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Ransomware Attacks Demanding Crypto Are Unfortunately Here to Stay

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Year after year, the ransomware landscape changes dramatically. In 2019, a new resurgence of attacks occurred as businesses and government institutions became the main targets of ransomware, given their capacity to yield larger payouts. 

The most recent attack was against Garmin, a navigation systems company, on July 23. Due to the attack, many of its online services such as customer support, website functions and company communications were affected. Reportedly, the Russian cybergang Evil Corp launched the attack, demanding $10 million in cryptocurrency to restore access to Garmin’s services

Overall, according to a report by anti-malware software firm Malwarebytes, there was a 365% increase in ransomware attacks against businesses between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019.

Other reports show that 948 United States government agencies and healthcare and education institutions were affected by ransomware attacks in 2019. Apart from the cost of paying ransomware to attackers, government institutions in the U.S. also spent at least $176 million on rebuilding and restoring the networks, investigating the attacks, and putting up preventative measures.

Increased attacks in 2020

So far, 2020 has seen an increase in the number of attacks, partially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Already, government and health institutions, private businesses and educational establishments have spent a whopping $144 million to deal with ransomware attacks. Most worryingly, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recently reported a 75% increase in ransomware attacks on healthcare entities. Most of these attacks are conducted through email-based phishing exploits, and the attackers demand crypto as payment.

Alberto Daniel Hill, a whitehat hacker and cybersecurity consultant, told Cointelegraph that “attacks on medical providers/hospitals are something that cybercriminals target as it is much likely for that kind of company to pay.” Hill further added: “Being a victim of a security incident for medical providers is really serious and complicated for the company to recover in terms of image, as well as reputation and therefore they have to pay.”

The rapid spread of crypto ransomware attacks

Fast-paced technological developments in the ransomware landscape make it extremely difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate and solve ransomware-related crimes. In particular, cryptocurrency is one of the technological developments stigmatized for its use by hackers as a payment. In the event of a ransomware attack, strong encryption is used to lock an institution’s data, which is only decrypted after confirmation of payment. Given that cryptocurrencies have built-in pseudo-anonymous transactions, attackers may choose to demand crypto over fiat money.

In the first quarter of 2020, there was a 300% spike in so-called “cryptojacking” attacks in Singapore. These ransomware attacks are mostly conducted against a user’s device whereby that device is commandeered to mine cryptocurrency. Hill agreed that the use of crypto by ransomware attackers will taint the image of cryptocurrencies. However, he added, “Lack of knowledge about cryptocurrencies is what makes people link cryptocurrencies with crime, as they do not know all the good things cryptocurrencies involve.”

With that in mind, here is a list of some of the most notable crypto ransomware attacks from the most recent past.

Salisbury Police Department attacked

On January 9, 2019, ransomware attackers encrypted the files of the entire Salisbury, Maryland police department, rendering them unusable. It was reported that officials attempted to negotiate with the attackers for an undisclosed amount of money as payment in exchange for the key to decrypt the data. However, the negotiations quickly ceased. This was not the first time the agency suffered a ransomware attack.

A $400,000 payout in Jackson County, Georgia

Throughout 2019, barely a month passed without news of a local government institution falling victim to a ransomware attack. In March 2019, Jackson County, Georgia was struck by ransomware that demanded a $400,000 payment in Bitcoin (BTC), which the officials agreed to. The Ryuk ransomware that was used in the attack affected a large number of offices and county agencies. Jackson County’s manager said that they “had to make a determination whether to pay,” as the damage would result in a loss of money and time rebuilding the system.

Baltimore attack

2019 also saw hackers seize thousands of government computers belonging to the city of Baltimore. The attackers used a variant of the Robbinhood ransomware and demanded payment of about 13 Bitcoin (around $100,000 at the time). Although reports suggest that Baltimore City Council officials refused to pay, it took weeks to get affected systems back online, and it cost about $18 million to repair the damage.

Two Florida cities hacked

In a spree of attacks against local government entities, two cities in Florida were held hostage in 2019. Lake City was required to pay 42 Bitcoin (around $426,000 at the time) to end a 15-day standoff. The second city, Riviera Beach, voted to pay the requested 65 Bitcoin (around $600,000 at the time) after the hackers disabled the city’s online services. In a twist of events, despite paying the ransom, reports show that it took Lake City weeks to recover its data.

