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19% of World Population Bought Crypto Before 2019: Kaspersky Report

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky released a survey revealing that only 10% of global consumers “fully understand how cryptocurrencies work.”

A new survey by Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab introduced on June 17th revealed that 19% of people globally have purchased cryptocurrency.

The survey, titled “The Kaspersky Cryptocurrency Report 2019,” was carried out in October and November 2018, with a total of 13,434 respondents in 22 countries.

According to the report, 81% of global population have never purchased cryptocurrencies, while only 10% of respondents said they “fully understand how cryptocurrencies work.”

Meanwhile, just 14% of those who haven’t ever used cryptocurrencies would like to do so in the future, the report notes.

Key findings of The Kaspersky Cryptocurrency Report 2019. Source: Kaspersky Labs

Key findings of The Kaspersky Cryptocurrency Report 2019. Source: Kaspersky Labs

Among major reasons why global crypto investors have stopped using cryptocurrencies, majority of respondents cited its “too high” volatility, implying that the need of stability before they are prepared to use them.

While volatility factor accounted for 31%, other important reasons included loss of money in the bear market, as well as a belief that crypto “is not profitable anymore,” with both factors equally amounted to 23% among the respondents.

With that, 22% of respondents claimed that they stopped using cryptos because they are not backed with real assets. Additionally, hacks and fraud vulnerabilities weren’t the biggest reasons for global crypto users becoming disillusioned, with the respondents citing those factors accounted for only 19% and 15%, respectively.

Reasons why people stopped using cryptos. Source: Kaspersky Labs

Reasons why people stopped using cryptos. Source: Kaspersky Labs

In a press release accompanying the report, Kaspersky team noted that the adoption of crypto industry by global consumers have been slowing down due to lack a proper understanding of how cryptocurrencies work.

Previously, another survey found that almost 12% of American crypto crypto holders are long-term investors

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Blockchain for Retail: Use Cases and Potential Applications

From fixing ads and loyalty programs to ensuring ethical sourcing of products, here’s how blockchain can make retail more efficient.

Cryptocurrencies have gone a long way since the day when, nine years ago, Laszlo Hanyecz had paid 10,000 bitcoins for two large Papa John’s pizzas, marking the first purchase of tangible goods for digital money. Although bitcoin is still far from being universally accepted by retailers, thousands of merchants around the world are taking crypto in exchange for goods — and their ranks grow daily. The latest of the big developments in this vein came up at this year’s Consensus conference, as blockchain startup Flexa made public its partnership with a number of major U.S. retailers. Flexa’s payments app, Spedn, will allow users to pay for their purchases in more than a dozen stores of the caliber of Barnes & Noble, Office Depot and Whole Foods with cryptocurrencies.

Payments, as we know, are just a tip of the blockchain iceberg, though. While expanding the number of stores and chains that accept digital money remains an important avenue leading toward mass adoption, there are several other domains where distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be of help to the retail industry. Some of these solutions are already up and running, and some hold the promise to bring about massive changes within the next few years.

Crypto payments

There is evidence that cryptocurrency payments are gradually moving away from the fringe. The Kaspersky Lab Global IT Security Risks Survey, published in February, reported that a respectable 13% of more than 12,000 consumers across 22 countries have used cryptocurrency to pay for their online purchases.

The most popular payment methods

Companies that step on the path of accepting crypto might be driven by various motivations. Some might want to appeal to younger, technologically advanced customers by appearing savvy with the cutting-edge tech, while others embrace the promise of the technology and are bullish on crypto themselves. Digital money’s volatility remains the main deterrent for large corporate retailers. Intermediaries like Flexa, which are ready to stand in between corporate businesses and the dicey crypto market to absorb part of the uncertainty, come in handy as the big players find themselves willing to experiment with the new payment method yet are wary of potential risks.

It appears that this indirect model could become a dominant means of easing major retail chains into digital money payments in the next few years. For instance, this is how the recently announced crypto-payment partnership between Starbucks and fintech firm Bakkt is expected to work.

This running list tracks major stores and services that accept cryptocurrencies. You can already spend your digital money on travel, gift cards, jewelry, games and movies, moving services, gadgets, goods for your home and more. The list will surely keep growing.

Blockchain’s capacity to facilitate transmission of both value and information can give rise to more sophisticated, multifunctional forms of payments in the near future. A recently unveiled Civic Pay app is a vivid example: The solution will enable vending machine operators to simplify access to age-gated goods by combining payment, identity verification and earning reward points in one transaction.

