Big Travel Firm CWT Pays $4.5 Million Bitcoin Ransom to Hackers
CWT, one of the biggest travel companies in the U.S., this week paid $4.5 million in bitcoin to hackers who infiltrated the firm’s computer system, stealing sensitive corporate data. It is unclear whether customer information was also compromised.
Reuters reported that the bitcoin wallet owned by the cyber thieves received 414 BTC on July 28 as payment for the ransom. At current prices, the ransom would be worth more than $4.8 million.
According to the report, the attackers infected CWT’s computer network with a ransomware called Ragnar Locker, which encrypted the entire system, making it accessible only to the hackers.
The criminals claimed to have disabled 30,000 computers, but the company later said this figure was exaggerated, while confirming the cyber-attack which forced it to shut down its systems.
“We can confirm that after temporarily shutting down our systems as a precautionary measure, our systems are back online and the incident has now ceased,” Reuters quoted CWT as saying.
“While the investigation is at an early stage, we have no indication that personally identifiable information/customer and traveller information has been compromised.”
In their ransom note, the hackers claimed to have stolen two terabytes of CWT data, including billing files, financial reports, security documents and personal data belonging to employees, such as email addresses and salary information.
They also claimed to have “information about your clients such as AXA Equitable, Abbot Laboratories, AIG, Amazon, Boston Scientific, Facebook, J&J, SONOCO, Estee Lauder and many others,” according to a tweet by Jameswt, the cybersecurity expert who discovered the CWT breach.
Per the Reuters report, the company said it had immediately informed U.S. law enforcement and European data protection authorities.
The hackers initially demanded $10 million worth of bitcoin to restore CWT’s files and delete all the stolen data, but the firm, severely hit by the new coronavirus, could only settle for $4.5 million.
CWT, formerly known as Carlson Wagonlit Travel, is the fifth largest travel firm in the U.S. The company, which says it provides services to 33% of companies on the S&P 500 stock index, posted revenues of $1.5 billion in 2019.
Ransomware attacks are reportedly costing businesses billions of dollars each year, in blackmail payments.
What do you think about CWT paying the $4.5 million ransom? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Author: By TeamMMG
- Movers of the Day 1-August
- Coinbase Takes DeFi Focus as it Looks to List 19 New Crypto Assets
- Major Chinese Banks Bar Customers From Buying Gold, Precious Metals | News Bitcoin News
- Cryptojacking Attacks Are Seriously Underestimated, Says BlackBerry VP
- Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Explodes Past $11k, Ethereum 2.0 Nears, Cardano’s Shelley Launches
Movers of the Day 1-August
Top movers of the day are Akropolis and Bluzelle. Since 10 am Akropolis has surged 34.42% and Bluzelle 25.69%. Ampleforth has increased by 6.37% and DOS Network which has announced new listing on BKEX has increased by 14.45%.
During the day the crypto markets were going up and finished much higher. Today’s crypto markets movemement is illustrated by an adjacent chart showing the movement of the NWSBCT Index (Blue Chips) over the past 24 hours. 2100NEWS DA Indexes ended between +1.01% and +7.00% (NWSCo100 which measures the performance of coins). Our main 2100NEWS Digital Assets Total Index (NWST1100) ended +5.36%. Bitcoin ended +3.92%, Ether ended even +11.65%.
To find out based on which criteria have been selected, please read the notes.
Akropolis is a domain-specific financial protocol dedicated to the needs of the informal economy. It is designed to: (1) enable anybody regardless of geography to quickly set up, operate and grow informal autonomous financial organisations (AFOs), e.g. digital co-ops, guilds, mutuals; (2) enable a previously impossible interoperable scalable network between them and external third parties, whereby value can be exchanged freely in a trust-minimised way (e.g. co-invest, lend/borrow, trade); (3) reduce instances of fraud and misuse of funds.
Bluzelle is a decentralized data network for dapps to manage data in a secure, tamper-proof, and highly scalable manner. Bluzelle is powered by Cosmos and its BFT technology Tendermint.
Top movers of the day are Ampleforth and Sparkpoint. Since midnight Ampleforth has soared 32.33% and Sparkpoint 16.01%. Melon has increased by 5.75%.
