Could Cryptocurrency Be a Red Flag for U.S. Workers Seeking Security Clearances?

Technology and military experts suggest that candidates for defense jobs may not be able to obtain a necessary security clearance if they own Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. 


The Struggle for Tech Talent in the Defense Sector

The Pentagon is struggling to hire new tech talent. Unlike the private sector, the Department of Defense and certain other government agencies require a candidate to obtain necessary security clearances in order to be hired. This leaves a very shallow pool of tech candidates. Now a new question has arisen that could drain that pool even further.

Is Owning Cryptocurrencies a Potential Security Risk?

Is Owning Cryptocurrencies a Potential Security Risk?

A recent article by Bloomberg Quint reports that the Defense Department and other agencies are debating whether owning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum or Ripple may trigger a red flag for a security clearance. According to the report, there are currently around 4 million individuals that have some form of security clearance.

The director of the PNC Center for Financial Services Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University, Param Vir Singh, stated:

There are a lot of good things about cryptocurrencies, but at the same time there are these security risks. Think about a knife: It could be used for good things and it can be used for bad things as well.

Experts fear that workers could, in theory, sell classified and highly sensitive US information to enemies anonymously using cryptocurrencies. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has set cyberspace operations as Pentagon’s top priority. Singh fears that if the US government decides that owning cryptocurrencies is a security risk, it could have a “huge negative impact” on the industry.

Retired Air Force general Greg Touhill stated following regarding the situation:

If we’re going to say that if you’ve got a Bitcoin or another digital currency account that could be a signal or shoot up a red flag for a security clearance, guess what? Those people aren’t going to sit around waiting to try to onboard for a government job.

He also noted:

It would grow the backlog considerably, in my view.

The Defense Security Service published a statement on its website regarding the classification of cryptocurrencies.

There is no current Department of Defense guidance related to the reporting of ownership of cryptocurrencies. DSS is working with DoD policy offices for further clarification and once such guidance is issued, DSS will ensure the widest dissemination to industry.

Some analysts believe that Bitcoin could be considered a foreign currency and thus may be required to be stated on the SF-86 security form.

What are your thoughts on cryptocurrency ownership potentially triggering a red flag for a security clearance? Do you think that the DoD may class ownership of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple or other cryptocurrencies as a risk? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Pixabay

The post Could Cryptocurrency Be a Red Flag for U.S. Workers Seeking Security Clearances? appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

New Malware Uses Chrome Extensions for Crypto Mining

Researchers were able to detect malicious Chrome extensions that could be used for secret cryptocurrency mining.


Hackers Targeting Cryptocurrency Users

With the recent rise of digital asset traders and investors, many hackers and other cybercriminals are targeting cryptocurrency users. Many major cryptocurrency exchanges have also advised their users to enable certain security features like 2-factor-authentication and SMS authentication.

Most cryptocurrency and cybersecurity experts advise digital asset investors to store their cryptocurrencies on hardware wallets like the Trezor and Ledger Nano S. But direct cryptocurrency theft isn’t the only thing that crypto enthusiasts should worry about. A new type of malicious malware is able to secretly mine cryptocurrencies on users’ machines.

mining malware

Are Your Chrome Extensions Secretly Mining Cryptocurrencies?

A recent blog post by Radware reports about a new discovery by cybersecurity researchers. Malicious cybercriminals are able to abuse a Chrome plugin named “Nigelify” with a malware code in order to steal personal information and secretly mine cryptocurrency. The malicious Chrome extension is able to bypass Google’s extension validation checks by creating copies of genuine extensions and insert the short malware script.

The report mentions that the group behind this malware campaign may have been active since March 2018. The researchers believe that the malware may have infected over 100,000 different machines in over 100 countries. The majority of the infected machines are located in Ecuador, Philipines, and Venezuela.

Monero

According to the researchers, the malware is able to mine cryptocurrencies like Monero, Electroneum, and Bytecoin through an algorithm called “CryptoNight.” The article notes that the malware campaign was already able to mine $1000 worth of cryptocurrencies (mostly Monero) within six days. Cybersecurity experts are actively advising users to constantly update their anti-virus and anti-malware programs in order to shield their machines from hackers and other cybercriminals.

