Category Archives: Cryptocurrency
Due to a surge of cryptocurrency-fueled crimes, federal law enforcement is seizing a lot of bitcoin. Now the US government is figuring out what to do with all of it.
This week, a small platform for safekeeping cryptocurrency called Anchorage Digital announced it had won a contract from the Department of Justice to store and liquidate digital assets that federal law enforcement seizes following criminal investigations. The government has essentially hired a bank to store and sell billions of dollars worth of forfeited cryptocurrency, including troves of bitcoin and ethereum. Anchorage Digital, which is based in San Francisco, is an obvious choice for a partner, as its the first federally chartered bank for crypto.
Theres no traditional bank that actually offers these services because this is extremely complex from a technical perspective, Diogo Monica, Anchorages co-founder and president, told Recode. Its very hard to store these safely. In fact, there are many, many stories of people losing access to their bitcoin and other cryptocurrency wallets and just losing access completely to them without the ability to be recovered.
That the US Marshals Service needs to hire a cryptocurrency company for help is a reminder that, as these kinds of digital assets go mainstream, theyre also becoming more popular with criminals. In fact, as law enforcement shut down illegal cryptocurrency operations, from ransomware schemes to illegal online markets, its clear that the US government could hold a very large amount of bitcoin, ethereum, and other cryptocurrency. Accordingly, Uncle Sam might even become a more significant player in the crypto marketplace in the months and years to come.
Since its creation, cryptocurrency has been popular for criminals because the accounts and transactions are difficult to trace back to any one person. Now crypto is at the center of a wide swath of illegal schemes, including blackmail scams, Covid-19 vaccine counterfeits, money laundering operations, and illicit sales on the darknet. In the first half of this year, people sent more than $2 million worth of cryptocurrency to Elon Musk impersonators following a grift on social media, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And earlier this month, a Swedish man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to orchestrating one of the largest cryptocurrency-based Ponzi schemes the US government has ever prosecuted. The man had tricked people into sending him bitcoin, as well as other digital payments, under the guise of a (fake) gold-backed investment opportunity.
Cryptocurrency is not government currency, so its very international in scope, which is why it has become even more popular with transnational organized crime, as well as terrorism, said Suzanne Lynch, a Utica College professor who focuses on economic crime.
Through investigating these crimes and prosecuting the perpetrators, federal law enforcement has acquired a sizable cache of cryptocurrency. In June, the DOJ seized about $2.3 million worth of bitcoin the FBI had obtained after tracking the movement of a ransom payment associated with the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack earlier this summer. This was after the agency seized about $1 billion in cryptocurrency that once belonged to Ross Ulbricht, creator of the online black market Silk Road, which federal officials shut down in 2013. Ulbricht was arrested that year and convicted in 2015 of distributing narcotics and money laundering.
Theres no differentiation here between crypto and an oil tanker, for lack of a better example, or car or fiat [currency], when it comes to how it will ultimately be used in an asset forfeiture regime, said Ari Redbord, a former prosecutor and the head of government affairs at TRM, a cryptocurrency fraud detection startup.
The US Marshals Service is the agency in charge of holding and auctioning off many seized assets, including art, rare collectibles, and real estate, from disgraced pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkrelis Wu-Tang album to Bernie Madoffs apartments. Since at least 2014, the DOJs asset forfeiture program, which is run by the marshals, has taken the same approach with cryptocurrency and opened up the stores of crypto it seizes to bids from the public. But the Marshals Service announced in 2019 that it was looking for more help managing all these digital assets.
Pricing, how to price them, how to evaluate it, how to liquidate it, how to safe keep it people are being forced to deal with the asset class because its so prevalent now, Monica, of Anchorage, told Recode. To do that well can be especially tricky since cryptocurrency markets can be extremely volatile.
As the DOJ moves forward with its plan to manage digital assets, calls for tighter regulations on cryptocurrency are coming from higher and higher up. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), for instance, said this month that cryptocurrencies should face tighter rules, while some senators recently proposed taxing cryptocurrency transactions to fund President Joe Bidens infrastructure plan. Earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell even suggested that the federal government could launch a digital version of the US dollar as an alternative to cryptocurrencies, though hes still undecided on whether thats a good idea.
Despite lawmakers and regulators growing concern about cryptocurrencies, their popularity is forcing the government to adapt. One recent survey from NORC, a research institute at the University of Chicago, found that 13 percent of people in the US bought or traded crypto in the past year alone, compared to the estimated half of US households that have invested in the stock market, according to Pew.
