A former Microsoft employee steals $10 million in Bitcoin

A former Microsoft employee steals $10 million in Bitcoin

Volodymyr Kvashuk, a former employee who has since been fired from Microsoft, was arrested this week on suspicion of cryptocurrency theft for just over $10 million. It is the American lawyers in the Western District of Washington who suspect the Ukrainian resident of using a Bitcoin mixer to cover his tracks.

Kvashuk was originally in charge of an online sales platform. He was responsible for checking that all purchases were working properly on the platform. However, the protocol set up by the company to block the various purchases only worked for so-called “physical” deliveries, there was a flaw in the purchase of gift cards.

This engineer quickly identified the flaw and exploited it by buying various Bitcoin gift cards with the company’s funds, then reselling them online and recovering the money directly. He would have started by buying a $160,000 Tesla and a beautiful house worth $1.6 million.

To avoid being identified the employee has used a “Bitcoin mixer“, in fact, Bitcoin is not totally anonymous it is possible to determine who is the holder of Bitcoin by going back to the source of it.

The Bitcoin mixer was designed precisely to send the Bitcoins to a third party to mix them with other Bitcoins and then send the same amount of Bitcoin back to the owner, but with you will have understood, other Bitcoins. This makes it much more difficult to trace it. Unfortunately for the employee, the authorities have already understood how this type of Bitcoin mixer works, it is indeed, very practical in theory but unfortunately for him, not very effective in reality.

Bitcoin declared legal by Chinese court

Bitcoin declared legal by Chinese court

With new reassuring policies and a market on the rise in this summer period, everything seems to be going well for the digital gold and the distributed registry. The American government has finally made the distinction between Bitcoin and Libra. Finally, China recently pronounced for the second time its decision on the legality of owning Bitcoin, thus giving the decentralized digital currency greater credibility. This news is a complete reversal of the situation since China was one of the first countries to formally ban the use of crypto-currencies.

The Hangzhou Internet Court is moving in the same direction as the Shenzhen courts, which had declared in 2018 that Bitcoin “is an asset that must be protected in accordance with the law” and that it is legal to own and transfer it.  Indeed, it was decided that Bitcoin would have the status of virtual property. As a result, the Chinese have the right to own Bitcoins within their country and benefit from Chinese legal protection in the event of a disagreement.

The decision would have been made during a bitcoin ownership dispute that took place several years ago. The good news was relayed on Twitter by a certain Dovey Wan and said for the first time that Bitcoin is recognized as a virtual property with a monetary value due to its rarity.

For more details:

The court ruled on the status of Bitcoin following a property disagreement that took place in 2013 when Bitcoins were worth much less than they are now. The plaintiff reportedly purchased 2675 BTCs for 20 000 yuan, the equivalent of $2,900 on Taobao, the main online store at that time. Wanting to recover his funds in 2017, he discovered that the site had closed following China’s decision to ban crypto-currencies.  As a result, it was not possible for him to contact the former operator to recover his funds. The plaintiff lost his trial due to a lack of evidence.

Nevertheless, the court issued an important decision for Bitcoin and stated according to The Beijing News, the following:

“Bitcoin holds the characteristics of a property. It is precious, rare and not very available. Therefore, we should recognize it as a virtual property under the “general civil law”. Virtual property is legally protected by the laws of the People’s Republic of China.

In response to this decision, blockchain expert Cao Yin told the Global Times “it is a clear signal that financial authorities are beginning to relax control of digital and virtual money”. According to the same media, an official of the People’s Bank of China reacted by saying that even though Bitcoin has been declared as virtual property, it is by no means a “trust currency”.

This shows that the decentralized currency is not yet out of the woods and that it must face many obstacles before convincing the institutions. Indeed, since Bitcoin mining, trading and ICOs are still considered illegal activities within the country, the doors to trading using crypto-currencies are still far from being opened.

The Chinese will therefore have to be content with this decision to buy crypto-currencies and store them on wallets. Until further news of this kind is received, the People’s Bank of China is reportedly developing, like many other banks, its own crypto-currency. Could it be China’s counter-argument to Facebook’s Libra project?

China sights FBI famed Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware ‘Ryuk’ Virus

China sights FBI famed Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware ‘Ryuk’ Virus

The most sought after ransomware virus, Ryuk has been reported to be found in China. FBI has been aggressively tracking Ryuk since 2018 after it squeezed $640,000 worth bitcoins from corporate accounts within weeks.

