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ChipMixer: Cryptocurrency Mixer Taken Down After ‘Laundering $3bn in Cryptocurrency’

Darknet cryptocurrency mixer, ChipMixer has been shut down as a result of a sting conducted by Europol, the FBI, and German police, which investigated servers, and internet domains and seized $46 million worth of cryptocurrency. 

During the raid, it was discovered that wallets connected to North Korean cybercriminals and Russian intelligence services had evidence of digital currencies. 

The US criminal prosecutors have booked a Vietnamese man they claim to have run the service since its August 2017 creation. Potentially contaminated funds are gathered by mixers and sent at random to destination wallets. 

Minh Quoc Nguyen, 49, of Hanoi has been accused of money laundering, operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, and identity theft. The FBI has included him on the wanted criminal list. 

Criminals laundering more than $700 million in bitcoin from wallets identified as stolen funds, including money taken by North Korean hackers from Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge and Harmony's Horizon Bridge, were among the service's customers. 

It has also been reported that APT28, the Russian military intelligence, and Fancy Bear also utilized ChipMixer in order to buy infrastructure used from Kremlin Drovorub malware. Moreover, according to Europol, the Russian RaaS group LockBit was also a patron. 

ChipMixer joins a relatively small group of crypto mixers that have been shut down or approved, enabling criminals to conceal the source of the cryptocurrency obtained illegally. The list presently includes, which was probably renamed and relaunched as Sinbad, and Tornado Cash, a favorite of cybercriminals that helped hackers launder more than $7 billion between 2019 and 2022. 

The Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany seized two ChipMixer back-end servers and more than $46 million in cryptocurrencies, while American investigators seized two web domains that pointed to the company. 

According to court documents, ChipMixer has enabled customers to deposit Bitcoin, which would then be mixed with other users’ Bitcoin in order to anonymize the currency. 

Court records state that ChipMixer allowed users to deposit Bitcoin, which was then combined with Bitcoin from other users to make the currency anonymous. But, this mixer took things a step further by converting the deposited money into tiny tokens with an equal value called "chips," which were then combined, further anonymizing the currencies and obscuring the blockchain trails of the funds. This feature of the platform is what attracted so many criminals. 

The domain now displays a seizure notice, stating: “This domain has been seized by the FBI in accordance with a seizure warrant.” 

“Together, with our international partners, we are firmly committed to identifying and investigating cybercriminals who pose a serious threat to our economic security by laundering billions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency under the misguided anonymity of the darknet,” adds Scott Brown, special agent in charge of Homeland Securities Investigations (HSI) Arizona.  

Dubai's Crypto Industry Introduces New Licensing Regulations

The crypto industry in Dubai is witnessing a huge breakthrough since the jurisdiction has recently come up with its new crypto regulatory framework, apparently providing individuals with a concrete licensing regime for their digital asset issues and service vendors. 

The framework was developed in response to the collapse of the cryptocurrency markets in 2022, which caused authorities worldwide to step up their efforts to establish or enforce protections and left businesses and investors worried about the future of cryptocurrencies. 

These new regulations involve the authorities seeking necessary permits and licenses in order to provide users with one or more crypto-related services in Dubai. The framework is accompanied by seven activity-based rulebooks that specify standards based on the type of service supplied and four mandatory rulebooks for service providers, which Talal Tabbaa, founder of the regional cryptocurrency exchange CoinMENA, hailed as being "elegantly designed."  

Dubai is one among the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates with a goal to emerge as a global hub for crypto and blockchain activities, and in order to accomplish this it was courting companies to systemize the jurisdiction even before publishing its strategized rules for the sector. 

In the wake of the new rules being published, the institutional crypto custody provider Hex Trust became one of the first to receive an operational green light from the emirate's watchdog, the Virtual Asset Regulation Authority. Stating the time before VARA, which was established in 2022, Mohamed Reda El Sheikh, head of compliance at Hex Trust for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) says "We were waiting for a licensing framework. We were waiting for somebody with interest to take the responsibility." 

However, these new regulations set up by Dubai are still a work in progress, because of their comprehensive nature, which allows for potential development. The emerging hub's new regulatory structure also reveals the expense of compliance in the area, which may make it more difficult for start-up businesses to locate there. 

While Tabbaa called the licencing costs "peanuts" when compared to other operating costs like hiring staff or maintaining offices locally, and compliance fees are not something crypto companies focus on when looking to enter a market, even he acknowledges that some of Dubai's fees can be viewed as being on the expensive side. 

A company seeking to provide exchange services is required to pay an application cost of 100,000 UAE dirham (US$27,200) and an annual supervision fee that is double that amount, says the document. The application fee does not guarantee acceptance, and if the business wishes to provide additional services such as custody, lending, or payments, it must submit additional licensing applications (at a 50% reduction off the application charge) and pay additional monitoring fees. 

For comparison, the application fee in Abu Dhabi, another emirate of the UAE, is $20,000, while the yearly monitoring fee is $15,000. However, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) stated in an email to CoinDesk that goes up if businesses seek to provide additional kinds of assets. 

“Apart from any tokenized securities, under ADGM’s regulations, any crypto exchange that operates a spot or derivative market in relation to virtual assets (which include cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether) will have to apply for a Multilateral Trading Facility license,” the ADGM said. Companies that are likely to operate MTFs must pay an application fee of $125,000 and an annual supervision fee of $60,000. 

In Singapore, crypto exchanges that are not involved in fiat currencies usually apply for a Major Payments Institution license (for digital payment token service), which comes with a 10,000 Singapore dollar ($7,500) annual fee. Wherein, New York's BitLicense comes with a $5,000 application fee, although companies have reported bearing a cost of around $100,000 for time allocation, and legal and compliance fees. 

Dubai’s fees, on the other hand, are much more reasonable for larger companies. Although, it may not be very sustainable for startups, says Irina Heaver, a crypto lawyer based in the UAE. 

“However, I fully agree that Dubai needed to step up and to regulate the space, with so many bottom feeding scammers trying to establish here, enough is enough. Hopefully, these regulations will be used to really target those bad players,” Heaver said.  

Norwegian Authority Recovers Crypto Stolen in the North Korea Based Axie Heist

Civil authorities in Norway have announced this Thursday that they have recovered $5.9 million worth cryptocurrency. This enormous amount of crypto was apparently stolen in the Axie Infinity hack, largely believed to have been caused by the Lazarus Group, which as its ties to North Korea. 

According to the Norwegian National Authority of Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim), this seizure is the largest-ever cryptocurrency-related money seizure ever made by Norway. 

"Økokrim are experts at following the money. This case shows that we are also good at following the money on the blockchain even though criminals use advanced techniques to avoid detection," says Marianne Bender, a senior public prosecutor. 

