Cybercriminals target booming cryptocurrencies: report

UNTV News   •   February 2, 2018   •   3636

A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bitcoin’s popularity and the emergence of about 1,500 other digital coins or tokens have drawn more hackers into the red-hot cryptocurrency space, expanding opportunities for crime and fraud, cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows warned in a report on Thursday.

“Cybercriminals follow the money and right now they see in the unregulated and largely unsecure world of digital currencies a huge opportunity to target people, businesses and exchanges and make money quickly and easily,” said Rick Holland, vice president of strategy at Digital Shadows.

Digital currencies have quickly grown into a more mainstream asset class over the last two years as corporations and financial institutions have expanded use of the underlying blockchain technology.

With weekly launches of new alternative coins, or “altcoins,” cybercriminals have developed several schemes to defraud cryptocurrency holders. “Crypto jacking”, account takeovers, mining fraud, and scams against initial coin offerings (ICOs) have all grown more common, the report said.

In crypto jacking, cybercriminals secretly take over another computer user’s browser and use it to fraudulently mine or create cryptocurrencies, according to Digital Shadows’ report. Miners use special software to solve math problems and are issued a certain number of bitcoins or cryptocurrenices in exchange.

Crypto Jacker software allows users to clone popular websites and initiate spam campaigns.

The cybersecurity company said criminals also perpetrate mining fraud using botnets, collections of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers, and mobile devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware. Users are often unaware a botnet has infected their system.

Botnets were first used to mine bitcoin in 2014. The process was too complex to be financially viable, but botnets have made a comeback because newer cryptocurrencies like Monero are easier to “mine”, Digital Shadows said.

The company said botnets could be rented for $40. It said one such offering had “flown off the shelves” with almost 2,000 rentals so far.

Cybercriminals have also been drawn to the surging initial coin offering market, the report said. ICOs have raised roughly $5 billion for various startups and projects in 2017, according to data from Crunchbase. That is up exponentially from just $100 million in 2016.

Rather than selling scam tokens, criminals target legitimate currencies, either by stealing funds from ICOs or by manipulating prices through the type of “pump and dump” schemes often used with penny stocks and other less-liquid assets, the report said.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by David Gregorio

Artificial intelligence posing new challenges for cybersecurity in 2020

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020

By Marc Arcas

Photo showing a hacker writing computer code on his laptop. EFE-EPA/Oskar Burgos/File

San Francisco – The ability of artificial intelligence to absorb and process enormous quantities of data has a dark side when used by cyber-pirates to create new “malware,” a trend that is already evident and which will only increase this year.

In the same way that artificial intelligence has huge creative potential to give machines a way to emulate human learning, this very fact also confers upon AI great destructive capacity and the ability to do harm, for example in the preparation and dissemination of viruses, Trojan Horses and other malign software.

“Cyber-pirates will use artificial intelligence more and more to create malware that will be more destructive,” the social director of Microsoft’s Software Engineering division, Glaucia Faria Young, told EFE in an interview.

“This is something that has already started happening and it breaks through the security models we’ve traditionally used. They are more complex attacks and more broadly distributed. And, it’s easier for them to remain undetected,” she said.

AI systems are able to increase the speed and precision of cyberattacks and, at the same time, fool conventional anti-virus defenses, since the latter are programmed to look for specific code elements that are not necessarily obvious in AI programs.

One example of this is the ability for automatic learning to spread a virus widely without causing any damage and without raising anyone’s suspicions, but it suddenly activates itself when it infects the desired equipment, such as the computers of a specific firm, individual or public institution.

In contrast to traditional malware, which harms all devices through which is passes and, thus, is easier to detect and halt, an AI system remains “dormant” until it reaches its objective, recognizes it (via facial or acoustic recognition, for instance) and activates itself.

“The way we can counterattack is to also use AI to detect attacks,” said Young, who emphasized the potential of this technology to identify patterns and anomalies quickly and thoroughly among enormous quantities of data.

The team that Young heads, for example, uses its own system of automatic learning that, instead of pursuing earlier interactions of malign code, as was normally the case, operates using risk factors in analyzing about eight billion signals it receives each day.