This all serves as a reminder that cryptocurrencies are only becoming more prevalent, which means that crypto scammers arent going away anytime soon. So beware of demands for cryptocurrency payments from fishy romantic prospects, too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities, supposed blackmailers, and people claiming to be Elon Musk. If youre not careful, your bitcoin might end up in the federal governments new crypto bank.
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Bitcoin-based scams mean the federal government now needs a crypto bank - Vox.com
Still, she said, there are plenty of resources, like the Giving Block, that allow people to donate cryptocurrency and nonprofits to receive it safely and relatively easily.
Donor-advised funds, which allow people to make donations today for tax purposes and recommend charitable grants at a later date, have seen an increase in cryptocurrency donations. Among them are Fidelity Charitable, the largest donor-advised fund in the United States, with over $35 billion in assets, and its main competitor, Schwab Charitable, with over $17 billion.
So far this year, Fidelity Charitable has received $150 million in cryptocurrency, up from $28 million for all of 2020 and $13 million in 2019, said a spokesman, Stephen Austin. The appreciated value of cryptocurrency is prompting more donors to use this asset to fund their charitable giving as well as increasing the average size of each contribution, he said.
What neither Fidelity Charitable nor Schwab Charitable does is manage the cryptocurrency, meaning that they sell it and put marketable securities or cash into the clients donor-advised fund.
Generally, charities are conservative with how they want to manage assets, said Todd Eckler, executive director of Fiduciary Trust Charitable, a donor-advised fund that has about $250 million in assets and does not have cryptocurrency abilities. You could see the value evaporate pretty quickly. Its highly volatile, and its not a good fit for many charitable institutions.
For Mr. Zeller, who helped broker the Bitcoin donation at Penn, the ability to accept cryptocurrency is what matters most.
Its very nice to have the capacity to do it when a donor says, I have some Bitcoin, he said. We can accept it now without it grinding the university to a halt.
AQUADOGE- the New Cryptocurrency Listing on PancakeSwap with $15,000 giveaway every 2 Weeks – Yahoo Finance
Los Angeles, California, July 31, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The DeFi altcoin space has absolutely exploded in recent months following the exponential growth of DOGECOIN. In fact, some investors still seem to be kicking themselves for missing out on what may have been the financial play of the year. However, returns like those experienced by DOGECOIN holders are commonplace in the Decentralized Finance industry, and AquaDoge has definitely risen to the top of retail investors watchlists.
AquaDoge is proud to announce its listing on PancakeSwap on August 11th, and will also host its first treasure chest giveaway shortly after. And details can be found on official telegram.
Reasons why AquaDoge has set itself in best possible manner.
1. Meme, Utility, and Charity Its safe to say the power of memes or meme coins for that matter cannot be underestimated since the rise of Doge. AquaDoge brings features to the table that other Coins lacked, like utility and function.
AquaDoge rewards its holders with 3% redistribution, and rewards the environment with 3% Charity taxes. This means for every transaction, AquaDoge gives a percentage to its holders, and another percentage to Ocean charities.
2. $15,000 Given Away Every 2 Weeks (or sooner) With most crypto currencies, investors can only make a return if the price increases, meaning there consistently has to be more buyers than sellers at all times. AquaDoge, however, features a unique and never seen before Treasure Chest function in its contract code. The Treasure Chest sets aside 5% of every transaction into a separate wallet. Upon reaching its capacity of 100 BNB, 50% is verifiably donated to a charity and 50% will be given away to lucky token holder.
Being a community propelled token, AquaDoge will utilize voting polls to decide how many winners there will be, as well as requirements to enter the giveaways. That being said, the developers have stated that 2 weeks is a generous time frame as to when the 5% transactions would amount to 50 BNB. It could be more or less, but based on the aggressive marketing plans they have in place, they expect the treasure chest to fill up every few days. That means roughly $15,000 given away every few days!
3. Safety and Security In recent months, rug pulls and pump and dumps have tainted the name of the cryptocurrency DeFi space. While incredible returns are paramount to any investors decision to invest in any crypto-asset, safety and security are always the forefront of making any sort of return at all. AquaDoge will have its LP locked for 10 years, is in the process of receiving a verified TechRate audit, and the developers will not hold any tokens, aside from a 3% Dev wallet.
