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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

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Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop

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It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)


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