UK Company Paid $2.3M Ranson in Bitcoin to Cybercriminals

UK Company Paid $2.3M Ranson in Bitcoin to Cybercriminals

$2.3M in Bitcoins were paid to hackers by a London-based company after a ransomware attack

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London-based company, Travelex, reportedly paid hackers almost $2.3 million in Bitcoin (BTC) after suffering a ransomware attack on January 11.

According to sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal on April 9, the UK firm’s networks were infiltrated by cybercriminals with a ransomware injection in the new year eve of 2020. The company is known for its chain of foreign-exchange kiosks located in airports and tourist sites around the world.

Travelex confirmed the attack to the press shortly after it happened. They did not, however, disclose that they paid a ransom of around 285 BTC, after having their systems offline for several weeks.

The attack, called Sodinokibi (or “REvil”), is a malware attack that began leaking stolen data earlier this year from various companies, such as CDH Investments and the aforementioned London-based company.

COVID-19 ransomware attacks increasing

U.S. officials have warned that hackers are more active amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many company employees to work from home.

The report says that cybercriminals are looking for vulnerabilities in corporate networks, which are not being as closely monitored at the moment due to the widespread global lockdowns.

Criminal investigations still ongoing

A Travelex spokesman consulted by the WSJ clarified that investigations by British authorities are still ongoing, although he declined to comment further on the ransomware attack.

It is worth noting that it is not illegal to pay ransoms in the United Kingdom. However, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency highly recommends that victims refrain from giving into the demands of criminals, noting that this only serves to incentivize them further.


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$2.3M in Bitcoins were paid to hackers by a London-based company after a ransomware attack

CME Tells Cointelegraph They Consider $2.3M BTC Options Debut a Success

CME Tells Cointelegraph They Consider $2.3M BTC Options Debut a Success

CME managing director Tim McCourt happy with Bitcoin options launch, noting the product met multiple day one targets

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The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is happy with the results of its Bitcoin options trading product launch on Jan. 13, according to CME Group’s managing director and global head of equity index alternative investment products Tim McCourt. 

First days of new options offering a success

“We’re very pleased with how day one went,” McCourt told Cointelegraph in a Jan. 14 interview. “We’ve had positive feedback from customers on day one,” he pointed out, also noting success and progress on day two.  

“Yesterday, we did a total of 55 options contracts, worth 275 Bitcoin,” the managing director said. “Each option is on one future, and one future is worth five Bitcoin at CME, so a little over $2 million in terms of notional value, which is great to see,” he added. 

As of the 2:40 EST interview, CME’s Bitcoin options had already posted 15 contracts on Globex, CME’s „electronic trading system,“ McCourt said.

As planned

In fall 2019, the Chicago-based exchange announced its plans to launch a Bitcoin options trading product early in 2020, based on CME’s underlying Bitcoin futures trading product. 

After receiving the green light from regulators, CME launched its Bitcoin options trading product on Jan. 13, 2020, Cointelegraph reported yesterday

McCourt expressed excitement at seeing a successful first outing for the new product in response to his team’s work, as well as customer involvement. 

McCourt added that CME hit its desired launch targets relating to “having volume, having block trades, having markets develop throughout the day,” as well as having “those markets be reasonably tight in terms of discovering a price that keeps in line with the futures throughout the day.” 

Years in the making

CME’s Bitcoin options product has been a long time coming.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about with our customers since the launch of Bitcoin futures,” McCourt said. 

At the height of crypto’s largest bull market in December 2017, CME launched its cash-settled Bitcoin futures trading product as one of the mainstream financial world’s first major entries into crypto exposure.


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CME managing director Tim McCourt happy with Bitcoin options launch, noting the product met multiple day one targets

CME Bitcoin Options Trade $2.3M in Debut, BTC Price Hits 2-Month High

CME Bitcoin Options Trade $2.3M in Debut, BTC Price Hits 2-Month High

CME seals 55 contracts on the first day of Bitcoin options trading

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Bitcoin (BTC) futures options from CME Group saw volumes in excess of $2.3 million on the product’s first day of public trading, the company has confirmed. 

Data from CME’s official website confirmed the successful rollout on Jan. 13, which began as scheduled and ultimately saw 55 contracts change hands. 

Investors lap up BTC options products

Each contract corresponds to 5 BTC, meaning that at current prices, the 55 contracts were worth $2.34 million. 

Bitcoin markets rallied on release day, rising by more than 5% to hit highs of $8,550. Those levels had previously remained absent since mid-November.

