Global Wannacry payout: $140,000 -- a superweapon in the hands of dum-dums

The Wannacry worm burned through the world's unpatched IT systems, hitting more than 80 countries in 24 hours, taking down hospitals, airlines, banks and logistics companies, until a hidden killswitch was able to halt its spread. Read the rest

A new ransomware strain is seemingly using a leaked NSA cyberweapon to race around the planet

Petya is a well-known ransomware app that has attained a new, deadly virulence, with thousands of new infection attempts hitting Kaspersky Lab's honeypots; security firm Avira attributes this new hardiness to the incorporation of EternalBlue -- the same NSA cyberweapon that the Wannacry ransomware used, which was published by The Shadow Brokers hacker group -- into a new Petya strain. Read the rest

Interview with Nick Bilton, author of new book about The Silk Road, American Kingpin

In this week's Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Nick Bilton. Nick is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of three books, including Hatching Twitter and his latest, American Kingpin, which chronicles the rise and fall of the Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Here's a bit from the interview:

Mark: I feel, in a lot of ways, the story of the Dread Pirate Roberts, aka Ross Ulbricht, is kind of like Breaking Bad.

Nick: Yeah, it's a kid who was the sweetest, nicest kid, who decided to build this website where you could buy and sell drugs, because he believed they should be legal and it spiraled out of control. Next thing you know he's running an empire that's making hundreds of millions of dollars, and ordering hits on people from the Internet, and selling guns and drugs and you name it in between.

Mark: And every three letter acronym government agency after him and competing with each other to get him.

Nick: Yeah, every single one. IRS, DHS, HSI, FBI, you name it.

Kevin: Sounds like a movie.

Mark: Yes. More than one of those agencies going rogue too. It's got everything. The way you tell it too, it's like a novel. The amount of research you must've put into this is incredible, because the conversations you have, there's stuff ... Kevin and I were saying, we follow this story, but it's like your other book, Hatching Twitter, it's being there ... Read the rest

Kim Dotcom says he's launching a Bitcoin startup that will pay you for content

Kim Dotcom says he's launching a Bitcoin payments system for users to sell content uploads, or charge for streaming live video.

Read the rest

Australia leads the world in selling housing to money-launderers

A new Transparency International report ranks the world's most superheated urban property markets to find the most corrupt and finds that Australia is a playground for offshore criminals looking to launder their money, because "real estate agents are not subject to the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and CounterTerrorism Financing Act 2006," thus, "70 per cent of Chinese buyers pay in cash and they represent the largest proportion of foreign purchases in the country." Read the rest

More anti-money laundering measures hit China as top three Bitcoin exchanges freeze withdrawals

Bitcoin's spiking prices have been driven almost entirely by Chinese money-launderers trying to beat the country's currency controls -- controls that have tightened so much that it's tanking the world's real-estate markets as offshore buyers abandon their deposits and disappear. Read the rest

Classy ransomware criminals set themselves apart with 24/7, Russian/English customer service

The customer service operatives for the criminal gang that operates the Spora ransomware are relentlessly customer focused, working to soothe upset victims and streamline their payments in order to recover their data. Read the rest

China's capital controls are working, and that's bursting the global real-estate bubble

More news on the Chinese crackdown on money-laundering and its impact on the global property bubble: the controls the Chinese government has put on "capital outflows" (taking money out of China) are actually working, and there's been a mass exodus of Chinese property buyers from the market, with many abandoning six-figure down payments because they can't smuggle enough money out of the country to make the installment payments. Read the rest

98% of Bitcoin trading volume over the past six months was in Chinese Renminbi

In case you were wondering why Bitcoin experienced a crazy spike recently: China's economy is a hyperinflated bubble, poised to burst and the Chinese central bank is depreciating the Renminbi -- so China's wealthy are getting their cash out of the country as fast as they can, using any means necessary: suing themselves, spending huge whacks of cash while on vacation, and converting it to Bitcoin (this is especially urgent now that the Canadian real-estate money laundry is shutting down) -- this is just the latest salvo in the Chinese capital flight story. Read the rest

China is on a massive bitcoin buying spree

China is on a massive bitcoin buying spree, with the US and Brazil coming in a distant second and third. Fiatleak has a live map. Bitcoin is currently trading at $902. Last year at this time it was trading at $424.

From BBC:

Experts said the rise in value was linked to the long-term depreciation of the Chinese Yuan.

The Chinese currency has dropped about 7% in value during 2016, said Reuters. The majority of Bitcoin currency trading takes place in China as it allows people to skirt restrictive local laws that limit how much money Chinese people can swap.