What are your thoughts on Radware’s new report? Do you think that people should be more careful when they try to install new Chrome extensions? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of iStock, Bitcoinist archives, and Pixabay.

The post New Malware Uses Chrome Extensions for Crypto Mining appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

London Police Seize $700K in Bitcoin from Prolific Hacker

In a recent case, the London police were able to seize $700,000 worth of Bitcoin from Grant West, a notorious hacker. 


 Cryptocurrency Seized

A recent article from USA Today reports that the London Metropolitan Police managed to seize cryptocurrencies from a prolific hacker. According to the report, Grant West was arrested last year on a train by British police, who were working with Scotland Yard.

law enforcement

The British police force was able to seize cryptocurrencies worth $700,000 from the 25-year-old hacker. On the subject of hackers, police investigator Mick Gallagher says:

These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched. We have now debunked that.

Investigators say that West, who went by the online name “Courvoisier,” was behind cyber attacks on more than 100 different companies, including gambling shops, mobile phone companies, and supermarkets. The report also notes that “Courvoisier” used Bitcoin to launder his proceeds from the sale of passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information on the Dark Web.

An interesting twist to this cryptocurrency seizure is that the police were able to snag the bitcoins due to the fact that West was still logged into his computer, and investigators found his access keys that were saved on his computer.

hacker

Cybercriminals and Cryptocurrencies

Many cybercriminals have used cryptocurrencies to launder their proceeds from illegal activities. Some cryptocurrencies are also massively used in Dark Web markets to purchase illegal goods or services like drugs, credit card information, DDoS attacks, etc. Alex Lakatos, a lawyer from Washington D.C., states:

When it comes to transactions on the Dark Web, (people) nearly universally use cryptocurrency.

He also added:

The use of virtual currency for illicit purposes has been a huge success.

Some cybercriminals may believe that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin may offer anonymity, but it has been pointed out that investigators often times can track certain cryptocurrencies but cannot tell who owns them.

Another point of fact is that the vast majority of Bitcoin transactions are for perfectly legal reasons. However, the media and centralized authorities love to play up the meme of crypto and illicit activity.

What are your thoughts on the cryptocurrency seizure by the London police? Will police be able to enhance their ability to go after hackers or will hackers stay a few steps ahead? Let us know in the comments below! 


 Images courtesy of Shutterstock, iStock, and Pixabay.

The post London Police Seize $700K in Bitcoin from Prolific Hacker appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Russia: ‘Blockchain Will Belong to Us’

The government of Russia is making concerted efforts to dominate the fledgling blockchain technology industry.


 Blockchain to Belong to Russia

Many companies and countries around the world have expressed their interest in blockchain technology. One of the major players in this innovative new technology is Russia. President Vladimir Putin has pushed blockchain technology as part of his new “digital economy” program, saying that the country can’t be “late in the race” for blockchain dominance. Putin has even met with Vitalik Buterin, one of the co-founders of Ethereum.

Vladimir Putin

An article in the New York Times reports that the Russian government sent a high number of representatives to an International Standards Organization (ISO) meeting in Tokyo last year that was meant to establish international standards for blockchain technology. Many attendants at the meeting were very surprised to find out that the head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Marshalko, worked for the FSB, the successor to the infamous KGB. Marshalko also mentioned that 2  other members of the 4-person Russian delegation were also members of the FSB.

When delegates from other countries asked Marshalko why the Russian government spends so many resources to explore blockchain technology, he answered:

Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us.

It’s fairly obvious by the comments made by Marshalko, not to mention the emphasis placed upon the new technology by Putin and his government, that Russia is looking to take a dominant position in the field of blockchain technology.

blockchain

A Race for Blockchain Technology

Russia wasn’t the only country that sent high-powered delegations to the ISO blockchain meeting in Tokyo. The report mentions that 25 different countries sent over 130 people in total. China sent representatives from their finance ministry, while the US decided to send delegates from private corporations like IBM and Microsoft. The head of the British delegation, Gilbert Verdian, stated the following on why countries are pushing hard to steer the future standards of blockchain technology:

It is a very sought-out technology today, because it really does create the foundation for the future that is coming,

He also added:

To get behind it and back it now is going to put people at an advantage, either politically or economically.

