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We Spoke With Garage 48, The Hacker Space Hosting The e-Estonia Hackathon

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garage48-logo-200px_400x400Estonia’s e-Resident program intends to create a digital identity for “e-Estonians.” What’s more, you can become an e-Estonian even as a non-resident of this country bordered by Latvia, Russia, and the Gulf of Finland. Estonia and the Estonian hacker space, Garage48, have partnered in order to drive the program forward.

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Developments towards an e-Estonia are set to continue with an e-Residency hackathon set to take place September 11-13th on the Estonian island of Vormsi.

e-Estonia portends to be a digital nation where one can set up a business in less than an hour; tax declaration takes just a few minutes, and involved parties sign contracts digitally. Estonia wishes to make these services available to anyone wishing to join Estonia’s “nation without borders.”

The most advertised benefit of e-Estonia heretofore has been the ability to run a location independent business on the internet. Now, the e-resident program is taking “the next big step.” In an email to hopeful e-Estonians, e-Estonia and hackathon representatives wrote that the program is now developing e-Resident further with new services for e-Residents planned.

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“The government of Estonia is welcoming more developers and service providers to enter the scene and integrate the secure and simple e-Residency open platform into services requiring digital authentication and document signing,” the statement read.

e-Estonia wants to offer global services. According to the e-mail statement, “start-ups, banks and logistic companies are already working on innovations that will make their services available to e-Residents.” The vision for e-Residency is a familiar one.

We hope that in the future the development of the e-Residency platform may be compared to the Apple App Store or Android Google Play

Garage48, e-Estonia, and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Information System Authority have partnered to create the e-Residence hackathon. The project during the hackathon will be to develop e-services further, as well as functional prototypes of new e-services over 48 hours.

“We hereby invite you to contribute to the Garage48 e-Residency events!” reads the statement.

Hacked sat down with Garage48’s Kai Isand, Karin Rand and Jane Muts to discuss.

How did the partnership between Garage48 and e-Estonia come about?

Karin: Since the activities of Garage48 and e-residency as such are both aimed at innovation and innovative thinking, we found a possibility to work together towards a bigger common goal- to bring new thinking and fresh ideas into the e-world. And what could be a better way than an e-residency weekend hackathon?

Kai: Garage48 has a big community of IT people, amazing developers, designers, and marketers, who are always looking for opportunities to enter a new and exciting field to bring innovation and creative ideas. The goal is to bring together the one of a kind technology and skills of our community.

Vormsi-tuulimylly

Vormsi Island, Estonia

What can hackers expect from the hackathon hosted at Garage48?

Karin: Hackers can expect a weekend full of fun, but also hard work. The events give the participants the possibility to be a part of building up a new ecosystem and a new way of thinking.

Jane: Often hackers are occupied with their routine everyday work and Garage48 weekend is a great opportunity to use out-of-the-box thinking and meet active people with an entrepreneurial outlook on life. Of course there is also the sweet chance to become a co-founder of a newborn startup. If you plan to participate at Garage48 hackathon then it does not matter if you’re a designer, developer or a marketer – in every case there’s gonna be too little sleep, a lot of challenges and obstacles to conquer but also many inspiring situations.

Is the Garage48 team excited about the e-Estonia project?

Karin: Garage48 team is definitely excited about the project and especially working together with the organizations who created and are responsible for the success of the e-Estonia project. It will definitely raise the awareness of both local and foreign residents and bring attention to Estonia in different areas.

What could an e-Estonia do for the world?

Karin: e-Estonia is the future way of thinking. We believe that e-Estonia will be the one stepping the first baby steps in the e-World and will definitely be influencing the simplification of e-services and the commercial activities throughout the world.

Kai: In this world where most of the services are moving online e-Residency offers everyone a chance to have an identity online. That creates security and trust in all the everyday activities, services that people use and other users who you are communicating with.

Any future plans between Garage48 and e-Estonia?

Karin: Like for the past 5 years, Garage48 will continue influencing the development of different e-services Estonia and other countries.

Kai: We are very proud at Garage48 to have this opportunity to include our community in the development in this pioneering idea. We hope to keep bringing attention to the developments in the e-services in our skilled community to create more and more innovation.

The hackathon takes place 11-13th of September. Learn more here.

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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.

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