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Researchers Discover New Cryptocurrency-Focused Trojan

Computer analysts have found a new type of virus — a remote-access trojan — that targets cryptocurrency users.

Computer analysts at cybersecurity firm Zscaler ThreatLabZ have found a new type of trojan that targets cryptocurrency users.

In a blog post published on Aug. 8, the company reveals that it identified a new remote-access trojan (RAT) that is able to capture administrative control of the targeted computer, retrieve browser history and look for activities involving cryptocurrency, credit cards, business, social media and others.

The malware is called Saefko and is written in .NET, a software framework developed by Microsoft and used to develop a wide range of applications. The post further explains:

“RATs are usually downloaded as a result of a user opening an email attachment or downloading an application or a game that has been infected. Because a RAT enables administrative control, the intruder can do just about anything on the targeted computer, such as monitoring user behavior by logging keystrokes, accessing confidential information, activating the system’s webcam, taking screenshots, formatting drives, and more.”

Zscaler recommends that individuals do not download or open files from untrusted sources and states that network administrators should block unused ports, turn off unused services and monitor outgoing traffic.

Crypto malware walk the earth

Earlier this week, news broke that Chinese state espionage cyber unit APT41 are targeting cryptocurrency- and video game-related businesses. Researchers from cybersecurity company FireEye claim that “the group is also deployed to gather intelligence ahead of imminent events, such as mergers and acquisitions and political events.”

In June, cybersecurity firm ESET detected what it describes as an unusual and persistent cryptocurrency miner distributed for macOS and Windows since August 2018. The malware, dubbed “LoudMiner,” uses virtualization software — VirtualBox on Windows and QEMU on macOS — to mine crypto on a Tiny Core Linux virtual machine, thus having the potential to infect computers across multiple operating systems.

A report by cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace published in April estimated losses from digital currency theft and scams in the first quarter of 2019 at $356 million, with additional fraud or misappropriated fund losses amounting to $851 million in the same period. Alarmingly, this Q1 total of $1.2 billion constituted 70% of the total losses to crypto crime in all of 2018, indicating intensified hacking activity in the first months of 2019.

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Truffle Announces Upcoming Dev Support for Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, Tezos

Truffle is planning to start supporting the Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, and Tezos protocols in its fully managed blockchain dev suite.

Blockchain development company Truffle has unveiled plans to expand its fully managed developer suite to include support for the blockchain protocols Corda, Hyperledger Fabric and Tezos.

Truffle founder and CEO Tim Coulter announced the company’s plans at TruffleCon 2019 — Truffle’s annual dev conference — on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington. Coulter commented on how he thinks these tools will pave the way for collaboration via interoperability, saying:

“We are empowering developers to build enterprise-grade solutions on any network of their choosing, creating a path for future cross-network collaboration.”

According to a press release shared with Cointelegraph, the Truffle Suite is a fully managed blockchain for dev workflow, from backend work on smart contracts to frontend creation of applications. 

Truffle’s developer tools reportedly date back to 2015, when they were developed from within ConsenSys’ venture production studio. As further noted, Truffle later received a $3 million investment in 2019 and partnered with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, as well as Microsoft Azure. 

At press time, Truffle’s developer suite supports the blockchain protocols of Ethereum and Quorum.

Interoperability outside of code development

Having interoperable industry systems is a goal in fairly disparate contexts. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the transportation group Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) is attempting to drive supply chain interoperability through blockchain technology. BiTA president Patrick Duffy has commented on the group’s goals, noting that blockchain “has the potential to smooth the transactions that occur between shippers and carriers, but it requires the active participation of transportation leaders.”

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Report: Coinbase VP of Engineering Tim Wagner Steps Down

Coinbase vice-president of engineering Tim Wagner is reportedly stepping down from his position at the trading platform.

Tim Wagner, the vice president of engineering at major cryptocurrency platform Coinbase, is reportedly leaving the company.

Wagner will purportedly leave Coinbase within the next two weeks, according to a report by CoinDesk on July 30. An unnamed spokesperson for the company is said to have confirmed Wagner’s departure with the news outlet.

At press time, Tim Wagner is currently still listed as VP Engineering at Coinbase on LinkedIn profile.

Previous roles at Microsoft and Amazon

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Coinbase initially hired Wagner last August. Wagner previously worked for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft before joining Coinbase. 

At Microsoft, Wagner worked as the director of development for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Ultimate. At Amazon, Wagner held a number of positions including general manager for multiple products, including AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway and AWS Serverless App Repository.

Recent employees and their departures

Just yesterday, another Coinbase member also departed from the platform’s team. Andrew L. Ridenour — who worked at Coinbase for just half a year more than Wagner — left the crypto company to rejoin the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

During his time at Coinbase, Ridenour was involved in the creation of legal structures and business plans for the platform’s trading and custodial services. At the CFTC, he is slated to offer legal and policy counsel to the chairman for issues involving futures and derivatives markets.