While Dev wallets are often the subject of heavy scrutiny, the developers of AquaDoge have mentioned that they incentivize the developers to keep working and growing the hype and awareness around the community. Usually, the tokens that rug seem to be the ones that promise no dev wallets or involvement. All in all, this token puts the safety and security of its holding investors first, as is necessary to provide ease of mind and buyer confidence for any tradable currency.
How To Invest
While AquaDoge has not officially launched yet, its presale will be open soon for investors to get in early, and they expect it to fill up fast! Updates will be posted on the AquaDoge website, https://www.aquadoge.net as well as in their community Telegram, https://t.me/aquadogecommunity for investors to easily stay up to date.
Telegram Group: https://t.me/aquadogecommunity
Contact Name: Kenny Johnson
Cryptocurrency investment scams are on the rise. Here’s how to avoid them. | Opinion – Commercial Appeal
Randy Hutchinson| Columnist
You can hardly pick up the financial section of the newspaper or visit a financial website without seeing a headline about Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
As I write this column, these articles are on one website:
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The FTC says theres a Wild West vibe to the crypto culture, and an element of mystery too. Investopedia says some people compare cryptocurrencies to the fad for Beanie Babies in the 1980s. It says others draw analogies to Tulipmania, a 17th century speculative bubble in which the average price of a single tulip exceeded the annual income of a skilled worker.
Crooks exploit the headlines to make their scams more believable. According to a new FTC report titled Cryptocurrency buzz drives investment scam losses, nearly 7,000 people reported losses of more than $80 million to the FTC in cryptocurrency scams from October 2020 to May 2021. That was about 12 times the number of reports and almost 1,000% more in losses compared to the same time period a year earlier. Only a small percentage of scam victims report their experience, so the actual numbers are much higher.
Some victims were lured to bogus websites offering the opportunity to invest in cryptocurrencies or in mining them. The websites used fake testimonials and cryptocurrency jargon to appear legitimate. Some even made it seem like the persons investment was growing, but when they tried to withdraw their money, they couldnt.
In giveaway scams supposedly sponsored by celebrities, people sent in cryptocurrency based on the promise that the celebrity would multiply it. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has been tweeting about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a lot lately, causing their values to go up or down depending on whether his comments were favorable or unfavorable. People reported losing over $2 million to crooks impersonating Musk.
Romance scams in which crooks establish a relationship with a victim online and then request money for some reason have taken on a cryptocurrency twist. Many people reported to the FTC that their new love started chatting about a hot cryptocurrency investment opportunity in which the victim ended up being defrauded.
The FTC report found that people ages 20 to 49 were five times more likely than older age groups to report losing money in a cryptocurrency scam; those in their 20s and 30s were the most vulnerable. But when people older than 50 lost money, the median loss was much higher$3,250 vs. $1,900 for all victims.
The FTC and BBB offer these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a cryptocurrency investment scam:
Scams of all kinds in which victims are instructed to pay using Bitcoin are also on the rise. If youre asked to pay using Bitcoin to claim a prize, pay back taxes, get a government grant, or for any other strange reason, its a scam.
Randy Hutchinson is the president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. Reach the BBB at 800-222-8754.
If you own any cryptocurrency, theres a secret tax loophole that can save you thousands – Yahoo Entertainment
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of cryptocurrency news, from Tesla announcing just a few days ago that its still holding $1.3 billion worth of bitcoin and that its also planning to accept bitcoin as payment soon. The city of Miami is also continuing to talk up MiamiCoin, its own cryptocurrency token that would be used to fund development projects in the Magic City.
Meantime, some crypto market investors are celebrating the recent 46% dip from the markets all-time high in May. Thats because of a tax loophole which has been garnering headlines in recent weeks. This particular loophole treats crypto losses differently than losses associated with an asset like a stock. And more awareness of it comes at a time when Democratic lawmakers in Congress want to squeeze crypto investors for more money.
The loophole, which may sound a little esoteric for the average American, works like this. Crypto investors can sell their assets at a loss. Then, they can use that loss to whittle down or wipe out capital gains tax on other investments that are doing well. And they can buy back the crypto asset they sold at a loss to make sure theyre ready when a price rebound happens for it. Whereas, normally, they have to wait essentially a month to do that same thing with a stock.
One thing savvy investors do is sell at a loss and buy back bitcoin at a lower price, CPA Shehan Chandrasekera told CNBC. You want to look as poor as possible.
Chandrasekera went on to explain that he sees people doing this every month, week, and quarter. Depending, of course, on their level of investment sophistication. Investors can rack up so many of these losses, he said. Losses that they can just put toward offsetting any future gains.
