Thursday, August 30, 2018

Japanese Actress Helps Tokyo Police Raise Crypto Cybersecurity Awareness


A Japanese actress and singer has helped the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department raise awareness on cybersecurity issues, including cryptocurrencies. She reportedly took on the role of a cybersecurity manager in an event hosted by the department where participants learned about cybercrime countermeasures.

Rie Kitahara.Japanese actress and singer Rie Kitahara, formerly associated with the idol girl group Ngt48 and former member of Akb48 and Ske48, has helped the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department raise awareness of cybersecurity issues, including those related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to local media.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, Shinjuku Ward, hosted an event on August 26, where Kitahara tried to educate participants about measures against cybercrime. She assumed the role of the department's cybersecurity measure manager for the day.

Approximately 1,700 guests, parents and their children attended. They learned about email phishing and fake websites that try to steal personal information and how to protect themselves from these security threats. Asahi TV described:

Participants learned about the importance of countermeasures, such as a PC hijacking simulation experience and quizzes on cybersecurity. Last year, the number of cases with cybercrime victims reported to the Metropolitan Police Department was 13,101 which has been decreasing overall, but the damage of unauthorized access to [steal] virtual currencies such as bitcoin is increasing.

Japanese Phishing Emails on the Rise
In January, crypto exchange Coincheck was hacked and 58 billion yen (~US$522 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM was stolen. It was later revealed that the hack may have resulted from emails sent to the exchange's employees to spread viruses.

In July, reported that the number of cases involving phishing emails in the Japanese language rose to at least 1,500 last fall.

The Council of Anti-Phishing Japan has issued warnings regarding cryptocurrency phishing several times. "We are working to raise awareness of the public not to immediately click the URLs indicated in the email," Kaori Uemura, a spokeswoman for the council, told She added that recipients should reach out to a legitimate contact at the crypto exchange supposedly sent the email to verify its authenticity.

Cooperating with Crypto Exchanges
In order to fight crypto-related cybercrime, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has been cooperating with ten of the country's largest crypto exchanges. They are SBI Virtual Currencies, Bitflyer, Bitpoint Japan, GMO Coin, Bittrade, Quoine, Bitbank, Btc Box, Money Partners and Coincheck.

According to App Times, the exchanges have agreed to "mutual cooperation, cybercrime reporting notification, criminal investigation cooperation, information sharing, [and] measures to prevent widespread damage."

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Venezuela Loves Dash: Altcoin Surges 30% on Adoption Push


News dominating the current cycle is all about bitcoin core (BTC) skipping above the psychological $7,000 price point. However, quietly, determinedly, the altcoin Dash has been besting all comers. It is up double digits in recent days, thanks in part to its proponents' dogged hustle and commitment to emerging economies such as Venezuela.

Venezuela Dash Adoption Helps Price Surge
Dash CEO Ryan Taylor explained, "Our partnership with Kripto will put all the components needed to use Dash preloaded into the phones of 10,000 new Venezuelan consumers every month."

So called 'KRIP phones' contain "a Dash wallet to store Dash, services to obtain Dash, and the Bitrefill app to enable spending on various services. This complements the over 1,000 merchants already accepting Dash in Venezuela, and really addresses the chicken and egg problem of attracting both consumers and merchants to our growing ecosystem," he detailed to Business Insider. It's working.

Mr. Taylor expects the Scottsdale, Arizona company to gain monthly users in the region by 10,000 after its official teaming with Kripto Mobile Corporation (KRIP). KRIP is a smartphone specifically designed to handle cryptocurrency, and is well known in South America.  

Dash appears to be leading a cross-market rally among cryptos, a turn of events enthusiasts are hoping remains. For the first time in weeks, BTC has leaped beyond the $7,000 price threshold, Dash is up more than 20% in seven days, TRX 24%, NEO 17%, and IOTA 44%.

The Coin That Could
In the heady days of late 2017, Dash hit a high of over $1,400 and was routinely in the top ten cryptos by market cap before following the broader market down – way down. In the last week, however, it has become the little coin that could (if a $1.6 billion market cap and number 13 ranking can be considered 'little'), rising over 30% to settle at slightly under $200 per Dash as of this writing.

