HSBC to Drop 35,000 Jobs and Invest in Digital Finance


In an earnings call held on Tuesday, Feb. 18, an HSBC executive revealed the bank plans to cut 35,000 jobs by the end of 2022 and invest more in digital systems. 

The plan for HSBC in the next three years is to cut down on staff and branches and simplify the operation by investing in technology. Noel Quinn, group chief executive added in the earnings call that: 

“In Retail Banking, we will expand our products offering and increase our investment in digital. We’ll refocus our Retail Banking presence to serve globally mobile clients, reducing our branch network in the US by around 30%. […] We will also continue to invest in the digital systems and solutions that will improve the service we offer our clients.”

$20 billion worth of assets moving to Digital Vault

In earlier indications of what kind of digital transformation HSBC is examining, Cointelegraph reported a few months ago that the bank would implement a new blockchain-based custody platform called Digital Vault by March 2020. 

HSBC plans to move $20 billion worth of assets to the platform and aims to digitize paper-based records of private placements in order to increase standardization and speed up processes in the growing industry. 

HSBC has been preparing itself to adapt the ongoing changes in the banking industry

Back in 2017, the bank appointed a panel of advisors to explore ways to integrate disruptive technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and biometrics into its business model to reduce cost.





Source Cointelegraph

The New Use for Nonfungible Tokens


A company is using nonfungible tokens to help consumers establish ownership and control over their DNA data.

GenoBank.io’s approach comes as the world’s scientific community begins to scratch the surface of what can be achieved through DNA sequencing — understanding our ancestry, detecting and treating breast cancer earlier, and prescribing personalized medicine.

Although consumer-focused DNA testing products have exploded in popularity over recent years, concerns about privacy have grown with it. In direct response to that, millions of Americans who have received DNA data from major providers like 23andMe or Ancestry will be able to use a GenoBank.io algorithm to locate their unique DNA variants inside de-identified DNA databases and exercise their right to be erased or forgotten based on local privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the European GDPR.

Through its approach, GenoBank.io also plans to enable consumers to buy anonymous DNA extraction kits in public places such as drug stores and airports — giving them the ability to create their own incognito DNA data wallet. The biosample will be stored in a certified lab (if consented by the donor) and used to create a bio-nonfungible token — effectively a tokenized DNA fingerprint.

How the ecosystem works

GenoBank.io says it is devising a safe, anonymous digital platform where genomic and sensitive health care data can be stored with confidence. Known as the Incrypto™️ vault, the company says this storage method is aligned with data regulations in the European Union and California’s new consumer privacy law (the CCPA), virtually unhackable, encrypted, decentralized and ready to integrate with the Internet of Life Sensors.

Users have the opportunity to earn stablecoins by renting their DNA sequence for research purposes through GenoBank.io. Access to confidential information is only granted to data scientists and bioinformaticians with the explicit consent of the person who owns the DNA. Big pharmaceutical companies and labs will be given the chance to purchase a “data license” directly from consumers for temporary commercial use, meaning DNA donors never lose ownership. For the first time ever, consumers can be compensated for contributing to genomic discoveries using a DNA data wallet, the team notes.

More insights from GenoBank.io here

Many companies that offer DNA sequencing to consumers charge for results — and then keep the rights to sell their DNA to others for up to 100 years. Whenever new advancements are made, consumers have to pay for sequencing to take place again.

This is at odds with the expectations of many consumers. GenoBank.io cites PeopleSeq research that suggests 56% of the public believe they have a right to access their own genomic information without relying on a health care provider.

The story behind GenoBank.io

Daniel Uribe, the CEO and co-founder of GenoBank.io, was driven to launch the business after his son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder three years ago.

He said: “As a parent and Blockchain expert, I want to empower every person who wants or needs genomic interpretation services, especially families with children that may have a pathological genetic disorder and are looking for relevant clinical trials or accredited researchers with privacy.”

Other innovations being explored by GenoBank.io include shared family DNA extraction kits. Multi-sig capabilities are provided to authorize data access from minors by parents or guardians, and the kit can mathematically prove a biological relationship between family members. The company says this has multiple benefits — as well as helping to trace pathological mutation across a family, it could help accelerate the discovery of new drugs and even be used to prevent human trafficking and separation at borders.