We should add that this comes against the backdrop of other major cryptocurrency news. Specifically, a major development associated with the infrastructure bill that the Biden administration desperately wants Congress to pass.
Basically, new crypto reporting requirements are part of this bills mix of policy goals. Dont ask us what the relation is to roads and bridges you know, infrastructure. It seems that the idea is for the new crypto reporting requirements to help raise billions of dollars. For what else? To help pay for other infrastructure-y aspects of the legislation.
Also, on an unrelated note, we mentioned in a post a few days ago that Amazon is seeking an experienced individual to lead its digital currency and blockchain department. The finding led to speculation that Amazon will eventually support bitcoin payments and might even, eventually, launch its own cryptocurrency. Amazon has an official position on the matter, we reported earlier this week. The companys position is that the swirl of reports claiming that bitcoin payments are coming soon are unfounded. However, it ended up sounding more like a non-denial denial, truth be told. The company certainly seems to be interested in the blockchain landscape.
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When the Nigerian government suddenly banned access to foreign exchange for textile import companies in March 2019, Moses Awa* felt stuck. His business importing woven shoes from Guangzhou, China, to sell in the northern city of Kano and his home state of Abia, further south had been suffering along with the countrys economy. The ban threatened to tip it over the edge. It was a serious crisis: I had to act fast, Awa says.
He turned to his younger brother, Osy, who had begun trading bitcoins. He was just accumulating, accumulating crypto, saying that at some point years down the line it could be a great investment. When the forex ban happened, he showed me how much I needed it, too. I could pay my suppliers in bitcoins if they accepted and they did.
According to bitcoin trading platform Paxful, Nigeria is now second only to the US for bitcoin trading. The dollar volume of crypto received by users in Nigeria in May was $2.4bn, up from $684m last December, according to blockchain research firm Chainalysis. And the true scale of crypto flows through Africas largest economy is likely to be much larger, with many trades untraceable by analysts.
An array of factors, from political repression to currency controls and rampant inflation, have fuelled the stunning rise of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria. In February, the government took fright and banned cryptocurrency transactions through licensed banks. In late July, it announced a pilot scheme for a new government-controlled digital currency hoping to reduce incentives for those wanting to use unregulated crypto.
But these measures have done little to dampen trading, with exchanges reporting a continued rise in transactions this year.
Nigerias experience holds lessons for governments around the world, many of which are now thinking hard about how to regulate digital currencies. Britains chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is looking at creating a central-bank-controlled version, already being called Britcoin. EU regulators have set out plans to make digital currencies more traceable, in order to combat money laundering. In rural China, rows of computers used to create bitcoin in a computational process known as mining are being switched off after a clampdown by the authorities. The ruling party imposed a ban on transactions in May.
Elsewhere, Egypt, Turkey and Ghana have sought to clamp down on crypto trading, wary of potentially vast movements of digital funds beyond their regulatory controls.
Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world and is ripe for digital finance. With many people looking for ways to escape widespread poverty, pyramid schemes are proliferating.
Trading in foreign currencies is an everyday activity for many. Remittances into Nigeria from those working abroad, which were worth more than $17bn in 2020, have played a role, as has the way digital currencies can provide insurance against exchange rate fluctuations. The value of the Nigerian naira has plummeted almost 30% against the dollar in the past five years.
There are political factors too. Some see cryptocurrencies as vital protection from government repression.
Last October, Nigeria was rocked by the largest protests in decades, as many thousands marched against police brutality, and the infamous Sars police unit. The EndSars protests saw abuses by security forces, who beat demonstrators, and used water cannon and teargas on them. More than 50 protesters were killed, at least 12 of them shot dead at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos on 20 October
The clampdown was financial too. Civil society organisations, protest groups and individuals in favour of the demonstrations who were raising funds to free protesters or supply demonstrators with first aid and food had their bank accounts suddenly suspended.
Feminist Coalition, a collective of 13 young women founded during the demonstrations, came to national attention as they raised funds for protest groups and supported demonstration efforts. When the womens accounts were also suspended, the group began taking bitcoin donations, eventually raising $150,000 for its fighting fund through cryptocurrency.
Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and a prominent advocate of cryptocurrencies, reshared the FemCo bitcoin donation page, further drawing the ire of Nigerias government, which last month suspended Twitter in Nigeria.
