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WikiLeaks To Monetize Using Slur.io

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The @wikileaks Twitter account announced the next generation of the platform slur.io with a pair of tweets on Christmas Eve.

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What is Slur.io?

u99 GrfupSlur.io will be an open source, decentralized and anonymous marketplace for the selling of secret information in exchange for Bitcoin.

Slur will operate over the Tor network. Both buyers and sellers are fully anonymous, and there are no restrictions on the data that is auctioned.

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Sellers will auction secret information to the highest bidder, who will receive exclusive access to the decryption key.

The tweets from WikiLeaks:

Wikileaks Announces Slur

Wikileaks Announces Slur

Wikileaks Announces Slur

Wikileaks Announces Slur

Wikileaks evolving in response to the opportunity represented by blockchain based decentralized networks is no surprise; we first suggested this was going to be a broad trend in Ethereum’s Brave New World. The technology they’ve selected and the scenarios they describe are raising eyebrows across the full spectrum of individuals who would normally support Wikileaks at least in principle, if not directly.

@_cypherpunks_ immediately jumped in with this criticism, but there is an older, larger issue behind this one-line critique.

@_cypherpunks_ Comments

@_cypherpunks_ Comments

Jeremy Hammond is currently serving a ten year prison sentence for the Stratfor intrusion and Barrett Brown awaits sentencing on January 22nd for the brutal crime of sharing a link to Stratfor content, which had been publicly posted by someone else, in an IRC chat room. Wikileaks now offers The Global Intelligence Files as a free, searchable product, but they came under enormous criticism for attempting to monetize the content while Hammond faced prison for having liberated it.

Many Concerns

The introduction to Slur shows what appears to be a lack of mastery on the topic of blockchains. The developers appear to hold the idea that Bitcoin transactions are anonymous. This will be a feature of next generation blockchains, but it’s not true today, and this is easily demonstrable with their own fundraising wallet.

“Slur is an open source, decentralized and anonymous marketplace for the selling of secret information in exchange for bitcoin. Slur is written in C and operates over the Tor network with bitcoin transactions through libbitcoin. Both buyers and sellers are fully anonymous, and there are no restrictions on the data that is auctioned. There is no charge to buy or sell on the Slur marketplace except in the case of a dispute, where a token sum is paid to volunteers.”

Slur Fundraising With Bitcoin

Slur Fundraising With Bitcoin

Crimes, Conspiracies & Implications

Reading the Slur Implications in one window while having Cornell’s Legal Information Institute reference open to Title 18, the following are some obvious, glaring issues:

Stolen databases. Corporations will no longer be able to get away with an apology when they fail to secure their customers confidential data. They will have to pay the market value to suppress it.

Depending on who the victim is, this is likely a violation of Title 18 Chapter 41 Extortion and Threats.

Military intelligence relevant to real-time conflicts.

This is de facto espionage. The motivation would be whistleblowing if the conflict were a war of choice, like Iraq was for the U.S., rather than the war of necessity we faced in Afghanistan. While it depends on circumstances, this is likely a violation of Title 18 Chapter 37 Espionage & Censorship.

Zero day exploits. For the market defined value rather than a price determined by the corporations under the guise of a bounty with the veiled threat of legal action should the researcher choose to sell elsewhere.

It is unthinkable that Wikileaks is unaware of @thegrugq, the world’s top broker of 0day exploits. This market already exists, and corporate bounties have little teeth.

Unflattering celebrity photos and videos.

This is the most puzzling item in there – Wikileaks has been about government corruption from its inception, and now it wants to be a paparazzi/revenge porn operation? There are many states with statutes against this sort of thing, but there isn’t anything specific in Title 18 yet.

Slur’s Curious Origin

Julian Assange has been a de facto political prisoner, living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012. This lengthy physical isolation has been deleterious to his health, and such level of isolation, with police camped outside his door waiting to arrest him, has limited chances for networking. It is interesting to see that the selection of Slur seems to have been initiated by a Twitter cold call from @theu99group six weeks prior to the Wikileaks announcement, rather than by personal networking.

