Crypto-Jacking on the Rise According to McAfee Report

crypto-jackingcrypto-jacking

Crypto-jacking campaigns increased substantially in the first quarter of 2019 according to a McAfee Labs Threats Report published yesterday.

The prevalence of ransomware attacks climbed a massive 118% during Q1, while malware attacks increased by 29% in the same period. The report also states that the attacks were indiscriminate, meaning that both Windows and Apple users were targeted. The majority of attacks on Windows users were carried out using PowerShell, which is a scripting language that allows system administrators to rapidly automate tasks and manage operating systems.

One of the larger crypto-jacking campaigns reported by McAfee was the malware PsMiner, which is specifically targeted at Monero (XMR). XMR is currently the 12th largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $1.16 billion USD and is popular among users as it allows for completely anonymous peer-to-peer transactions, without even tracing the user’s address, as well as the potential for high rewards. Recently, French authorities stopped a virus that had infected over 850,000 devices in order to mine Monero.

Apple users were targeted by a malware called CookieMiner, which shared code with a past campaign in order to steal digital wallets and credentials. CookieMiner stole data from many popular exchanges, including Binance, Coinbase, and MyEtherWallet. Despite the huge increase in crypto-jacking campaigns, McAfee’s report stressed that hackers still require the involuntary cooperation of victims. “Even with all the sophisticated attack techniques being developed, attackers are still highly dependent on human interaction and social engineering,” the report concluded.

>> Japan’s Crypto Exchange Coincheck Cuts Margin Trade Limit

McAfee’s report comes just weeks after CipherTrace published its Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Report. This report estimated that in Q1 2019, cryptocriminals illicitly obtained 1.2 billion USD in cryptocurrency. Both of these reports reiterate the need for increased monitoring of crypto platforms by authorities. In June, the G20 nations gave their full support to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) new “traffic rule,” which requires transactions between exchanges to include personal information about the sender and receiver of funds.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos © maxkabakov

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Chinese Cryptocurrency is Not Coming Anytime Soon, Says Reports

Chinese cryptocurrencyChinese cryptocurrency

Ever since Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies became far more mainstream following the remarkable rally in 2017, there has been a lot of talk about large institutions getting into this space. For instance, banking giant JP Morgan came up with its own digital coin last year. However, in 2019, a bigger piece of news came to the fore.

It emerged that the Chinese central bank, the People’s Bank of China, was going to launch its own digital asset. It goes without saying that this is a major development in the history of cryptocurrencies, and, naturally, there is a lot of excitement about the Chinese government getting into space in such a big way.

Ease of Speculation

Yesterday, it emerged that the Chinese central bank was readying to launch the cryptocurrency in November this year. However, the speculation was dismissed by the Chinese newspaper Global Times, which is well known for being close to the government. The newspaper sent out a tweet through its official Twitter account and stated, “Refuting media reports of launching a state-backed cryptocurrency in the coming months, #China’s central bank termed them as ‘inaccurate speculation.’” The announcement put cold water on all the speculation that has gone on regarding the cryptocurrency over the recent weeks.

>> ECB Questions Stablecoin Stability Amidst Regulatory Uncertainties

Throughout the course of August, speculation has been rife that Chinese cryptocurrency was going to be launched at some point in November. At the start of August, the People’s Bank of China stated that the development of the digital currency had been accelerated.

Yesterday, several reports emerged in which it was stated that the central bank was going to distribute the coins among China’s biggest financial institutions in order to ensure that it is distributed efficiently across the vast population. Although it is true that no date has yet been given regarding the launch, it is fairly clear that the whole thing has probably been deferred for now.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © Alan

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ECB Questions Stablecoin Stability Amidst Regulatory Uncertainties

ECBECB

Stablecoins are not immune to uncertainties. Those are the sentiments shared by the European Central Bank (ECB). According to the regulator, stablecoin stability could be hampered by the uncertainties stemming from the lack of regulations.

Uncertainties

The fact that regulatory pressures do affect fiat currencies is one of the tailwinds that could take a toll on the stability of stablecoins. For instance, these coins pegged on fiat currencies, such as Tether (USDT), are always subject to volatility in line with regulatory policies instituted by the FED to protect the dollar.

The ECB has since called for improvements pertaining to stablecoin governance as a way of addressing some of the uncertainties. Some of the upgrades touted touch on updating the smart contracts at the core of the projects.

