The Daily: Hackers in High Demand, China Hires Cryptographer
Traders in the US, Russia and China are the most common victims of cyberattacks targeting cryptocurrency exchanges as you’ll discover in this edition of The Daily. Another study has found that the demand for services provided by hackers is much higher than what’s currently on offer. The same can be said for experts in cryptography: China is now hiring a crypto specialist for one of its censorship agencies but Chinese citizens have already found a way to circumvent censorship using blockchain transactions.
American, Russian, Chinese Traders – Common Victims of Cyberattacks
Users of cryptocurrency trading platforms in the United States, Russia and China have been the most common victims of cyberattacks, according to a new study conducted by Russian cybersecurity experts. They have found that between 2016-2017, cases in which private data of people using crypto exchanges was compromised have increased almost 5-fold, or by 369%.
The record was set in January 2018 when the number of incidents rose by close to 700% in comparison with the monthly average from 2017, the cyber-forensic company Group-IB said in a recently released report. Its specialists believe the vast majority of breaches are due to the careless attitude of customers towards their own security.
According to Ruslan Yusufov, project manager at Group-IB, the wave of scams, the increased attention from hacker groups, the modification of malware programs, and the significant amounts of stolen funds indicate that the crypto industry is not yet ready to protect itself and its users. His company also notes that the infrastructure used by cybercriminals is mainly based in the US (56.1%), the Netherlands (21.5%), Ukraine (4.3%), and Russia (3.2%).
Demand for Hackers Exceeds Supply of Services
The demand for services only hackers can provide significantly exceeds the supply, according to another study in the field. Experts from a company called Positive Technologies have tried to gauge the market by analyzing a number of websites offering these “specialized services.” They found that the malware programs created by hackers were three times less than the orders.
The authors of the study have analyzed more than 10,000 ads offering or seeking services related to the development of malicious software which have been published by 25 English and Russian language websites on the darknet, Vedomosti reports. Talking about the demand, in 32% of the cases, customers were looking for help in cracking an email, and 6% for hacking a social media account. An equal number of hackers, 33%, have responded to both types of requests.
In 2017, when crypto markets were spiking, the most popular malware was of the kind designed to secretly mine cryptocurrencies. 20% of the malicious software offered falls into that category, the study notes. The analysts say that almost a quarter of all cyberattacks in Q1 of 2018 have been conducted using such programs. Ransomware attacks account for 12% of the total.
According to another report by Bleepingcomputer, security researchers have recently detected a massive cryptojacking campaign targeting Mikrotik routers. The malware changes their configuration to inject a copy of the Coinhive in-browser cryptocurrency mining script in some parts of the users’ web traffic. The campaign started this week, initially in Brazil, but later targeted Mikrotik routers around the world.
Chinese Censorship Agency Hires Cryptographer
While hackers are in high global demand, the People’s Republic of China is looking to hire a cryptographic specialist for one of its censorship agencies. The job posting published by the Chinese Public Broadcasting Research Institute under the State Administration of Radio and Television states that the applicants should be competent in cryptography and ready to “follow the advanced technologies in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrency.”
According to the ad, the best candidate for this particular position should be a tech specialist with knowledge and skills in cryptographic algorithms and optimization. The scope of his or her duties includes monitoring and developing tools to analyze the threats stemming from different cryptographic applications.
Blockchain Used to Circumvent State Censorship
Not much has been said about the blockchain-related responsibilities of the future employee but the news of the posting coincides with a scandal involving the use of a distributed ledger to circumvent the state-mandated censorship in China.
According to media reports, Chinese citizens have recently used the Ethereum network to share information about a rabies vaccine that has been distributed by the Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology company, despite not meeting state standards.
A blogger named “Beast” posted about the case with faked data for more than 110,000 doses of the vaccine. His and other reports have been deleted by the Chinese internet monitors but the story has since spread on the social media network Wechat. Chinese internet users also found a way to share and protect the information by adding it to the public blockchain of Ethereum. A user sent an ETH microtransaction and added the post in its metadata typically used for accompanying notes that everyone can read but no government can delete.
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