Slur's First Public Appearance

Slur’s First Public Appearance

The Twitter account’s avatar is a simple yellow submarine silhouette combined with the name provides an immediate clue for World War II history buffs. The U99 was a German submarine which sank thirty-eight allied vessels, damaged five others, and took one Estonian vessel as a prize, only to later have it mistakenly sunk by the Luftwaffe. The crew of the U99 escaped death at the end of an incredible eighth war patrol by scuttling their damaged boat and surrendering to the pair of British destroyers that were hunting them.

Conclusions & Speculation

What are we to make of Slur at this point?

The concept of a decentralized market for leaks is a good one, but there are many worrying gaps in what Slur is offering. Their proposed solution seems in want of some skeptical oversight, particularly in that it plans to do this business via the Bitcoin blockchain, rather than one of the new, more secure offerings like Ethereum.

The scenarios offered are … cheeky. An unnamed, unclaimed decentralized autonomous organization MIGHT be able to get away with what Slur suggest, but one would not want to admit authorship for fear of conspiracy charges. Money changing hands really squashes any potential to claim whistleblower status.

Wikileaks is not the only anti-corruption entity facing financial and operational travails. The recent Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg did much to take the heat out of Torgate, but it’s unlikely that leak oriented organizations are going to have a similar event. They are simply always in opposition to the man.

If you’re law enforcement in an industrialized country you might be smiling at the rough patch Wikileaks is facing. Don’t be too smug. There are always going to be leaks; just imagine the hazards we would be facing if Edward Snowden had quietly sold his leak rather than ensuring proper journalists got hold of it.

Images from u99 Group.

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  1. RomertL

    January 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    “This is de facto espionage. The motivation would be whistleblowing if the conflict were a war of choice, like Iraq was for the U.S., rather than the war of necessity we faced in Afghanistan.” Er…Say what? How was the war in Afghanistan any less mindless aggression than the war(s) in Iraq? They started like most wars, falsflag attacks followed by trashtalking by the media of the target and lies about reasons to enter (wmds./bin laden mm) and then mindless slaughter of both civilians and soldiers

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Coincheck Hackers Launder 40% of Stolen NEM Funds, Experts Say

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The hackers behind Coincheck’s massive NEM heist have successfully offloaded 40% of the stolen funds, according to new research by Tokyo-based consultancy group L Plus. The successful money laundering campaign highlights the ongoing challenges authorities face in bringing cyber criminals to justice.

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Hackers Launder NEM

Analysts at L Plus believe that roughly 200 million NEM tokens, worth $79 million, have already been laundered through the dark web. However, the hackers likely pocketed a much smaller amount amid ongoing efforts to blacklist the tokens.

Nikkei Asian Review reported Monday that Coincheck was targeted with “suspicious traffic” for weeks leading up to the Jan. 26 heist. Citing a person close to the investigation, Nikkei said the attackers hacked an employee email and stole a private key needed to transfer the NEM tokens to the desired accounts. L Plus indicated that the attacker must have repeatedly accessed the Coincheck server to obtain the private key.

When the hack took place, the stolen NEM tokens were worth more than $400 million. Today, they are worth less than half that amount. The identity of the attackers remains unknown to this day. However, authorities have speculated that North Korea may have been responsible for the attack.

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Coincheck plans to resume operations this week following a government-mandated freeze on all trading activity.

Japan Boosts Oversight

The attack has prompted Japan’s financial regulators to step up their oversight efforts of the cryptocurrency market. Last week, regulators penalized seven exchanges after deeming their internal controls insufficient to deal with a cyber attack.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) slapped two exchanges – FSHO and Bit Station – with month-long suspensions. The remaining five exchanges – Bicrements, Coincheck, GMO Coin, Mr. Exchange and Tech Bureau – were given business improvement orders.

The FSA began conducting on-site inspections in late January following the Coincheck attack. Regulators have uncovered several issues, including a lack of customer protection measures and insufficient anti-money laundering controls.

Japan remains one of the most welcoming jurisdictions for cryptocurrency trading, but repeated attacks may prompt regulators to reconsider their relatively lax approach. Digital currency exchanges in Japan and elsewhere face a growing threat from cyber criminals looking to capitalize on the rising value of digital assets.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 414 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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Skepticism Grows Over BitGrail’s Supposed $167 Million Hack

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A relatively unknown cryptocurrency exchange by the name of BitGrail has informed its users of a coordinated cyber attack targeting Nano (XRB) tokens. However, the incident does not appear to be holding up to scrutiny after the founder of the exchange made an odd request to the developers of Nano shortly after discovering the alleged theft.