The sight of young people openly critical of government figures easily manoeuvring around restrictions shocked the countrys political class, according to Adewunmi Emoruwa, founder of Gatefield, a public policy organisation which gave grants to journalists covering the protests.
I think that EndSars is like the key catalyst for some of these decisions the government is making, he said. It caused fear. They saw, for example, that people could decide to bypass government structures and institutions to mobilise. It sent shockwaves and those shockwaves have continued.
During the protests, Gatefields bank accounts were suspended, until a court found the suspension unmerited and ordered that they be reopened earlier this year.
The episode reinforced the need many Nigerians felt to insure themselves against sudden moves by the authorities. Many organisations now keep some of their finances in cryptocurrencies.
Speaking anonymously to avoid reprisals from the authorities, a leading figure in one civil society organisation, whose accounts were also briefly suspended last October, said digital currencies were now a key insurance against hostile interventions.
We keep some securities in crypto not too much but enough, sort of as an insurance policy, they said. When the ban happened we were, thankfully, able to pay salaries. This way, in a situation like that, well have a way to keep paying our staff.
In February, the Central Bank of Nigeria responded by telling banks to close the accounts of all customers using cryptocurrencies. Financial institutions would have to identify persons and/or entities making transactions in crypto or face sanctions.
The ban was at first a blow to an emerging industry of cryptocurrency brokers who relied on commercial banks to facilitate transactions between sellers and buyers. However, many customers found workarounds, said Marius Reitz, Africa general manager at Luno, a cryptocurrency trading platform.
A lot of trading activity has now been pushed underground, which means many Nigerians are now depending on less secure, less transparent over-the-counter channels, as well as Telegram and WhatsApp groups, where people trade directly with each other, Reitz said. The ban has made cryptocurrency trading harder to monitor and less safe. This also means regulators now have a reduced level of visibility and control of the market, and unfortunately this can expose consumers to a higher risk of being defrauded.
Platforms have also adjusted, by continuing to facilitate transactions as long as the currency being traded is not declared as a cryptocurrency.
While some platforms experienced a hit in trades, for others, the clampdown has increased demand for cryptocurrencies, not dampened it. In the first five months of 2021, according to Helsinki-based platform LocalBitcoins, Nigerians traded 50% more than in the same period last year.
The Nigerian governments response to cryptocurrencies has in fact been inconsistent. Announcing the February curbs, the governor of the central bank, Godwin Emefiele, told a senate committee that cryptocurrency was not legitimate money.
At the same time, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo publicly rebuked the move. Rather than adopt a policy that prohibits cryptocurrency operations in the Nigerian banking sector, we must act with knowledge and not fear, he said, calling for a robust regulatory regime that is thoughtful and knowledge-based.
Another Nigerian government agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, has been more open to creating a more regulated environment for cryptocurrency transactions.
The reality that cryptocurrencies cannot effectively be stopped had gradually dawned on the government, said the operator of one Nigerian crypto trading platform, speaking anonymously after having been targeted by the authorities. They know they cant really stop it. Its out of their control, and what scares them is they are not used to being in this position.
* Not his real surname
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, created in 2009, and remains the most widely known and valuable. Its a digital or virtual asset, operating outside of the traditional banking system, and its influence has soared, with a growing number of companies now accepting it for payments.
Each bitcoin is essentially a digital token containing a secret key that proves to anyone in the network who it belongs to. Effectively, each bitcoin is a collective agreement of every other computer on the bitcoin network that the token is real, created by a bitcoin miner, and then acquired through a series of legitimate transactions.
Each time bitcoins are spent, it becomes known to the entire network that their ownership has been transferred. Every transaction is stored in a lasting public record called a blockchain, which underpins the entire system, making it possible to trace a coins history and preventing people from spending coins they do not own.
For bitcoins many advocates, there are several advantages to the virtual system from the way the blockchain can be used to track things other than simple money, to support for smart contracts, which execute automatically when certain conditions are met.
But bitcoins biggest advantage is that it is decentralised and so extremely resistant to censorship or regulatory control by a single entity. Its possible to observe a bitcoin payment in process, but no one can stop it. This has made governments wary: in a conventional financial system, banks can freeze accounts, vet payments for money laundering or enforce regulations.
Thanks to the decentralised nature of cryptocurrency networks, people have been able to make international payments from closed or tightly restricted economies, but this has also made them a haven for illegal activities, from cybercrime to money laundering and drug trading.