It  is doubtful anyone would wish more misery on Venezuelans, but the inverse relationship seems to have been good for Dash, and for Venezuelans who seek a way out of its bolivar. Though the government has tried to offer its own version, a state-backed crypto called the Petro, it hasn't yet lived up to promises. And some estimates see inflation in the country as soon approaching seven-digit percent astronomical horrors. Dash, in contrast, has been able to enlist vendors, some 200 a month, in the country, including clothing companies (Calvin Klein) and fast food franchises (Subway).

Luis Sosa of Kripto Mobile stresses how they are "seeing an incredible transition period in Latin America with those who are unbanked, underbanked, or simply do not want to use the traditional banking system. Combining our accessible, affordable phones with Dash's Instant Send transaction capabilities and low fees will provide a myriad of benefits to these communities. And with the addition of Bitrefill and other Dash apps, such as the Dash wallet, to our phones right out of the box, there's simply no easier way to start using cryptocurrencies like Dash in everyday life."

While Dash's gains can be partially attributed to work on the ground, "I have no clue why NEO (AKA Chinese Ethereum) is rising," Senior Market Analyst for Etoro, Mati Greenspan, declared in puzzlement. "This could just be the general excitement in the crypto market  – there doesn't always need to be a news story tied to a movement."

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Regional Government Announces Opening of Large Crypto Mining Farm in Russia


Favorable conditions have been created on the territory of the Leningrad Region for the creation of mining farms. There is enough capacity in the region, so electricity prices are relatively low. This is among the undeniable advantages of the region, along with the availability of engineering sites and qualified personnel.

The opening ceremony.
The farm is built by a company called Cryptouniverse on the site of the former Soviet fertilizer-producing laboratory, which stood unoccupied for 20 years, according to the Japan Times. The company explained that "The first buildings of the center put into operation occupy an area of 4,000 square meters and contain more than 3,000 pieces of equipment for the production of bitcoins and litecoins. Any private investors can place their equipment on the territory of the mining center or rent its computing power."

Alexei Korolyov, the center's co-founder, was quoted by the news outlet saying that "this is the largest and so far the only farm in Russia that offers the 'full cycle' — not just producing cryptocurrency but also offering services to those who do the mining."

Another Area for Mining Farms in Leningrad Region
In September last year, the Governor of the Leningrad Region invited crypto miners to the Sosnovy Bor area near St. Petersburg to create industrial-scale mining farms at the old Leningrad nuclear power plant.

According to publication, "plans to create a mining farm based on the former nuclear power plant in Sosnovy Bor are still in place."

The Governor said during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May that the authorities had meetings with a group of Russian investors to discuss plans for "the production of equipment for mining farms and the production of cryptocurrency." Without disclosing further details, he indicated that "the real timing of the launch of the mining farm" is 2021.

In Monday's announcement, the Governor of the Leningrad Region also discussed the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in Russia. "At the federal level, legislation is being drafted that will allow the regulation of the use of cryptocurrencies," he described, emphasizing that "the State Duma of the Russian Federation is considering bills on digital financial assets."

Kommersant reported that the Pushkin Leningrad State University, the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, and the Leningrad Chamber of Commerce and Industry "are preparing a concept that regulates the use of digital technologies" in the region. It includes the mechanism of implementing blockchain technology in businesses, crowdfunding projects, [and] provisions of tax incentives for "digital entrepreneurs," the publication conveyed. The document will be submitted to the regional Legislative Assembly and is expected to be submitted to the federal regulators in the fall.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Australian Bills Can Soon Be Paid With 50-100 Cryptocurrencies


A partnership between a bill payment company and a crypto exchange will allow Australians to pay their bills with between 50 and 100 cryptocurrencies. Customers can use any coins in their Cointree accounts to pay their bills regardless of whether the billers accept cryptocurrency.

Gobbill Partners With Cointree
Cointree and Gobbill Enable Australian Bill Payments in Over 50 CryptocurrenciesBill payment company Gobbill and cryptocurrency exchange Cointree jointly announced a partnership on August 20 to enable Australians to pay bills using cryptocurrencies.