As per the Tencent Security report published on July 17th, the ransomware has been detected trying to encrypt the data on infected devices in China. Ryuk ransom virus, that did some serious damage in North America, recently was introduced into the country, and the victims extorted USD worth 115,841 (11 BTC).

In 2018, Ryuk infected devices and demanded a hefty ransom from over 100 government and corporate enterprises in the U.S.  The researchers at Checkpoint issued an alert against Ryuk that had demand aggregated ransom amount of over 15 BTC to 50 BTC. As per the Checkpoint reports of 2018, Ryuk was used for executing highly targeted attacks directed towards local US government organizations. The ransomware BitPaymer was used while for stealing the credential Emotet trojan was used.

As per the Tencent Security team, the analysis of Chinese attack of Ryuk reveals the virus uses RSA + AES for encrypting the files of the user system under attack. Quite some similarity between Ryuk ransom virus and Hermes ransom virus has been observed and that is why the security experts believe Ryuk is a version of Hermes. The protocol of spreading the ransomware is quite similar to Hermes that spreads through botnet and spam methods. If the ransomware happens to attack a machine, it deletes all attack related files and overpowers the antivirus processes.

Tencent Security shared an overview of the attack in which Ryuk blackmail letter “RyukReadme” that opens in the internet browser shows 2 email ids and the ransomware names.  When the team tried to contact the attacker, they were asked to pay a ransom of 11 Bitcoins for the file decryption mechanism.

Early this year in the month of January, Ryuk attacked Tribune Publishing and went ahead with attacking local government organization in Lake City, Florida demanding a ransom worth $460,000. In the next two weeks Riviera Beach, Florida reported the same Ryuk attack for a cost of $600,000.

 

FBI has been on a lookout for the source of the virus since over a year now. According to the FBI’s analysis, the attacker tries to enter the victim’s network, create a registry presence, enters the files system and starts encryption.  When the FBI and Chinese attack is compared, there seem to be some modifications injected to the Ryuk. The Chinese Ryuk is more evolutionary in nature as it runs simultaneously on 32 and 64-bit blackmail modules.

The Tencent security report does not disclose the number of organizations that have been infected by Ryuk ransomware and neither is it clear how much ransom amount has been demanded.

The research conducted in the month of January 2019 suggested that Ryuk has its roots in Russia and has been developed by the group “GRIM SPIDER” as suggested by McAfee group. Although some security specialist suggests North Korea be a source of the first version of Ryuk.

 

 

Bitcoin: towards a deeper correction?

Bitcoin: towards a deeper correction?

In this technical analysis, I would like to return for a moment to a recurring market pattern. Indeed, many patterns are repeated over and over again, giving the opportunistic trader occasions to place himself in the market.

After a long consolidation range, BTC breaks his low point and makes a pullback.

Many posts on social networks reported a triangle and, given the broad upward consensus on crypto-currencies, a probable break from the top. The apparent reason why some traders, only busy looking at the chartist recognition of the market, bought this triangle bottom, getting caught in the wrong direction.

I think it is more appropriate to refer to the different patterns (linked to cycles) that the market gives us, which are ultimately more important than the structure of the moment.

If you still want to draw this famous triangle, I advise you to look at the top of the latest bubble from Bitcoin, the one from the end of 2017. The market had broken this same triangle and had thus achieved a good performance by breaking all the successive supports for a year.

 

Screen Shot 2019 07 19 at 12.02.21

The structure is really comparable to the one at the beginning of 2018.

 

The problem is that for me this structure is wrong: we were not in a triangle (the triangle is there but I don’t think it was the structure to trade) but in a range!

This leads many traders to take losses because they focus not on a pattern linked to a market cycle, but on a classical chartist pattern, namely a triangle.

Anyway, the consensus is starting to understand that we are no longer bubble and trend traders are also starting to think that short sells were (probably) the best solution.

Anticipatory traders, on the other hand, have therefore sold short the top of the range and are now in the reinforcement phases.

Obviously, we reinvest a part of our gains for our reinforcements: even if the market invalidates us and goes up to the top of the range, we will not take losses but will give up a big profit (we can’t have everything!).

 

The trend channel, which will stay valid for a long time in my opinion (at least upwards), could be drawn as follows:

 

Screen Shot 2019 07 19 at 11.11.34

The graphic objectives remain the same: filling the gap on the future for a first objective and possibly keeping a small part of the short positions to target the support, which will be a maximum objective.