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Blockchain Startup Nets $2.4 Million in Public Funding to Fight Food Slavery

A new blockchain solution focused on ending slave labor in the food industry received $2.4 million in public funding in Australia.

Blockchain startup Lumachain has received $2.4 million in public funding from Main Sequence Ventures, a $165.6 million venture capital fund backed by the Australian government and the federal Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 

Lumachain’s newly-received funds will go toward staffing fees as well as international expansion, according to a report by local financial news periodical the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on July 29. Lumachain reportedly uses blockchain technology to track and trace the condition and whereabouts of food products along the supply chain in real time. 

According to Lumachain’s website, founder Jamila Gordon says the goal of her blockchain solution is to end modern slavery associated with food production. Gordon told the AFR:

“Slavery is becoming a major issue in supply chains, both here and overseas. Australia passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2018, and this is part of a global trend, where both enterprises and consumers want certainty that products have been ethically and sustainably sourced.”

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors reportedly identified the food sector as the third-most-likely industry to partake in modern slavery. Moreover, according to Gordon, the fresh food industry is largely un-digitized and is comparatively quite wasteful and inefficient.

Jamila Gordon and Lumachain

Jamila Gordon was reportedly forced into labor from the age of five in Somalia. Later, she moved to Australia and began a career with IBM. Gordon has also worked for the major airline Qantas as its top senior technology executive. Gordon reportedly has experience with implementing supply chains globally in Qantas and CIMIC with the current chief product officer of Lumachain, Tony White.

Lumachain also reportedly received support from the major tech company Microsoft, through its “start-up scale-up” initiative.

Blockchain and labor

Different companies and governmental organizations have begun using blockchain technology to fight unethical labor practices, including slavery, globally. 

In April 2019, Princess Eugenie of the United Kingdom and United States anti-human trafficking Ambassador John Richmond came out in favor of using new technology like phone apps and blockchain to address human trafficking. Eugenie then said:

“I have learned about how blockchain is having a huge impact on supply chain management, and how an app in Britain can help the public report modern slavery at car washes.”

In March 2018, Coca-Cola, the United States State Department and three other firms launched a project to create a blockchain-based labor registry. The organizations hope the platform can address the problem of nearly 25 million people work under forced labor conditions globally.

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KPGM to Work With Microsoft, Tomia and R3 on Blockchain Telecom Solutions

KPGM is partnering with Microsoft, Tomia and R3 to create a blockchain solution to make telecom settlements cheaper and faster.

Business advisory firm KPGM has partnered with tech companies Tomia, Microsoft and R3 to create a blockchain-based settlements solution for the telecom industry, in anticipation of 5G network services.

KPMG announced the partnership and product plans in an official blog post on July 16.

As per the report, the planned blockchain solution intends to make use of smart contracts in order to reduce disputes between carriers and mobile operators. Such smart contracts would reportedly include critical information for this purpose, by providing details such as correct rates, destination and bilateral deal information.

The upshot, KPMG hopes, is that settlements will become faster and cheaper than they are right now, by eliminating the need for telecom companies to outsource settlements.

At present, cross-border and cross-carrier settlements are reportedly a complicated and lengthy process. These settlements can purportedly take weeks to resolve, and are frequently outsourced to third parties due to their complexity. 

This outsourcing results in a sizeable cost to customers. The cost of international mobile data roaming fees alone are projected to reach $31 billion in 2022, as per the report. Moreover, these settlement processes are predicted to get more complex with the advent of 5G mobile services, as there will be even more data transmitted by users.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the South Korean telecom organization KT Corporation has already launched a blockchain-based solution on the 5G network. The solution, called “GiGA Chain,” reportedly acts as a security feature for Internet-of-Things devices by safeguarding the devices against cyberattacks.

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Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested for $10 Million Crypto Theft

A former Microsoft staffer has been arrested for a scheme to steal $10 million in crypto, using some of the funds to buy a Tesla car and lakeside home.

A former employee at Microsoft has been arrested for a scheme to steal $10 million in cryptocurrency, the Associated Press (AP) reported on July 17.

Insider Schemes

The man — a 25-year old Ukrainian national, Volodymyr Kvashuk, allegedly used the ill-gotten proceeds to buy a $160,000 Tesla car and a $1.7 million lakefront home. During the seven months of his scheme, $2.8 million was found to have been transferred into his bank accounts.

Specifically, Kvashuk is accused of having stolen cryptocurrency gift cards that were redeemable against Microsoft products and then reselling them at a profit on the web.