Loyalty programs

Another important domain of the retail business that could use some optimization and enhanced fraud protection is loyalty programs. A primary tool for building a lasting relationship with a customer, these transaction-based programs oftentimes rely on infrastructure that is less secure than that of “real” payments, leading to a substantial increase in loyalty-fraud crime in recent years. Both value and personal data are subject to theft. In addition, many reward programs fall short of providing enough value to customers, as the ways of spending the hard-earned points are limited.

Introducing blockchain into the equation could help retailers address both issues. On the security side, hackers and fraudsters will have a much harder time penetrating a system that relies on a distributed ledger than one that stores all the data in a centralized database. In terms of consumer value, creating a token-based rewards ecosystem open to third-party businesses is a means of giving customers a wealth of diverse ways to spend their points.

This is exactly what American Express is looking to achieve with its Hyperledger-based rewards platform, which is geared toward enabling partner merchants to create customized rewards offers for the financial corporation’s clients. A prominent player in the space is Swiss firm Qiibee, which specializes in helping businesses tokenize their loyalty programs.

Supply chain tracking

Another well-established and profusely covered family of blockchain use cases in retail has to do with the technology’s capacity to make the goods’ origins transparent and verifiable. The demand for such transparency may stem from different considerations, depending on a particular industry, with three key concerns being safety, authenticity and ethical sourcing.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the arm of the federal government responsible for promoting and protecting public health and safety, estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illness. Outbreaks of diseases like E. coli and salmonella caused by bad groceries are still nothing irregular, and once the contaminated produce makes it to a large retailer’s enormous supply chain, it becomes difficult to track its origin in order to quickly extinguish the threat. It may take days until the source is identified, potentially causing the chain heavy losses and putting customers at risk.

Industry leaders have come to realize that recording every actionable event along the produce’s journey — from farm to table — on a blockchain is an efficient solution to this problem. It could also enhance stores’ ability to quickly identify and remove recalled foods, among other logistical benefits. The IBM Food Trust initiative, which offers its members a blockchain-based platform to track produce on every step of the supply chain, launched in the fall of 2016, when the U.S. retail giant Walmart began testing the system. Since then, Walmart has started requiring suppliers of certain types of produce to implement the DLT-powered solution. Other U.S. and global players in the field — such as Albertsons, Unilever, Nestlé and Carrefour — have joined the club as well, and many more are poised to follow suit.

Closely related to food safety but a conceptually different consumer demand is the need to verify that the product in question has been ethically sourced. As millennials and gen Z-ers are becoming the driving force of global capitalism, concerns over businesses’ environmental and social responsibility are becoming an increasingly conspicuous factor in purchasing behavior. Again, recording the product’s journey on an immutable ledger and creating a consumer-friendly interface enabling customers to obtain a clear picture of its origins can become a powerful tool for companies to build trust and get rewarded for transparency and responsible sourcing practices.

Some examples include the World Wildlife Fund-Australia championing the use of OpenSC, a supply chain tracking tool built on blockchain, to enable consumers make ethical choices when purchasing food. Customers will be able to obtain information regarding the products’ origins and life cycle by scanning a QR code on the package.

On another note, the Ford Motor Company is testing an IBM-built system running on Hyperledger Fabric that will trace supplies of cobalt — a material used in lithium-ion batteries that is seeing increased demand as the electric vehicles market expands. A large share of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where child labor and slave-like working conditions are widespread. The blockchain initiative would address these issues by providing Western corporations with a means of ensuring that the cobalt they purchase comes from the mines where a certain level of labor protection is enforced.

Finally, when it comes to luxury consumer goods, being able to establish the provenance of an item is of utmost importance. The diamond industry’s largest players, such as Alrosa and De Beers, have adopted blockchain-based solutions to track gems from mine to store and verify that their origins are clean — in both literal sense and with respect to previous ownership. Luxury apparel brand Alyx will implement Iota’s blockchain solution to showcase sustainable practices used on every step of its supply chain.

Customer data management, security and sharing

Retailers routinely record, store and utilize vast amounts of customer data. Blockchain applications related to streamlining processes in this line of their work present a less explored yet immensely promising area. Harnessing the benefits of distributed ledger technology could improve security, give customers more control over their data, and create new forms of marketing to help retailers meet consumer needs with higher precision and capture the value otherwise missed.

With the help of an artificial intelligence-powered recommendation system, retailers would be able to identify customers’ needs and advertise highly tailored offers to them. With advertising expenditures thus optimized, merchants will be able to reward those who opted into opening their data with tokens spendable at the store.

