish extreme.

The $11,300 level has been in the center of attention throughout the session today and the most valuable coin experienced heavy trading around the level as expected. As the daily MACD is still in neutral territory, the coin could be in for another leg lower, but after the 40% correction and the rather lengthy consolidation, investors could be looking for entry points during the move near the key support levels at $10,000, $9000, and the stronger levels at $8200 and $7700.

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BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

As Ethereum is in a different part of its cycle the long-term momentum readings are still overbought, and that could mean a more protracted correction for the second largest coin. That said, following a multi-month consolidation like the one in Ethereum before, we still expect the token to outperform BTC from a long-term technical standpoint. ETH is now below the short-term trendline, and it’s likely to dip below $1000, and the prior top at $850. Further key levels are found at $740, $625, $575, and near $500.

ETH/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

Let’s see the outlook for the other major altcoins after today’s bloodbath.

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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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Analysis

Crypto Update: Chinese Crackdown Triggers Next Leg of Correction

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The cryptocurrency segment is crashing again, with double-digit losses across the board, and with several coins shedding around 30% in one day amid the widespread and heavy selling. The sell-off was triggered by reports on a new set of measures by the Chinese authorities limiting crypto trading, which added to the still looming South Korea related regulation worries. Bitcoin tested the mini-crash lows at $11,300 today in early trading, dipping slightly below that level before a strong bounce started.

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The most valuable coin is now between two crucial support/resistance lines, with the other ahead at $13,000, and as the downtrend is entering its more mature phase the $10,000 and $9,200 levels could come in play, with a possible dip to the support zone near $7,650.

BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

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Interestingly, the coin is still hovering within the daily range of the crash of December 22nd, and that points to a very active and volatile period ahead near the low at $11,300, as automatic orders will likely get triggered on both sides of the market.

The short-term setup is bearish, and although it’s possible that the primary support level will hold, odds still favor another leg lower, following the exponential run-up at the end of last year that pushed sentiment into bullish extremes.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Altcoins

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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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