According to the United States attorney’s office in Seattle, the suspect had helped with Microsoft’s testing of its online retail sales platform.

Kvashuk’s attorney did not reportedly answer AP’s request for comment.

External Breaches

This April, several cryptocurrency holders alleged that their Microsoft-based email services — such as Outlook, Hotmail and MSN — has been attacked by hackers eyeing their crypto holdings. 

Among the victims, one claimed that the breach of his email account had enabled the attackers to reset his account on crypto exchange Kraken. Microsoft confirmed that the breach had occurred during the first months of this year.

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IBM Triples Number of Blockchain Patents in US Since Last Year

IBM has tripled the number of blockchain-related patents it holds in the U.S. this year, dwarfing other US blockchain bulls.

Tech giant IBM has tripled the number of blockchain patents secured in the United States since last year, currently boasting over 100 active patent families. That makes IBM’s growth in US patents the largest of last, according to a report by BeinCrypto on July 16.

According to data gathered by Yuval Halevi, co-founder of crypto and blockchain PR company GuerillaBuzz, IBM’s number of active patent families dwarfs other notable corporations. This includes some primary tech companies, such as Intel, Microsoft, and Dell Technologies:

“In just 1 year the number of IBM blockchain patents has grown by 300%. When one of the largest companies in the world (366,000 employees) spends so much of their resources on developing a blockchain department, this tells a lot about the market potential.”

However, IBM reportedly does have international competition. As noted in the report, China is currently outpacing the U.S. and world at large in terms of blockchain patents. Alibaba, in particular, is reportedly the leading Chinese company in blockchain patents, despite having only 25 patents filed in the U.S. as per Halevi’s Twitter post.

As of May, Alibaba had applied for a whopping 262 patents, according to figures from Securities Daily. According to this report, China was also the global leader in blockchain-related patent applications, with organizations in the country apparently filing for 4,435 patents between 2013 to 2018. During the same period, the U.S. reportedly filed for 1,833 patents. 

However, another study presented by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and Withers & Rogers LLP previously reported by Cointelegraph suggested that more blockchain patent applications were filed in the U.S. than China between 2012 and 2018, according to data. According to this report, the U.S. had filed 1,680 patents at this time while China had filed 1,590. Additionally, IBM reportedly filed 143 patents during this period, still clocking in at the number one application spot. The origin of the disparate findings this report versus that of Securities Daily is unknown.

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IRS Allegedly Hopes to Make Tech Giants Release User Crypto Activity

The Internal Revenue Service hopes to require tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to silently share crypto-related activity by users: Report.

The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is allegedly considering requiring tech giants to report on crypto activity by users, according to a presentation reportedly from an IRS presentation and provided by a Twitter user on July 9.

According to the documents shared, the IRS hopes to use Grand Jury subpoenas on firms such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to check taxpayers’ download history for crypto-related applications.

Known as Crypto Tax Girl, Laura Walter, certified public accountant and crypto tax specialist, tweeted the presentation, which was allegedly for agents in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division.

Citing the document, Walter concluded that the tax authority is conducting exhaustive research into detection of criminal tax evasion cases involving crypto. As such, the IRS is considering carrying out interviews, open-source and social media searches, as well as electronic surveillance, the expert noted.

Startlingly, the 181-page document reads:

“Grand Jury Subpoena should be considered for Apple, Google, and Microsoft for the Subject’s complete application download history. Each application’s function should be explored to determine whether or not the application can transmit, or otherwise allow, transactions in bitcoin.”

As Walter emphasized, the presentation envisions that IRS agents ensure that taxpayers are not notified about the obtained information regarding their use of cryptocurrencies to prevent detrimental to the investigation. 

Cointelegraph notes that the IRS has not confirmed the authenticity of the presentation’s origin.

According to the documents provided, the IRS is hoping to serve subpoenas to check data from accounts in banks and Paypal for connection with crypto transactions. Additionally, the tax authority is considering reviewing social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to find and record publicly available cryptocurrency addresses.

Concluding the thread, Crypto Tax Girl wrote:

“There is a ton of other information in there about crypto in general, tracing transactions via the blockchain, limitations of the blockchain, etc. but what you need to know is that the IRS is working HARD to identify criminal tax cases involving cryptocurrency.”

As previously reported, the IRS currently considers cryptocurrencies property. In late 2018, an advisory committee of the IRS expressed its intent to provide additional guidelines for the taxation of crypto transactions.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported on Singapore’s plan to exempt cryptocurrencies that are intended to function as a medium of exchange from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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True Smart Contracting Capability Enabled On Microsoft’s NET Framework

Stratis Microsoft Net Framework

Stratis has launched its Smart
Contracts in C# to complement its Cirrus Sidechain Masternodes. Announcing it
on a Stratis platform blog post on July 1, the startup also announced a
successful testing phase. The two weeks long testing phase allowed Masternode
Operators to familiarize themselves with the new technology.