With a blockchain data-sharing system in place, customers could also proactively let retailers know about their needs and preferences, sending them shopping lists in the form of smart contracts. Coupled with the potential affordances of the Internet of Things to outsource the execution and delivery of such orders to machines, blockchain could become a fundamental infrastructure for the new era of fully automated shopping.

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Kaspersky CEO: Cryptocurrencies Are Great, But the World Is not Ready Yet

Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of cybersecurity company Kaspersky, said that “cryptocurrencies are a great idea, but the world is not ready for them yet.”

Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of the cybersecurity giant Kaspersky, stated in a recent interview that “cryptocurrencies are a great idea, but the world is not ready for them yet.” Kaspersky made the statement to financial news website Arabian Business on March 1.

Kaspersky elaborated, stating that he believes that in the future — “perhaps in a 100 years’ time” — the world will be united under a single government, which turn will have a single, digital currency. According to the entrepreneur, “the world must be united if we want to have encrypted currencies. At the moment, governments will want to control them.”

He also argued that in the future, digital currencies will see little competition for use, as he predicts the dominance of a single currency:

“Some other currencies may be available, but on a global scale the currency will be unified.”

Kaspersky also noted that he believes that the future currencies will be digital, arguing, however, that “today’s digital currencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC), cannot replace the current financial system.” Still, he concedes:

“Some of the ideas and techniques on which these [crypto]currencies are based can be used in the future currency with little modification, leveraging blockchain technology.”

Kaspersky had previously expressed a similar view on crypto in the past. As Cointelegraph reported in December 2015, he said that while “cryptocurrency is a great invention” he is also convinced that “geopolitically this world is not ready to use it yet.”

As previously reported, the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, also thinks the future holds the potential for a single, dominant digital currency. He, however, has argued that the global currency will be Bitcoin.

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New Crypto Mining Malware Targeting Corporate Networks, Says Kaspersky

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have uncovered a new form of cryptojacking malware targeting corporations in multiple countries, the cybersecurity firm reported Thursday.

PowerGhost, a form of fileless malware – which uses a system’s native processes to hijack a computer – has reportedly been spreading on corporate networks in India, Brazil, Colombia and Turkey. The software mines an undisclosed cryptocurrency once installed on a computer.

The miner “is capable of stealthily establishing itself in a system and spreading across large corporate networks infecting both workstations and servers,” Kaspersky reported.

Illicit crypto miners have been rapidly rising in popularity among the web’s criminal fraternity, being hidden in apps and websites to quietly harness user devices to earn the hackers cryptocurrency. Now it seems the methods they use are evolving.

“It appears the growing popularity and rates of cryptocurrencies have convinced the bad guys of the need to invest in new mining techniques – as our data demonstrates, miners are gradually replacing ransomware Trojans,” said Kaspersky.

Principal security researcher David Emm agreed, telling ZDNet:

“PowerGhost raises new concerns about crypto-mining software. The miner we examined indicates that targeting consumers is not enough for cybercriminals anymore – threat actors are now turning their attention to enterprises too. Cryptocurrency mining is set to become a huge threat to the business community.”

The firm’s report echoes concerns shared by other cybersecurity firms. Earlier this month, Skybox Security also stated that cryptojacking had become more popular among bad actors than ransomware.

At the time, Skybox called cryptojacking malware “a money-making safe haven for cybercriminals.”

Infected network image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Kaspersky Lab: $10 Mln in Ethereum Stolen Over Past Year via Social Engineering Tricks

Kaspersky Lab’s security experts have found that cyber criminals were able to steal more than 21,000 in Ethereum (ETH) (worth around $10 million) through social engineering schemes over the past year, Cointelegraph auf Deutsch reports Thursday, July 12.

According to a July 9 report, cyber criminals have triggered more than a hundred thousand alarms altogether on security software in connection with cryptocurrencies since the beginning of 2018.

Kaspersky Lab notes that scammers particularly single out investors interested in Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), using fake websites and phishing emails containing an e-wallet number to trick their targets out of money.

The report mentions the Switcheo ICO as an example, stating that criminals stole more than $25,000 worth of crypto by posting a fake offer on a Twitter account claiming to be associated with the ICO.

Another social engineering scam is the fake “cryptocurrency giveaway,” where victims are promised a higher payout of the same cryptocurrency later in return for a small sum of cryptocurrency now. The report describes the popularity of using fake social media accounts purporting to be well-known personalities, such as business magnate Elon Musk and Telegram founder Pavel Durov, for this scam.

