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 (BTC) ETF Hype Could Be A Whale Ploy To Lower Altcoin Prices Before The Next Rally
Bitcoin (BTC) is up today against most altcoins, trading at a price of $7,700 as shown by the daily BTC/USD chart above. It seems to have met resistance short term and the price might pull back short term, but a strong FOMO for Bitcoin (BTC) is clearly visible as investors refuse to sell even under overbought conditions. At the centre of this FOMO is Bitcoin(BTC)’s long anticipated ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). This would no doubt be a big development for Bitcoin (BTC) as traditional investors would be able to invest in Bitcoin (BTC) using most of their existing brokers. However, for the rest of the market it will once again be bad news as altcoins bleed while Bitcoin (BTC) surges higher and higher.
Looking at the charts and present market conditions for most altcoins, it is clear that most altcoins have already bottomed out and are now just lingering around, waiting for the rest of the market to take off. This means that barring the approval of an ETF, an altcoin rally should be around the corner. Crypto investors who have been around for long know that at the beginning of each trading cycle, there is an altcoin rally, which is then followed by a Bitcoin (BTC) rally as most investors take profit. Given the fact that most altcoins are traded against Bitcoin (BTC) and that Tether (USDT) is seen as a risky investment, most investors take profit by converting their altcoins to Bitcoin (BTC). The result is a Bitcoin (BTC) price surge as money flows from altcoins to Bitcoin (BTC).
Bitcoin (BTC) has currently topped out according to the BTC/USD 4H chart above. Typically, what we have seen happen time and time again is that news and announcements favor the charts. In other words, if a market has reached bottom, favorable news will come out to propel the prices higher. If the market has topped out, negative news or FUD will come out to push the prices lower. In the present scenario, if we ignore the possibility of an ETF anytime soon, we are at the verge of an altcoin rally. While the ETF may or may not be announced anytime soon, it is clear that market conditions already favor an altcoin rally regardless of any news or announcements. This would make altcoins the best bet for investors looking to get a higher return on their investment.
The past few days, we have seen a decreasing number of investors who want to trade their altcoins for Bitcoin (BTC). It is plausible to assume that the recent Bitcoin (BTC) ETF FOMO was just a ruse to force investors to dump their altcoins so the whales can pick them up at cheaper prices. Now, of course when people dump their altcoins on exchanges, the whales are not going to prop the price up by buying on the same exchanges. They buy OTC (over the counter) and then let the mainstream investors push the price higher when the Bitcoin (BTC) ETF FOMO fizzles out. It is good to be optimistic but overall market conditions at this time do not favor an ETF announcement. It is likely though that a Bitcoin (BTC) ETF may be announced around the peak of the next altcoin rally.
Ripple – Is this a good time to invest in XRP (XRP)?
XRP (XRP) is no doubt one of the most popular cryptos. It is gaining in adoption, its ratings are on the rise, and more exchanges are listing it. But its value is pretty much stagnant at this point. Unlike a few weeks ago when this could be attributed to Bitcoin (BTC)’s declining price, Bitcoin is currently rising in value, and is currently trading above $7700. So is this a good time to put money in Ripple XRP, or is it best to wait it out.
Looking at the market at this point, one quickly realizes that bitcoin (BTC) dominance in the market has shot up to 46%. On top of that, it is outpacing the altcoins market in performance. Unlike in the past when altcoins have moved in tandem with bitcoin, many of them are unresponsive at the moment. Things are even thicker for Ripple XRP, the most popular altcoin in the market. That’s because while bitcoin has shot up from $5800 to $7700, XRP (XRP) is still trading at between $0.45 and $0.50.
This can be attributed to the fact both bitcoin and XRP (XRP) have news coming up, but bitcoin (BTC) news are more positive, and are likely to come out earlier than those related to XRP (XRP). At the moment, the market is looking forward to the approval of the Bitcoin ETF, which is expected to happen sometime in August or September. That’s why there is lots of money flow out of the altcoins market and into bitcoin (BTC). On the other hand, XRP (XRP) is awaiting news as to whether it is a security or not. This is a negative cloud hanging over XRP (XRP) and is holding it down, rendering any other news irrelevant to the price. Until the cases against ripple come to a conclusion, chances are that XRP (XRP) will stay depressed, even as bitcoin (BTC) and a host of other altcoins gain momentum.
If by any chance, XRP (XRP) is declared a security, which is the biggest fear of most investors, then the value of XRP (XRP) could tank in the short-term. It could also lead to further increase in the dominance of Bitcoin (BTC), since the confusion that would ensue would lead to more uncertainty in the altcoins market.
Therefore, for a smart investor looking to buy into XRP (XRP) for the long-term, it would be more pragmatic to pivot towards Bitcoin (BTC) at the moment. That’s because as long as the expectation of the ETF is in the air, its value will continue to rise. It will rise even faster if this news is confirmed. In essence, an XRP (XRP) investor would benefit more by investing in Bitcoin (BTC), building up the capital then pivoting back to XRP (XRP) at the right time. The right time in this case, means when there is some level of clarity on the status of XRP (XRP). Pragmatism is what leads to success in the markets, much more than the emotionally investing in a specific crypto.