The announcement reads, "the global alliance [between the two companies] will allow users from both platforms to pay household bills using their crypto coins stored in Cointree's wallet." Gobbill's website states that bills issued from any Australian provider can be paid through its system, including utilities, telecommunications, council rates, and insurance.

A Cointree representative told
We are currently working on the integration with Gobbill to allow bill payments to be paid using any coin listed on our exchange.

He clarified that the integration will be completed in approximately one month when users will be able to pay their bills with any cryptocurrencies. Until then, members can pay their bills with just BTC using the Cointree platform.

The companies explained that Gobbill's users "can link a crypto wallet in their account and elect to pay their bills either by credit card, bank account or a specified cryptocurrency regardless of whether the biller accepts the desired payment method."

Claiming to have over 50,000 members, Cointree says that it paid Australian bills totaling over AU$100 million (~$74 million) worth of cryptocurrencies last year. This year, the company says that it has experienced a ten times growth in crypto bill payments for the same time period. Cointree is registered with the Australian Government regulatory and monitoring body for AML/CTF. Gobbill is an authorized representative of an Australian Financial Services Licence holder.

Paying Bills With 50-100 Coins
Australian Bills Can Soon Be Paid With 50-100 CryptocurrenciesCurrently, lists 27 cryptocurrencies on its website: ADA, AE, AION, BCH, BTC, DASH, DGD, ES, ETC, ETH, ICX, IOST, LTC, NEO, OMG, ONT, PPT, QTUM, REP, SNT, TRX, VEN, XEM, XRM, XRP, ZL, ZRX.

However, the exchange's representative told that "we have listed 10 more," adding that "it will be live when [the] next update is deployed (this week/early next)." The new listings are ZEC, LSK, BTG, DCR, SC, STEEM, GNT, DGB, BAT, and KMD.

Once the integration with Gobbill is complete, the exchange expects to list "50-100 coins," the representative shared.

Some Other Crypto Bill Pay Services in Australia
In Australia, several other services already exist that allow bill payments with a small number of cryptocurrencies.

Living Room of Satoshi has long offered a way to pay Australian bills with BTC. The service currently offers the ability to pay with BTC, BCH, 11 other cryptocurrencies, and BTC through the lightning network. Its website states that over 100,000 bills have been paid using its platform.

Bit2bill and Paid by Coins also offer Australians the ability to pay their bills with a small selection of cryptocurrencies. Bit2bill allows payments in BTC, LTC, and ETH. Paid by Coins also supports the three cryptocurrencies in addition to LTC and XRP.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Over $2 Million Lost to Crypto Scams in Second Quarter of 2018


A recent report from Russia-based antivirus and cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs states that in the second quarter of 2018, cybercriminals stole over $2.3 million dollars via crypto scams.

The report, entitled "Spam and phishing in Q2 2018," notes so-called "crypto giveaways" as a pervasive example of phishing, wherein cybercriminals dupe individuals into giving up sensitive information as part of a too-good-to-be-true promotion giving away popular cryptocurrencies.

In these crypto phishing scams, unsuspecting individuals are fooled into voluntarily giving up important information on convincing but malicious copies of popular crypto wallets and markets.

Kasperksy states that cybercrooks also pose as new Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects to collect money from potential investors that try to buy up tokens in supposed early access events. The report also notes that Kaspersky's anti-phishing system prevented 58,000 user attempts to connect to phishing websites in Q2 2018.

In addition to outlining various types of scams, the quarterly report states that Ethereum (ETH) is currently the most popular cryptocurrency for phishers. According to the firm, ETH's popularity among cybercriminals increases as more funds are attracted to ICOs on the Ethereum platform.

Earlier this month, new research shed light on the ubiquitous fake crypto giveaways on Twitter. In the course of its research, cybersecurity firm Duo Security surveyed a swathe of 88 million Twitter accounts, using machine learning techniques to train a bot classifier.

Using the most recent 200 tweets from each account, the classifier found a network of 15,000 bots that spread fake competitions and impersonate well known figures in the crypto industry. Duo data scientist Olabode Anise said that, "The bots' attempts to thwart detection demonstrate the importance of analyzing an account holistically, including the metadata around the content."