GenoBank.io has now launched a research-only beta program, with the company stressing that DNA data will never be shared or sold without consent.

Later this month, Uribe is planning to speak at the NFT.NYC event. From here, the entrepreneur and his company are planning to start using nonfungible tokens for the redemption and registration of saliva DNA extraction kits.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.





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Dubai Gov’t to Launch KYC Blockchain Consortium in Q1 2020


One of the financial hubs of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is continuing to expand blockchain-driven developments.

The Department of Economic Development (DED) of Dubai has established a Know Your Customer (KYC) blockchain consortium with six major banks.

Dubbed “KYC Blockchain Consortium,” the new blockchain-powered regulatory platform is designed to accelerate processes like exchange of digital customer data and documents while ensuring security. The project also intends to bring a unified platform of KYC efforts among existing and future ecosystem members like qualified financial institutions and licensing authorities.

UAE’s first KYC blockchain platform to launch in Q1 2020

According to a Feb. 19 report by Dubai-based publication Gulf News, the six banks involved in the effort include Dubai government-owned bank Emirates NBD, HSBC, Emirates Islamic, RAKBank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Commercial Bank of Dubai.

Scheduled for launch in Q1 2020, the KYC Blockchain Consortium will purportedly become the first project of its kind in the region, the report notes.

Ali Ibrahim, Deputy Director General of the DED, outlined that the effort aims to bring more investment to the region:

“Our strategic alliance with banks to launch the first KYC blockchain platform in the UAE is an important step towards continuing to attract investors to this market.”

Additionally, the consortium-powered ecosystem hopes to boost business as well as regulatory compliance in the UAE. According to the report, the UAE Central Bank and Smart Dubai authority will be monitoring operations of the KYC Blockchain Consortium.

The UAE’s newly reported blockchain comes in line with the general growth of blockchain spending in the region. As recently reported by Cointelegraph, governments across the Middle East and Africa region are projected to see at least a 400% surge in their investment to blockchain-based solutions in four years.

In October 2019, the UAE accepted cryptocurrency regulation after releasing the draft law for public comment. As reported, the UAE has taken a very positive stance to the crypto and blockchain industry as the country is already hosting a number of blockchain-based initiatives such as digitized trade project the “Digital Silk Road” and the document exchange platform known as the “Bank Trust Network.”





Source Cointelegraph

Samsung Keeps Cryptocurrency Functionality in Galaxy S20 Models


South Korean technology giant Samsung recently unveiled its latest smartphone series, the Galaxy S20, at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco. 

While the headline feature is undoubtedly the new camera, according to the official marketing material the phone will also improve on the integrated blockchain security features introduced a year ago on the Galaxy S10.

Security is still a highlight

After copious details regarding the new camera, and briefly mentioning 5G, battery life and storage, Samsung highlights the new phones’ security features. These build on the Knox platform, a defense-grade security solution which stores private keys in a secure isolated area.

“We created a secure processor dedicated to protecting your PIN, password, pattern, and Blockchain Private Key. Combined with the Knox platform, security is infused into every part of your phone, from hardware to software. So private data stays private,” Samsung states.

From small acorns…

Following the unveiling of the Knox platform in the Galaxy S10 last February, Samsung further developed its mobile blockchain offering with the release of a software development kit in July 2019. This included a toolkit for the Samsung Blockchain Keystore, which holds users’ private keys.

Later that month PundiX announced that it had integrated its XWallet app into Samsung’s blockchain ecosystem, allowing users to link the app to their Samsung Blockchain Wallet.

Samsung then added Bitcoin-support to its Blockchain Keystore, along with several other advances. Previously it had only officially supported Ethereum.

In September 2019, the company released an edition of the smartphone/tablet hybrid Galaxy Note 10 with cryptocurrency functionality.

Confirming commitment to blockchain

With the imminent release of the Galaxy S20, along with its big brothers the S20+ and S20 Ultra, Samsung is confirming its commitment to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

It also plans to roll-out its Knox platform beyond mobile devices, and into network connected devices like 5G and Internet of Things end points and equipment.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 will be available from March 6, in the United States, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and from March 13 in the United Kingdom.