According to Nadezhda Demidova, the lead web content analyst at Kaspersky Lab, the attack patterns continue to evolve, making it impossible to protect against them easily. Demidova also notes that cryptocurrency phishing “stand[s] out” from other phishing attacks because scammers can make millions of dollars:

“The success criminals have enjoyed suggests that they know how to exploit the human factor, which has always been one of the weakest links in cybersecurity, to capitalize on user behaviors”.

Kaspersky Lab, which traditionally focuses on protection against malware such as viruses, Trojans, and ransomware, has already been keeping an eye on criminal behaviors involving cryptocurrencies. At the end of June, the cybersecurity company reported on the recent shift in popularity from ransomware attacks to “cryptojacking,” which infects a computer with malware that mines for crypto without the owner’s permission.

Kaspersky Lab also warned cryptocurrency owners in November 2017 against a trojan that replaces the wallet address on a user’s clipboard in order to redirect cryptocurrency transactions to scammers.

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Kaspersky Labs: Cryptojacking Now ‘Wears The Threat Crown,’ Overtaking Ransomware

A new cybersecurity report from Kaspersky Labs notes a significant decline in the amount of ransomware targeting Internet users as compared to the growing increase of cryptojacking, in a report published June 27.

The Kaspersky Labs report seeks to answer the question: “But if ransomware no longer wears the threat crown, what is the new king?” According to Kaspersky labs, crypto miners were able to gain popularity due to their “discreet and modest way to make money by exploiting users”:

“Instead of the large one-off payout achieved with ransomware, cybercriminals employing mining as a tactic can benefit from an inconspicuous, stable and continuous flow of funds.”

The report, which compares data from April-March 2017 with data from April-March 2018, finds that the total number of users recorded saw a 30 percent loss in the amount of ransomware they encountered, and a 45 percent gain in the amount of crypto miner attacks. This brings the amount of Internet users in the study affected by crypto mining up to around 2.7 million.

Another cybersecurity report released this week from McAfee Labs noted that the use of cryptojacking malware rose 629 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the previous quarter.

According to the Kaspersky Labs report, in the overall number of detected cyber threats, crypto miners increased from 3 to 4 percent, and the share of miners in the overall risk tool detection rose from 5 to almost 8 percent.

The report also notes that the “most remarkable ransomware trends” of the past year were WannaCry and Badrabbit, new kinds of ransomware that asked for Bitcoin (BTC) in exchange for unlocking infected computers.

Cryptojacking events have taken place all over the world, with police in Japan investigating a case involving crypto mining malware in June, and a new type of “snobbish” cryptojacking malware infecting half a million computers globally in just three days this May.

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Telegram Founder: Crypto Mining Malware Attack Isn't Due to App Flaw

Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab reported today that a vulnerability in Telegram’s messaging app had been exploited to turn desktop computers into unwitting crypto-miners – a claim that the firm’s founder is pushing back against.

The cyberattacks were uncovered by Kaspersky Lab, a global cybersecurity software provider, who reports that the covert mining operations have been underway since March of 2017. Kaspersky said that the attacks were possible because of a zero-day vulnerability.

“We have found several scenarios of this zero-day exploitation that, besides general malware and spyware, was used to deliver mining software – such infections have become a global trend that we have seen throughout the last year,” Alexey Firsh, a Kaspersky Lab analyst said in a statement today.

Yet Pavel Durov, who founded the popular messaging app, has taken to his own Telegram channel in order to downplay the report.

“As always, reports from antivirus companies must be taken with a grain of salt, as they tend to exaggerate the severity of their findings to get publicity in mass media,” he said. He went on to claim that what Kaspersky had uncovered was not a “real vulnerability on Telegram Desktop,” and that cybercriminals could not access users’ computers without them first opening a malicious file.

“So don’t worry,” he told the channel, “Unless you opened a malicius [sic] file, you have always been safe.”

Cybercriminals reportedly used the malware to garner monero, zcash and fantomcoin, among other cryptocurrencies, per Kaspersky’s report. The firm says evidence indicates that the malware has Russian origins, and notes that, in some cases, it is used as a backdoor through which hackers can silently control a computer. In the course of analyzing malicious servers, Kaspersky also said it found “archives containing a Telegram local cache that had been stolen from victims.”

As the profits associated with mining have increased, mining malware has become more common.