While international standards are attempting to be hammered out, there’s a  lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff going on behind the scenes. Many countries see blockchain as the new battlefield to stake out their claim of superiority. As such, countries like Russia are looking to tweak the standards to gain an advantage while hindering other sovereign nations.

What are your thoughts on Russia’s interest in blockchain technology? Do you think that more governments will try to explore blockchain technology? Let us know in the comments below!


 Images courtesy of Pxhere, Pexels, and Bitcoinist archives.

The post Russia: ‘Blockchain Will Belong to Us’ appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Reddit Has Stopped Accepting Bitcoin Payments

According to new reports, Reddit has stopped accepting Bitcoin as a payment method.


 No More Reddit Gold for Bitcoin

The popular social media platform, Reddit, has stopped accepting Bitcoin for Reddit Gold. The platform had started accepting the decentralized cryptocurrency back in 2013 through a partnership with the popular online Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase.

gold

Many people found this decision to stop accepting Bitcoin odd since the social media platform has a very large and active cryptocurrency community. Reddit admin emoney04 confirmed the decision to stop accepting Bitcoin:

Yup that’s right. The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option.

Users speculate that this decision may have been driven by the previous high transaction costs of Bitcoin that even reached $50.

Will Bitcoin Get a Second Chance?

High transactions fees may have been the reason why some online merchants stopped accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. However, Bitcoin transaction costs have drastically fallen in the last couple of months. The average Bitcoin transaction currently costs $1.07, which when compared to other payment forms, is pretty attractive to consumers.

Bitcoin

According to a Bloomberg report, the popular online Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, has released  a new tool called Coinbase Commerce. The new tool allows online shops to easily accept popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.

Reddit’s decision to stop accepting Bitcoin may not be final. The social media platform is currently reviewing the current demand for Bitcoin payments and will act accordingly. Reddit admin emoney04 noted:

We’re going to take a look at demand and watch the progression of Coinbase Commerce before making a decision on whether to reenable.

In case Coinbase’s new tool shows good results, we may not only see Reddit accepting Bitcoin again, but many other major online shops as well.

What are your thoughts on Reddit’s decision to stop accepting Bitcoin? Do you think that the platform will re-enable Bitcoin payments again? Let us know in the comments below!


 Images courtesy of  Pixabay and Shutterstock.

The post Reddit Has Stopped Accepting Bitcoin Payments appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

MailChimp Begins Shutting Down Cryptocurrency and ICO-related Accounts

Popular email service MailChimp appears to be drinking the anti-crypto kool-aid and has reportingly begun shutting down cryptocurrency and ICO related accounts.


 MailChimp: No Crypto, Blockchain, or ICOs Allowed

Despite the stomach-churning roller coaster ride that has been the cryptocurrency market of late, the number of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) continues to rise. It seems like we hear about a new blockchain project or ICO on a daily basis and those projects rely on social media platforms and other tools – including email marketing tools like MailChimp – in order to expand their user base and promote their services.

According to Gizmodo article, MailChimp – one of the top five email marketing platforms according to Inc.com – has begun shutting down the accounts of websites that use their service for cryptocurrency and ICO promotions. The decision has left these projects scrambling to find alternate service providers.

The ban comes about as MailChimp updated its Acceptable Use Policy to include the following:

[W]e cannot allow businesses involved in any aspect of the sale, transaction, exchange, storage, marketing or production of cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies, and any digital assets related to an Initial Coin Offering, to use MailChimp to facilitate or support any of those activities.

A MailChimp spokesperson told Gizmodo:

Journalists and publications may send cryptocurrency-related information as long as they’re not involved in the production, sale, exchange, storage, or marketing of cryptocurrencies.

So news publications are safe. Really? Then how do you explain this:

Nice to know that MailChimp has cleaned up its own house before lowering the boom on the entire crypto community. Oh wait – they haven’t. Cleaned up their own house, that is. They still haven’t managed to stop hackers from hijacking email accounts and using them to send malware-infected emails.