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Indian IT Giant Tech Mahindra and Local Gov’t Launch Blockchain Accelerator


Tech Mahindra, the IT subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, is launching a blockchain accelerator together with the government of the southern state of Telangana. 

The parties hope the accelerator will become a “torch-bearer” for future accelerators nationwide, the Economic Times reported on Feb. 19.

The new “T-Block Accelerator” is aimed at fostering blockchain startups that have identified a strong real-world use case for the technology, and to boost industry growth overall.

Innovation management firm IBC Media will run the accelerator program, which developed following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between the government of Telangana and Tech Mahindra back in 2018. 

Tech Mahindra bullish on blockchain’s future

The MoU pledges to make the state the “blockchain capital of the world,” with a particular focus on Telangana’s largest city, Hyderabad and the development of a specialized Telangana Blockchain District there.

Rajesh Dhuddu, global practice leader of Tech Mahindra’s blockchain unit, told reporters:

“We at Tech Mahindra have been bullish in our efforts to expand blockchain adoption in India and globally. Our partnership with the state government for the Telangana Blockchain District stems from our desire to build a world-class support infrastructure for blockchain startups and to make Hyderabad a destination of choice among several new-age entrepreneurs and blockchain evangelists.”

Registration for the accelerator has been open since early February. It will involve a one-week boot camp, followed by a four-week-long intensive training program, comprising workshops, presentations and practice-oriented assignments.

The parties involved have said they hope that advancements made at a state level can contribute to further states’ proactive investment in the technology.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies in India: a sharp divide

As reported, the Telangana Blockchain District was established to foster a local ecosystem for blockchain startups and research institutes working across a diverse range of applications.

The main strategy behind the district is the offer of substantial concessions and benefits, including tax relief, state-sponsored cloud storage subsidies and financial grants. 

A specialized district policy also provided for the creation of a regulatory sandbox, educational initiatives and an R&D institute in Telangana, as well as paving the way for the newly-launched incubator.

Prior to this, Telangana had earlier signed several MoUs with blockchain firms with the view of implementing the technology in state applications. 

Beyond blockchain, the status and future of decentralized private cryptocurrencies in India remains uncertain. The local industry awaits the outcome of a landmark case at the Supreme Court of India, hearings for which were held Jan. 14 through Jan. 23. 

The case centers on the contested legality of the Reserve Bank of India’s imposition of a ban on banks’ dealings with crypto-related firms in April 2018, which has been in effect since July of that year.





Source Cointelegraph

Crypto Mining Giant Canaan Partners With Blockchain Firm Northern Data


Two major players in the global blockchain industry have signed a strategic partnership to pool together their technological and operational achievements.

According to a Feb. 19 press release, Canaan Creative, the world’s second-largest Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware manufacturer, and blockchain infrastructure firm Northern Data AG were joining forces to work across several fields.

In particular, the two firms will cooperate on artificial intelligence and blockchain development, as well as on optimizing data center operations at scale.

Expanding technology and global outreach

Northern Data focuses on building out infrastructure for high-performance computing, whose applications can extend beyond blockchain technology. The company was created out of a merger between Germany’s blockchain infrastructure firm Northern Bitcoin AG and the United States’ Whinstone US Inc., a data center operator.

Canaan Creative’s CEO, NG Zhang, outlined that the new partnership will allow for both technological advancement and geographic expansion:

“Our R&D team is collaborating with Northern Data. Both sides have achieved positive results. In addition, Northern Data will provide computational resources support for our overseas R&D in the U.S. Canaan looks forward to further cooperation in product development, AI, and high-performance computing.” 

Canaan’s own field of expertise lies in AI chip development and specialized mining hardware, including ASICs. ASIC refers to hardware that uses Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips, which are tailored to efficiently mine crypto based on a specific hashing algorithm.

Canaan claims it produced over 150 million ASICs from 2017 through to September 2019. It is also a pioneer of the Bitcoin-tailored 7 nanometer chip and was recently listed on NASDAQ. This is significant insofar as it is purportedly the first China-based AI chip manufacturer with independent intellectual property to successfully float an initial public offering in the U.S.  

Northern Data AG has revealed its plans to forge further partnerships with major blockchain and AI developers in the coming months.