Escalated attacks in 2020

While attackers focused more on public institutions throughout 2019, this year has seen an escalation of hacking tactics in addition to higher demands. In mid-May, the computer systems of an entertainment and media law firm were hacked by the REvil group. 

REvil claimed to have possession of hundreds of gigabytes of private data belonging to public figures such as Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Mary J. Blige and Madonna, to mention a few. While the hackers initially asked for $21 million, they doubled their payment demand to $42 million and announced that they would also target U.S. President Donald Trump. According to reports, the law firm did not negotiate with the hackers.

University pays a 30 Bitcoin ransom demand

In February, the University of Maastricht in Amsterdam agreed to pay hackers a 30 Bitcoin ransom after an attack that threatened to damage the work of its students, staff and scientists. According to the university’s vice president, the decision to pay the hackers was made in order to avoid the high costs of rebuilding the entire IT network.

Attacks on healthcare and medical institutions

During the first half of 2020, reports show that at least 41 hospitals and healthcare organizations were successfully hacked in ransomware attacks. Despite the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic, experts predict that the rate of attacks is set to increase as more employees return to work.

Given the sensitivity of medical data, victims have had to meet the exorbitant payment demands to secure their data. For instance, the University of California, San Francisco recently paid $1.4 million in ransom after several of its medical school’s servers were hacked.

Tackling ransomware attacks

As several industries including healthcare, finance and government face increasing threats from hackers, experts recommend public and private organizations invest more in ransomware prevention and response. Hill suggested that the first step in protecting against hackers is awareness of how phishing attacks are conducted, as they are becoming popular with hackers. Hill added that a good backup policy is also important.

Related: The Most Malicious Ransomwares Demanding Crypto to Watch Out For

Ransomware attacks have proved to be a lucrative business for most cybercriminal groups. A 2016 study shows that the number of new ransomware families increased by 172% in the first half of that year alone, with hackers bringing increasingly sophisticated tools and widening their pool of potential victims. Given the high costs of rebuilding a network, Hill recommends — contrary to popular opinion — that “it might be smart to have some cryptocurrencies as the last resource.”

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/ransomware-attacks-demanding-crypto-are-unfortunately-here-to-stay

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Ripple Aims To Expand Its Financial Institutions Network

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Ripple, a huge crypto exchange, is now aiming to expand its Financial Institutions network by adding them as partners and customers. The firm is currently seeking to integrate two engineers as it has vacancy for them. One vacancy is for a Senior Integration Engineer in Dubai and another one is for Staff Integration Engineer in London. 

It is revealed that with the appointment of these two engineers, the financial institutions network of the company will be enlarged. Along with this, the partners of the firm will be having access to RippleNet using their own payment system. 

Ripple Staff Integration Engineer Will Create New Integration Solutions

According to the announcement, the Staff Integration Engineer of Ripple will be creating and trailing the new integration solutions. Not only this, he will also have to take part in troubleshooting sessions with companies across the world. 

Both the new recruitments will be working to design, build, test and deploy the integration solutions for the firm. They will also have to solve the challenges that clients and partners of Ripple might be facing while integration and deployment process. Both of the integration engineers will have to provide the training to the new customers of the firm.

XRP Might Grow Into a Better Payment Solution

Marcus Treacher, the senior Vice President of Customer Success at Ripple, has said that at the present moment, the transnational payments market is not working really well. He further mentioned that the way RippleNet has been working, it will be transforming the industry. According to him, XRP is having a huge potential to grow into a better payment solution than any other out there. The firm is regularly working to expand and better its services across the world by trying out different measures. This appointment of two engineers is going to play a major role in the development.

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#Better Payment Solution #Create New Integration Solutions #Financial Institutions Network #ripple #ripplenet #Senior Integration Engineer #Staff Integration Engineer

Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/ripple-aims-to-expand-its-financial-institutions-network

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These 4 Trends Show That Bitcoin’s Likely to Move Higher After 20% Drop

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  • Bitcoin is technically in no man’s land a number of analysts have said after the crypto’s recent drop.
  • The cryptocurrency, in fact, is below the $11,000 resistance, where BTC was rejected last week.
  • Bitcoin is also above the support of the low-$10,000s, where a number of bounces have taken place over recent weeks.
  • Four key market data points suggest that BTC will soon resume its ascent, though.
  • There are also on-chain trends observed by a number of analysts that suggest Bitcoin’s prevailing trend is a bullish one.