The crypto markets moved higher this morning. Since midnight 2100NEWS DA Indexes which measure the performance of different groups of tokens and coins have increased between 0.32% and 3.23%. 2100NEWS Digital Assets Total Index (NWST1100) which measures the performance of the top 1100 crypto assets by market capitalization is 2.90% higher. Bitcoin and Ether rose more than 3%: BTC +3.20%, ETH +3.35%.
Ampleforth describes itself as smart commodity money. It is chain-agnostic and reportedly less-correlated to Bitcoin and other digital assets.
Melon, which means “destined to be” in Greek, is blockchain software that attempts to empower participants to set up, manage and invest in technology regulated digital investment funds.
Started in Oct 2018, Sparkpoint aims to drive the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment and promote financial literacy. Sparkpoint token (SRK) is an ERC-20 token for use in the Sparkpoint ecosystem. Anyone that complies with the standard requirement can participate and do business in the different platform by purchasing SRK in the market.
Coinbase Takes DeFi Focus as it Looks to List 19 New Crypto Assets
One of the biggest crypto narratives over the past few months has been decentralized finance — better known as “DeFi.” Coins pertaining to this segment of the blockchain space have gone parabolic and users of DeFi protocols have shot up.
Coinbase, seemingly, is taking notice.
The leading crypto-asset exchange announced that it is looking to add 19 altcoins in the near future. Much of those tokens are DeFi related.
According to a Coinbase blog published on July 31st, the company is looking to add 19 digital assets. “As part of the exploratory process customers may see public-facing APIs and other signs that we are conducting engineering work to potentially support these assets,” the company wrote on its efforts to support these assets.
The cryptocurrencies listed by Coinbase in this announcement are as follows:
Some of these cryptocurrencies, including Curve (CRV), are not yet live on their respective blockchains.
Coinbase claims that this latest announcement is aligned with their long-term goal to support a swath of cryptocurrencies:
Coinbase’s goal is to offer support for all assets that meet our technical standards and which comply with applicable laws. Over time we expect our customers around the world will have access through Coinbase platforms to at least 90% of the aggregate market cap of all digital assets in circulation.
Logos of crypto assets that Coinbase intends to add in the coming months (Source: Coinbase).
To confirm the cryptocurrencies listed will be launched, Coinbase says it will be assessing “factors like security, compliance, and the project’s alignment with our mission of creating an open financial system for the world.”
Coinbase’s listing spree (or planned listing spree) comes as the company is looking to go public on American stock exchanges.
Per Reuters, three “people familiar with the matter” have confirmed that Coinbase is looking to undergo a stock market listing that may take place this year. Coinbase has purportedly been in talks with investment banks and law firms to establish a plan for this listing.
Analysts say that the crypto unicorn’s public listing intent is positive for the underlying industry. Chris Burniske, a partner at Placeholder Capital, commented:
“[An IPO] may even come in 2020 and be this cycle’s kickoff catalyst, with DeFi providing the narrative and fundamentals. 2017’s catalyst was the Winklevoss BTC ETF garnering attention and then getting rejected, shifting interest to ETH, with ICOs the narrative.”
When exactly the public listing comes to fruition, though, is not yet clear.
Author: Nick Chong
Major Chinese Banks Bar Customers From Buying Gold, Precious Metals | News Bitcoin News
Major Chinese banks have taken measures to prevent customers from buying gold, platinum, palladium, and other precious metal-related products through them. The Shanghai Gold Exchange also says it may take necessary measures to curb gold trading to “protect investors.”
Chinese regulators and major banks are taking measures to curb the trading of gold and other precious metals by investors in order “to cool [the] gold rush,” Reuters reported Wednesday. Gold prices hit record highs this week as investors look for safe-haven assets amid worries of rising coronavirus cases, the sinking U.S. dollar, low-interest rates, and increasing tension between the U.S. and China.
