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The Biggest Ever U.S. Healthcare Hack Wasn’t for Sinister Needs

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The cyberattack targeting healthcare insurance firm Anthem that resulted in the compromise of users’ data in a massive breach affecting 80 million people was unanimously accepted as by security researchers as a breach by Chinese hackers. However, the cause for the breach may not for the reasons you’d expect.

China is a massive powerhouse of a country in size, culture manufacturing capabilities, research infrastructure, military technology and population. That’s just counting the obvious few. There’s a 7% economic growth rate set as a target by the Chinese government every quarter. The world sees China as a country with big ambitions.  However, even a charging rhino tires.

China’s central bank recently cut its bank rates for the sixth time in less than a year this month to kick-start a slowing economy and a falling currency. Yes, the growth rate dipped to 6.9% for the first time in over five years. China’s tremendous population is more connected to the world than ever with the advent of affordable, scalable consumer technology like connected mobile phones.

Naturally, the population is also turning more aware and more demanding of their government, more now than ever before. With this in mind, one sees reason in the means in which China allegedly employs state-sponsored cyber espionage to steal industry, research and technological secrets from other countries.

Cyberespionage between China and the U.S.

Among the largest data breaches of recent times, one to even dwarfing the Ashley Madison incident was the hack of major health insurer Anthem that resulted in the compromise of personal
information of nearly 80 million people. That’s every 1 person out of 4 out in the United States.

usachinaThe cybercriminal enterprise is big industry, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars from stolen credit cards, banking details and even stolen Uber account credentials that are transacted every day on the dark web.

The Chinese government has steadfastly refused all accusations throughout the years and has categorically denied the notion of state-sponsored hacking. Such claims are, of course, state denials as both China and the United States actively engage in cyberespionage operations targeting each other.

The Director of National Intelligence James R Clapper Jr., even testified to the game of cat and mouse, saying, “We (the United States), too, target practice cyberespionage and…we’re not bad at it.”

Investigation into the Breach

In a new revelation, the Financial Times reports that Chinese hackers targeted the US health industry with various breaches targeting Anthem, CareFirst Blue Cross BlueShield, Premera and other health insurers around the same time. The reason for the hacks, according to the publication was to help China understand how the U.S. dealt with and regulated medical care, according to sources involved in the Anthem investigation.

The widening gap between the rich and the poor in China, along with a healthcare system that is rife with corruption has citizens paying their own money for healthcare, despite Beijing’s landmark achievement of providing basic health insurance that covers 95 percent of the Chinese population that stands at 1.4 billion people today.

Essentially, investigators believe that the gathering of intellectual property and trade secrets in the healthcare industry were the reasons for the attacks.Health insurance

It’s important to note that the healthcare sector is among the most targeted industries by malicious hackers, and it’s easy to understand why. Healthcare data fetches the highest rates in the underground, online black markets of the dark web.

China’s President Xi Jinping recently completed his first ever stateside visit, an occasion that led to the U.S. government holding back sanctions against the Chinese state in a move to ensure good diplomacy. The topic of cyberattacks was high on the agenda, and the two nations agreed not to target each other for commercial and corporate reasons in a cyber pact.

A cybersecurity firm counting several companies as its clients has since revealed that Chinese hackers have still continued to target and attack U.S. companies, the day of and the day after the cyber-pact was agreed between the two countries.

After President Jinping’s visit, the Chinese government has stuck with the goodwill fostered since the visit and has arrested certain Chinese hackers recognized by the U.S. government to have a history in stealing commercial secrets from U.S. companies that were then likely sold to state-run companies in China.

The arrests, government officials say, may be a move of good faith shown by China. Or it may appear to be so.

That game of cat and mouse continues.

Images 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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4 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsSamburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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  1. Richard Lee

    November 2, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    The Chinese hacked the personal information of nearly 80 million people, so their goverment could learn how our system works? That sounds like total BS to me..
    That would be like hacking all the customers accounts at Home Depot, so you could figure out what American’s favorite size of roofing nail was..

    I think the reason they hacked our medical info is because it’s part of a larger data base they are building. They also hacked airlines, to get information about millions of people who fly in the USA.. Why do they need that information? When and where you fly? What meds you take? Who your doctors is?

