phishing

MyEtherWallet, a widely-used client-side Ethereum web wallet interface, fell prey to a DNS server hijacking scheme.

The attack occurred on Tuesday when a hacker hijacked MyEtherWallet’s domain name registration server and redirected MyEtherWallet.com visitors to a malicious copy of the website, which phished user’s private keys when they entered them into the system.

The wallet associated with the incident appears to have collected more than 215 ETH — worth approximately $150,000 at the present exchange rate — from the exploit. However, these funds have been transferred into another wallet that contains nearly 24,100 ETH (~$17 million), and this wallet has been linked to other Ethereum-related phishing scams in the past.

In a statement, MyEtherWallet stressed that DNS hijacking is a common exploit and that these attacks are not the fault of the affected organizations.

“This is not due to a lack of security on the @myetherwallet platform,” the company said on Reddit. “It is due to hackers finding vulnerabilities in public facing DNS servers.”

“A majority of the affected users were using Google DNS servers. We recommend all our users to switch to Cloudflare DNS servers in the meantime,” the statement added.

MyEtherWallet is not the first cryptocurrency website to be the victim of a DNS hijacking scheme. Both BlackWallet — which stores stellar lumens — and decentralized ERC20 token exchange EtherDelta have been hit with similar attacks in recent months.

Notably, users who were directed to the malicious website were safe if they accessed the site using a hardware wallet, as private keys never leave these devices.

To avoid future phishing scams, MyEtherWallet advised users to take several steps to protect themselves from phishing scams.

In addition to storing funds in a hardware wallet, they said that users should download and run an offline copy of MyEtherWallet, which can be obtained from the company’s code repository on GitHub.

It’s also a wise idea to install a browser extension that will block web addresses that are known to be malicious. Many Chrome users choose MetaMask, which doubles as an Ethereum wallet.

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iran

Iran’s central bank has ordered regulated financial institutions to cease dealing in cryptocurrencies or offering services to company’s that facilitate or promote cryptocurrency trading.

According to Reuters, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) levied the new ban on anti-money laundering (AML) grounds, citing a circular published by government regulator last December.

“Banks and credit institutions and currency exchanges should avoid any sale or purchase of these currencies or taking any action to promote them,” Iranian state media reported the circular as saying.

“All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money-laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money,” the government added in another section of the circular, which was cited by Radio Free Euorpe/Radio Libertry.

The move comes as Iran is struggling to mitigate a full-blown currency crisis, which was partially spurred by possible forthcoming US economic sanctions.

Regulators had already prohibited money changing outside of banking platforms, and the cryptocurrency ban appears to be another effort to prevent Iranians from siphoning money out of the country.

High-ranking Iranian officials have also called for the government to ban encrypted messaging app Telegram, in part because the firm is launching its own cryptocurrency, called “Gram,” which they claim could lead to as much as $50 billion being funnelled out of Iran annually.

The CBI is not the only central bank to take a hostile stance on cryptocurrencies. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently banned Indian banks from serving cryptocurrency exchanges, though industry groups are currently challenging this ban in the country’s supreme court.

Meanwhile, Iran has also reportedly mulled launching its own state-backed digital currency, which it believes could enable it to evade international economic sanctions, much as Venezuela intends to do with its “petro” cryptocurrency.

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bitcoin

Goldman Sachs still denies it’s launching a cryptocurrency trading desk, but that may not be true for much longer.

Finance industry news site Tearsheet reports that the firm recently hired former securities trader Justin Schmidt — formerly a senior vice president at Seven Eight Capital — to become the investment bank’s first head of digital asset markets.

Citing sources familiar with Schmidt’s hiring, Business Insider says that he will not trade anything at Goldman Sachs  — cryptocurrencies or otherwise — though he will explore ways that the bank can make a deeper foray into cryptoassets. At present, the bank’s brokerage arm clears bitcoin futures for clients, though it does not trade them directly.

Despite hiring Schmidt, Goldman claims that it still has no plans to launch a cryptocurrency trading desk, which would allow institutional clients to make large trades over-the-counter (OTC)  — where they will not have a major effect on the cryptocurrency’s price — rather than through a conventional exchange.