Starting Friday, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s biggest lender, has barred customers from opening new trading positions for platinum, palladium and index products linked to precious metals. For ICBC, precious metals include gold, silver, palladium, platinum. Transactions can be made in various currencies, including the RMB and U.S. dollars. A reporter called the bank to inquire about the reason for this prohibition. The bank’s customer service said it was for the safety and protection of customers due to heavy price fluctuations of these assets recently and “the need to control risks.”
Two other Big Four Chinese banks have made a similar move. Agricultural Bank of China said it recently suspended new gold-related businesses. Meanwhile, Bank of China (BOC) said it has halted new account openings for platinum and palladium trading.
The Shanghai Gold Exchange is also seeing high levels of gold and silver holdings. The exchange said this week that it would take risk-control measures to protect investors if warranted. Moreover, the Shanghai Futures Exchange, where gold and silver futures contracts are traded, has urged “its members to strengthen risk-management efforts and invest rationally,” the news outlet conveyed.
Chinese investors also actively trade gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The assets under management of Huaan Gold ETF, Asia’s biggest gold ETF, has increased more than 68% to over 11.8 billion yuan ($1.69 billion) since the end of last year.
Frank Hao, a Shanghai-based analyst with Hywin Wealth Management, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Gold remains a niche investment in China due to limited investment channels … Investors mainly rely on purchasing paper gold products at commercial banks as a way to counteract risks.”
Chinese regulators are wary of the risks associated with speculating in commodity prices after some 6,000 clients of the state-owned Bank of China tried to buy on a dip in crude prices in April, using a crude oil futures product known as Yuan You Bao. However, the values kept plunging well past zero, catching investors off-guard.
Bank of China settled Yuan You Bao at minus $37.63 per barrel and later agreed to settle with more than half of its customers facing losses, taking about a 7 billion yuan hit. Most banks soon halted sales of the products after the catastrophic losses at Bank of China. Sources told Caixin publication that more than 100,000 Chinese retail investors flooded into the market though paper crude products and never expected prices to fall below zero.
With the price of gold reaching all-time highs this week, people are speculating that $2,000 is not far away. Goldman Sachs recently revised its 12-month gold forecast to $2,300 an ounce. Some others are predicting even higher prices for gold. Despite regulatory efforts to clamp down gold trading, Hao believes:
If the gold price rises past $2,000, some more hot money will certainly flow into the market, and some investors will divert their stock investments to gold.
Recently, the gold market was shaken when it was discovered that about 83 tons of fake gold bars had been used as collateral for loans worth 20 billion yuan from 14 financial institutions in China.
What do you think about Chinese banks stopping customers from buying gold? Let us know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.
Cryptojacking Attacks Are Seriously Underestimated, Says BlackBerry VP
Cryptojacking attacks are both an internal and external threat, as the hacking groups are getting more organized in attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in the networks. However, there are also cases where some admins use valid entitlements to make money from illegally mining crypto using the firm’s network resources, and many organizations “don’t have great visibility” about it, says Josh Lemos, VP of research and intelligence at BlackBerry.
Lemos told Cointelegraph that a crypto mining software is not necessarily malicious but rather opportunistic utilizing compute resources for monetary gain, “although you often find it paired with malicious software,” and it’s also a fact not well-enough observed by some organizations when it comes to protecting their networks.
Recent cryptojacking cases, like Lucifer, show a pattern — the common usage of XMRig crypto-miner app in the attacks. BlackBerry executive explained why Monero (XMR) is often used in the attacks, rather than other currencies:
“Monero is pitched as more lucrative to the average user due to the nature of the mining algorithm. Anytime you have uneducated users looking for a quick buck, you will have more opportunities for exploitation. The old adage still holds true: the best way to get rich in a gold rush is to sell shovels. In this case, the shovels also contain malware.”
Lemos believes that the fact of hackers using full malware suites with capabilities that leverage numerous vulnerabilities to establish persistence shows a growing trend in such kind of cryptojacking attacks, and Lucifer is “a continuation or evolution of that trend.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still active in several countries, Lamos claims that as long as cryptocurrencies are being considered as a “valuable alternative investment,” the rising trend of the cryptojacking attacks “is here to stay,” as it’s not about blaming the coronavirus-related jump specifically.