Another concern about bitcoins is that they damage the environment. Bitcoin mining the process in which a bitcoin is awarded to a computer that solves a complex series of algorithms consumes vast amounts of energy. Miners set up large computer rigs to maximise the chances of being awarded bitcoins. The carbon footprint of this mining is now similar to Chiles, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a tool from Cambridge University that measures the currencys energy usage.
Advocates of bitcoin say the mining is increasingly being done with electricity from renewable sources. And while the amount of energy consumed by bitcoin has dropped significantly this year, concerns remain. Environmentalists argue that miners tend to set up wherever electricity is cheapest, which may be in places with coal-generated power.
Polish police on Friday said they had uncovered a bitcoin mining operation in their own headquarters in Warsaw.
"A civilian employee, not a police officer... attempted to steal electricity to mine bitcoin," police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka told the TVN24 news channel.
"Unfortunately this happened at a police site," Ciarka said, emphasising that at no stage did the suspect have access to police databases.
Ciarka added that the alleged crime had been discovered "quite quickly" but did not give a precise timeline.
TVN24 said the employee had been fired and prosecutors were investigating.
The report said a second person was also about to be fired over the investigation.
Crypto-mining -- the process by which computers mint new virtual currency and validate transactions -- requires vast amounts of energy and processing power.
The process typically involves large numbers of sophisticated computers that form a specially designed "rig" that runs the complex calculations required to maintain a cryptocurrency network.
While energy-hungry, the process can be lucrative with each bitcoin currently worth more than 32,600 euros ($38,800).
As of July 31 (10:47am IST), Bitcoin price in Indiastood at Rs. 31.1 lakhs.
Analytics Insight brings the top 10 current cryptocurrency prices on July 30, 2021
The cryptocurrency market varies every now and then, it is a highly volatile market. Hence it becomes difficult to figure out things for the investors before investing in the cryptocurrency.
But Analytics Insight is here listing the top 10 cryptocurrency prices on July 30, 2021. Here they are.
Bitcoin ( BTC)- US$39,922.30 (down by 0.18%)
Ethereum (ETH)- US$2,425.40 (up by 6.03%)
Tether (USDT)- US$1.00 (down by 0.05%)
Binance Coin (BNB)- US$321.50 (up by 3.04%)
Cardano (ADA)- US$1.31 (up by 3.32%)
XRP (XRP)- US$0.7547 (up by 7.24%)
USD Coin (USDC)- US$0.9999 (down by 0.04%)
Dogecoin (DOGE)- US$0.2073 (up by 1.34%)
Polkadot (DOT)- US$15.47 (up by 5.80%)
Binance USD (BUSD)- US$0.9998 (down by 0.04%)
According to CoinMarketCap, the global crypto-market cap is US$1.58T with a volume of US$76,507,815,887billion over the last 24hours with a 2.49% over the last day.
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Top 10 Cryptocurrency Prices on July 30, 2021 - Analytics Insight
Earlier this month, hundreds of companies from the US to Sweden were entangled in theransomware attack through Kaseya, a company that offers network infrastructure to businesses around the world.
The Kaseya hack comes on the heels of other headline-grabbing cyberattacks like theColonial Pipeline hijackingand theJBS meat supplier hack. In each instance, criminals had the opportunity to make off with millions -- and much of the ransoms were paid in Bitcoin.
"We have to remember the primary reason for creating Bitcoin in the first place was to provide anonymity and secure, trustless and borderless transaction capabilities," says Keatron Evans,principal security researcher at Infosec Institute.
As Bitcoin grows more prominent in markets around the world, cybercrooks have found a vital tool to help them move illegal assets quickly and pseudonymously. And by all accounts, the attacks are only becoming more common.
Ransomware is a cybercrime that involves ransoming personal and business data back to the owner of that data.
First, a criminal hacks into a private network. The hack is accomplished through various tactics, including phishing, social engineering and preying upon users' weak passwords.
Once network access is gained, the criminal locks important files within the network using encryption. The owner can't access the files unless they pay a ransom. Nowadays, cybercriminals tend to request their ransoms in cryptocurrencies.
The FBIestimatesransomware attacks accounted for at least $144.35 million in Bitcoin ransoms from 2013 to 2019.
These attacks are scalable and can be highly targeted or broad, ensnaring anyone who happens to click a link or install a particular software program.
This allows a small team of cybercrooks to ransom data back to organizations of all sizes -- and the tools needed to hack into a small business or multinational cooperation are largely the same.