    Because that kind of data isn’t in the 20+ million SF86 files they downloaded from the OPM..

    Any information they can add to those SF86 files, will give them more power to harm, or to control those millions of people who work in US defense related jobs..
    Those are the people that design and build our military weapons systems.. Now, they’ve all been compromised.. We lost the cyberwar, back in 2014, when the last of the SF86 files were downloaded..

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Crypto-Security Testnet Surpasses Key Milestones

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Security and has been combined with micro-compucomputing are a combination which ascended to greatly relevant, both economically and financially, since the early days of commercial internet technology, the John McAfee associated era of anti-virus software, and fears of ‘millennium-bug’ (‘Y2K’)-induced societal meltdowns.

As a market player, ‘cybersecurity‘ is hailed for its continuedvalue and growth, with recent implementations advancing in tandem with technological development. With ‘blockchain’ having become a key buzzword in recent years, it comes as little surprise that digital security providers have been attempting to identify and provide protection against cryptocurrency related scams.

Examples of these include ‘malware‘ AKA ‘malicious software’. They are often created with the aim of illicitly subvert the processing power of the victim’s device for use towards the mining of cryptocurrencies, or lock and potentially delete highly sensitive data (such as Ransomware’).

Cybersecurity and Blockchain

Crypto attacks can affect almost any person or institution: from private wallets and exchanges, to cryptocurrency operators, and even sometimes unsuspecting users of internet browsers with no relation to blockchain based services.

In an article published at CCN in August 2018, I wrote about the large prolificity and news coverage of cyber-attacks carried out against cryptocurrency organisations: with a majority of them involving the theft of high-value quantities of tokens or sensitive data.

Key points raised in the piece include the identification of wallets and exchanges as high-value targets for potential thieves, as well as a discussion surrounding a study of over 1000 participants in which none of the top exchanges were “lauded for security”.

As cybersecurity has been exposed as a fatal flaw in the unauthorised access / theft access of finances and data, it has also drawn a spotlight on the various methods employed by the companies which suffer these attacks.

Middleware, Wear and Tear

Some teams attempt to protect their data and finances through the creation and implementation of their own proprietary cybersecurity solutions whilst others seek the tender of others,

‘Middleware’ is nothing new and has long been utilised as a means of implementing third-party solutions as a means of shifting professional a legislative liability regarding essential functions of a brand technology.

It’s a creation by third party product / service providers that sits between external and internal code in order to facilitate functions or protections.

Decentralized Security Testnet

REMME is a project harnessing blockchain technology to create a distributed cybersecurity solution for enterprises.

Its now-released testnet has already demonstrated the efficacy of storing hashed Public Key Infrastructure certificates on the blockchain, and with 300 pilot program participants signed up, REMME isn’t short of applicants eager to trial its distributed identity and access management solution.

‘Distributed Identity and Access management’ (IAMd) and ‘Public Key Infrastructure’ requests (PKId) count amongst two of the primary features of the proprietary REMChain testchain network infrastructure. Both claims of which have come from CEO Alex Momot, who additionally praised “The interoperability of the public blockchain and sidechains”.

Additional features include the ‘REMchain block explorer’ – ‘node monitoring’ (connected to five nodes worldwide) – REMME WebAuth demo application.

While a pilot program reportedly attracting over 300 global enterprise applicants, REMME feels confident about the future of their long terms plans: which include full integration existing enterprise systems (ERP, CRM, Accounting software etc.).

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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MyEtherWallet Compromised in Security Breach; Users Urged to Move Tokens

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Popular cryptocurrency service MyEtherWallet (MEW) is urging users to move their tokens after the platform succumbed to its second cyber attack of the year. As the company reported earlier, hackers targeted MEW’s popular VPN service in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency.

Hola VPN Users Compromised

Rather than target MEW directly, hackers took control of the Hola VPN service, which claims nearly 50 million users. For the next five hours, MEW users who had the Hola chrome extension installed and running on their computer were exposed.

MEW took to Twitter to urge users to move their funds immediately.