As Cointelegraph reported, enthusiasm was palpable in advance of the options debut last week, with Bitcoin likewise gaining significantly in the run-up to Monday. CME, along with competitor Bakkt, reported increased interest in futures during that period. 

For Monday, Bakkt’s futures delivered total volumes of 2,907 contracts worth $19.94 million, nonetheless down 10% on the previous session. At the same time, open interest was up 7% to $9.58 million.

FTX reported volumes spike

The past seven days have in fact seen two options releases, the other being from FTX, which began trading days before CME. 

According to live company data, FTX saw reported volumes of 3,618 BTC ($30.8 million) for its options over the past 24 hours — conspicuously higher than others’ figures.

Cointelegraph reached out to CME and Bakkt but had not received a response as of press time.


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CME seals 55 contracts on the first day of Bitcoin options trading

Hacked Bitpoint Exchange Finds $2.3M in Stolen Crypto

Hacked Bitpoint Exchange Finds $2.3M in Stolen Crypto

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Bitpoint has discovered $2.3 million in crypto that was stolen in hack a last week

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Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Bitpoint has discovered over 250 million yen ($2.3 million) in cryptocurrency — part of a $32 million sum that was stolen last week, local English language daily The Mainichi reports on July 14.

According to The Mainchi, Bitpoint found the stolen cryptocurrency on overseas exchanges that were using a trading system provided by Bitpoint Japan. Bitpoint told The Mainchi that the recent discovery brings the total sum of lost founds down from 3.5 billion yen ($32 million) to 3.02 billion yen ($28 million).

The exchange was initially hacked on July 12. 2.5 billion yen ($23 million) of stolen funds belonged to customers while 1 billion ($9.2 million) belonged to the exchange. Hackers stole Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ether (ETH) and XRP from the exchange’s hot wallets.

Bitpoint suspended all services following the hack, while the exchange’s parent firm Remixpoint Inc. shed 19% following the theft. Remixpoint went untraded in Tokyo following the attack due to a reported glut of sell orders.

The recent incident involving Bitpoint follows a record-breaking hack of Japanese exchange Coincheck in January 2018, wherein $534 million of NEM tokens were stolen from Coincheck’s low-security hot wallet.

Bitpoint was one of several exchanges to receive a business improvement order from Japan’s finance watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), in June of last year. One of the FSA’s main concerns was the exchanges’ compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer requirements.

The agency also expressed concerns that customer funds were not being kept sufficiently separate from those of the exchanges.


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Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Bitpoint has discovered $2.3 million in crypto that was stolen in hack a last week

General Motors Leads $23M Funding Round for Spring Labs Blockchain Firm

General Motors Leads $23M Funding Round for Spring Labs Blockchain Firm

General Motors and Galaxy Digital led a $23 million funding round for Spring Labs to improve its blockchain platform

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United States-based blockchain startup Spring Labs has raised $23 million in a Seed A funding round, according to a press release on June 12.

Spring Labs will purportedly use the funds to improve its blockchain-based platform Spring Protocol and develop three new fraud protection products that are designed to combat fraud in the auto financing sector.

According to the press release, the new products are Spring Verify, Spring Defense, and Spring Protect, which are designed for identity verification, fraud monitoring/mitigation, and loan stacking prevention, respectively.

The products will purportedly provide information to lenders anonymously, for the purpose of financing activities such as unsecured consumer lending, small business lending, credit card issuance, and secured auto lending.

According to the report, auto financing fraud has nearly quintupled from 2011 to 2018, purportedly becoming a relatively easier way to commit fraud as other credit options become more secure than auto lending options.

The report estimates that industry losses range between $4–$6 billion each year, largely due to auto credit established with fake ID credentials. Somewhat like a clone firm scam, Spring Labs says that scammers will typically mix in some real information along with the fake, in order to establish falsified credit accounts.

Among the investors for this seed A funding round were Galaxy Digital, the cryptocurrency investment bank founded by crypto enthusiast Michael Novogratz, and automotive giant General Motors (GM).

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, GM announced that it was joining the Spring Founding Industry Partners (SPIF) Program in February. The SPIF is reportedly a project launched by Spring Labs which aims to provide security solutions through research and collaboration.

Chief strategy officer at GM Mike Kanarios commented on GM’s decision to join the project as a partner, saying:

“As the captive finance arm for General Motors and one of the world’s largest auto finance providers, we are continually innovating and evolving our fraud prevention and detection capabilities to better serve and protect our customers and dealers.”


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General Motors and Galaxy Digital led a $23 million funding round for Spring Labs to improve its blockchain platform