A lead programmer working for NSO Group, the Israeli cybersecurity firm behind the notorious Pegasus iPhone malware has been arrested after a failed attempt to illegally sell the top-secret spyware to an unauthorized party via the dark web in exchange for $50 million worth of cryptocurrency.
A report from the Times of Israel states that the 38-year-old engineer from the Netanya has been indicted by prosecutors at the Tel Aviv District Court on charges of “trying to damage property in a way that would harm national security, theft by an employee, activities to market defense material without a permit, and obstruction and interfering with computer material.”
Although the attempted $50 million sale was unsuccessful, the incident raises a number of questions about the internal security processes of NSO and other private cybersecurity firms whose products like Pegasus could have potentially disastrous and far-reaching consequences if they fall into the wrong hands.
Access to NSO Servers
According to a report from Israeli tech news platform CTech, even though the suspect was aware of the damage that could be caused by leaking Pegasus to non-government entities, he went ahead with his plan to sell the top-secret malware because he was set to lose his job at NSO after violating company policy by connecting an external storage device to the company’s computers after researching to how to do so without being detected on the internet.
The company detected his actions and summoned him to a pre-termination hearing on April 29. Following the hearing, for an unspecified reason, he was permitted to return to his workstation where he connected a storage drive to the company server and downloaded the company’s source code along with additional information that could potentially be used to create a black market version of Pegasus.
His plan was to sell the code on the dark web for $50 million in untraceable anonymous crypto coins – Monero, Zcash and Verge, the indictment reveals – posing as a member of a hacker group that gained access to NSO servers. The proposed buyer however grew suspicious of the suspect’s claims and contacted NSO to inform them that their software was being touted online. Remarkably, until that point, NSO was not aware of the theft.
Following a complaint by NSO, the Israeli police cyber crimes unit arrested the programmer on May 6, and brought him up on a number of serious charges including “attempting to maliciously damage assets used by Israel’s security arms in a way that could jeopardize the country’s security.”
Following his indictment, NSO was at pains to point out that despite the theft, Pegasus has not found its way into the public domain, and no confidential information has been leaked.
A statement released to the press by NSO said in part:
“The company was able to quickly identify the breach, collect evidence, identify the perpetrator, and share its findings with the relevant authorities. The authorities, in turn, responded quickly and effectively, so that within a very short time the former employee was arrested and the stolen property was secured. No (intellectual property) or company materials have been shared with any 3rd party or otherwise leaked, and no customer data or information was compromised.”
It will be recalled that Pegasus attained global notoriety after it was revealed that a number of governments around the world have made use of the malware to spy on activists. Pegasus remains uniquely attractive as a malware because it is the only malware solution that combines complete surveillance of an iOS user’s actions with easy installation, reportedly installing itself via a simple SMS link.
Bitcoin Price Could Crash by 50% in 2019: Veteran Crypto Traders
Throughout the past week, the bitcoin price has increased from $3,901 to $4,048, by nearly 4 percent against the U.S. dollar.
The relatively strong short-term performance of bitcoin led alternative cryptocurrencies to engage in large upside price movements, allowing the valuation of the crypto market to rise by about $7 billion.
However, while traders, technical analysts, and strategists generally remain positive on the mid-term price trend of bitcoin, some traders foresee the dominant cryptocurrency retesting key support levels in the mid-$3,000 region.
WILL BITCOIN DROP BACK TO $3,000 OR WAS IT THE BOTTOM?
Since December 2018, bitcoin tested the $4,200 resistance level twice and cleanly broke out of the $4,000 mark on three occasions.
Following the two attempts to reach $4,200, the bitcoin price pulled back to the $3,700 to $3,900 range, unable to sustain momentum possibly due to a lack of capital inflow and volume in the cryptocurrency exchange market.
As such, some traders believe that if bitcoin is not able to demonstrate a promising rally above the $4,200 to $4,600 range in the near-term, there exists a high probability that the asset drops back to its support levels at $3,500 and above.
Mayne, a recognized cryptocurrency trader, said:
“If the bulls don’t step in soon here I’m gonna have to short $BTC earlier than expected. I don’t suspect the yearly open holds this time either.”
Give the inability of bitcoin to surpass $4,200, one trader boldly predicted that the asset could establish a new 12-month low below the $3,122 mark, possibly at $2,000.
“Selling BTC in the $4,000 region and up if need be. Trade duration: weeks to months. Target: $2.000. Noobs buy at $4,000 so they can panic dump their bags at $3,000. The market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient. Always has been and always will be,” the trader said.
Whether bitcoin moves to the upside or breaks down to the low $3,000 region, traders see a high level of volatility incoming due to the noticeable increase in the volume of the cryptocurrency exchange market.