The platform went on to say:

” Stratis becomes the world’s first blockchain to offer businesses and developers the ability to execute smart contracts on the Microsoft.NET core architecture. Allowing C# developers to develop auditable Smart Contracts and be confident with the results as valid C# code is executed on-chain.”

Stratis’s Smart Contracting Capability

Consequently, businesses operating on Stratis will enjoy extended functionality. The platform is the first smart contracts platform utilizing native C# architecture from the ground up. The programming language is the most popular of its kind globally. Additionally, the Microsoft .NET framework is also widely used, which will bring more growth to the ecosystem.    

While Stratis seems to have great tokenomics, its prices have been in the dumps. Its price has been decimated, and its enthusiasts hope that this development will give it a much-needed boost. The blockchain-based platform is hailed as the C# application on the dot NET framework champion. Not only does Stratis simplify the development of these applications, but also tests and deploys them.

The blockchain startup acts as a
blockchain-as-a-service (BAAS) platform both for institutions and for
corporations. Through Stratis, a business can get to work implementing blockchain
innovations in its operations. Stratis end game is dominating the BAAS
playfield.

Cirrus Sidechain Masternodes are PoA

In its origin, Stratis has been cloned off the Bitcoin core code and written in C# instead of C++. There are a few enhanced features as well, which makes it a very robust technology. The platform also has Segwit support and sidechains as well, so it can integrate with Bitcoin’s scaling solutions. Being a proof of stake blockchain, it enables its investors to earn from it through its masternodes features and staking as well.

It’s token, STRAT raised 915 Bitcoin
in capital in a 2016 ICO, which totals to $675,000 in fiat.  The platform, in turn, distributed 98 million
tokens. Chris Trew is the startup’s CEO, while Nicolas Dorier is a
BTC bull who loved Stratis’s ethos and helped develop it in C#.

Stratis is poised to be a key player in areas like medical research, IoT, Fintech, identity, and provenance. Its rival on the Smart Contracts development front is Ethereum. Ethereum, however, writes in Solidity while Stratis utilizes C#.  Stratis’s programming language is common with most developers, implying that Stratis has a smaller learning curve. Stratis’s other advantage over Ethereum is its sidechains, meaning that its projects can scale better.

The newly announced released Cirrus Sidechain Masternodes will run on proof-of-authority consensus algorithm. This will enhance accountability. Besides, it will cut down on energy consumption and workload as well. The accompanying Cirrus Core wallet will enable the management of sidechain tokens and deploy smart contracts as well.

The post True Smart Contracting Capability Enabled On Microsoft’s NET Framework appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Blockchain Dev Firm Launches First Smart Contracts on Microsoft’s .NET

Stratis Group Ltd has launched the first smart contracts on Microsoft’s .NET architecture.

Developers can now write smart contracts in C# on Microsoft’s .NET architecture.

Blockchain development firm Stratis Group Ltd has launched the first smart contracts on Microsoft’s .NET architecture, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on July 3.

The company has introduced the Cirrus Sidechain Masternodes and Stratis Smart Contracts products designed to enable businesses to develop smart contracts in the programming language C#, a general-purpose language originally developed by Microsoft within its development platform .NET. This will purportedly allow enterprises to deploy smart contracts on one underlying general-purpose blockchain.

The product thus targets enterprises, financial services companies, and government organisations whose systems operate within Microsoft’s .NET framework, claiming to provide “a wide range of enterprise use cases, from tokens and lending platforms to provenance and self-sovereign identity solutions.” 

The Cirrus Sidechain is designed to prevent bloating of the main Stratis network and facilitate a high level of scalability. “The Masternodes will operate on the Cirrus Sidechain using a Proof-of-Authority consensus algorithm, thereby enhancing security by adding accountability while also reducing the workload and energy consumption required for Masternodes to maintain the blockchain,” the release explains.

Gustav Stieger, a senior developer at Stratis, said, “Cirrus Sidechains will allow us to scale up the Stratis platform as we add functionality and deploy sidechains with use-case specific modifications, such as block time and block size. It will now be easier, cheaper and faster for developers to build DLT and smart contract functions bespoke to their business needs.”

In June, news broke that Microsoft will reportedly make blockchain-based tools available to PowerApps and Microsoft Flow users. Specifically, artificial intelligence and blockchain tools will be included in the company’s PowerApps custom application builder and PowerBI business intelligence tool.

As recently reported, blockchain software firm Digital Asset partnered with Amazon Web Services Aurora to make its open-source smart contract Digital Asset Modeling Language more interoperable.