Read the rest

The Shadow Brokers dump more intel from the NSA's elite Equation Group

In August, anonymous hacker(s) dumped a cache of cyberweapons that appeared to originate with The Equation Group, an elite, NSA-affiliated hacking squad. Read the rest

Hackers claim to have stolen NSA cyberweapons, auctioning them to highest bidder

The Shadow Brokers, a previously unknown hacker group, has announced that it has stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA. Read the rest

Phishing for Bitcoin with fake 0-days

Arriving in my inbox at a steady clip this morning: a series of phishing emails aimed at Bitcoiners, promising that the sender has found a bug in "the Bitcoin client" and promising "Pay 0.07 BTC today, get 10 BTC for 15 hours." Read the rest

Why identifying Satoshi Nakamoto is important

Craig Wright's latest effort to prove himself the creator of bitcoin ended in farce, but some commentators are tired of the whole saga, saying that it doesn't matter who invented Bitcoin because its decentralized nature renders the creator irrelevant. Adrian Chen disagrees: "the idea that Nakamoto’s identity is irrelevant is wishful thinking."

Most obviously, Nakamoto’s identity matters because he is estimated to control four hundred and forty-eight million dollars’ worth of bitcoin, which, if it were unloaded quickly, could seriously depress the value of the notoriously volatile currency.

The real Nakamoto could have a more fundamental impact as well: as The Economist pointed out, this latest saga unfolded during a heated “civil war” that has broken out among bitcoin developers over how to deal with an increase in transaction volume in the bitcoin network. The network processes transactions in batches known as “blocks.” As the number of blocks has increased, the network has become in danger of being overloaded. One side in the dispute wants to change the bitcoin code, increasing the block size to allow the system to process transactions more quickly. The other side sees this as a betrayal of the integrity of the original code, arguing that a change would lead to more centralization in the system (the greatest sin for a bitcoin believer) and consequent problems.

Vanity's murky pond, inch-deep yet thick as tar. Read the rest

Craig Wright backs off Satoshi proof offer, wipes blog

Aussie entrepreneur Craig Wright backed off from his offer to produce more evidence that he is Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. He's also wiped his website, except for a final, rather ominous message.

The BBC reports that he regards himself as the victim of false allegations after security researchers revealed his earlier "proof" was no such thing.

Craig Wright had pledged to move some of the virtual currency from one of its early address blocks, an act many believe can only be done by the tech's creator.

This would have addressed complaints that earlier evidence he had published online was misleading. Dr Wright said that he was "sorry".

"I believed that I could put years of anonymity and hiding behind me," he blogged.

"But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.

"When the rumours began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this."

This doesn't prove that he isn't Satoshi. But the evidence being requested would be no big deal were he the real Satoshi, as he claims, and wanted to convince people of it, which he does. It's all very odd. At this point, he looks like Uri Geller smiling helplessly in front of Johnny Carson, explaining that he can't bend the spoons because something bad is in the air. Read the rest

Amazon is just Walmart on digital drugs: Douglas Rushkoff on a sustainable economy

I'm a research director at Institute for the Future, and I interviewed author Douglas Rushkoff about his latest book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. It's a terrific look at the way the current system of wealth creation is rigged against everyone but the financial gatekeepers at the top of the food chain. More importantly, he offers some great suggestions for ways to make the system more fair for everybody.

As you approach whatever it is you’re doing, you have to think “do I want to be like a traditional corporation, a shareholder owned corporation, where the object of the game is to earn and extract enough money from this business, so my grandchildren can inherit enough cash to live their lives? Or do I want to create a business that’s healthy and sustainable enough that it can generate revenue and opportunities for my grandchildren who hopefully will want to join that business?” The latter is the sort of approach that creates a business that wants to befriend communities. It’s your name on the thing. You don’t want people to hate you the way they hate Uber because that’s you, that’s your kids, that’s your family name, that’s your legacy. You have such a different relationship to it that you start to think of your neighborhood as a legacy and the planet as a legacy and your grandchildren as a legacy and your workers as a legacy. That is who you are. It’s so much more integral than this fractious and abstracted business landscape that we’re seeing die today.

Read the rest

Evidence against Craig Wright being Bitcoin creator

Infosec consultant Nik Cubrilovic summarizes the evidence for and against Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright's claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the legendary creator of Bitcoin. Cubrilovic comes down hard on Wright.

Wright has a history of fabricating evidence in support of his claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. Despite his claims of not wanting the notoriety or the attention, he is going to a lot of trouble to construct a reality of himself as Satoshi Nakamoto. In the almost 6 months since the first Wired and Gizmodo stories were published he has had ample opportunity to prove conclusively that he is Satoshi, and the protocol and requirements for doing so are well understood and not onerous. They do not require a 10 page blog post with notepad screenshots of shell scripts explaining Linux commands, file formats or OpenSSL. They also do not involve tightly controlled demonstrations in an environment completely under his control. The real creator of Bitcoin would know this.

The burden of proof for anybody claiming to be Nakamoto should be high. In the case of Wright, because of his previous fabrications, that burden is greater. His claims have to be treated with a great amount of skepticism, and his actions treated not as those of a sincere person, but rather as those of a person with a history and reputation for deception. Wright has yet to meet this burden, and until he does, Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

The key thing is that it should be easy for Satoshi to meet the evidentiary requirements and no big deal to do so under circumstances controlled by others. Read the rest

More posts