Swift developments

Earlier this week, Canaan’s shares hit a value at $8.04 — a surge of over 80% from its opening price of $4.42. Back in fall 2019, when it first launched its Nasdaq IPO, shares had been valued at over 75% lower than expected, going on to shed a further 40% by mid-December.

In recent developments for Northern Data, the firm has just unveiled a partnership with SBI Crypto, a cryptocurrency-focused subsidiary of Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings.

In fall 2019, Northern Data — then known as Northern Bitcoin — entered its merger agreement with Whinstone to jointly build what will ostensibly be the world’s largest mining farm, located in Texas. 

The new site will reportedly launch operations with an initial capacity of 300 megawatts, expected to hit 1 gigawatt by the close of 2020.





Source Cointelegraph

PoB Transactions on Cross-Carrier Payment System Successful


Further developments to blockchain technology are being tackled every day. One of the biggest challenges is how best companies working on blockchain can make their services not only accessible but also practical for users in different countries.

The Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) Consortium is one such collaboration doing just that. Launched in September 2017, the group provides a secure way for telecom customers to make digital payments directly with their carriers using blockchain technology. 

Blockchain platform TBCASoft, a founding member of the CBSG, announced in a Feb. 18 press release that Taiwan-based Asia Pacific Telecom Co. Ltd. (APTG) and a US mobile carrier successfully completed Proof-of-Business (PoB) payment transactions. Using the Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS), a blockchain network developed by TBCASoft, transactions can be paid directly in the user’s currency through their mobile carrier. 

Partnerships lead to blockchain technology innovation

The CBSG worked with local merchants in Taiwan to complete transactions through APTG’s payment system, Gt Pay. All participants were mobile subscribers with a US-based carrier. APTG Vice President of Marketing Mei-Hui Teng commented on the success of the PoB:

“[We] will be one of the first carriers to launch the cross-border payment service and commercialize it in the Taiwan market. We foresee the strong growth of overseas travel and the popularity of the e-wallet service; our cross-border mobile payment service will create a considerable benefit to APTG’s subscribers. The service can help travelers reduce foreign transaction fees and enjoy the benefits of mobile cashless payments.”

They’re not the first blockchain platform to see the advantages of working together. Samsung Pay partnered with the payment platform Finablr on Oct. 3 to offer cross-border payments to its users.





Source Cointelegraph

DeCurret Partners with KDDI to Test Digital Currency


As the origin of cryptocurrency, Japan often leads the way when it comes to joint projects between companies in different fields, united by their desire to lead the pack in innovation. E-commerce giant Rakuten partnered with the East Japan Railway Company on June 5 to promote a cashless payment system. 

A new collaboration is in progress between the Japanese telecom giant KDDI and crypto exchange DeCurret. According to a Feb. 18 press release, the two companies — in collaboration with au Financial Holdings and WebMoney — will conduct a joint-project to test digital currency issued on a blockchain for real-world transactions.

Issuance, distribution, and disposal of digital currency by DeCurret

As part of the implementation for this test, KDDI will make requests to WebMoney to issue and distribute digital currency, while the latter’s parent company au Financial Holdings manages the joint project. DeCurret will take a lead role by providing the platform for both the issuance and management of the digital currency. 

The joint-project, which runs from Feb. 18 to Feb. 28, is part of DeCurret’s efforts to increase the range of services on their platform. In this case, the platform will be tested using cryptocurrency for real-world transactions like those at cafes. 

DeCurrent has come a long way since its launch in April 2019. The crypto exchange has already gotten regulatory approval from Japan’s Financial Services Agency to allow its users to refill the country’s Suica transportation cards by using cryptocurrency.





Source Cointelegraph

The Law Enforcement’s Guide to Policing Crypto Cybercrimes


2019 demonstrated that cyber-attacks are getting more numerous in the cryptocurrency industry, while hardware remains vulnerable and high-profile data leaks are becoming more common. Even worse, the trend is a continuing one. 

Way back in June 2018, Kaspersky Lab security experts reported an increase in the amount of malware targeting the cryptocurrency market. They noted a trend toward the spread of two types of malware: for hacking cryptocurrency wallets and for malicious Bitcoin (BTC) mining.

As cybercrimes using digital money have begun to affect more countries and involve more advanced technologies, entire states and government organizations have come to grips with them. Cointelegraph found out what methods are used to combat the most sophisticated cryptocurrency cybercrimes at the international level and whether they produce positive results.