Depending on the price trend of bitcoin in the upcoming few days, several traders have said that bitcoin could either continue to gradually climb to the $5,000 region or retest recent lows.“Volume MA (on bottom) is at historic bounce levels on the 1W. Volatility incoming. Confident in continuation to the upside, although positioned to be fine in event of price dump. Always prepare for best and worst case. One bear thought I have, is a lack of sell climax thus far,” an analyst known as Crypto Thies wrote.
But, some analysts also foresee bitcoin testing the last phase of the 15-month bear market and found striking similarities between the price trend of bitcoin in 2015 and 2019.
THE CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY IS CONTINUING TO EXPAND
Although many traders remain cautiously optimistic in the price trend of major crypto assets including bitcoin, the cryptocurrency industry is demonstrating signs of growth and expansion.
On Wednesday, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, enabled users in Australia to purchase bitcoin at more than 1,300 physical storefronts, an initiative that could increase the accessibility of cryptocurrencies to a fast-growing blockchain market.
Bexplus Analyst: A Bigger Bullish Run Will Come If Bitcoin Successfully Surpass $4600
Since April 2018, it’s the first time for Bitcoin price to maintain a fourth consecutive week with a green candle close, reaching highs during the week of $4040 with strong volumes backing and finding support when $3900 was tested. The short-term bullish outlook for BTC has been strengthened. However, according to some analyst predictions, bear-to-bull will not achieve until BTC crosses the $4600 mark and moves towards $6000. If to take a long-term look of the cryptocurrency market, everything may remain bullish. But if you prefer making profits at a faster rate, BTC futures trading with 100x leverage is a better option for you.
What is 100x Leverage Futures Trading?
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‘Bitcoin Is Not Money’ Because We Cannot Print It – Banks
“Bitcoin is not money”, the European Central Bank published a statement regarding bitcoin as not being a monetary asset. These words from the bank are immensely harsh for the crypto community. The crypto analyst and investor, Joseph Young suggests that the bank has released the statement as per the crypto assets being unprintable. Though this is an absurd manner to qualify a monetary asset as ‘money’, the bank does praise the technology in the working behind bitcoin. The technology, being the entire crypto protocols, most specifically, decentralization is breakthrough and can make up for some decent projects in the future. He said;
The European Central Bank does not consider Bitcoin as ‘money’ for some specific reason. The reason that they cannot print more of bitcoin on their own is the one, I’m afraid.
Young was very elaborate, chatting with BlockPublisher, over why ECB is hesitant in declaring bitcoin a form of money. On the other hand the ECB suggests that the technology behind the cryptos, more specifically, bitcoin sure is awe-inspiring. The bank, in another statement describes that they bear the privileges to create more money. Young tends to pile up the facts and declare that the bank declared bitcoin, “not money”, owing to the very situation. This can be directly related to the bank suggesting that they cannot make more bitcoins and thus, the standards of being a currency or money do not fit at all.
SEE ALSO: UBS Fined $5.1 Billion for Money Laundering and they Still Blame Bitcoin
The duel between the banking system and the digital assets have always been going strong since day one. This is a direct hint to the later one eventually toppling the previous one. Anthony Pompliano, the founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital is sure that the day is near when people will see bitcoin entirely incorporated into the system. This will obviously be because of the upper hand that the cryptos have over the fiat system. Pomp suggests that the banking system has turned archaic. The sloppy manual system now needs to be taken over by the more established and 24/7 framework of bitcoin. He said;
he sloppy unsafe infrastructure of the banking system is the primary reason Bitcoin needs to take over.
SEE ALSO: Banks Are The Best Custodians If You Don’t Want Your Money Back
The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has never bothered to pay real heed to the cryptos owing to the reality that the crypto market is indeed full of scammers and fraudulent agents. The recent scam of BitConnect is a terrible addition to the crypto history. BitConnect reached a market cap of $3 billion but collapsed due to false claim of their intelligent algorithm. They claimed that their algorithm buys bitcoin when the price is low and sell it for higher price but they were very hesitant to talk about it because there was no such thing. These sort of incidents has always sidelined the cryptos to become a part of the global financial system.
SEE ALSO: SEC Commissioner Thinks Governments Shouldn’t Regulate Crypto
The debate, that the banking system and the crypto industry cannot co-exist has been blowing the roof up recently with frequent verbal assaults from both sides. In reality, the crypto framework can work as an improvement for the current financial system which is the thing, analysts and enforcers from both side should get their heads around. This can be pulled off by the likes of bitcoin ATMs, which have been operating successfully in many states of US, London and Australia. The crypto mask can provide the additional security protocols while the banking system pros will work as us.