Private citizens, businesses, and state and national governments have all fallen victim -- and many decided to pay ransoms.
Today's business world depends on computer networks to keep track of administrative and financial data. When that data disappears, it can be impossible for the organization to function properly. This provides a large incentive to pay up.
Although victims of ransomware attacks are encouraged to report the crime to federal authorities, there's no US law that says you have to report attacks (unless personal data is exposed). Given this, there's little authoritative data about the number of attacks or ransom payments.
However, a recent study from Threatpostfound thatonly 20% of victims pay up. Whatever the actual number is, the FBIrecommendsagainst paying ransoms because there's no guarantee that you'll get the data back, and paying ransoms creates further incentive for ransomware attacks.
Cryptocurrency provides a helpful ransom tool for cybercrooks. Rather than being an aberration or misuse, the ability to make anonymous (or pseudonymous) transfers is acentral value propositionof cryptocurrency.
"Bitcoin can be acquired fairly easily. It's decentralized and readily
available in almost any country," says Koen Maris, a cybersecurity expert and advisory board member at IOTA Foundation.
Different cryptocurrencies feature different levels of anonymity. Some cryptocurrencies, like Monero and Zcash, specialize in confidentiality and may even provide a higher level of security than Bitcoin for cybercriminals.
That's because Bitcoin isn't truly anonymous -- it's pseudonymous. Through careful detective work and analysis, it appears possible to trace and recoup Bitcoin used for ransoms, as the FBIrecently demonstratedafter the Colonial Pipeline hack. So Bitcoin isn't necessarily used by ransomers simply because of security features. Bitcoin transfers are also fast, irreversible and easily verifiable. Once a ransomware victim has agreed to pay, the criminal can watch the transfer go through on the public blockchain.
After the ransom is sent, it's usually gone forever. Then crooks can either exchange the Bitcoin for another currency -- crypto or fiat -- or transfer the Bitcoin to another wallet for safekeeping.
While it's not clear exactly when or how Bitcoin became associated with ransomware, hackers, cybercrooks, and crypto-enthusiasts are all computer-savvy subcultures with a natural affinity for new tech, and Bitcoin was adopted for illicit activities online soon after its creation. One of Bitcoin's first popular uses was currency for transactions on the dark web. Theinfamous Silk Roadwas among the early marketplaces that accepted Bitcoin.
Ransomware is big business. Cybercriminals made off just under $350 million worth of cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks last year,according to Chainanalysis. That's an increase of over 300% in the amount of ransom payments from the year before.
The COVID-19 pandemic set the stage for a surge in ransomware attacks. With vast tracts of the global workforce moving out of well-fortified corporate IT environments into home offices, cybercriminals had more surface area to attack than ever.
According toresearch from cyberinsurer Coalition, the organizational changes needed to accommodate remote work opened up more businesses for cybercrime exploits, with Coalition's policyholders reporting a 35% increase in funds transfer fraud and social engineering claims since the beginning of the pandemic.
It's not just the number of attacks that is increasing, but the stakes, too. A2021 reportfrom Palo Alto Networks estimates that the average ransom paid in 2020 was over $300,000 -- a year-over-year increase of more than 170%.
When an organization falls prey to cybercrime, the ransom is only one component of the financial cost. There are also remediation expenses -- including lost orders, business downtime, consulting fees, and other unplanned expenses.
TheState of Ransomware 2021report from Sophos found that the total cost of remediating a ransomware attack for a business averaged $1.85 million in 2021, up from $761,000 in 2020.
Many companies now buy cyber insurance for financial protection. But as ransomware insurance claims increase, the insurance industry is also dealing with the fallout.
Globally, the price of cyber insurance hasincreased 32%, according to a new report from Howden, an international insurance broker. The increase is likely due to the growing cost these attacks cause for insurance providers.
A cyber insurance policy generally covers a business's liability from a data breach, such as expenses (i.e., ransom payments) and legal fees. Some policies may also help with contacting the businesses customers who were affected by the breach and repairing damaged computer systems.
Cyber insurance payouts now account formore than 70%of all premiums collected, which is the break-even point for the providers.
"We noticed cyber insurers are paying ransom on behalf of their customers. That looks like a bad idea to me, as it will only lead to more ransom attacks," says Maris. "Having said that, I fully understand the argument: the company either pays or it goes out of business. Only time will tell whether investing in ransom payments rather than in appropriate cybersecurity is a viable survival strategy."