TOP 3 price prediction Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple: BTC waiting no more, about to break higher
- BTC/USD moving up with no other Crypto company
- ETH/USD still stuck around its moving averages
- XRP/USD continues to be very weak, under sellers’ control
We are starting the week with a very similar situation to the one we had last week. Bitcoin keeps its bullish trajectory while the other two Top 3 Cryptocurrencies are still showing weakness, at the expense of a bullish breakout movement that allows them to break the current ranges.
The market is still awaiting the SEC to approve the first ETF that allows to trade on the Crypto board. It seems inevitable that the license will finally be conceded, especially considering the strong increase in the volume of the Bitcoin futures market in Chicago. Most that spike comes from the institutional investors, which shows how much the financial professionals have embraced the Crypto sector.
BTC/USD 240 Min
BTC/USD is trading in the European morning at $7.700 and is approaching the $7.781 level that would mark the change of technical scenario and, in my humble opinion, the mid-term forecast. A close above this level would put the short-term target at $8,500. On the other hand, we should expect Bitcoin to take a break by consolidating those levels while waiting for Ethereum, Ripple and other crypto board members.
Above the current price, it is necessary to, at first, consolidate a close above $7,740. Because of its proximity, a consolidation above $7,781 would be effortless and send a technical signal to the market that would contribute to more capital inflows to BTC/USD.
The change of scenario would lead us to consider the upside of the channel that rules the macro movement of BTC/USD. The absolute target for Bitcoin it is located at $9,500 but, before that, BTC/USD will have to overcome all the resistance levels it has encountered in the past few months. In ascending order: $7,868, $7,992, $8,180, $8,385, $8,795 and $9,146. I do not foresee a continued rise, and it is possible that we could see significant pullbacks between $8,500 and $8,000.
Below the current price, a close below the $7,600 price level would bring BTC/USD back into the range of the last few days and would undoubtedly lead to a test of the $7,200 range lows that the EMA50 is now passing through, bringing strength to the technical support. Between the two levels, BTC/USD would find an average support level at $7,400.
MACD at 240 min crosses back up after regulating last week’s strong movement. The typical pattern of this second crossing is of divergent tendency accompanied by strong terminal moves.
DMI at 240 min shows how, during the last sessions, the buyers have been decreasing in intensity, but without the sellers taking advantage of it to increase their levels. A change of trend at the D+ level would reinforce the bullish leg, while continued declines would support a false move and a return to prices below $7,600.
ETH/USD 240 Min
I had long wondered when would we get a significant decoupling between the main characters of the Crypto board. This could be the moment, as Ethereum, trapped by its main moving averages, is now incapable of reacting in the slightest way to Bitcoin’s bullish pull.
Above the current price, Ethereum has everything to do with a first clear goal: to breach last week’s highs. ETH/USD must first break above $480 and then target $520, where it would find support once the necessary breakout is consolidated. From here, the next target it is at $620, which is the level from which ETH/USD could attempt to attack the bearish trend line that limits it from above, and that would pass through the $640 level.
Below the current price, there is little room to maneuver, as Ethereum only has the support of the lower trend line, which would be over $440. Below this level, bulls would the alarm signal, as aggressive sales would be favored and we would need to re-draw a bearish scenario in the medium term.
MACD at 240 min shows a worrying profile below the middle line of the indicator. Without a strong capital inflow that separates the signal lines and takes it above this average level, short-term development does not seem likely to be very positive.
DMI at 240 min shows the sellers in control, having increased during the last few days. It is a minimum sales level for ETH/USD, but buyers are even weaker. No trend force with an ADX below 15.
XRP/USD 240 Min
If Ethereum shows no strength, Ripple is straight out defeated. It has not been able to place itself along the moving averages and has been rejected downward every time it has gotten close to the $0.45 range, where the SMA200, SMA100, and EMA50 are concentrated.
Above the current price, Ripple is expected to breach the moving average concentration range of $0.46 to $0.47. Exceeding these long-term averages would be very positive, and would help Ethereum to make an attempt to break above $0.50 first, and $0.52 later. From here, you would enjoy some space and could move fast up to $0.55. The target of the move is the downtrend line that would go through the $0.58 level.
Below the current price, weak support at $0.44 with a slightly bullish trend line coming from late June. Losing this line would be very harmful to the future of ETH/USD. A little lower, at $0.43, the last support opportunity before entering bearish territory in the medium term, with a target projection of $0.25.
MACD at 240 min shows a profile similar to that of Ethereum, although even at lower levels, confirming the general weakness of Ripple. A fresh inflow of money is needed if bulls want to have any upside options.
DMI at 240 min shows the sellers in control and with some distance from buyers, who have not reached the minimum levels of activity needed to turn the current scenario around. The ADX remains slightly above level 20, so the price retains some inertia.