The regulator has also called for the classification of these coins based on key concepts as a way of guaranteeing their stability. In that regard, the ECB maintains that stablecoins should be classified as either tokenized funds, off-chain collateralized coins, on-chain collateralized coins, or algorithmic coins.

The sentiments come hot on the heels of the ECB raising the red flag over the risks associated with the use of stablecoins in the mainstream financial sector. Some of the concerns raised include the proliferation of money laundering activities as well as consumer protection.

>> Telegram to Release TON Blockchain Code on September 1

Proliferation

Amidst the concerns raised, stablecoins continue to gain traction as the cryptocurrency revolution continues to take over. Facebook launching its own cryptocurrency Libra has already affirmed the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay for the long haul. China is the latest country to join the cryptocurrency fray with the launch of a state-backed altcoin

According to the ECB, there are about 54 stablecoin projects, with 24 already in full operation. The market value of these coins is on the rise, thanks to their acceptance in the industry. For instance, stablecoin capitalization stood at $1.7 billion as of the start of 2018. It has since more than doubled to $4.8 billion. With the average volume of stablecoin transactions at €13.5 billion, there is no denying that they are here to stay.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © fazon1

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Telegram to Release TON Blockchain Code on September 1

TelegramTelegram

Telegram will release the code required to run a Telegram Open Network (TON) node on September 1, according to individuals close to the project.

The news was confirmed by two individuals familiar with the project, an investor and an affiliate with TON labs. There has been a high level of secrecy around the project, and some analysts have previously raised concerns regarding the lack of activity from Telegram on advancing its proposed blockchain. Francois Pouliot, a prominent crypto analyst, said, “Is the real use-case of blockchain technology the elaboration of mechanisms to launder money via shady public financing schemes?” However, today’s reports appear to have appeased those fears.

Telegram was the talk of the industry when it raised $1.7 billion USD in 2018 in order to finance the project through two unique initial coin offerings (ICOs). However, these ICOs were highlight secretive, with investors having to sign non-disclosure agreements, and Telegram itself is yet to publicly confirm any details about TON. The purchase agreement stated that “buyers of grams may not offer, pledge, sell, swap, encumber or dispose of their tokens, directly and indirectly,” adding to the mystery surrounding the project.

>> Ethereum (ETH) Slumps to 3-Month Low on Renewed Pessimism

Despite these clauses, a secondary market quickly sprung up for sale of TON tokens even though the cryptocurrency was yet to be made public. This shadow market saw investors make returns as high as 400%, mostly due to the intense interest around the project. Initially sold for $0.37 USD, TON tokens were fetching prices of $2.00 USD in secondary sales. However, another clause in the ICO stated that Telegram must launch TON by October 31 or else refund its investors, so today’s reports are welcome news for all involved.

Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app, similar to WhatsApp in format but with supposedly higher encryption capabilities. The company was founded by self-exiled Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos © EdZbarzhyvetsky

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Alibaba and Tencent all Set to Get First Chinese Government Cryptocurrency

China cryptocurrencyChina cryptocurrency

Ever since cryptocurrencies first captured the global consciousness a few years ago, several institutions from around the world have expressed their willingness to issue crypto tokens of their own and the most recent one is the Chinese central bank.

A few weeks ago, it emerged that People’s Bank of China was all set to issue its own cryptocurrency and now it has emerged that the cryptocurrency is going to be disbursed to seven entities in the country. The update was revealed by the former global head of financial strategy at the China Construction Bank, Paul Schulte.

Important Development

According to Schulte, the cryptocurrency is going to be issued to the China Construction Bank, the Agricultural Bank of China, the China Construction Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In addition to these four financial institutions, the tokens are also going to be issued to tech giants Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and Tencent (OTCPK:TCTZF). It is important to note that Alibaba and Tencent are also the biggest Fintech companies in the country, which is why the issuance makes sense. Last but not least, Union Pay, which is a union of Chinese banks, will also be issued the new cryptocurrency by the People’s Bank of China.

>> Is Tether Taking Over the Ethereum Network? Buterin Warns of Issues

Other sources have confirmed that the technology that has been used to create the cryptocurrency named DP/EP has been ready for use since November last year. The cryptocurrency is being issued to these seven institutions so that the token can be issued easily and quickly to the hundreds of millions of people in China who might be interested in buying. It is believed that the Chinese central bank wants to eventually make it available globally and also in the United States.