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Japan Shows Other Countries How Crypto Regulation Should Be Done


Japan has always been a very interesting country when it comes to cryptocurrency and regulation. It is one of the few companies which has made Bitcoin legal tender. The current approach of self-regulating cryptocurrency is still controversial, but the concept continues to gain a lot of traction regardless.

Self-Regulation Remains a Risk
Bringing more legitimacy to the cryptocurrency industry in Japan will always be a big challenge. That isn't because the government is opposing this industry, as it is doing the exact opposite. The Japanese government has shown a lot of leniency toward cryptocurrency and even made Bitcoin legal tender over a year ago.

Although that initial response was relatively positive, it has become evident that there is still a need for active regulation of the cryptocurrency industry. Considering that exchanges remain subject to hacking and other incidents, having a regulatory framework in place to deal with such incidents is more than warranted.

For the time being, cryptocurrency exchanges engage in self-regulation. It is a bit of a double-edged sword, although their opinions do matter when it comes to establishing a regulatory framework. Without an open dialogue between industry experts and the government, no positive developments are to be expected. Japan is certainly taking an open-minded approach, which is more than one can ask for.

The JVCEA, which is Japan's virtual currency exchange association, is now looking to become officially certified in Japan. Up to this point, the governing body has made all of its decisions in the absence of any official recognition from the government. Although its decisions have been reviewed by the government, the decision-making process has always been a bit "off" in this regard.

Once the JVCEA becomes a certified fund settlement business association, it will be able to onboard additional members and force all partners to comply with regulations and laws. Whether or not the agency will receive this license is an open question, as nothing has been set in stone at this time.

The final decision lies with Japan's FSA, which has closely monitored any developments in the cryptocurrency industry for several years now. Reviewing the 100-page document submitted by the JVCEA will take some time, and no official timeline for a decision has been set. If the JVCEA is approved, Japan will position itself as the "freest" country when it comes to cryptocurrency regulation. It is an example which other countries would do well to follow.

Crypto-Prices Slide After SEC Announcement


Cryptocurrencies are dropping in value once again on Wednesday, August 8 as most of the top digital assets are down between 9 to 18 percent over the last 24 hours. Prices started dropping yesterday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) extended the Cboe exchange-traded fund decision. Immediately after the announcement, bitcoin core (BTC) values shaved off $400 in an hour and the currency has lost another $300 in spot value today.

After the SEC Announcement Cryptocurrency Prices Slide Significantly  
Digital currency values are hurting today as the entire cryptocurrency market capitalization has dropped since our last markets update from $250B to $231B on August 8. Despite the drop in value, trade volumes for all 1600+ coins has increased to $15B over the last day. A few days ago, cryptocurrencies saw the first dip before the SEC announcement, which took place after the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) deal was revealed. However, after the quick dip, BTC/USD prices moved back up to the $7,140 region for a short period of time. The next two significant drops in value occurred after the SEC revealed delaying the ETF decision leading to today's BTC/USD low of $6,391 per coin.

BTC/USD prices over the last 48 hours on Bitcoinwisdom (15M-chart).
Bitcoin Core (BTC) Market Action
Markets Update: Crypto-Prices Slide After SEC AnnouncementBitcoin core (BTC) prices at the moment are around $6481 per BTC and the cryptocurrency's market valuation today is $111B. Daily trade volume is decent but nothing spectacular at $5B USD in BTC traded over the last 24 hours. According to Satoshi Pulse statistics, the exchanges swapping the most bitcoin core this Wednesday include Bitflyer FX, Binance, Bitfinex, Okex, and Coinbene. The top currency traded with BTC currently is tether (USDT) which captures 54.2 percent of trades. This is followed by USD (24%), JPY (11.3%), EUR (3.9%), and KRW (2.6%). BTC is seeing a daily loss of around 8 percent today but the coin's market dominance among all 1600+ currencies is 49 percent.