The firm added that that it would work in collaboration with Sky Mavis, owner of Axie Infinity game in order to get the funds back to its victims. 

Axie Infinity gives players the chance to win Ethereum. Its "flagship offering," according to Sky Mavis, is the "#1 game on Ethereum by daily, weekly, and monthly active players. 

Attackers who had access to five out of the nine private keys used by the transaction validators for Ronin Network, the Ethereum-based DeFi decentralized finance platform utilized by Sky Mavis, were able to steal $620 million in March 2022. The game, publisher describes its Ronin side chain as "a tool that allows game developers to deliver the benefits of blockchain to their players without any of the complications.

"Upon gaining access to the organization, the attackers approved cryptocurrency transactions and started promptly transferring the funds through the Ethereum-based cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, which is currently the target of US sanctions. In September 2022, around $30 million worth of illicit proceeds were discovered and seized by US officials. 

The FBI and Økokrim allegedly collaborated to recover an additional $5.9 million. "This is money that can be used to finance the North Korean regime and their nuclear weapons program. It has therefore been important to trace the cryptocurrency and try to stop the assets from being converted into regular currency," explained Bender. 

More Crypto Comeuppance 

Cryptocurrency thieves with ties to the Korean peninsula had a tough day on Thursday. The same day, Terraform Labs and its wanted fugitive chief, South Korean national Do Kwon, were accused of scamming investors by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

"We allege that Terraform and Do Kwon failed to provide the public with full, fair, and truthful disclosure as required for a host of crypto asset securities, most notably for LUNA and Terra USD[…]We also allege that they committed fraud by repeating false and misleading statements to build trust before causing devastating losses for investors," says SEC chairman Gary Gensler. 

Moreover, the collapse of Terraform Labs' TerraUSD “stablecoin” and linked “Luna” tokens sparked the so called “crypto winter.” Since the cryptocurrency's value was tied to the US dollar, the crash was portrayed as being impossibly unlikely. But, that was not the case, and as a result, a lot of investors lost a loads of money. 

Apparently, Kwon has fled with the last known address in Singapore. While, the city-state claims he left the island in September 2022. His passport was revoked by the South Korean government and he has since been added to Interpol's Red Notice list. 

While this is going on, Terraform Labs continues announcing new findings as if it had not nearly brought about the end of the world. With its TerraLuna ecosystem, it introduced a decentralized automation layer function yesterday.  

Web3, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrency: Here's All You Need to Know


Web3? Blockchain? Cryptocurrency? These modern technological terms can be very perplexing because they all seem to blend together. However, each of these terms differs from the other in a number of ways. What are the key distinctions between Web3, blockchain, and cryptocurrency? 

Web3 has undoubtedly become a buzzword in recent years. This refers to Web 3.0, the most recent version of the internet. Web3 can be difficult to grasp because it incorporates so many different concepts and technologies. However, we will reduce it to its most basic form. Web3 combines decentralization, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency. This internet isn't entirely different from the one most of us use today, but Web3 has some key differences.

We can still use social media, buy products, read the news, and do anything else we want on the internet. However, some key features of Web3 distinguish it from previous iterations, beginning with decentralization.

Web3 is based on the idea of using decentralization to keep things distributed, fair, and transparent. Blockchain technology will be used in conjunction with decentralization. We'll go over blockchains in more detail later, but it's worth noting that they, too, use decentralization and allow organizations to store data in a secure setting.

Web3 is also closely associated with virtual reality, a technology that allows users to immerse themselves in a virtual, digital world by wearing a headset and using controllers.

Another important concept underlying Web3 is ownership. Ownership has long been a source of contestation in the online world, as large corporations (or "big tech") now own vast amounts of sensitive user information. Data breaches, data misuse, and unauthorized data collection have been common news topics over the last decade, prompting many to reconsider the ownership aspect of the internet. So, how does Web3 deal with this?

Web3 focuses on transferring ownership of platforms and data to users. It establishes a permissionless ecosystem in which all users are included in platform decision-making processes. Furthermore, these platforms will operate on a token-based system, with tokens being used for products, services, and community voting (or governance). In comparison to Web 2.0, this internet model provides more equity in control and participation, handing power to the majority rather than the minority.


Blockchains are not the easiest technology to grasp because they operate in a complex manner. On the surface, a blockchain appears to be nothing more than a chain of blocks.  Each block contains information and is chronologically connected to the next.

Each block in a typical blockchain that hosts a cryptocurrency stores transactional data as well as information about the block itself. A given block contains the block header, block size, transaction size, and timestamp, as well as the "magic number," hash of the hashPrevBlock, and hashMerklRoot.

Anyone can see the entire ledger of previous transactions on public blockchains. Most cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and others, exist on a public blockchain, though private blockchains have applications in certain industries.

Another advantage of blockchains is that they are difficult to hack. An attacker would need to control 51% of the overall power to successfully control a blockchain. Because blockchains are made up of hundreds or thousands of nodes, the attacker needs to compromise more than half of the active nodes in order to gain control. This gives blockchain technology an advantage over other methods of data storage and recording.

Blockchains also provide greater privacy to users than traditional financial services. Blockchains will display the sender and recipient's wallet addresses, but that's it. Your name, contact information, and other sensitive information will never be displayed on the blockchain, allowing you to remain anonymous. It should be noted that a skilled cybercriminal could learn someone's identity.


In its most basic form, cryptocurrency is a virtual asset that exists on a blockchain. Consider cryptocurrency to be the groceries, and blockchains to be the conveyor belt.

Cryptography, as the name implies, is a key component of cryptocurrency. It is a coding process that protects data by converting it from plaintext to encrypted text. The encrypted text is random and unintelligible, making it much more difficult to exploit the stored data. This layer of security is what draws many people to cryptocurrency because it provides privacy and a higher level of protection against malware activity.

Cryptocurrencies have no physical representation because they are entirely virtual. In short, cryptocurrencies are nothing more than code. You may have seen images of gold Bitcoin coins, also known as Casascius coins, but these are only used to store virtual Bitcoins and have no inherent market value.

Cryptocurrencies have value and some are worth tens of thousands of dollars. However, the value of a cryptocurrency is almost always determined by demand. If demand for a cryptocurrency falls, the price will almost certainly fall with it. Because there is little regulation surrounding cryptocurrency, scams, fraud, and other crimes are common, with many perpetrators going unnoticed. Governments all over the world are attempting to solve the problem.

There's no shame in being perplexed by crypto, Web3, and blockchains. These technologies are extremely complex in many ways and have only recently entered mainstream discussions. But understanding crypto, Web3, and blockchains and how they differ is entirely possible.

Clipper Virus: 451 PyPI Packages Deploy Chrome Extensions to Steal Crypto

Threat actors have recently released more than 451 distinct Python packages on the official Python Package Index (PyPI) repository in an effort to infect developer systems with the clipper virus. 