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Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Explodes Past $11k, Ethereum 2.0 Nears, Cardano’s Shelley Launches
Another week, another round of Crypto Tidbits.
It’s been an explosive week for the Bitcoin and crypto market, to say the very least. Bitcoin surged from under $10,000 to as high as $11,500 this week. Over the past seven days, the asset has gained approximately 20% — the best weekly performance in many months.
Chart of BTC's price action over the past two weeks from TradingView.com
Bitcoin’s recent price action comes as a breath of fresh air for crypto traders, which had to deal with BTC flatlining in the $9,000s for around two and a half months. The leading crypto asset is attempting to pass the local highs of $11,500 as this article is being written.
Despite the strength of the breakout, Bitcoin’s macro volatility indicators remain at historically low levels. This may suggest, according to Bitazu Capital’s Mohit Sorout, that BTC has room to rally to the upside as ongoing volatility seems to be favoring bulls.
This latest rally in the crypto market has brought Bitcoin above the pivotal $10,500 resistance. $10,500 marked the top of three separate Bitcoin rallies over the past year, suggesting it is of utmost importance for bulls to hold.
This article will be released shortly after BTC closes the monthly candle for July. Analysts say that if Bitcoin can hold either $10,500 or $11,500 after that close, it is in an extremely good spot on a macro time scale. For context, Bitcoin closing above $11,500 would mean that BTC is at one of the highest levels (from a monthly candle perspective) since the $20,000 highs.
Bitcoin has actually been one of the best-performing cryptocurrencies of the past week as it being volatility has favored growth in major cryptocurrencies over smaller altcoins.
Ethereum, too, has done extremely well. It now trades at $345 — just shy of 2019’s high and up approximately 50% in the past two weeks alone.
Chart of ETH's price action over the past two weeks from TradingView.com
Some say that capital is cycling from hot DeFi tokens like Chainlink and Aave’s LEND to Ethereum and Bitcoin, hence their relative rallies.
Prominent investors in the space expect more upside for the crypto market. Speaking with CNBC on Tuesday, Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz said that BTC is on track to hit $20,000 this year. Referencing how the narrative and how capital is shifting towards scarce assets likely in response to the Federal Reserve:
“A lot of that retail interest shifted to the story stocks, to the tech stocks, because they were just more fun … Yesterday you saw a lot of money shift back over to gold and bitcoin. There’s an adoption game in bitcoin that you don’t have in gold. But I like them both.”
- All PlusToken Administrators Have Been Arrested: According to Chinese crypto insider Dovey Wan, the founding partner of Primitive Ventures, all members of the PlusToken leadership team have been apprehended by authorities. PlusToken is the multi-billion-dollar crypto scam that managed to accumulate billions worth of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital assets in early 2019. Wan wrote on the arrests:
“27 core PlusToken team members are all arrested by Chinese police, the biggest crypto scam in the history so far, $3B worth of crypto is scammed… there are a series of legal enforment actions in past 12 months as it’s core team are all over the world took quite a while.”
- SEC Warns of ICO Scams: Earlier this week, the New York office of the SEC wrote: “Be aware of potential scams involving Initial Coin Offerings.” Attached to this message was an investor alert from 2017, which warns of “potential scams involving stock of companies claiming to be related to, or asserting they are engaging in, Initial Coin Offerings (or ICOs).”
- Cardano Shelley Launches: Blockchain founder Charles Hoskinson revealed that Cardano’s Shelley upgrade came through this week. The founder is optimistic about the growth projects of his brainchild, writing:
“This time next year I predict there will be hundreds of assets running on Cardano, thousands of DApps, tons of interesting projects and lots of unique use and utility. 2021 is going to be so much fun watching Cardano grow and evolve. The community is definitely ready to innovate.”
- Ethereum 2.0 Testnet Validator Launchpad Launched: This week, the Ethereum Foundation, working in collaboration with ConsenSys and Deepwork Studio, released the official ETH2 Validator Launch Pad. The tool will allow users with 32 ETH to more easily stake their coins, to earn rewards and contribute to the Ethereum ecosystem.
Author: Published 9 hours ago