A Hard Time for Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

MailChimp isn’t the only service that has started to prohibit the marketing and promotion of cryptocurrency-related content. Social media and search giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google have also banned cryptocurrency and ICO-related advertising on their platforms.

As more and more means of promotion are denied cryptocurrency and ICO related projects and businesses, it will be interesting to see who steps into the breach to fill the gap that MailChimp and the others have so unwisely left behind.

What are your thoughts on Mailchimp’s decision to ban cryptocurrency related promotions? Do you think that they may reconsider their decision? Let us know in the comments below!


 Images courtesy of Flickr/tomoswyn

The post MailChimp Begins Shutting Down Cryptocurrency and ICO-related Accounts appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

US Regulators Want Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Be Like Stock Markets

The SEC believes that cryptocurrency exchanges could improve by implementing similar principles of stock markets.


 Cryptocurrency Markets Resemble “Wild West”

Resembling "Wild West"

Many regulators, experts, analysts believe that cryptocurrency markets still lack proper oversight and regulations. According to a recent report by VentureBeat, senior U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC), Brett Redfearn, stated that the current state of cryptocurrency markets resemble the “Wild West”. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is mainly concerned with cryptocurrency market manipulation, cybersecurity, fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing. Redfearn stated in the article:

I’m not sure all of the rules would translate over, but there are certainly principles that exist in that space that we have to then apply in some respect to what’s happening with crypto-asset trading,

But the SEC isn’t just only concerned with cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges. The SEC is also keeping a close eye on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and token sales.

SEC Concerned Over ICOs

SEC Concerned Over ICOs

 

In the past, the SEC stated multiple times that investors should be very careful when they invest in ICOs and token sales. The US regulatory agency is worried that most ICO tokens may be classified as securities and don’t comply with the regulations that traditional securities do. Redfearn noted:

There are no registered exchanges, there are no registered ATSs (Alternative Trading Venues) trading any of these products

He also added:

I’m not sure all of the rules would translate over, but there are certainly principles that exist in that space that we have to then apply in some respect to what’s happening with crypto-asset trading,

Some cryptocurrency experts believe that the cryptocurrency and ICO market will be better off once regulators create an appropriate regulatory framework. Proper regulations and safety measures could also give institutional investors more confidence and motivation to invest in the cryptocurrency market.

What are your thoughts on SEC’s concerns of unregulated cryptocurrency markets? Do you think that cryptocurrency exchanges should implement the same principles of stock markets? Let us know in the comments below!


 Images courtesy of Pixabay, iStockPhoto, Wikimedia Commons

The post US Regulators Want Cryptocurrency Exchanges to Be Like Stock Markets appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Hong Kong Authority Halts ICO over Regulatory Concerns

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong was forced to halt the KROPS ICO due to regulatory concerns.


 ICOs Under Review

In the last couple of months, we have seen many regulatory bodies worldwide warning ICO operators to comply with the appropriate local laws and regulations. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued many statements regarding ICOs, warning investors and traders about potential pitfalls of investing money in such ventures.

Hong Kong

The Chinese government has also been particularly strict with token sales by completely banning them nationwide. The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) recently published an announcement that it forced Black Cell Technology Limited to halt its initial coin offering (ICO) for its token called KROPS. In the statement, the SFC mentioned that Black Cell wasn’t authorized to conduct the ICO because it constituted a Collective Investment Scheme (CIS). The SFC clearly marked the KROPS token as a security.

Refund to Investors

Since the token sale was advertised, monetized, and offered to Hong Kong residents without complying with the appropriate regulations, the SFC was forced to halt the ICO. The KROPS ICO caught the interest of the Securities and Futures Commission because it offered to give ICO investors equity in Black Cell.

The Hong Kong regulatory authority has also forced Black Cell to refund all investors and to abstain from allowing Hong Kong residents to participate. The SFC also clearly mentions that every company or startup that is planning to conduct an ICO or token sale should seek legal and professional advice in order to fully comply with all the government’s laws and regulations.