The libraries were discovered by software supply chain security firm Phylum, which said the ongoing activity is a continuation of a campaign that was first made public in November 2022. 

How Did Threat Actors Use Typosquatting? 

In an initial finding, it was discovered that popular packages including beautifulsoup, bitcoinlib, cryptofeed, matplotlib, pandas, pytorch, scikit-learn, scrapy, selenium, solana, and tensorflow were being mimicked via typosquatting. 

For each of the aforementioned, the threat actors deploy between 13 and 38 typosquatting variations in an effort to account for a wide variety of potential mistypes that could lead to the download of the malicious package. 

In order to evade detection, the malicious actors deployed a new obfuscation tactic that was not being utilized in the November 2022 wave. Instead, they are now using a random 16-bit combination of Chinese ideographs for function and variable identifiers. 

Researchers at Phylum emphasized that the code makes use of the built-in Python functions and a series of arithmetic operations for the string generation system. This way, even if the obfuscation produces a visually striking outcome, it is not extremely difficult to unravel. 

"While this obfuscation is interesting and builds up extremely complex and highly obfuscated looking code, from a dynamic standpoint, this is trivial[…]Python is an interpreted language, and the code must run. We simply have to evaluate these instances, and it reveals exactly what the code is doing,” reads a Phylum report. 

Malicious Browser Extensions 

For taking control of the cryptocurrency transactions, the malicious PyPi packages create a malicious Chromium browser extension in the ‘%AppData%\Extension’ folder, similar to the November 2022 attacks. 

It then looks for Windows shortcuts pertaining to Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, and Opera, followed by hijacking them to load the malevolent browser extension using the '--load-extension' command line argument. 

For example, a Google Chrome shortcut would be hijacked to "C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe --load-extension=%AppData%\\Extension". 

After the web browser is launched, the extension will load, and malicious JavaScript will monitor for cryptocurrency addresses copied to the Windows clipboard. When a crypto address is found, the browser extension will swap it out for a list of addresses that are hardcoded and under the control of the threat actor. By doing this, any sent cryptocurrency transaction funds will be sent to the wallet of the threat actor rather than the intended receiver. 

By including cryptocurrency addresses for Bitcoin, Ethereum, TRON, Binance Chain, Litecoin, Ripple, Dash, Bitcoin Cash, and Cosmos in this new campaign, the threat actor has increased the number of wallets that are supported. 

These findings illustrate the ever-emerging threats that developers face from supply chain attacks, with threat actors inclining to methods like typosquatting to scam users into installing fraudulent packages.  

How ChatGPT Could Drive A Viral Crypto Narrative

AI Crypto: The next big thing 

AI crypto tokens will surely be the next big thing in the industry, an image of Metaverse mania, Defi boom, or meme coin explosion. 

ChatGPT and other AI-based technologies have been viral across social media and the business world. Will this make three altcoins stand-out winners in the next bull market?

Understanding AI Crypto: How trading narratives can bring profit

Narratives are important for incredible rallies or declines, does not matter if they are accurate or not. For instance, the last Bitcoin narrative was aggravated by its use as an inflation hedge. But when the inflation hedge surfaced, the top cryptocurrency was hit by one of its worst downtrends to date. 

Other latest narratives include Defi driving Ethereum and similar coins higher, or when Metaverse tokens rose rapidly after Mark Zuckerberg changed the parent company's name to Mera (earlier Facebook). 

NFTs also helped Ethereum and newbies like Solana. Elon Musk made meme coins go viral by just tweeting about it.

The one thing common in all these assets is that the narratives made money while being in markets, it is all that matters. For savvy cryptocurrency investors exploring the next big narrative, you don't have to look beyond two letters: AI.

AI Crypto and ChatGPT

OpenAI's ChatGPT is currently all over social media. The AI tool has already passed the Medical License Exam, Bar Exam, and MBA exam. People are using it to write articles, solve questions, and tweets, do homework, and perform tasks automatically. People are even using it for Bitcoin as various celebrities. The platform has shown sheer potential. 

Crypto AI Tokens on the edge of a new "Bull Cycle"

Although no AI crypto tokes share any resemblance with ChatGPT, projects with links with anything AI has recovered more significantly from cryptocurrency bear market lows.

For instance,, is up roughly 480% from its lows and is up over 200% in January 2023 itself. Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) is another great example, with a 230% recovery from lows and more than 100% year-to-date. SingularlyNet (AGIX) beats them both with a low put in three months before and more than 600% gains from the low. AGIX jumped over 460% during January 2023 with a full week still left. 

The results are surprising, but there's still a lot more to see. Jason Soni, Crypto and Currency Analyst at Elliott Wave International recently made a video on three AI-based crypto tokens that may be on the verge of a new bull cycle. 

The three cryptocurrencies analyzed in the video are AGIX, FET, and OCEAN. You can find Soni's analysis on Elliott Wave international's Crypto Trader's Classroom, which brings three new videos every week. The video explains where these altcoins are in their current market cycle and breaks down why there could be more upside in the future. 

A $100 Million Theft Has Been Attributed to the Lazarus Group by the FBI


A $100 million cryptocurrency heist was committed by the Lazarus Group last June, which has been blamed by the FBI for the crime. Known for stealing cryptocurrency to help support the military and weapons programs of the North Korean government, this team is associated with the North Korean government. 

A statement released by the FBI on Tuesday identified Lazarus Group, which is also known as APT38, as the perpetrators of the June 24 attack on the Harmony Horizon bridge. The FBI released this information. In the course of this attack, $100 million worth of Ethereum was lost. Harmony Horizon is a bridge that allows you to connect Ethereum, Bitcoin, Binance Chain, and Harmony with the aforementioned cryptocurrency systems. The Ethereum bridge was accessed by attackers in June of this year and the cryptocurrency was stolen. 

There has been a reported theft on the Horizon bridge this morning for approximately $100MM, which was discovered by the Harmony team. At the time of the incident, Harmony said that they had begun to work with national authorities and forensic specialists to identify the perpetrator. In addition, they had begun to regain the funds that had been stolen. 

As a team, the FBI and the Department of Justice's National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team have combined to investigate the Harmony heist, as well as several United States attorneys' offices. Earlier this week, the FBI announced that the Lazarus Group had been responsible for the attack and used its malware tool TraderTraitor as part of its operation. This malware was one of the components of the attack. 

"During the June 2022 heist, North Korean cyber actors, who used an encryption protocol known as Railgun, a privacy protocol, gained access to over $60 million worth of Ethereum (ETH) that had been stolen. It is believed that a portion of the stolen Ethereum from this theft was sent to several virtual asset services for conversion into bitcoin (BTC)," the FBI said in a statement released by the bureau. 