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BitGrail Exchange Allegedly Compromised

The Italian exchange issued a notice to its clients last week informing them that 17 million XRB tokens were compromised in a cyber attack. The XRB token, formerly known known as Raiblocks, is valued at $9.80 at the time of writing for a total market cap of $1.3 billion. That puts the total monetary loss of the supposed heist at nearly $167 million.

Parts of the notice have been translated into English from the original Italian by Tech Crunch, a media company dedicated to startups and technology news. According to the agency,  BitGrail has stated the following:

“… Internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano shortfall, an amount forming part of the wallet managed by BitGrail… Today a charge about those fraudulent activities has been submitted to the competent authorities and now is under police investigation.”

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The notice indicated that all transactions have been put on hold until authorities complete their investigation.

Very little is known about BitGrail, as it is not listed among the 183 exchanges whose volume is ranked by CoinMarketCap.

Suspicion Grows

Unlike other crypto heists, the circumstances surrounding the alleged BitGrail attack have been met with widespread suspicion. As David Z. Morris of Fortune rightly notes, this isn’t the first time BitGrail has suspended Nano withdrawals. The same thing happened in early January when the exchange halted not only Nano, but Lisk and CryptoForecast transactions as well.

The suspension was followed by an announcement that the exchange was taking measured steps to verify users and enforce anti-money laundering requirements. It was around this time that users became suspicious that BitGrail was going to cut and run with their tokens.

BitGrail founder Francesco Firano made an unusual request to the developers of Nano following the alleged attack: he asked them to fork their record, a move that would essentially restore the stolen funds.

Nano officially rejected the request on Friday, the day after Firano supposedly discovered the stolen coins. In a post that appeared on the Nano Medium page, the team said:

“We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.”

Last month, hackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens stolen from Coincheck, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange. The coins have yet to be recovered and the perpetrators remain at large. In 2014, a cyber heist brought down Mt Gox, which was the world’s largest exchange.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 414 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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Coincheck Hackers Are Trying to Sell Their Stolen NEM Coins

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hacker extortion bitcoin

The hackers behind the biggest crypto heist of all time are attempting to sell their stolen coins, according to an executive at the NEM Foundation. The revelations are the latest in a four-day saga that has authorities still struggling to identify perpetrators or locate the account in receipt of the stolen funds.

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Hackers Try to Profit

Jeff McDonald, Vice President of the NEM Foundation, said Tuesday that his organization had traced stolen XEM coins to an unidentified address. It was here that the thief tried to unload the stolen funds onto six online exchanges for the purpose of selling them. McDonald said the exchanges have since been notified.

It was not immediately apparent how many of the stolen coins were spent or even the whereabouts of the account. A spokeswoman at the NEM Foundation later said the attacker sent the cryptocurrency to several random accounts in 100-token increments.

Last Friday, the attackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck. The monetary value of the heist has fluctuated several times over the past four days, reflecting regular price moves in NEM’s native XEM token. However, Coincheck said it would reimburse account holders at a rate of 81 U.S. cents per token, which reflects the average price between Jan. 26 and 27.

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Coincheck has been fined administrative penalties for failing to secure client funds. It was later revealed by the executive management team that the exchange failed to implement basic security features, such as multi-signature capability and cold storage. Rather, the XEM tokens were held in accounts connected to the internet.

Although the NEM Foundation is trying to prevent the liquidation of stolen funds, MacDonald said the attackers will likely get away with some of the money. However, the likelihood that they spend all of it is virtually zero given the market’s underlying liquidity constraints.

NEM Price Volatility

News of the heist on Friday triggered significant volatility in the price of XEM and the broader cryptocurrency market. Following a brief recovery, XEM has declined steadily over the past three days, with prices reaching new six-week lows on Tuesday. The coin touched a session low of 79 cents on volumes of more than $32 million. At press time, the coin was worth a little more than 80 cents.

Even with the decline, NEM held on to tenth spot in the global cryptocurrency rankings based on market cap. The coin’s overall value remains well north of $7 billion, according to CCN.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 414 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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