What’s that about Interpol?

On the world stage, most of the work on combating cryptocurrency-related crimes is carried out by Interpol and Europol. Organizations at this level not only have access to the entire cryptocurrency market infrastructure but also form relationships with exchanges, brokers, developers and other key industry players.

The fact that Interpol deals with international crypto crimes came to light back in 2015, when its representatives first warned of possible threats posed by digital assets and blockchain — in particular, the possibility of embedding malware into the chain. Since then, agencies have taken up cryptocurrency crimes in earnest, establishing the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation to explore new techniques that are being increasingly used by cybercriminals. Among them are cryptojacking and ransomware, which have become widespread tools for bad actors and an international concern for governments.

Ransomware-as-a-Service

In September 2015, Europol reported that about 40% of all criminal-to-criminal transactions are made with Bitcoin. By that time, cryptocurrency ransomware attacks were the most widespread forms of crime, encrypting programs and blocking access to devices after an unsuspecting user had opened an infected site or software. To unencrypt the data, criminals demanded ransom in cryptocurrency. 

An example of such activity is the criminal group DD4BC — DDoS for Bitcoin — whose members were arrested by Europol in January 2016. Hackers blackmailed online casinos and then moved on to attack financial institutions in Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia. Since cryptocurrency is not controlled by anyone, it quickly became an attractive tool for ransomware attackers. This sort of crime flourished as a new service offered by criminals — Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) — opened the doors to attackers without technical experience.

As a result, private hackers united into groups, making corporations and government organizations the targets of their ransomware attacks. Many companies and states associate the infamous Lazarus Group with North Korean intelligence agencies. The Lazarus hackers allegedly carried out their first attack on the South Korean government back in 2009, and were also accused of attacks on large companies in the country, including Sony Pictures. 

Furthermore, United States police consider Lazarus to be involved in the dissemination of the infamous WannaCry ransomware virus, which culminated in 2017. In a short time, the virus affected 500,000 computers owned by private individuals, companies and government agencies in 150 countries. The total damage was estimated at $1 billion.

Cryptojacking overtakes other crypto crimes

As law enforcement agencies found ways to detect cryptocurrency ransomware attacks, hackers found a new tool: cryptojacking, or hidden cryptocurrency mining. It allowed them to mine cryptocurrency using the computing power of their victims’ devices.

A relatively new phenomenon, cryptojacking has quickly turned into one of the most widespread online threats. According to Malwarebytes, hidden cryptocurrency mining has been steadily holding the lead among the most frequently detected malicious software since September 2017, as the number of affected Android devices increased by 4,000% in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

The crux of the issue is that cryptojacking can easily affect any device while also being a tough nut to crack. Users may not even suspect that they have become victims of malicious mining malware, as attackers use hidden links and programs that are difficult to distinguish from familiar ones.

“Some cryptojacking tools may choose to consume only 50% of the computer usage instead of 100%, and thus the user may not even notice that it is running particularly slowly,” Vijay Rathour, partner leading the digital forensics and investigations Group at Grant Thornton, told Cointelegraph.

When it comes to damages incurred, cryptojacking may not be as dangerous as ransomware, although its consequences are unpleasant. While for private users, this just results in a slowdown in computing speed, companies can face financial losses and disruption of business processes. 

Several high profile cases include crypto jackers penetrating the technological network of the European water supply control system and nuclear center employees using one of Russia’s largest supercomputers to mine Bitcoin. A miner was also embedded by hackers into the popular web plugin for the vision-impaired, BrowseAloud.

Another criminal scheme was uncovered by French cyber police officers who detected a fraud group that used a network of 850,000 computers to mine Monero (XMR). Similarly, 300 sites around the world were infected through the Drupal Content Management System, including those of San Diego Zoo, the U.S. National Board of Labor Relations, the cities of Marion and Ohio, and the administration of the Mexican city of Chihuahua. 

How do government agencies fight cryptojacking and ransomware?

Due to its pseudo-anonymity, cryptocurrency can be easily used by cybercriminals, but it also allows government organizations to track illicit transactions. However, the more sophisticated and widespread that crimes using crypto become, the more seriously police need new ways to respond to them. 