Lazarus Group is a North Korean security firm that has been active for several years. It is closely associated with the North Korean government and typically pursues the interests of the government. A successful attack by this group on the Bank of Bangladesh in 2016 netted it $81 million. Since then, Lazarus has continued to operate against banks and crypto exchanges to fund its operations. 

Lazarus Group is a group of companies that specialize in penetrating cryptocurrency firms and exchanges, as well as other targets. This is done with the use of their tools that are integrated into TraderTraitor. Oftentimes, these tactics begin when hackers send phishing emails to employees at a target company. They entice them to download malicious files in the hopes that they will be able to decipher what they are downloading. 

Many of these messages are disguised as recruitment efforts and offer high-paying jobs to entice recipients to download cryptocurrency applications laced with malware, also known as TraderTraitor by the U.S. government, according to a CISA advisory released in April. 

TraderTraitor is the term used to describe a series of malicious applications that are written using cross-platform JavaScript and run on the Node.js runtime running on Electron using the Node.js runtime environment. Several malicious open-source applications have been downloaded into the system, posing as tools that can help traders or price forecasters trade cryptocurrencies. TraderTraitor campaigns promote the alleged features of the applications on websites with modern designs. 

Several intrusions carried out by the Lazarus Group have used TraderTraitor as part of their investigations, and they have been quite successful in doing so. There was also another tool they used, a macOS backdoor called AppleJeus, which they implemented along with more advanced ways. 

In addition to spreading cryptocurrency trading applications modified to contain malware that facilitates cryptocurrency theft, the Lazarus Group also distributed AppleJeus trojanized cryptocurrency applications targeting individuals and companies, including cryptocurrency exchanges and financial services firms. 

According to the advisory, the North Korean regime will likely continue to exploit the vulnerabilities of cryptocurrency technology companies, gaming companies, and exchanges. This will enable it to generate and launder funds to support its regime. 

During the Harmony intrusion, the Lazarus Group moved bitcoin to several exchanges, which the FBI worked with to freeze those assets.

Lazarus Moves More than $60 Million from Harmony Bridge Hack

North Korean state-owned threat actors Lazarus Group has stolen around 41,000 ETH or more than $60 million of Ethereum to the crypto exchanges Binance, Huobi and OKX. While Binance and Huobi both froze the funds, Binance declared that an asset of 124 BTC was also recovered in the process. 

According to internet sleuth ZachXBT, the funds were stolen from the Harmony blockchain bridge hack from last year, which led to a whopping $100 million crypto compromise. Apparently, the same hacker group utilized Tornado Cash, a now banned crypto mixer that conceals names of people involved in the transaction, in order to carry out the attack. 

As per the analysis, conducted by token movements, the ETH was routed through the anonymity system Railgun before being collected in wallets and sent to three significant crypto exchanges, possibly to be exchanged for fiat currency. 

“A very busy weekend” for Lazarus Group 

ZachXBT shared details of this week’s token movements on Twitter, claiming Lazarus Group has had “a very busy weekend” moving funds. 

In the follow-tweets, ZachXBT also linked to the website where he shared a list of approximately 350,000 unique wallet addresses that were involved in the Friday’s operation. 

Binance’s Say on the Issue 

On Monday, Binanace CEO Changpeng Zhao, better known as CZ too, commented on the situation. CZ claims that the hackers used Huobi, a competing exchange, rather than Binance this time as one of their exchanges. The hacker's accounts were subsequently frozen with Binance's assistance, he says. 

CZ also disclosed that 124 BTC ($2.6m) had been seized from the hackers, indicating at least some of their ETH has been converted to BTC. 

“We detected Harmony One hacker fund movement. They previously tried to launder through Binance and we froze his accounts. This time he used Huobi. We assisted Huobi team to freeze his accounts. Together, 124 BTC have been recovered,” he wrote. 

Although, Huobi did not comment on the matter other than retweeting an article claiming that the exchange had frozen accounts containing money connected to the hack. 

According to a report from South Korea's National Intelligence Service from December of last year, North Korean hackers have stolen more than $1 billion in digital assets since 2017. 

Moreover, the report claims that around $626 million, or more than half of that estimated tally, was taken in 2022. It also stated that it is suspected that the North Korean government uses the money obtained from the theft to advance Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.  

Report: Crypto Crime Hits Record $20 Billion in 2022


The unlawful use of cryptocurrencies reached a new high of $20.1 billion last year, as transactions involving companies sanctioned by the United States skyrocketed, as per data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis released on Thursday.

In 2022, the cryptocurrency market lost momentum as risk appetite started to wane and various crypto firms went bankrupt. Investors suffered significant losses, and regulators increased calls for greater consumer protection. 

Despite a drop in overall crypto transaction volumes, the value of unlawful crypto transactions increased for the second year in a row, according to Chainalysis. As per Chainalysis, transactions linked with sanctioned entities increased more than 100,000-fold in 2022 and accounted for 44% of illicit activity last year. 

Funds received by Garantex, a Russian exchange sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in April, accounted for "much of 2022's illicit volume," according to Chainalysis, adding that the majority of that activity is "likely Russian users using a Russian exchange." 

According to a Chainalysis spokesperson, wallets are labelled as "illicit" if they are not part of a sanctioned entity.

Garantex did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment.

Last year, the US also sanctioned cryptocurrency mixing services Blender and Tornado Cash, alleging that they were being used by hackers, including those from North Korea, to launder billions of dollars in cybercrime proceeds.
The volume of stolen crypto funds increased by 7% last year, but volumes of other illicit crypto transactions, such as those related to scams, ransomware, terrorism financing, and human trafficking, decreased.

"The market downturn may be one reason for this. We've found in the past that crypto scams, for instance, take in less revenue during bear markets," Chainalysis said.

Chainalysis stated that its $20.1 billion estimate only encompasses blockchain activity and excludes "off-chain" crime such as fraudulent accounting by crypto firms.

According to Chainalysis, the figure also excludes instances where cryptocurrencies are the proceeds of non-crypto-related crimes, such as when cryptocurrency is used as a means of payment in drug trafficking.

"We have to stress that this is a lower bound estimate - our measure of illicit transaction volume is sure to grow over time," the report said, noting that the figure for 2021 was revised to $18 billion from $14 billion as more scams were discovered.

Crypto Withdrawals of $8bn Hit Silvergate, a US bank


Silvergate, the US bank that offers cryptocurrency services, has reported that its clients have withdrawn over $8 billion (£6.7 billion) of their cryptocurrency-linked deposits over the past several weeks. 

In the final three months of 2022, roughly one-third of the bank's customers pulled their deposits from the bank. The bank sold assets worth $5.2 billion to cover the cost and maintain liquidity. 

According to three US regulators, issuance or holding crypto would conflict with safe and sound banking practices as it would be "highly likely that such practices would be compromised." 

