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Bitcoin [BTC] and Monero [XMR] more vulnerable with NSA leak; regulators vigilant

Akash Anand



Bitcoin [BTC] and Monero [XMR] more vulnerable with NSA leak; regulators vigilant
Source: Unsplash

On Wednesday, 19th September, Cyber Threat Alliance [CTA] announced that hackers and fraudsters were using malicious means to generate cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin [BTC] and Monero [XMR].

Cyber Threat Alliance is a non-profit organization that works towards changing the present cybersecurity measure for the better by “enabling near real-time, high-quality cyber threat information sharing among companies and organizations in the cybersecurity field.”

The main aim of the CTA is to protect the end users, disrupt malicious actors and to elevate the overall security standards by collaborating with various other parties. The latest report released on Wednesday talked about how Eternal Blue, a software tool developed by the National Security Agency [NSA], was a factor in the cryptocurrency hacks. The Eternal Blue leak opened up a window of opportunity for hackers, enabling them to utilize the source code to attack vulnerable blocks of the ledger.

CTA reports have also specified that most of the attacks are based in the United States with effort now on the double to clamp down on the software issues. Neil Jenkins, the Chief Analytic Officer of CTA has stated that the hackers have it easy and “money just rolls in for them”.

The main victims of the rampant attacks have been Monero and Bitcoin, out of which Monero-targeted attacks encompassed a staggering 85% of all cryptocurrency hacks. The main impact area of Eternal Blue was the Microsoft Windows Server Message Block 1.0, a “protocol that allows applications on a computer to read and write to files and to request services”, on the same computer network. Reports suggest that this loophole infringement is what allowed hackers to illegally generate cryptocurrencies.

Monero’s affair with hacks and ransomware attacks have been going on for quite some time with the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency repeatedly coming under the knife due to one issue or another. In August 2018, reports emerged from Brazil that over 200,000 routers were discreetly programmed to mine XMR across systems.

This systematic point to point attack was discovered by a researcher who zeroed in on a wrongly configured microchip embedded within the router that allowed the hackers to mine Monero illegally.

In a more recent case, Monero had warned users that the official MEGA Chrome extension was hacked, leaving users’ XMR tokens vulnerable to attacks. The vulnerability also gave hackers the power to access saved passwords and usernames from sources like Google, Github, and Amazon.

Riccardo Andsaskiaspagni, the Lead Maintainer of Monero had said on Twitter:

“Confirmed that it also extracts private keys if you log in to MyMonero and/or MyEtherWallet in a browser with the extension installed.”

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Fall in Bitcoin’s market dominance may be correlated to the fortunes of the altcoin market

Biraajmaan Tamuly



Will Bitcoin's Dominance falter for Altcoins to gain traction in the market?
Source: Pixabay

The trends set by virtual assets have always highlighted the cryptocurrency market’s inherent volatility and spontaneity. Prices lack symmetry and rarely exhibit consistent growth as different factors come into play to dictate an asset’s valuation.

At press time, the world’s largest crypto, Bitcoin, had stormed past the $11,000 mark and was consolidating to push for a surge over $12,000. The rest of the altcoin market however, apart from one or two minor hikes here and there, has been relatively quiet after collectively surging in the early part of the year.

At the beginning of 2019, a significant number of crypto-assets performed significantly well in a group, wherein most assets demonstrated a prominent hike in their values with little to minor price corrections.

A majority of tokens doubled their valuation until Bitcoin breached the $6,600 resistance. Subsequently, altcoins failed to keep pace as Bitcoin continued to test more resistance limits in the market.

Source: Twitter

At present time, Bitcoin enjoyed an unprecedented 62 percent dominance in the cryptocurrency market. As its dominance primes itself to climb over the 63 percent mark, many in the community speculate this could be red flags for the altcoin market.

Major cryptocurrency enthusiasts and analysts have stated that altcoins could significantly capitulate if it so happens. However, past events offer a sliver of hope for the altcoin market.

According to CoinMarketCap, the altcoin market has been significantly affected whenever BTC’s dominance has fallen. During the bull run of 2017, Bitcoin enjoyed a dominance of 65 percent and the global market cap hit a value of $402 billion. However, in January 2018, when BTC dominance plummeted, the global market cap peaked at around $710 billion. The dominance was down by half, whereas the global market cap had almost doubled.

A major reason for the same was money funneling into other altcoins after witnessing a shift in momentum from Bitcoin to the rest of the crypto-market. The present market situation may take a similar path once BTC’s dominance falls, opening the door for other virtual assets to take advantage of the scenario.

However, the present rise of BTC is backed by much more certainty than the bull run of 2017. Hence, a repeat of the January 2018 period may be unlikely, and will happen if and only the market sentiment shifts gears drastically towards altcoins.

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