Along with AI, the people at Microsoft responsible for cybersecurity forecast that cybercriminals will use four other types of cyberattacks in 2020 focusing on attacks on value chains if they are not coordinated, public “Clouds,” the growing fragility of passwords and the appearance of state-run operations.

Regarding value chains, analysts emphasize the importance of companies, customers and providers acting in a coordinated manner to prevent attacks, given that if just one of these actors protects itself, info-pirates can still harm them by attacking other elements in the chain.

In terms of the Cloud, this is basically a question of volume: with more companies and individuals moving toward such services, the public Cloud has become a target that looks more and more tempting for hackers.

On passwords, the debate has been ongoing for some time, although it has intensified in recent years. Despite their widespread use, they are rather inefficient and vulnerable security systems and experts recommend gradually moving to authentication models using two or more steps, including – for instance – biometric recognition.

Finally, the cybercrime activities organized by governments and state entities around the world are one of the biggest challenges facing cybersecurity authorities, since this implies a significant change in the “shape” of the enemy: It’s not about four hackers in a basement somewhere acting on their own behalf anymore but rather big state-supported and -financed cyberattack operations. EFE

EXCLUSIVE: G20 financial heads to urge crypto-asset monitoring to safeguard financial stability

UNTV News   •   March 15, 2018

Cryptocurrencies are seen on a website that tracks the value of initial coin offerings (ICO) in this illustration photo taken September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders will call on international standard-setting bodies on March 20 for stronger monitoring of crypto-assets and to assess the need for a multilateral response as such assets could at some point threaten financial stability.

The call appears in a draft communique prepared for the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Buenos Aires on March 19-20, seen by Reuters.

The financial leaders will say the technological innovation behind crypto-currencies has the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system.

“Crypto currencies, however, raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing. At some point they could have financial stability implications,” the draft communique adds.

“We agree that international standard setting bodies strengthen their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks… and assess whether multilateral responses may be needed.”

Regulators globally have raised the alarm over cryptocurrencies, saying they may aid money laundering and terrorist financing, hurt consumers and undermine trust in the global financial system.

Japan was the first country to adopt a national system to oversee cryptocurrency trading. It carried out checks on several exchanges this year after the theft of $530 million from one exchange, Coincheck Inc, in January.

France and Germany have said they will make joint proposals to regulate the bitcoin cryptocurrency market.

The head of the European Union’s watchdog said a short-term strategy could be to focus on applying anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules, warning consumers of the risk of trading in cryptocurrencies and preventing banks from holding them.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said last week that many online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies should be registered with the regulator and subject to additional rules, in a further sign regulators are cracking down on the digital currency sector.

In a statement, the SEC said these “potentially unlawful” platforms may be giving investors an unearned sense of safety by labeling themselves as “exchanges.” The regulator said these platforms need to register with the SEC as a regulated national securities exchange or as an alternate trading system, or ATS.

Virtual currencies have existed for years but speculation in them has recently ballooned – along with scams promising investors returns of over 1,000 percent in weeks.

In a time of volatile markets, hackers are also active in the sector.

Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent last year.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Singapore explores rules to protect investors in cryptocurrencies

UNTV News   •   March 2, 2018

Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s central bank is assessing whether additional regulations are required to protect investors in cryptocurrencies, an official said in a speech released on Thursday.

The city-state – which is aiming to be a hub for financial technology and so-called initial coin offerings in Asia – does not regulate virtual currencies and last year called for the public to exercise“extreme caution” over investment in cryptocurrencies.

Its central bank does regulate activities involving virtual currencies if they pose specific risks. For example, it imposes anti-money laundering requirements on intermediaries providing virtual currency services.

“We are assessing if additional regulations are required for investor protection,” Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

Other countries such as South Korea, where trading in cryptocurrencies is more popular, are looking at ways to regulate that activity.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Kim Coghill

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

(+632) 8920.8336 (Fax)

info@untvweb.com (General inquiries)

support@untvweb.com

UNTV News and Rescue Emergency Hotlines:

LANDLINE (+632) 8396-8688

ADVERTISE WITH US

(+632) 8 442.6244 Loc. 143, 144, 162, 164

advertising@untvweb.com

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.