“Urgent! If you have Hola chrome extension installed and used MEW within the last 24 hrs, please transfer your funds immediately to a brand new account!” the company said. It added the following message shortly thereafter:”We received a report that suggest Hola chrome extension was hacked for approximately 5 hrs and the attack was logging your activity on MEW.”

At the time of writing, MEW’s Twitter feed had no further updates.

MyEtherWallet is used to access cryptocurrency wallets, where users can send and receive tokens from other people.

The company reportedly told TechCrunch that the attack originated from a Russian-based IP address.

“The safety and security of MEW users is our priority. We’d like to remind our users that we do not hold their personal data, including passwords so they can be assured that the hackers would not get their hands on that information if they have not interacted with the Hola chrome extension in the past day,” MEW said, as quoted by TechCrunch.

It’s not yet clear how many users were compromised in the attack or how much, if any, was stolen from their wallets. MEW suffered a similar incident in February after a DNS attack wiped out $365,000 worth of cryptocurrency from users’ accounts.

Cyber Attacks on the Rise

The attack on MEW came less than 24 hours after Hacked reported another major cyber breach involving Bancor, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange. The security breach compromised roughly $23.5 million worth of digital currency, including Ethereum, NPXS and BNT, Bancor’s native token.

Last month, a pair of South Korean exchanges fell prey to cyber criminals, prompting local regulators to expedite their approval of new cryptocurrency laws.

It has been estimated that a total of $761 million has been stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges in the first half of the year, up from $266 million in all of 2017. That figure is expected to rise to $1.5 billion this year.

CipherTrace, the company behind the estimates, told Reuters last week that stolen cryptocurrencies are mainly used to launder money and aid criminals in concealing their identities.

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 648 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Mt. Gox vs. Bithumb: That Was Then, This Is Now

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Bithumb now shares something in common with the Tokyo-based shuttered bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox — both suffered a hack on about the same date, June 19. It’s a club that no exchange wants to belong to and that Bithumb happened on the seven-year anniversary of Mt. Gox’s maiden attack has to be more than an eerie coincidence.

It’s a stark reminder of the risks involved with keeping funds on an unregulated exchange, vulnerabilities that cost South Korea’s Bithumb some $36.6 million in digital cash and Mt. Gox $450 million in hacked bitcoin and its future. The Mt. Gox theft unfolded over a series of hacks that culminated in 2014. Though it’s still early on in the Bithumb hack, it appears the South Korean exchange will recover from the security breach. So what do we know now that we didn’t on June 19, 2011?

Then vs. Now

Former Coinbase official Nick Tomaino, who is also the founder of crypto fund 1 confirmation, reflected on the Mt. Gox hack in what proved to be a prescient tweet given the Bithumb attack that was about to surface.

The thing to note about Mt. Gox is that the Japan-based exchange in 2011 controlled most of the BTC trading volume, approximately three-quarters of it by average estimates — more if you ask Tomaino. Since bitcoin fever caught on in 2017, there are more than 500 cryptocurrency exchanges on which trading volume is shared. Binance boasts the highest trading volume and captures nearly 15% of bitcoin trading. It’s much less than Mt. Gox days but still a little high.

The other thing to note is that the Mt. Gox hack or actually hacks, as there were multiple attacks on the exchange over several years, was a mysterious event that was shrouded in controversy and mistrust of a key executive. Bithumb, on the other hand, confronted the hack seemingly right away on Twitter and has not let any grass grow under its feet in the interim, which is a key difference in the way Mt. Gox was handled.

Also, the bitcoin price didn’t tank in response to the Bithumb hack. It traded lower for a while, but less than 24 hours it was back in the green, which is a reflection of the fact that bitcoin trading is no longer dependent on a single exchange.

Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin (LTC), the No. 6 cryptocurrency by market cap, was among the first to respond to the Bithumb hack. He tweeted:

Indeed, Bithumb does expect to be able to cover the losses via their reserves.

Crypto Security

It’s still early on in Bithumb’s security breach, and more details are sure to emerge in time. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to use the hack as an opportunity to examine the security of your cryptocurrency investment portfolio. There are several hardware wallet options out there for you to choose from — whether it’s Trezor or Ledger Nano S, to name a couple — and as Charlie Lee advised, “only keep on exchange coins that you are actively 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 69 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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