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Silvergate is a bank regulated by the New York Stock Exchange and a part of the financial sector. A few businesses within this sector offer cryptocurrency services, and this business is one of the very few. Before the November bankruptcy filing of FTX, the crypto exchange was once valued at $32 billion. Withdrawals followed the collapse of the FTX exchange. 

A former FTX boss has pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded customers and investors as part of his role at the company. Approximately one million credits may have been affected by bankruptcy, according to prosecutors. 

Cryptocurrencies have been affected by the case, leading to bankruptcy filings at other companies and the price of crypto falling. 

Silvergate's chief executive officer, Alan Lane, said the bank had sold assets to cover customer withdrawals to compensate for the trading risks associated with digital assets "in response to increasing changes in the digital asset market." It seems that Silvergate has also fallen victim to the chilling "crypto winter" that has been devouring the cryptocurrency industry since last spring. 

As the name implies, the so-called crypto bank fills an unusual position in the market, serving as a bank for cryptocurrency companies that had difficulty finding banking services that could be offered by traditional banks. 

An Alameda Research company, which is now bankrupt, is owned by Sam Bankman-Fried. He is suspected of fraud and is awaiting trial in the United States. There is no doubt that Bankman-Fried's downfall has been a blow for Silvergate, but the risk of market confidence has been a more risky blow to the company. In the aftermath of Bankman-Fried's collapse, several small and large investors have pulled their money out of crypto companies, transferring billions of dollars from crypto accounts stored by companies. 

Binance and Coinbase have so far survived the unprecedented withdrawals of users and have become some of the biggest names in the industry. While it seems that Silvergate is also weathering the storm, its balance sheet is taking a heavy hit as a direct result of the storm. 

Before entering the world of cryptocurrency, in November 2019, Silvergate was a small US bank that had recently been made public. The shares of the company had grown by more than 1,500% by the time the market reached its climax in 2021. This was mainly due to the massive growth of crypto during this period. There was a period during which it attempted to launch its stablecoin. During this period, it tried to create a cryptocurrency directly tied to an asset such as gold, the US dollar, or another cryptocurrency. 

Additionally, Silvergate spent $182 million in January 2022 to acquire the technology used in Meta's proposed Diem (formerly Libra) stablecoin, which is yet to hit the market. According to a filing filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the bank said it had sold the debt to cover withdrawals from its accounts. It said that the purchase of the diem is no longer classified as an asset, indicating that the purchase has been written off. The bank has also deducted its workforce by 40% - about 200 people. Since 2013, withdrawals have cost the company $718m in losses, an amount greater than its profit.   

Cybersecurity in 2023: Will the Crypto Crash Impact It?


One of the questions that naturally arise for those working within the cybersecurity industry after the fall of the FTX exchange puts an end to the cryptocurrency crash of 2022, includes asking how it will affect the cybercrime economy as a result of this rapid decline in cryptocurrency valuations. 

Cybercriminals have been using and abusing cryptocurrency ever since the most recent crypto boom began more than a decade ago to build up their empires and make money. Through the use of cryptocurrency, ransomware is creating a world where you can pay extortion and face jail time. By using cryptocurrency, scammers target consumers to steal their wallets and accounts. A wide range of cybercriminal enterprises has traditionally relied on this method to conceal the fact that they are laundering money behind the scenes in an anonymous manner. 

Although many cybersecurity experts and intelligence analysts agree that there have been some changes in trends and tactics that they believe are loosely related to the crypto crash, the jury is still out on the effects of the crypto crash over the long run, and the jury is still out on how the crypto crash will affect the cyber world. 

The Shifting Trends & Tactics of Cryptocurrencies in 2022 

Despite the value of cryptos this year, cybercriminals have developed a more sophisticated strategy for monetizing their attacks with cryptocurrencies, according to Helen Short, Accenture cybersecurity intelligence analyst, who points to the use of yield farming within the field of decentralized finance, as an example of some ransomware groups making use of yield farming as a monetization method. 

In other words, yield farming is similar to lending money, in that the amount of interest that has to be paid is clearly outlined in the contract that outlines the amount that has to be paid," she explains. As a ransomware group, the advantages are that they will be able to collect legitimate proceeds from the ransom and they will not be forced to launder or hide the funds." 

In her analysis, she has found that threat actors have increasingly turned to 'stablecoins,' which are typically 'pegged' to fiat currencies or gold. This is to decrease the volatility of their wallets. Cryptocurrency is making headlines worldwide due to the recent downturn in its price. This has resulted in cybercriminals having a heightened appetite for risk, leading to more investment frauds and cryptocurrency scams being perpetrated. 

In addition to some people losing their wallet value, others may have simply lost interest in keeping an eye on their accounts. They may have stopped paying as much attention to them. Brittany Allen, the team's trust and safety architect and fraud researcher, offers some insight into how this is fueling another trend. "Fraudsters are noticing that consumers are paying less attention to their crypto wallets than they were when crypto prices were higher earlier this year and in 2021, as a result of plummeting prices for cryptocurrency," she said. Consequently, cryptocurrency account takeover attacks have increased by 79% in the last few months. 

According to the researcher, there is an increasing number of threat actors joining forces instead of being paid by each other for their specialist services. This reduces the costs of the attack as there is a set share of the proceeds included in the agreement. 

Ransomware Will Not Go Away

As far as cybersecurity pundits are concerned, one thing that has been agreed upon almost unanimously is that ransomware will remain prevalent for some time despite the growing volatility of cryptocurrencies. Ransomware activity in 2022 has seen a slight decline compared to early 2022. Despite that, the threat intelligence analyst at Optiv, Aamil Karimi, said that there are other factors out of our control, such as the war in Ukraine. These factors contribute to the decrease in activity.  

A significant regrouping of ransomware cartels has resulted in a decline in activity in recent years, which is more likely to be due to this than anything else. For as long as cryptocurrency is a popular extortion target, he believes extortion will remain a popular business model. 

As of right now, cryptocurrency is the safest medium through which cybercriminals can act as a means of doing transactions. Cryptocurrency is the preferred payment method by extortion," Karimi says. The amount of cybercrime and extortionary activity will not slow down soon, as Karimi doesn't anticipate any slowdown." 

The evolution to be expected in 2023

Cybercriminals may also evolve their techniques in response to increased friction between law enforcement and themselves about other types of attacks in addition to ransomware. This is a result of increased friction between the two organizations. The most common among these is business email compromise (BEC), which does not require cryptocurrency. 

It was determined in the FBI's annual IC3 report [PDF] that business email compromise was the most common method used by attackers to steal fiat coins. It is becoming increasingly easy and convenient for technology to mimic human writing, speech, and even live video. This is a result of advances in artificial intelligence, according to GreyNoise's Rudis. As businesses, ransomware groups have been around for a long time. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that they would use their technological skills to deploy more advanced BEC schemes in addition to their primary mission of stealing money.  