Although law enforcers keep their methods of fighting cyber crimes secret, Cointelegraph managed to get some facts from leading experts. Jarod Koopman, director of cybercrime at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, commented to Cointelegraph on the matter:

“The main aspects of combating cybercrime these days centers around attribution and understanding who is behind the activity.” 

He added that government agencies utilize a host of tools such as blockchain analytics, dark web research, open-source information, and financial or in-house data to identify parties involved and potential areas of fraud while technical crimes, such as hacks and DDoS attacks, require more technical capabilities and expertise in these areas.

The uncovered crypto crimes demonstrate that law enforcement’s success in catching cybercriminals primarily hinges on collaboration with cryptocurrency market players such as brokers, exchanges and internet security firms. 

In particular, cooperation with the latter helped Interpol detect 20,000 hidden miners in South-East Asia. As reported by Cointelegraph on Jan. 9, Japanese cybersecurity company Trend Micro, which assists the police, has reduced the number of affected routers by 78%. The groups worked for five months to locate the affected routers, notify the victims, and use Trend Micro’s guidance document to patch the bugs and stop the hackers.

As Koopman explained to Cointelegraph, additional work between law enforcement agencies, regulatory agencies and governing bodies across the globe leads to effective communication and strategies for future success. Such collaboration includes “working directly with exchanges in the U.S. or third party tool developers to offer insight as to the typologies and methods used by criminals.” This, according to Koopman, helps provide new tools, procedures or contacts for suspected fraud.

Along with cybersecurity experts, Europol representatives work with crypto companies that assist them in detecting suspicious activity. Being the most frequent target for attacks, more aboveboard cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms prioritize maintaining good relationships with the police and provide necessary records to law enforcement bodies to minimize the likelihood of dealing with such attacks in the future.

Training and prevention

Ransomware attacks — in particular, those using cryptocurrencies — have received much attention from government organizations. In 2014, the German and Austrian governments created joint research project BitCrime, aimed at developing effective and internationally applicable measures to reduce the number of cryptocurrency crimes committed by organized crime groups. 

In 2015, the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation created its own cryptocurrency and simulation training game for employees to study scenarios of cryptocurrency use and misuse. One year later, Cyber ​​Threats Reports by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security started to include ransomware as a separate online threat from malware, offering relevant information and statistics. 

To share their professional knowledge with companies and users, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Cyber Security Center and Europol released documents and guidelines on how to deal with crypto and to protect from such attacks.

Educational conferences are part of this program. Every year, Europol holds the Virtual Currencies Conference, a meeting closed to the public designed to let police and crypto experts discuss sensitive matters frankly.

The conferences seem to have produced results. With the support of law enforcement, crypto platforms have developed and improved Know Your Customer procedures to meet the security standards of the traditional financial sector. As a result, most of the platforms that work with digital assets request proof of identity and address before granting access.

Another goal of such programs is to teach organizations how to prevent cases of crypto cybercrimes. As such, the FBI warned that prevention is the most effective defense against ransomware, and it is critical to comply with the rules of internet security and information stored on devices. 

In general, organizations should upgrade outdated programs, execute regular patching, apply the “least privileges” approach, segregate the network perimeter, and implement effective backup practices. Rathour believes that these two malware variants can’t really be stopped at a state level, but generally require good cyber hygiene at the user level:

“The challenge here is that this could be almost any activity by a typical lay user, so the general advice is be prudent when using a computer connected to the internet, and then have good system controls (like limited access, split your network up, have regular backups).” 

Using the weaknesses of the criminals

Governments also use blockchain technology to trace cybercriminal activity. As claimed by Kathryn Haun, a general partner at Andreesen Horowitz and the Justice Department’s prosecutor for the infamous Silk Road case, blockchain is the only tool the police can use to catch cryptocurrency criminals. She added that if such crimes were committed using cash, it would be almost impossible to detect the people behind them.

According to Jarek Jakubchek, a Europol cybercrime analyst, many criminals think they remain untraced when actually, the use of BTC creates a paper trail and accelerates their detection. Despite the hackers’ advanced capabilities, the code they create can also contain bugs and vulnerabilities. One of them was used by the French police to uncover a large botnet network of cryptojackers, as reported by Cointelegraph.