CoinDesk reported yesterday that more than 4,000 U.K websites, including government sites, had been infected with mining malware, prompting the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office to take down its website. Likewise, in another significant case last month, it was discovered that Google’s DoubleClick ad services were hijacked to distribute mining malware on prominent sites like YouTube. This has put additional pressure on developers to ensure user safety.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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Blockchain-based Secure Online Voting System Showcased

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has introduced its Blockchain technology-based secure online voting system dubbed as Polys at the company’s annual Cybersecurity Weekend event in Dublin, Ireland.

The system is supported with transparent crypto algorithms.

In a statement at Polys’ website, the company claimed that Blockchain is the missing link in the architecture of an effective and secure online voting system.

“[Online] voting imposes extremely stringent requirements on the security of every aspect of voting. We believe that the Blockchain technology is the missing link in the architecture of a viable online voting system.”

According to Kaspersky Lab’s Head of Investment and Innovation, Vartan Minasyan, Blockchain, when combined with their cybersecurity know-how, could resolve major issues related to the privacy, transparency, and security of online voting.

“In our Kaspersky Lab Business Incubator we’re supporting both internal and external teams in developing bright ideas and technologies, which can be implemented in various areas where safety and security are important. One such area is online voting and, when exploring the possible implementations of Blockchain in particular, our team realized that this technology combined with the company’s cybersecurity expertise could solve key problems related to the privacy, transparency and security of online voting. We’re excited that we have been able to create a suitable environment for this internal innovation.”

Online voting options powered by Blockchain

According to Kaspersky Lab, Polys offers a free-web based dashboard to create an online vote with two options, namely, majority vote and cumulative vote. The system also supports voting through email, unique codes, and public voting.

The company has already released a beta version of the system in order to get early feedback and iteratively develop an operational voting system.

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How to Protect Yourself From the CryptoShuffle Trojan

Russian based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs has warned owners of cryptocurrencies that their coins are not safe even in private wallets. A new trojan called CryptoShuffler is stealing coins right from under the noses of users by replacing wallet addresses on a user’s clipboard as they copy and paste wallet data for transfers. No wallet is safe because the trojan utilizes the clipboard function on computers.

The trojan has already caused a substantial amount of damage in just a short time, though the cyber researchers believe the trojan has been working for perhaps a year or more. Per Kaspersky:

“…cybercriminals have already managed to steal 23 Bitcoins, which is the equivalent of approximately $140,000 (as of the end of October). In addition, thousands of dollars of other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, Dash, Monero, Ethereum, Zcash and Dogecoin, have been accumulated.”

Protect yourself

The most basic way to protect yourself is to carefully compare the address you’ve inputted after copying. Carefully checking wallet addresses for every transaction should keep your funds safe.

However, the trojan developers know that the normal process is simply to copy, paste and send, without carefully checking the address. For this reason, Kaspersky is warning users to take special precautions.

Further, users are advised to utilize an antivirus and anti-malware system in order to detect and remove malicious programs. As the cryptocurrency world continues to grow, risks will continue to increase, and owners will need to be vigilant to protect their funds.

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Bad Rabbit Bitcoin Ransomware Misery Continues As Hackers Demand $300 in BTC

Over 200 victims in Europe and beyond continue to suffer from a brand new ransomware attack demanding Bitcoin to release encrypted files.

Known as Bad Rabbit, the ransomware of unknown origin demands 0.05 BTC ($290) to unlock infected computers.

Its progress focuses on Russia and Ukraine, with outbreaks also reported in Turkey and Germany, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

“While the target is visiting a legitimate website, a malware dropper is being downloaded from the threat actor’s infrastructure,” a report on the ransomware released Tuesday explains.

“No exploits were used, so the victim would have to manually execute the malware dropper, which pretends to be an Adobe Flash installer. We’ve detected a number of compromised websites, all of which were news or media websites.”

As of Thursday, it has become apparent those targets fall outside the news and media sphere, with Odessa Airport and the Kiev Metro’s payment system also seeing breakdowns.

Bad Rabbit is just the latest cyberattack to hit the Russian and Ukrainian zone, with WannaCry and NotPetya all having left their mark over the past six months.

The ransom demands from Bad Rabbit’s hackers are similar to those of WannaCry at around $300 per machine.

Ransom

Unlike NotPetya, however, there appears to be no attempt to wipe data from victims, whether or not they send the requisite Bitcoins.

Kaspersky adds it is not yet known whether or not paying the ransomware amount results in full control being returned.