At the same time, attackers are likely to continue advancing technology to stay one step ahead of the authorities. This is regarding the tracking and laundering of money, thereby staying one step ahead of the police. 

"The number of attackers will increase, and they will try to obfuscate their illicit funds by breaking the sequence of blockchain transactions, which will become increasingly sophisticated," Short says. "We will likely see a professionalization of cryptocurrency mixers, such as Tornado Cash, with threat actors offering fast and high value 'cash out as-a-service offerings." 

As a result, she believes that there will be an increase in demand for account takeovers to repurpose stolen accounts to create mule accounts as a way of cashing out on the back end of various scams by 2023, as it will increase the value of personally identifiable information (PII).

DEA Tracks Down Drug Cartels with Binance


Due to the anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies, they allow cartels a perfect means to transfer funds across continents in a relatively safe manner. To identify individuals, it is necessary to analyze the chain of command. 

As a result of its widespread use by threat actors to wash funds from crypto markets, Tornado Cash has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for being used as a crypto mixing tool. Following the sanctions, threat actors are no longer able to operate through their usual routes, including through centralized exchanges. 

Drug cartels are under attack by the DEA

Forbes published an article about the gang that indicated that it operated in several countries, including the United States, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. Based on the DEA's report, it appears that the cartel was channeling as much as $40 million of illicit proceeds through the exchange.

Using Localbitcoins, informants were able to interact with perpetrators trading crypto for fiat in 2020, which led to investigations into the crime and communication with authorities. 

To ensure trust between trading parties, Localbitcoins uses an escrow service to ensure both parties are given a fair chance to make a transaction. Carlos Fong Echavarria, a Mexican citizen responsible for the theft, assured them the money came from family restaurants and cattle ranches. 

In the aftermath of Echavvaria's capture, he pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and money laundering. As the matter awaited sentencing, a blockchain address was tracked by the DEA. According to one of them, there is still money being laundered.  One of the latest perpetrators recently bought $42 million in crypto and sold $38 million in crypto. Some of these funds are believed to be linked to the trafficking of drugs, according to authorities. 

The Binance versus the money laundering issue

During the most recent attack, BNBc tokens worth trillions of dollars were obtained via an exploit of the ANKR protocol. BNP and BUSD were exchanged for some of the proceeds, then transferred to the exchange. As a result of the incident, the Exchange reacted by freezing the associated accounts. The company ANKR has determined that the perpetrator of the crime was a former employee of their own company. There was a data breach earlier this month by Lazarus Group, a North Korean cybercrime group. This breach may have led to a loss of more than $540 million from the Ronin Axie Infinity ecosystem. 

It appears that Lazarus also moved the stolen funds to Tornado Cash and several other exchanges. Through a collaborative effort, Chainalysis, law enforcement authorities, and the leading cryptocurrency exchange reverse-engineered the transaction trail. They also froze about $5.8 million in crypto assets linked to this crime as a result of this discovery. 

Following a collaboration between Russian law enforcement and the exchange, Hydra, a darknet marketplace for Russians on the internet, has been shut down. According to earlier reports in the media, it had been reported that Hydra had received funding from the exchange. In its statement, Binance stated that law enforcement would not have been able to capture the criminals behind the Hydra case if it weren't for cryptocurrency. 

A report by Binance indicated that the company had spent tens of millions of dollars hiring sophisticated cybersecurity specialists from across the globe. More than 120 security and industry experts comprise the team. These experts include former members of the IRS, FBI, the US secret service, Europol, and police agencies in the U.K., Europe, Asia, and Latin America. In addition, former members of the US secret service. 

Throughout the history of cryptocurrencies, critics have portrayed them in a bad light. This is because they view them as a disruptive technology that will revolutionize global finance, as well as global crime. 

To ensure that the industry is under the control of the authorities, strict regulations have been published. 

Binance has proved that blockchain is a valuable tool to use in the fight against cyber law-breaking, as evidenced by its success in this field. Several industrial applications have been demonstrated using the technology, including preventing forgery and enhancing procurement processes.  

There is no anonymity in crypto, centralized exchanges may be able to identify the owners of the addresses. As a user or individual with a majority stake in a blockchain ecosystem and a much-acclaimed proof-of-stake coin, one can rely on their power to lock out funds on the blockchain and ultimately lock users out of their funds.   

What does Downfall of FTX Uncovers about Crypto Media


What happens when a crypto mogul holds the crypto equivalent of a press conference and is confronted with his role in a crypto media scandal? 

Sam Bankman-Fried was grilled this morning about Friday's revelation of his secret payments to the Block, a cryptocurrency publication founded in 2018. The question came at the end of a Twitter Spaces hosted by Unusual Whales, a pseudonymous Twitter account that gained a following by tweeting about congressional stock trades during the pandemic and now offers a financial information service with a heavy emphasis on crypto data. For the record, it resembled many old-fashioned press conferences, albeit in a new setting: Bankman-Fried dodged the question and exited the conversation.

But the moment emphasizes how much crypto-native media exists and how quickly it has developed its own online information realm that is largely distinct from the mainstream media. Crypto media, on the other hand, is a full-fledged entity in its own right. Much of it appears to be traditional outlets with newsrooms, articles, and podcasts that happen to cover a niche topic.

However, it is also inextricably linked to Twitter, the chat platform Discord, the encrypted messaging app Telegram, and tools for direct analysis of blockchain data. And it has a lot of overlap with the rest of the anti-establishment digital media sphere, as the FTX collapse demonstrates better than anything else.

Indeed, as part of the mogul’s ongoing apology tour, crypto entrepreneur Mario Nawfal, who hosted Musk for a Twitter Spaces to discuss the "Twitter Files," also hosted a Spaces with Bankman-Fried. To truly understand the crypto media sphere, go back to the early stages of the FTX collapse — one of the biggest stories in the world right now — and examine how much of it occurred in this largely self-contained ecosystem.

Bankman Fried's problems began with a Nov. 2 report by CoinDesk, a decade-old crypto news service owned by Digital Currency Group, a crypto-focused venture capital firm. According to financial records obtained by CoinDesk, FTX was more financially intertwined with its sister firm, the hedge fund Alameda Research, than previously known.

The report sparked online speculation that Bankman Fried's empire was not financially sound and that the price of FTX's native token, FTT, had been inflated. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of rival exchange Binance, announced on Twitter four days later that his company was selling its FTT holdings.

Bankman-Fried and Alamada's CEO, Caroline Ellison, fought back on Twitter, assuring the cryptocurrency community that their finances were solid. On-chain analysis — the interpretation of publicly available blockchain data — suggested that the two were not as confident in FTX's financial position as they showed up. According to The Data Nerd, a pseudonymous Twitter account dedicated to on-chain analysis, Alameda sent more than $250 million in stablecoins to FTX in a single day.

