Tag: altcoins

A New Type of Cyberattack is on the Rise: Cryptojacking

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

As technology continues to advance, our lives are becoming more and more comfortable. Technology allows us to spend less time and energy doing basic tasks by automating them. Perhaps the most revolutionary invention of all time is the Internet, with many services being brought into the digital realm. It is now possible to buy products online from halfway around the world and do all of our banking from web-based apps and websites, tasks that a few decades ago might have taken hours to complete in the real world. Being able to do these tasks efficiently allows us to increase our productivity as we direct our scarce resources towards other ends. However, as more services are moved online and our use of the internet increases, so does the risk of cyberattacks and fraud. A new type of dangerous cyberattack is on the rise: Cryptojacking.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the use of a device’s resources and equipment to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers install software on computers, network servers, and mobile devices that remain hidden from the user’s view and mines cryptocurrency in secret. In some cases, this hidden software is loaded onto computers just like much other malware through tactics used in traditional phishing attacks. First, Cryptojacking victims receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, containing a link to another website. The link runs code that installs the crypto-mining script on the computer. The script then runs in the background as the user operates the laptop during their day-to-day activities.

Hackers can also make use of a victim’s computers’ resources by injecting the code into a website or an ad that is displayed on several websites. Once the victim visits that website or the infected ad is displayed in their browser, the code automatically executes. No code is stored on the victims’ computers, meaning that crypto-mining only occurs while that website running or that ad is being displayed. In either of these methods, the code uses the victim’s computer to run the code that mines the cryptocurrency computers and sends the results back to the hacker. This malicious activity harms victims by severely slowing down computer speeds and using up hard drive space. Cryptojacking is usually detected when a victim notices a significant drop in battery life and processing speed on their device.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is decentralized blockchain money that exists only online, the most notable of which is Bitcoin. It was created as an alternative to traditional money, which is issued by governments and is trackable, as well as centralized. This technology gained popularity for its potential for growth and the anonymity it offers users. Users make transactions using cryptocurrency, while others use it to make investments, which they hope will earn them a sizeable payout. While Bitcoin was one of the first to be created, several others have been invented since. The word “cryptocurrency” comes from “cryptography” and “currency”.

Mining is a process by which new coins are found and added to a blockchain. Individuals or groups who use computers to solve complex mathematical problems to discover these new coins are called miners. The mining process is what makes cryptocurrencies decentralized, as anyone can use their computer to mine. These digital monetary units are popular for the security that they provide, which is ensured during the mining process. So how exactly does it work?

Transactions that take place on a specific coin’s network are collected and bundled into a block by the miner. If the miner attempts to submit a block to the system that contains an invalid transaction, the block will be rejected, thereby ensuring the security and reliability of the coin. An invalid transaction would be when a user sends an amount that they do not have.

Once the miner has verified that all transactions in the block are valid, they must compute a cryptographic hash, a set of complex mathematical problems. This prevents fraudulent blocks from being created and therefore secures the network. Computing a cryptographic is done using a computer, which makes it much more efficient but is a significant drain on battery as the calculations require a large amount of energy. Cryptojackers attempt to economize their mining by outsourcing their energy input to victims. The block is sent to the network after the cryptographic hash is complete so that it can be checked against the coin’s consensus rules. After it is verified that the block does not contain invalid transactions and meets the consensus rules it is accepted and the block is then added to the blockchain network. The miner is rewarded for their work with a set amount of the cryptocurrency, thereby adding new coins to the system.

How Can I Protect Myself?

The easiest way to protect against cryptojacking is to install a cryptojacking blocker browser extension. These extensions block a list of domains that have been found to be associated with cryptojacking. Popular miner blocking extensions include No Coin and MinerBlock. If you prefer a more comprehensive anti-malware and cryptojacking program, Malwarebytes and similar software block crypto mining in addition to general cybersecurity.

Further reading:

Malwarebytes: How does cryptojacking work?

Mycryptopedia: What is cryptocurrency mining?

Mycryptopedia: Blockchain Consensus Algorithms Explained

Fossbytes: 7 Easy Ways to Block Cryptocurrency Mining in Your Web Browser

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Japan Goes All In On Crypto

Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

Japan, a country known for its progressive financial vision, has reported an unprecedented 3.5 million active cryptocurrency participants on the island. According to data released by the Financial Services Agency (FSA) more than 80% of traders are between the ages of 24-40. With a population well versed in the mechanics of blockchain technology and new regulations aimed at on-ramping the sector, the next generation of Japanese leaders possess an unbelievable opportunity to establish the major hub of global crypto finance.

In the upstart and highly speculative world of cryptocurrency, nationalism and regionalism can play major factors in establishing the value and viability of a given marketplace or asset. Regulations levied by governments can wildly affect the potential of blockchain companies and the SEC’s recent arrests at Centra headquarters have spooked many in the unregulated securities sector. Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, recently moved their Hong Kong offices to Malta to shelter their exchange from the harsh regulatory climate of China.