Looking at the 4-hour BTC/USD chart on Bitstamp and Coinbase shows bears have a tight grip over markets right now. The chart's two moving averages (MA) has the 100MA above the longer-term 200MA trendline which means things will likely stay bearish for the short term. However, RSI levels (24.5) show extremely oversold conditions and there could be a small uptick if prices sink lower. Order books show heavy resistance from the current vantage point up until $6750 if bulls can manage to climb that high. On the backside, foundational support is bountiful and moving back is going to take some time. If negative prices continue, there will be longer pitstops between $6,300 and $5,900 as there is solid support in this region.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) Market Action
Bitcoin cash (BCH)Markets Update: Crypto-Prices Slide After SEC Announcement values have also dipped considerably since our last markets update as one BCH is trading for $604 at press time. This Wednesday, BCH has an overall market capitalization of around $10.5B and 24-hour trade volume is about $443M. The top five bitcoin cash trading platforms on August 8 include Coinex, Huobi, Okex, Binance, and Hitbtc. BCH is seeing a daily loss of around 14.2 percent and is the fourth highest market valuation among every coin in existence. The top currency swapped for BCH today is tether (USDT) with 54 percent of today's BCH trades. Tether is followed by BTC (26%), USD (10.9%), QC (2.2%), and ETH (2.1%).

BCH/USD Technical Indicators
The 4-hour BCH charts on Bitfinex and Bitstamp indicate that BCH markets have seen better days. Now the 100MA and 200MA gap is much smaller on the BCH/USD 4-hour chart and it looks like the two may cross hairs soon. If they do cross hairs, this means the path towards the least resistance would be the upside but for now, it remains on the downside. RSI levels also show oversold conditions as the oscillator hovers around 21.4 at press time. Looking ahead at order books, BCH bulls need to surpass mega-resistance from now until $640 and after that, it may be easier to move northbound. If bears get their way, the fall to sub-$600 regions will hold decently between $590 through $530 for some time.

The Verdict: Skepticism Increases as Prices Draw Closer to the Perceived Bottoms
Of course, now there are a bunch of traders calling for lower prices and most cryptocurrencies are nearing close to the bottoms they touched a few times already. For instance, BTC/USD spot prices have dipped three times to the $5,600-5,800 region but have not dropped lower than that yet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Student Faces Charges for Stealing $5 Million in Crypto via “SIM Jacking”


Motherboard has reportedly obtained court documents pertaining to the arrest of Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old from Boston, who is accused of stealing $5 million USD in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Mr. Ortiz and his currently unidentified accomplices stole crypto from roughly 40 victims through a hacking technique known as "SIM jacking."

"It has been reported that on the 12th of July, Californian police arrested a college student accused of being part of a group of criminals responsible for the theft of more than $5 million in cryptocurrencies.

Mr. Ortiz was reportedly arrested at Los Angeles International Airport whilst on his way to Europe donning a Gucci bag presumed to have been paid for with stolen money. The 20-year-old now faces 28 charges, including 13 counts of hacking, 13 counts of identity theft, and 2 counts of grand theft.

Ortiz is currently in jail awaiting his plea hearing on August 9th. His bail was set at $1 million.

First Reported Instance of Crypto Stolen Through 'SIM Jacking'
Student Faces Charges for Stealing $5 Million in Crypto via "SIM Jacking"Motherboard has claimed that the case comprises the first reported instance in which the increasingly prevalent technique of "SIM jacking" has been used to steal virtual currency.

According to the publication, "SIM swapping consists of tricking a provider like AT&T or T-Mobile into transferring the target's phone number to a SIM card controlled by the criminal. Once they get the phone number, fraudsters can leverage it to reset the victims' passwords and break into their online accounts (cryptocurrency accounts are common targets.) In some cases, this works even if the accounts are protected by two-factor authentication."

Hackers Target Consensus Conference in May
20-Y/O Faces 28 Charges for Stealing $5 Million via "SIM Jacking"Several of Mr. Ortiz and his yet-to-be-identified accomplices' victims included attendees of the Consensus conference in New York City in May. One conference attendee who wishes to remain anonymous lost more than $1.5 million from one individual – nearly $1 million of which had been raised through initial coin offering.

"I looked at my phone and it was dead," the individual told Motherboard. "We were having a meeting and all of a sudden he says 'Fuck my phone just stopped working.'" The individual added that his friend later texted him: "My fucking SIM got hacked."

Motherboard reported that "According to court documents, Ortiz took control of the entrepreneur's cell phone number, reset his Gmail password and then gained access to his cryptocurrency accounts. The entrepreneur ran to the AT&T store to get his number back, but it was too late."