However, the tensions with regards to the trade war between the two countries mean that it is unlikely to happen any time soon. It has not yet been revealed when the central bank is going to start issuing the token.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © gioiak2

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Telegram’s 300 Million Users May Be Able to Trade Cryptocurrency

TelegramTelegram

Crypto bull runs often result in developments that often seem a bit farfetched, but at the end of the day, almost everyone wants to cash in on the phenomenon. It happened in 2017, and it is happening once against in 2019 as Bitcoin led the massive crypto surge in the first half of the year.

Naturally, some of the world’s biggest tech companies are now getting an interest in Bitcoin as well as in the wider crypto ecosystem. It has now emerged that messaging platform Telegram, which is best known for providing complete privacy to its users, is going to introduce crypto trading.

Big News

According to reports, the messaging app is going to provide a crypto trading facility by way of Bitcoin and Button Wallet, the company that is involved in providing crypto wallets. It is important to note that Telegram has a massive user base of around 300 million, and if the company can leverage that user base, then the whole thing could turn into a success. The Chief Executive of Button Wallet, Alex Safonov, stated that this initiative will help in the process of mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, particularly as people do not need to use fiat money for trading purposes.

>> Blockchain.com Partnership with Payment Processor BitPay

The whole thing is simple and should not be difficult for the average Telegram user to pick up. The user needs to activate the Telegram Open Network wallet, which is powered by Button Wallet, and will then be provided with 6.6 testnet grams to use in the account. It is important to note that Button Wallet supports all the major cryptos, including Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Litecoin. Hence, a user will be able to transfer such coins into their new wallet and commence trading with other users on the platform. That being said, it remains to be seen how many users will actually use it once it is launched.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © albertyurolaits

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Blockchain.com Partners with Payment Processor BitPay

BitPayBitPay

Cryptocurrency wallet provider Blockchain.com has announced a partnership with a Bitcoin payment processor, BitPay. Through the partnership, Blockchain.com is expected to incorporate BitPay’s payment technology into its wallet service.

Blockchain.com Users to Get Access to BitPay’s Network

Blockchain.com is currently the world’s most popular Bitcoin wallet provider with over 30 million wallet users across 140 countries. The company, which was founded in 2011, mostly holds Bitcoin APIs in the wallets. BitPay has a global reach of more than 20,000 customers. BitPay’s collection of products enables users to send and receive payments across the border. Equally, it makes it easy for the customer to manage their digital assets and turn the tokens into fiat currency using the BitPay Prepaid Visa Card.

With the integration of BitPay architecture into the wallet service of Blockchain.com, merchants will now be able to make online and mobile payments. They will be able to scan or copy invoices as well as process Bitcoin payment through the wallet app. The partnership also makes it possible for users to provide products and services through an extensive merchant network while at the same time maintaining possession of the private keys.

>> Facebook’s Libra: Coinbase’s Ex-Policy Head Will Lead Lobbying

BitPay Processor Handles Over $1 Billion in Bitcoin Annually

Every year BitPay processes close to $1 billion in Bitcoin for individual clients and businesses, as well as more than $2.8 billion in other digital assets for institutional clients, for over seven years now. The company has created an ecosystem of merchants accepting their payments such as Delta, Amazon, and Hotels.com. The payment processor, besides offering the option of settling payments in fiat currency, can also provide invoices.

Blockchain.com indicated in a statement that it is excited to add BitPay to its wallet because it will connect users to a network of merchants that readily accepts Bitcoin as a payment method. The statement indicated that this was one of the main ways of interacting with and growing the digital asset ecosystem. Blockchain.com’s wallet service, which is noncustodial, provides users with a Know-Your-Customer verification option for those who prefer in-wallet trading capabilities.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © minervastock

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Facebook’s Libra: Coinbase’s Ex-Policy Head Will Lead Lobbying

LibraLibra

In July, tech giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced that it was going to launch its own cryptocurrency named Libra, and since then, it has lurched from one problem to the next. Policymakers from all across the world, including the head of the US Federal Reserve and US President Donald Trump, expressed their skepticism about Libra soon after.

Hence, it is quite clear that Facebook is currently at a loss as to how to tackle the myriad of policy issues that are going to arise with the launch of Libra. However, it seems that the company has decided to tackle the issue by hiring the services of a lobbying outfit that has deep ties with the world of cryptocurrencies.