Experts believe that such actions from regulators may be necessary in order to help the ICO ecosystem to grow, and, more importantly, to help stop fraudulent token sales from mismanaging or stealing funds from investors.

What are your thoughts on the SFC’s decision to halt the KROPS ICO? Do you think that regulators should stop more ICOs in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, YouTube/@KROPS, and Bitcoinist archives.

The post Hong Kong Authority Halts ICO over Regulatory Concerns appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

British Bank Barclays Partners with Coinbase

One of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency wallet and trading platforms, Coinbase, has completed a deal with one of the biggest banks in Britain. 


Bitcoin Trading to Become Easier for British Residents

Coinbase, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange platforms worldwide, has announced that it successfully opened a bank account with the major British bank, Barclays. According to a recent CNBC article, most British banks have abstained from doing business with cryptocurrency-related businesses, in general, due to concerns of illicit activities.

Coinbase

Coinbase believes that the new partnership with Barclays will make trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies much easier and faster for British investors and traders. Before the partnership, British users of the cryptocurrency exchange would have to wait a couple days before their funds would arrive in their bank accounts. The UK CEO of Coinbase, Zeeshan Feroz, stated to CNBC:

U.K. customers will benefit from faster, safer and seamless bank transfers. We will start with a pilot, giving a small number of institutional users access to Faster Payments. In the coming weeks, we will begin rolling out to all U.K. customers, making the Coinbase experience increasingly easier,

Analysts expect a rise in British cryptocurrency traders thanks to the faster bank transfers which the exchange is going to offer in the upcoming weeks.

Expanding into the British and European Market

The new partnership with Barclays isn’t the only positive news concerning the popular cryptocurrency exchange. Coinbase has also managed to receive an e-money license by the British Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

UK

The license also allows the exchange to add support for the Faster Payments Scheme (FPS). It’s also worth noting that the e-money license also grants access to 23 more European countries. Anticipating greater demand for services, Zeeshan Feroz also mentions that the exchange is planning to increase their team in London by roughly eight times.

What are your thoughts on Coinbase entering a partnership with Barclays? Do you think that more British banks will partner with the cryptocurrency exchange? Let us know in the comments below!


 Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Adobestock, and Coinbase via Glassdoor.

The post British Bank Barclays Partners with Coinbase appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

New SEC Report: Cryptocurrency Exchanges Trading Security Tokens Must Register

The Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) has issued a new report warning about the dangers of unregulated crypto exchanges and stated that all trading platforms exchanging digital assets that are considered securities must register with the SEC.


 Does That Mean ALL Exchanges Have to Register with the SEC?

Does That Mean ALL Exchanges Have to Register with the SEC?

On March 7, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) published a new report regarding the current state of cryptocurrency exchanges and the potential risks for investors. The report states that some ICOs, digital assets, and cryptocurrencies could be classified as “securities” and thus each trading platforms that exchange them must register with the SEC and comply with necessary regulations. The report states:

If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration.

The SEC is concerned that different parties could conduct illicit or fraudulent trading through un-registered exchanges that trade these “securities”. Even if an exchange only allows trading of high-quality cryptocurrencies, the SEC or other regulatory agencies do not control which coins are eligible for trading.

Cryptocurrency Traders Should Be Careful with Exchanges

Cryptocurrency Traders Should Be Careful with Exchanges

The report also warns that most cryptocurrency exchanges may not fully comply with all regulatory measures and may not offer proper support or protection in the event that the exchange gets hacked or users lose funds. The trading engines of cryptocurrency exchanges may also not guarantee to provide accurately trading data if they are not registered and reviewed by the SEC.

Lastly, many of these platforms give the impression that they perform exchange-like functions by offering order books with updated bid and ask pricing and data about executions on the system, but there is no reason to believe that such information has the same integrity as that provided by national securities exchanges.

The SEC also advises investors and traders to properly check if a cryptocurrency exchange is registered, regulated, reliable and open to all users.

What are your thoughts on SEC’s new published report? Do you think that all cryptocurrency exchanges should register with the SEC? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Shutterstock

The post New SEC Report: Cryptocurrency Exchanges Trading Security Tokens Must Register appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.