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One Million Computers Fall Victim To Chinese Cryptojacking Scheme

China – Legal Daily, a Chinese media news source, recently reported that twenty Chinese suspects have been arrested for apparent ties to an immense cryptojacking campaign. Nine of the suspects are currently under the watchful eye of local authorities, while eleven are on bail.

The news source reported that over one million computers were infected with mining ‘bugs’ in this twenty-person operation.

These computers had reportedly mined over 15 million yuan ($2.25 Million U.S.) worth of cryptocurrencies over the course of this “two-year” illegal operation. According to Legal Daily, the $2.25 million in cryptocurrencies included Decred, Siacoin, and Digibyte, which are all computer minable through easy-to-use software.

An investigation into this group was triggered by a January cybersecurity report from Tencent’s security arm, noting that a ‘Trojan horse’ virus had been found in a video game cheat software. 

Upon further inspection the Tencent security team noticed that the virus had a mining function built-in, allowing for the attacker to take control of an affected machine’s computational power.

The report further noted that the implanted mining software would only operate when CPU utilization of an affected computer is less than 50%, ensuring users don’t notice any substantial performance degradation.

After a police investigation, authorities concluded that the scheme had ties to Dalian Shengping Network Technology, who may have been responsible for developing the cryptojacking software.

In a related swindle, Yang Moubao, who worked at the aforementioned firm, reportedly cloned a Baidu-owned premier video streaming platform and sold fraudulent subscriptions at internet cafes, gaining over 200,000 yuan ($30,000 U.S).

Yang confessed that he was also responsible for distributing free downloadable plug-ins that he distributed online to take control of other computers

This information was exposed after he was arrested at his home on March the 8th.

In all, Yang and his accomplices at Dailan Shengping Network Technology are rumored to have advertised free downloads for up to 3.89 million individual computers but only used one million for mining cryptocurrencies.

It is unclear what awaits the twenty suspects, but authorities made it clear that they have the situation under control.

Growing Cryptojacking Issue 

Cryptojacking, the act of stealing computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies, has become an increasingly apparent problem in the cryptocurrency community.

According to a report from cybersecurity firm McAfee, 2018 Q1 saw cryptojacking cases skyrocket, rising by over 629% alone in just 3 months.

In March, Troy Mursch identified nearly 50,000 websites that had been injected with cryptojacking software. Many of these websites had backdoors that could be utilized to falsely inject scripts into the site, making website visitors susceptible to background mining processes.

However, this has not been only limited to desktops and laptops, as mobile devices have experienced cryptojacking cases as well. Both Google and Apple have had to remove infected applications from their respective app stores after suspicious applications racked up thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies.

Jerome Segura, a security researcher with Malwarebytes gave a comment comparing two prominent cryptocurrency issues, stating:

Ransomware is basically like pointing a gun at you and saying, ‘Hey, pay up or you’re not getting your files back,’ versus cryptojacking you might not even know about it, it’s just going to silently steal your electricity.

He later added that cryptojacking is going to continue to be the preferred activity that cybercriminals will want to enlist, as long of the price of cryptocurrencies stays high.

Title Image Courtesy of Christoph Scholz

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Litecoin and Decred Complete First Ever Cross-Chain Atomic Swap: Major Step for LTC and Cryptocurrencies

Cross-Chain atomic swaps are a major upgrade (if made real) in the cryptocurrency industry and market. With the help of the swap there is no need for a third-trusted exchange platform as the token would be transferred on immediate initiation of the transaction between users. Very recently the very first one was completed between Litecoin and Decred.

The very idea is taking stage of interest throughout the community specifically for altcoins. The possibility of value exchange with no need of going through controlled, de-or-centralized platform is of great importance.

As developers are working for it to become reality, no public announcement has been made but it seems sooner than later we will get to know as Litecoin and Decred had just completed the very first swap.

Even with the very much anticipated Lightning Network, the swap found no use of it as it took event in an on-chain manner that is rather interesting. This means an open door as the atomic swap can be finished in different and many ways. No transaction ID were shown but it did take place on the mainnet and not the testnet.

Making this possible and finding utilization will be of – as described – a milestone step towards the better future for digital currencies. Throughout the community, many are debating that is the same what ShapeShift is delivering but still it runs as a centralized entity. In the case that there are no middle-functioning parties getting the work done makes more sense in the decentralized concept and idea of cryptocurrencies, also despite the transaction costs there are no profits or fees to worry.

There should be plenty of time between this test, revealing the details related to it and putting to function the above mentioned event in wallets. However, excitement and the optimistic feel should surround us towards the project as it could be used in different cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin or between Dogecoin and Decred.

When it comes to Litecoin and the Lightning network, the creator – Charlie Lee did add his comment towards it:

“Version 0.3 of LND added a Litecoin operating mode as a step towards multi-chain Lightning Network for cross-chain atomic swaps. I’m working with [Litecoin Foundation Directors] Xinxi Wang and Franklyn Richards today to test out Lightning on Litecoin mainnet. Any real litecoins lost will be worth it,” Lee said.