The firm in question is FS Vector, which is based out of Washington DC, and the person who is going to work as Facebook’s lobbyist is none other than John Collins, who used to be the head the policy division at crypto exchange Coinbase. Collins is also one of the partners at the lobbying firm. It goes without saying that, policy-wise, Libra has been a bit of a train wreck so far, and last month, Facebook announced that it might not even go ahead with the launch.

>> tZERO, Overstock’s Crypto Platform, Loses a Major Investor

Libra in Focus

Cryptocurrencies are not always in such a regulatory spotlight, but considering the fact that Libra is being launched by a tech giant like Facebook, there was bound to be regulatory scrutiny. In addition to that, some other regulators have asked Facebook about the extent of personal information it is going to require from those who actually buy the token. For instance, it emerged earlier this month that Facebook had not actually replied to a questionnaire sent by a regulatory body in Switzerland. It is going to be a delicate task for Facebook to navigate the regulatory maze, but with Collins, the company has managed to hire someone who is well aware of the environment at least.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © nazarenko

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tZERO, Overstock’s Crypto Platform, Loses a Major Investor

tZEROtZERO

Overstock’s security token platform, tZERO, has lost a major investor following the departure of CEO Patrick Byrne last week.

Another Blow for tZERO

During interim CEO Jonathan Johnson’s very first investor call in his new role, he confirmed that Makara Capital “will be not investing in tZERO right now.” However, he did mention that Makara would continue to monitor the development of tZERO and possibly reconsider in the future. The news is another blow for Overstock’s security token platform, as in August 2018, Overstock announced that Makara would invest $404 million USD in tZero along with Chinese investment firm GSR Capital but this was reduced to $100 million in March.

Bizzare Turn of Events

Johnson replaced Byrne as CEO last week after the latter abruptly resigned having admitted to a three-year relationship with Maria Butina, a Russian spy currently serving an 18-month sentence in federal prison. Overstock shares have plummeted over 40% following Byrne’s resignation and release of a bizarre statement mentioning “Deep State,” “Men in Black,” and “political espionage” campaigns against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Overstock shares haven’t been the only thing affected by this turn of events, as seen by Makara’s withdrawal from tZero.

>> Ripple (XRP) Popularity Remains Despite the Price Slump in 2019

“In his twenty years as Overstock’s leader, Patrick’s vision for Overstock as an innovation leader has come to fruition. It will be my mission as I take the helm to continue and build on Overstock’s achievements and success […] I am confident Overstock’s future – both in retail and blockchain – is bright,” Johnson said in a statement.

In March, it was revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating tZERO’s potential security token sale. This comes as a result of the commission taking a harder stance on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and disrupted Byrne’s plans to sell the e-commerce wing of Overstock and focus solely on crypto interests.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © nicholashan

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Investors Consider Cutting Ties with Facebook’s Libra Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

LibraLibra

At least three investors in Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency are considering disassociating with the currency following intense regulatory pushback.

According to a report published in the Financial Times on Friday, some backers are fearful that the spotlight placed on the social media giant’s proposed cryptocurrency will also bring their own separate, independent businesses into disrepute. Two founding partners have allegedly held discussions with regard to what the “right next steps” should be for their investment. “I think it’s going to be difficult for partners who want to be seen as in compliance [with their own regulators] to be out there supporting [Libra],” one of the founding partners said.

Libra has come under strong criticism and skepticism from regulators within the European Union and the US Congress, who have questioned how they are meant to trust Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) given its recent history of misuse of user data, which landed the company with a $5 billion USD penalty. So intense has the criticism been that Facebook was forced to issue a statement last month warning investors that the stablecoin may never be released.

Facebook has reportedly pushed back against the doubting investors, which some have dubbed “the crypto mafia,” arguing that it is “tired of being the only people putting their neck out.” 28 companies have come together to establish the Libra Association, which will take over governance of the coin, and includes some very recognizable names such as Mastercard (NYSE:MA), Spotify (NYSE:SPOT), Uber (NYSE:UBER), and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). Each company had to pay $10 million USD in order to participate in the venture. The three aforementioned doubters remain anonymous.

>> Japanese Exchange Coincheck is All Set to Launch IEO Platform

Regardless of the outcome of this situation, it will be several years before Libra is fully operational. “It will take years to establish the Association’s governance documents and more years to identify the initial payment use cases the platform will support and the regulatory constraints that the platform must address specific to those use cases,” said Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at Maynard.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © poringdown

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