Transaction screening and attack pattern analysis

Traceability of cryptocurrency transactions is not enough to catch a criminal. Police aren’t always able to immediately identify the parties involved in such activity, but they can trace and analyze patterns in the movement of digital assets to de-anonymize attackers.

In the search for suspicious transactions, law enforcers use monitoring tools developed by firms such as Elliptic, CipherTrace and Chainalysis. For example, a service created by Elliptic Enterprises is used by the international police to screen crypto transactions for links to illicit activity. The software detects suspicious transfers based on the patterns of the transactions previously linked to illegal cryptocurrency operations.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson said that widespread use of such tools “makes it difficult for criminals to cash out their crypto-assets because exchanges are alerted to the illicit origin of the funds and can notify law enforcement.” 

Chainalysis, another cybersecurity firm, signed a contract with the IRS to provide transaction tracking software and access to bad actors. The company has provided similar services to a number of U.S. intelligence agencies, and it was with the help of Chainanalysis and its Know Your Transaction tool that the FBI detected illegal transactions on the infamous dark web platform Silk Road.

So, what are we supposed to do with it?

According to Juniper Research, the economic damage from cyberattacks could reach $8 trillion by 2022. Even worse, as predicted by Cybersecurity Ventures, ransomware will attack companies every 11 seconds, compared to every 14 seconds in 2019. So the question remains: Why, despite the actions of law enforcement agencies and governments’ efforts to regulate digital assets, the number of cryptocurrency crimes is still significant? Thomas Stubbings, chairman of the cybersecurity platform of the Austrian government, told Cointelegraph:

“It is convenient and it is anonymous. There is currently no better way to cash out. As long as there are countries where criminals can cash out cryptos such activity will happen.”

At the same time, according to him, the growing prices of cryptocurrencies and the demand for them does not affect the growth of such crimes. The fact is that criminals don’t use digital assets as a speculative investment and cash out no matter the current price. Furthermore, Stubbings believes that regulation is ineffective. He added that the main focus in fighting crypto-related crimes should be placed on their prevention:

“You cannot fight cryptos. You can only fight cybercrime and that’s the same old cumbersome job as ever: awareness, monitoring, preventive measures, cybercrime investigation units, etc.”

The IRS shares the same view. Koopman noted that even with both aspects — enforcement and regulation — criminals will continue to exploit the best avenues and opt to use digital currency. In his opinion, to significantly reduce cybercrimes involving crypto, it is necessary to focus on the improvement of technical capacities of law enforcement agencies and the large-scale implementation of user identification procedures:

“As infrastructure continues to build in terms of payment processors and legitimate exchanges with proper KYC/AML practices, businesses, the public and traditional financial sector will begin to implement crypto more into standard use. I believe 2020 will continue to see a refining of roles/responsibilities and increased use.”





Source Cointelegraph

Cloud Giant Microsoft Azure Embraces Commercial Blockchain


Lition, a commercial blockchain, announced on Feb. 18 that Microsoft has officially brought Lition blockchain solution to its Azure cloud marketplace.  

This makes Lition one of the few public/private blockchains currently supported by a major cloud provider like Microsoft. Microsoft also became the first to bring blockchain to the cloud and continues to remain at the cutting edge of blockchain adoption.

Enterprises worldwide to benefit from blockchain adoption 

Integrating Lition blockchain into Azure allows Microsoft Azure’s worldwide enterprise clients to develop, test and deploy Lition side chains and applications with a click of a button on its platform, according to the announcement. Dr. Richard Lohwasser, Lition’s CEO added that: 

“Lition is committed to providing an accessible onramp to blockchain for all organizations. We believe that making integration as seamless as possible is vital to bridging the gap to adoption. Azure will be a tremendous asset for our customers..”

Azure cloud dominating the public cloud market

According to the announcement, Azure is the driving force behind Microsoft’s cloud business. The platform currently has the second-largest share of the $229 billion public cloud market, primarily catering to large enterprise clients. Azure’s clients include over 95% of Fortune  500 companies, including Walmart, Coca-Cola, Boeing and Samsung. 

Cointelegraph has tried to reach out to Lition’s online marketing manager Benni Woerpel for comment but had not received a response as of press time.





Source Cointelegraph