 

I do think that over the next few weeks, prices will slowly drop and oscillate between the $9,000 (top of the gap) and $7,200 (big support) zones as can be seen on the volume:

 

Screen Shot 2019 07 19 at 11.17.41

Your targets (in the order book) should always be slightly above the volume peaks or graphic areas you have previously identified so that you are almost certain to be executed and not miss a nice profit because the market almost reaches your order!

 

Finally, a final word for the buyers. I see a lot of messages circulating asking for purchase timings, is it the right time to enter on BTC or another cryptocurrency… we just broke a range from the bottom, indicating a potential reversal structure and this leads me to think that the purchase areas are below current prices.

Let the short-sellers have a little fun (it’s our turn) and you will get back later and at a lower price. Patience often pays off in trading.

 

 

China appears in first place in the number of searches for “Facebook Libra”

China appears in first place in the number of searches for “Facebook Libra”

One month after the publication of Libra’s whitepaper, on the Google search “Facebook Libra”, China is the world leader. Indeed, it is the Google Trends data that presents China as the first country on July 18 to have “googled” this term. It can be deduced that the company is closely monitoring Facebook’s Libra.

According to Google Trends, China has the highest proportion of search queries for “Facebook Libra”, it indeed gets the maximum amount of query popularity with a score of 100 out of 100. Among the following four countries are Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivia and St Helena.

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Over the same period, it is strangely enough observed that this same request reaches a low level in the United States with a request value reaching 14 points. This is behind France (32 points) or many countries in Europe or South America.

This massive spike in interest in Libra is also visible on the Chinese platform Sina Weibo, the country’s largest social media.

David Marcus, Calibra’s manager, confirms that the Libra will be in competition with Wechat and Alipay, the 2 most used payment platforms in China. According to Cnledger, the requests for Libra are in direct competition with Alipay and Wechat, which are now the most popular searches on Weibo.

David Marcus also adds that Facebook’s Blockchain subsidiary aims to compete directly with the payment solutions of Chinese giants such as Alibaba Group Holding’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’ Wechat Pay.

It was at the Financial Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives on July 17 that David Marcus announced these different intentions.

It is also recalled that the Chinese Central Bank has announced that it is currently working on the creation of a cryptocurrency in order to directly compete with Libra, which they say would represent a risk for the country’s financial system.

Coinbase to usher users with platform exclusive data

Coinbase to usher users with platform exclusive data

Coinbase, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchange comes forward with new data aggregation service. Currently, the typical data that is accessible to the Coinbase will be topped with exclusive day-to-day trading data.

The new data will comprise of the Coinbase platform user trade data. It will be user anonymized and aggregated so that the fellow users are made aware of the crypto movement on Coinbase. The first of its kind in the industry as well as on Coinbase, this exclusive data will help novice and seasoned crypto traders to make more informed decisions and build a stronger crypto portfolio.

As per the Coinbase spokesperson, the availability of deeper data will aid Coinbase users in thinking beyond just the price factor of the digital currencies as the price is inherently dependent on multiple trading signals.

The new data to be made available soon comprises of:

–> Top 10% Holder Activity

Call this the Coinbase Whale data. After identifying the top 10% of the traders of an asset on Coinbase on a day-to-day basis, the platform will show their crypto movements in a user anonymous manner.

The data statistics will be maintained up to date every two hours and will give fellow traders lead to how main players are trading to strengthen their portfolio by moving in and out of particular asset trade.

–> Hold time Data on Coinbase

This data will represent the general trading idea of cryptocurrencies. The hold time indicates how long a digital asset is held by the platform users or rolled out to another wallet or platform. This data gives the understanding of general market movement and will be updated every 24 hours. It will be calculated on the basis of the median number of days the asset stays on the platform.

The data will be useful for the traders who need insight on how the Coinbase customer is trading and the hold times and popularity of the same. With the diverse range of traders and buyers on Coinbase, a wide range of hold time and other data is generated in Coinbase that invokes the interest of the fellow traders on or off Coinbase.

–> Price Comparison

Charting out the comparison of different cryptocurrency prices, the data will actually correlate the price movement over the 24 hours. The crypto traders can correlate the prices of different currencies, a positive correlation is a clear indicator of similar price movement and the negative correlation means the price movement is going in opposite directions.

An insignificant correlation figure indicates the two assets have no price movement similarities. This kind of data gives traders a deeper insight into how other assets would move. All the historical correlation data will be stored on the platform for the users to ascertain the price movements in the future.

 

The data is useful and will provide an insight into the day-to-day trades on Coinbase which is one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges. Before any buy/sell or hold decision a deeper market analysis is recommended though.