“In response to client interest in various digital products, we are exploring how best to serve them in the space,” Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Tiffany Galvin-Cohen said in a statement. “At this point, we have not reached a conclusion on the scope of our digital asset offering.”

Bloomberg first reported in December that Goldman was quietly assembling a cryptocurrency trading operation, though the bank — and CEO Lloyd Blankfein — have denied on multiple occasions that this is the case. Sources told the publication that the bank intended to have the desk up and running by the end of June, though this timeline now appears to be in question.

While a variety of OTC cryptocurrency trading desks currently serve institutional clients — including one managed by Circle, a company that has received financial backing from Goldman — none are operated by a major US bank.

Barclays, one of Europe’s largest banks, is currently holding preliminary discussions about launching a cryptocurrency trading operation, though it has not yet decided whether it will proceed with these plans.

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The price of bitcoin has surpassed the $8,800 mark, rising 6 percent within the last 24 hours. Trading volumes across the major cryptocurrency exchanges have also increased beyond $26 billion for the first time in a while.

Upward trend.

Last month, bitcoin tested the $9,200 mark, but it didn’t take long before it fell to $6,500 after failing to sustain the momentum to bounce off $8,200.

Based on the fluctuations in the price the market has witnessed in recent weeks, it is quite likely that bitcoin will test the $9,200 mark again as it did last month, and it could even surpass it. A movement above the $9,200 level it reached late March could see bitcoin price entering the $10,000 region before April ends.

Psychological threshold.

Investors highlighted the $10,000 mark for bitcoin in November last year was both a psychological threshold and a key milestone. They predicted it would surge substantially, way before it got to $10,000. Bitcoin was relentless towards the ending of last year.  After breaking the $10,000 ceiling – it rose to $14,000 and eventually to $20,000, where the decline started.

Since the corrections of February this year, and the series of regulations in recent weeks, the market has struggled to hold forth any form of stability. As always, the price of most altcoins and tokens have taken a cue from bitcoin which has been battered since the turn of the year. Regional exchanges in Japan and South Korea have not been spared either as both have witnessed a decrease in trading volumes.

The new trend in the price of BTC is an ideal position for the currency to rally round for both the short and mid-term, given that more people are getting aware of cryptocurrency as adoption has increased.

Crimea Plans Cryptocurrency Fund to Protect Investors from Economic Sanctions

Authorities in Crimea are interested in launching a cryptocurrency fund for investors to circumvent economic sanctions imposed on the Russian-occupied territory.

The deputy prime minister of Crimea, Georgy Muradov highlighted the plans on April 18. He said:

“We are discussing these schemes to circumvent sanctions. One way is the creation of a cryptocurrency investment fund in Crimea where we can accumulate cryptocurrency resources, exchange them into cash, and then use them to implement certain investment projects on Crimean land”.

The plan is for Crimea to create a public investment fund in crypto which can be used to accumulate digital assets for the region.

Muradov made his comments one day before the commencement of the Yalta International Economic Forum, held in Crimea. At the forum, Anatoly Aksakov – who oversees the Committee on the Financial Market in Russia’s lower legislative chamber – gave the green light to the project.

Anatoly said cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs might be permitted in Crimea, but mining won’t be allowed due to the excessive amount of electricity it consumes.

The move towards cryptocurrency adoption in Crimea is progressing faster than expected. Aksakov said:

“Mining in the Crimea is an illusion, but ICO and crypto-exchanges are quite real,” “[Authorities] are working hard on this issue.”

Russia also has plans to launch a cryptocurrency named CryptoRuble, in a bid to circumvent economic sanctions from the West. This has become necessary as the Russian government seeks to strengthen the economy while reducing the impact of international sanctions.

Russian regulators are currently drafting cryptocurrency regulations which are expected to be released in July 2018, but we should not expect CryptoRuble till mid-2019.

While Russian president Vladimir Putin had initially expressed skepticism towards bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency market because of fears of regulation and the lack of backing by any central bank, the ballooning market and demand for cryptocurrency have since softened his stance.

A couple of Russian companies have started testing the waters as well. Gazprombank, one of the largest bank in Russia has made bold moves towards cryptocurrency adoption as it seeks to conduct crypto transactions through its Swiss subsidiary later this year.