As the collapse began, much of the most foresighted real-time analysis of FTX's precarious financial position came in Tweet threads and Twitter Spaces from Dylan LeClair, a contributor to Bitcoin Magazine.

As the fallout from the collapse unfolds, Autism Capital — a Twitter account created in 2020 and linked to a Discord chat — is one source of extensive leads and tips about it. It sometimes reports details of the fallout before mainstream media outlets. The account tweeted on December 4 that Ellison was represented by the law firm WilmerHale. Bloomberg has since confirmed this.

Of course, mainstream media outlets have covered the FTX story as well. POLITICO has covered the intricacies of Washington's response; the FT and Wall Street Journal have scooped stories about internal corruption; a Vox reporter published a damning interview with Bankman-Fried; and the New York Times landed a much-watched live interview with Bankman-Fried.

The tone of coverage, on the other hand, frequently varies. The FTX story is mostly about the dangers of cryptocurrency, with its lack of regulation and ever-present scams, in mainstream media. More emphasis is being placed in the crypto media world on the extent to which Bankman-Fried funded establishment media outlets and politicians while becoming the crypto mogul most embraced by those establishments. 

What's the big picture here?

Media ecosystems tend to form around important human interaction sites, such as governments and markets.

Governments' core activities generate fundamental units of information (e.g. bills and executive orders). Markets are the same way (prices and trading volumes). More elaborate media ecosystems can sprout up around these core pieces of information to cover everything else that's going on.
These digital networks also generate basic information, such as social media posts. Furthermore, blockchain networks — a new subset of digital networks — are abandoning on-chain data.

Could they one day support similarly robust media ecosystems?

It is astounding how large and developed the crypto media ecosystem has become. However, it is possible that it is too large.

After all, as Byron Guilliam, senior markets strategist at Blockworks, a crypto media firm aimed at financial institutions, told DFD, "the entire crypto market cap is smaller than Apple, and Apple does not have 15 media outlets covering it."

The demise of the FTX could point to the future of digital information. Or, as the crypto markets remain stagnant and the Block is now rocked by scandal, it could be the last gasp of a crypto media bubble about to burst.

The Sprouting Connection Between Cybercrime and Cryptocurrency

The wild journey of cryptocurrencies has not only been influencing people to mine or trade crypto. But, the enigmatic stages behind crypto have also become a significant link for cybercrime activities.

According to the latest report by Interisle Counseling Gathering, illegal activities pertaining to cryptocurrencies have grown by 257% over the past year, with wallets and trades being the most vulnerable to attacks. 

Cybercriminals are experiencing exceptional results in their operations, by engaging in techniques similar to methods used in other online monetary crimes on virtual monetary forms. 

How is Cryptocurrency the Most Suitable for Cybercrime? 

The autonomous, anonymous and permanent attributes of crypto transactions make cryptocurrency ideal for cybercrime activities. 

Crypto has emerged as a highly-priced vehicle for threat actors for the following reasons: 

1. No Oversight: Fundamental authorities such as banks, or government agencies, which generally play the role of a middleman in financial transactions, do not intervene in crypto transactions. 

2. Anonymity of threat actors: Crypto transactions do not transmit any detail that could possibly disclose the hacker in any way, such as names, email addresses, or other background information. There is only one wallet address, which is a collection of otherwise cryptic letters and numbers. Additionally, hackers frequently use numerous wallets to further "wash" transactions. 

3. Transactions are permanent: In crypto, money being exchanged cannot be reversed. The transaction is out of an individual's hands, just like using cash. Additionally, hackers can easily flee the scene of cybercrime, like ransomware, without being detected. 

With the constant decline in the value of cryptocurrency, cybercriminals who have considerable expertise in ransomware attacks are compelled to reconsider how they collect their payoffs and the amount they could demand. 

The crypto crash has as well resulted in the bankruptcy of many online crypto-trade commercial centers, where cybercriminals apparently deal with their cash or payoffs. For an instance, last year, at least 30 more modest dim web trade centers went bankrupt, and later closed down. Hackers still retain the mentality of a conventional financial backer: if the value of a resource starts to decline, they usually cash out rapidly to limit their losses. 

Blockchain Paving Way for Advanced Network Protection: 

Blockchain technology emerged as a significant founding for Bitcoin over 10 years ago, while it was also largely compared to the cryptocurrencies at that time. However, advanced blockchain application, like Ethereum has become more widely popular, for it has newer market segments such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized, distributed-computing led finance platforms. 

This decentralized and consensus-oriented characteristic of Blockchain allows higher resilience to cyberattacks. In the presence of Blockchain, the threat actor will need to acquire control of the majority of nodes to alter ledger transactions, which is extremely difficult and costly, in order to be able to carry out a hack successfully. 

Moreover, a domain name server (DNS) that maps IP addresses to a website name can also be moved to a blockchain platform, dispersing resources across various nodes and making it more difficult for the hacker to access the data. Thus, making blockchain systems a technology that could be a game changer in combating future cybercrimes. 

Crypto and Cyber Skills Rules the Day

The new generation of tech experts is currently in the forefront to combat cybercrime, with their advanced skillsets and tools that operate a step ahead of threat actors. From becoming a Blockchain Developer, where one can master architectural principles of blockchain and develop apps in a corporate environment, to becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), where you are trained to investigate vulnerabilities in target systems and utilize the same techniques as malicious hackers, one can procure great opportunities to combat cybercrimes in crypto.  

Fake Crypto Website: Berkshire Hathaway Issues Warning

Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. issued a warning to investors on Friday stating that it is not associated with a fictitious cryptocurrency trading website that uses the Berkshire Hathaway brand.

According to the website's creator, a Texas-based broker was established in 2020 to offer investors the chance to earn a fully passive income through investments in cryptocurrency mining.

It concerns alleged client endorsements and claims that the broker is licensed in the US, UK, Cyprus, and South Africa while mispronouncing the names of two authorities. Its email format is different from Buffett's company's.

Buffett has always been wary of cryptocurrencies; despite a change in the public's opinion of bitcoin, Buffett still would not purchase it. He has a bias to view cryptocurrencies as passive investments that holders purchase with the expectation of long-term price growth.

At the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting on Saturday, he said that the asset is not productive and produces nothing measurable.

"The entity that owns this web address has no affiliation with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. or its Chairman and CEO, Warren E. Buffett," according to a statement from Buffett's company, which claimed it learned about the website.

It has gained recognition as an investment asset in Western countries, especially during the past year as rates and inflation have increased. People continue to see great potential for its application as digital currency in other areas.