NEO, the “Chinese Ethereum killer,” perfectly symbolizes how the relationship between continental governments and fintech startups can suppress or activate valuation in the digital landscape. Although cryptocurrency is generally a highly speculative market, a look at the NEO chart shows incredible volatility throughout the past year. During all of its short-lived existence, NEO and its investors have had to battle the perfunctory nature of a 20th-century monetary policy that keeps it and many other cryptocurrencies from maturing at even faster rates than we are currently witnessing.

Which brings us back to Japan. Japan is different. Japan is not China, a country who willingly invites fear into the market while investing heavily in the background. And Japan is not the blindsided United States who aggressively view the space as a political and economic threat to the strength of their inflationary USD. Japan is going the other way.

Although the nation has been home to two of the largest cryptocurrency exchange hacks the country remains a friendly, open platform for development. The fast-tracking of digital assets is reminiscent of similar foresightedness that made Singapore a dominant player in the worldwide marketplace. For Singapore, it was an import/export market built around their only port. For Japan, it could very well be crypto built thru nodes on the internet.

Japan has routinely found at the epicenter of crypto’s short history. In December, the Japanese exchange Coincheck was hacked for more than 55 billion yen ($533 million). Before that, it was the infamous hacking of Tokyo based Mt. Gox in 2014 that sent the price of Bitcoin spiraling for years to come.

In the aftermath of these watershed events, regulators and commoners alike have become familiar with the cryptographic assets of the 21st century. Today, Japan can barely find enough engineers to fill the gaping holes in knowledge and experience that exist in the beginning stages of adoption.

In the last month alone, rampant speculation has suggested that Yahoo could potentially buy a significant stake in the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange BitARG. The deal, reportedly worth upward of $20 million, would see Yahoo gain 40% ownership over one of the largest exchanges in the world. While Yahoo lost to Google in the early 2000’s search engine war they may be well positioned to win back a substantial valuation through the cryptocurrency market.

Japan’s move to the progressive front of crypto regulation has been in large part due to their loosened regulatory status. In what was hailed a major success throughout the crypto community, Japanese authorities labeled crypto as a legal tender last year. The new legislation goes into effect this month and companies throughout Japan are expected to play a significant role in the construction of this new open-ended digital ecosystem.

Of all the developed countries participating in the cryptocurrency space, Japan appears most likely to take advantage of the current chaotic landscape. With their loose regulations and technologically savvy demographics, we can expect to see Japan play a dominant role in the future of the digital asset sector.

Image Source Flickr

Human Body Heat is Being Harvested to Mine Cryptocurrency

By Jason Patterson | NETHERLANDS

A relatively new German  startup has been using the body heat of volunteers to mine cryptocurrencies in a project reminiscent of “The Matrix.”

A  business venture based in The Hague, Netherlands, called Ioho has utilized specially-designed bodysuits to turn excess body heat into digital currency since the beginning of 2015.

On their website, they claim that. “A single human body at rest radiates 100 watts of excess heat…We created a body-suit that uses thermoelectric generators to harvest the temperature differential between the human body and ambient and converts it into usable electricity. The electricity generated is then fed to a computer that produces cryptocurrency. ”

The company claims that it has chosen its pursuits solely on alternative coins such as Dash and Lisk, and not coins like Bitcoin, given the relatively low energy requirements needed for mining.

They have gotten more than 37 volunteers that have apparently produced $127,210 over the course of 212 hours since the project’s inception.

During one interview, with Motherboard’s Daniel Oberhaus, IoHO founder Manuel Beltrán explained the idea of the company, how it works and how it has grown.

“We never mined bitcoins because it would be useless to produce them with human heat,” Beltrán said. “We exclusively mined altcoins and some of them have risen over 46,000% in value. What in the beginning were just small cents now became substantial amounts of money.”

Volunteers were permitted to keep 80 percent while the remaining 20 were kept by the IoHO.

Oberhaus claims that if they decided to use and go in the direction of Bitcoin, it would have taken more than 44,000 volunteers spending 24 hours per day in the bodysuit for one month to achieve the number of funds they have presently met.

“To do 1 bitcoin per month with IoHO’s tech—which in terms of efficiency is on par with most affordable wearable thermoelectric generators available today—you’d need around 44,000 people providing their body energy 24/7,” Oberhaus writes.

The bodysuits from IoHo are claimed to only be capable of harvesting less than 1 percent of the body heat made by the volunteers.

The website also reads “Machines are outing us…As some time ago happened to horses after the invention of the steam engine, humans are becoming obsolete to perform mechanical labor, soon, with the advance of artificial intelligence, it will also affect our possibilities to be useful workers performing intellectual labor.”