The AIDS Trojan, or PC Cyborg Trojan, is the first known ransomware attack.
The attack began in 1989 when an AIDS researcher distributed thousands of copies of a floppy disk containing malware. When people used the floppy disk, it encrypted the computer's files with a message that demanded a payment sent to a PO Box in Panama.
Bitcoin wouldn't come along until almost two decades later.
In 2009, Bitcoin's mysterious founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, created the blockchain network by mining the first block in the chain -- the genesis block.
Bitcoin was quickly adopted as the go-to currency for the dark web. While it's unclear exactly when Bitcoin became popular in ransomware attacks, the 2013 CryptoLocker attack definitely put Bitcoin in the spotlight.
CryptoLocker infected more than 250,000 computers over a few months. The criminals made off with about $3 million in Bitcoin and pre-paid vouchers. It took an internationally coordinated operation to take the ransomware offline in 2014.
Since then, Bitcoin has moved closer to the mainstream, and ransomware attacks have become much easier to carry out.
Early ransomware attackers generally had to develop malware programs themselves. Nowadays, ransomware can be bought as a service, just like other software.
Ransomware-as-a-service allows criminals with little technical know-how to "rent" ransomware from a provider, which can be quickly employed against victims. Then if the job succeeds, the ransomware provider gets a cut.
In light of the recent high-profile ransomware attacks, calls for new legislation are growing louder in Washington.
President Joe Biden issued anexecutive orderin May "on improving the nation's cybersecurity." The order is geared toward strengthening the federal government's response to cybercrime, and it looks like more legislation is on the way.
TheInternational Cybercrime Prevention Actwas recently introduced by a bipartisan group of senators. The bill aims to ramp up penalties for cyberattacks that impact critical infrastructure, so the Justice Department would have an easier time charging criminals in foreign countries under the new act.
States are also taking their own stands against cybercrime:Four stateshave proposed legislation to outlaw ransomware payments. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas are all considering new laws that would outlaw taxpayer money from being used in ransom payments. New York's law goes a step further and could outright ban private businesses from paying cybercrime ransoms.
"I think the concept of what cryptocurrency is and how it works is something that most legislative bodies worldwide struggle with understanding," says Evans. "It's difficult to legislate what we don't really understand."
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The history of hacking ransoms and cryptocurrency - CNET
Despite the lack of regulations, Indians are embracing cryptocurrency. Since 2018, Indian officials are in shambles about cryptocurrency. On May 31, the Reserve Bank of India asked banks to not reject banking services for people who dealt in cryptocurrencies, citing its 2018 order. However, the central bank asked other banks to continue other due diligence procedures on crypto traders under the rules that connect to anti-money laundering and the prevention of terrorism.
In April 2018, the RBI sent out circular instructing banks to ensure customers who deal with cryptocurrencies do not access banking services. This rule came as a result of speculation among RBI officials regarding the legitimacy of virtual currencies issued by private parties, without government interference. The central bank has warned people about the risks that are associated with private currencies and the wrong impact they can have on the financial system. The intent of the 2018 circular was to discourage citizens from trading cryptocurrencies, but that did not happen.
In March 2021, the Supreme Court of India overturned the 2018 RBI circular. The court noted that in the absence of any legislative ban on buying or selling crypto coins, the RBI cannot impose any restrictions on crypto trading. The logic behind this move was the fact that imposing such a ban would interfere with the fundamental right of citizens to carry out any legal trade.
According to the Supreme Court of India, there is no legal, substantial basis to impose strict restrictions on cryptocurrencies, at the moment. But once the law is passed in the parliament, the Supreme Court will not have a say in this matter. Due to this uncertainty, banks are advising the citizens to not trade cryptocurrencies. The Centre is considering a proposal to ban or limit the reach and accessibility of cryptocurrencies and launching their own digital tokens to support the secure, digital payment movement. Called Govcoins, this might imply that the Indian government will only encourage trading of this digital coin, and none other.
Not just India, cryptocurrency skeptics believe that there are high chances that governments around the world will slowly but surely ban all cryptocurrencies as they are decentralized. They argue that governments and the main financial authorities will lose power over monetary functions and dilute the monopolistic power over money.
India still has no definitive stance on cryptocurrencies. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in March said that there wont be a total ban of cryptocurrencies in the country. But the Centre plans on introducing the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which will have the provisions that will define the state of crypto tokens in India.
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To Trade or Not to Trade? The Future of Cryptocurrency in India - Analytics Insight