The 4 Reasons Why Bitcoin May Continue Its Upward Ascent Soon

Since peaking at $12,500 late last month, the leading cryptocurrency has traded in a steep downtrend. The coin remains down $2,000 below those highs despite already bouncing by around $700 from local lows.

There are crucial market data points, though, that suggest that Bitcoin will continue its ascent in the near future. A crypto technician recently outlined these reasons in a Twitter thread:

  • Bitcoin’s Fear and Greed Index has dropped to a level of “Fear” after reaching extremely high levels of greed in August. The index is calculated through a variety of data sets, including market sentiment, volume, social media trends, and more. Analysts think that this works as a sort-of counter-indicator, reaching levels of Extreme Greed when a top is near and vice-versa.
  • Bitcoin is currently trading in backwardation, meaning that the price of futures for this market is below the actual spot price. According to the chart below, periods of backwardation are often seen prior to the cryptocurrency rallying higher.
  • The funding rates of BTC futures markets are currently in the red or at neutral levels. This is similar to the last point in that whenever they are in the red or neutral, rallies are to be expected.
  • There is a cluster of Bitcoin short liquidation levels above BTC’s current price, which the market will likely gravitate towards in the near to medium term.

Image

Chart of BTC's price action since the start of July with a Contango Index analysis by crypto trader Byzantine General (@Byzgeneral on Twitter). Chart from TradingView.com

On-Chain Data Agrees With This

On-chain data agrees with the bullish sentiment shared  by the aforementioned trader.

Willy Woo, a prominent on-chain analyst, recently commented:

“Another impulse of coins changing hands has completed, the next directional move over the coming weeks is likely upwards. It’s very unlikely we’ll see any kind of a catastrophic dump in price from here.”

Other on-chain trends such as the strength of Bitcoin miners, measured through the hash rate and network difficulty, also suggest a macro bullish backdrop to cryptocurrencies.

Featured Image from Shutterstock
Price tags: xbtusd, btcusd, btcusdt
Charts from TradingView.com
These 4 Trends Show That Bitcoin's Likely to Move Higher After 20% Drop

Source: https://bitcoinist.com/these-4-trends-show-that-bitcoins-likely-to-move-higher-after-20-drop/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=these-4-trends-show-that-bitcoins-likely-to-move-higher-after-20-drop

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RockX Launches $20M Investment Program to Support Polkadot

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RockX, a digital asset development company, has launched a $20 million investment program. This investment program is specifically launched to support the Polkadot (DOT) ecosystem for over the next few years. It is revealed that this funding has been capped at $500,000 worth of DOT tokens per project. Along with this, the developer team of the firm will also be providing the technical support. It was also mentioned that RockX will be receiving tokens from supported projects.

RockX Launched This Program With Financial Aid From Individual Investors

Alex Lam, CEO of RockX, has said that this program has been launched with the help of financial aid from many individual investors. All the investors who have contributed in this project have not revealed their identity as they chose to be anonymous. According to him, all these anonymous investors are some prominent DOT holders. All these investors are also long-term supporters of Ethereum as they have been in the ETH community since 2015. It has also been mentioned that despite their financial support, these investors are not at all involved in any kind of project and their functioning.

Polkadot Recently Established its Treasury

This is to be noticed that this announcement of an investment program by RockX is coming a few days after Polkadot had established the Polkadot Treasury. Despite being completely different from each other, both treasury and investment program share the same goal of building and promoting the projects. It is mentioned by the CEO Lam that the strong technical background of his firm will be contributing to Polkadot. One of the managing partners of the firm, John Ng Pangilinan has said that “RockX is taking a step further to help blockchains grow by leveraging its technical capabilities and investor networks. This will set up a new collaborative model for the industry.”

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#$20M Investment Program #Alex Lam #Financial Aid From Individual Investors #John Ng Pangilinan #Polkadot #RockX

Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/rockx-launches-20m-investment-program-to-support-polkadot

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