"Assets must provide someone with something in order to be valuable. Additionally, just one type of currency is recognized. You can think of all kinds of things; we can even put up Berkshire coins, but at the end of the day, this is money," remarked Warren Buffett, holding up a $20 bill.

Requests for comment from the website's owner were not immediately answered. Recent months have seen increased scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.

As a result of reports of $10 billion in client, assets were transferred from FTX to Bankman-trading Fried's firm Alameda Research, FTX declared bankruptcy and is now under investigation by American authorities.

The Hunt for the FTX Thieves Has Started


Cryptocurrency has always provided an interesting mix of temptations and difficulties for those trying to steal it.  It is a lucrative target because it is digital cash held in multibillion-dollar sums on hackable, internet-connected networks. However, once stolen, the blockchains on which almost every cryptocurrency is built allow for tracking the money's every move and, in many cases, identifying the thieves.  

Recently, unknown transactions were reported to have drained FTX wallets. As per observers, FTX was hacked or insiders stole client funds during the abrupt FTX collapse. There have been "unauthorized transactions" from the group's wallets to addresses not controlled by FTX, according to FTX US general counsel Ryne Miller. FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors yesterday. These creditors are concerned that some of their funds will be unavailable for payment.

On Twitter, a developer announced that "hundreds of millions of dollars" in cryptocurrency were being transferred from FTX wallets. Because of the late hour of the transactions, it appeared that liquidators were not assisting creditors.

Afterward, on-chain forensics expert ZachXBT tweeted that the receiving addresses were not FTX wallets, according to former FTX employees. Because FTX and FTX US are supposedly separate businesses and were operated as such, a hacker would be unlikely to gain simultaneous access to the private keys of both exchanges unless they had inside information or were insiders.

However, given FTX's demise, anything is possible. According to Bloomberg, junior employees took the initiative to sell off some of FTX's troubled assets. There are two major drainage areas that have been identified. It is possible that up to $383 million in cryptocurrency was stolen:
Main draining address:

Shitcoin draining address:

According to Nansen, a crypto analytics research firm, the outflows totaled at least $266 million. As per the Australian Financial Review, the number of missing funds in Ethereum, Solana, BNB LINK, AVAX, and MATIC could be as high as $600 million.

Were the FTX app and website also compromised?

There are also unconfirmed reports that the FTX app has been infected with malware and should no longer be used, as well as the FTX website. However, Rey, an FTX Telegram administrator, uploaded it.

Nevertheless, the puzzling scenario for the 1,2 million FTX customers is still evolving. The FTX app has been updated, but for the time being, experts recommend all FTX clients avoid running the update or interacting with their FTX account.

Customers are advised not to make any changes to their accounts until further information, presumably in the form of an official announcement from FTX, becomes available. According to his most recent tweet, Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) is unimpressed with the latest turn of events. Elon Musk also contributed, despite the fact that he was expected to be preoccupied with the blue tick scandal.

Growing Cyberattacks on Cryptocurrency

Cybercrimes against cryptocurrencies continue to soar and pose a primary threat to giant institutions of cryptocurrencies, individuals, and governments worldwide. The whole world talks about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology, however, no one seems to talk about the high probability of loss and cyber threats. 

In the first half of 2022, malicious actors have successfully captured nearly $2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, a 60% rise from last year. There are various reasons why cryptocurrencies are attacked by cybercriminals, often and extensively. 

SonicWall published a report that disclosed that cryptojacking and ransomware attacks had dropped in the latter half of 2019. Cyber intelligence further added that the drastic drop in the number of crypto-jacking cases happened because of the closing down of Coinhive. However, it led cyber attackers to turn to more targeted attack vectors with an increase in specialized malware attacks to steal digital currencies. 

While some cybersecurity organizations are showing their interest in slowing down the crypto market would lead to a slowdown in cybercrime, this is not possible, and the risks and threats associated with it will remain high. Even some trends indicate that the crypto-crime problem may grow worse in the coming years. 

According to the technical data, cryptocurrency exchanges, personal wallets, and platforms are primary targets of cryptohackers since they deal in large volumes of virtual money. The research shows that from June 2021 to June 2022, crypto platforms witnessed a loss of an estimated amount of $44 billion. 

Cyberthreats exploited unsecured wallets, SIM card jacking, and stealing recovery phrases and passwords. Furthermore, the profile of the cyber incident shows that cryptocurrency ATMs are currently targeted by cryptohackers. There were approximately 1,500 cases of crypto ATM fraud last year reported in which hackers captured $28 million, said the FBI. 

Nevertheless, reports also confirmed that State-sponsored cryptohackers regularly target crypto firms and the stolen money is being funded for financing terrorist activities and war crimes. Cryptocurrency is also the de facto currency of the Dark Web, where virtual currency is traded for various illicit activities. 

How can you protect your system and your funds from being compromised? 

  • Educate yourself and your workforce about the threats and methods of protecting your system. 
  • It is always advisable to do business with exchanges and marketplaces that follow proper regulations and security practices. 
  • Organizations should follow multi-layered defense protection and have the proper technical defenses in place when it comes to emergencies because cyberattacks can impact even the most security-savvy organizations.

Spidark Stole Ed Sheeran’s Unreleased Songs, Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

A 23-year-old hacker, named Adrian Kwiatkowski who allegedly stole two unreleased songs from English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and 12 songs from American rapper Lix Uzi Vert has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. 
The hacker is charged with hacking the artists’ cloud-based accounts, the stolen songs were then sold for cryptocurrencies. He allegedly generated a sum of $147,000 from these nefarious transactions. 
Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to a total of 19 charges, including copyright infringement and possessing criminal property. The hacker was charged with three instances of unauthorized access to computer data, 14 of making an article that violates copyright available for sale, one of converting criminal property, and two of possession of the criminal property, as per a report by the CPS. 
A search in the hacker’s laptop also unveiled 565 audio files, seven devices storing 1,263 unreleased songs by 89 different music artists, including the unreleased songs from Ed Sheeran and Lix Uzi Vert. Additionally, the hacker also admitted to receiving bitcoins in return for the unreleased songs. 
“Kwiatkowski had complete disregard for the musicians’ creativity and hard work producing original songs and the subsequent loss of earning” says Joanne Jakymec from the CPS. “He selfishly stole their music to make money for himself by selling it on the dark web […] We will be pursuing ill-gotten gains from these proceeds of crime.” 
According to a press release, Kwiatkowski was arrested on October 21st, Friday at Ipswich Crown Court, England. The hacker has been operating under the mononym Spirdark, and his operations were allegedly reported by numerous music companies. 
In 2019, an investigation took place by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, after a few musicians reported of someone with the name Spirdark has hacked their accounts. The investigation then led to the convict’s identification as Kwiatkowski via his email address and IP address. Later that year, London police detained the hacker. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to the charges.