A guideline issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is prompting OKEx to delist popular privacy-centering cryptocurrencies.
The Korean wing of the cryptocurrency firm announced on Monday that it is going to stop trading of Monero, Zcash, Dash, Horizen, and Super Bitcoin on its exchange. All the five assets, in one way or another, allows users to hide their financial transactions by introducing additional layers of security.
OKEx said in a note that the five cryptocurrencies could “violate laws or regulations/policies of government agencies and major agencies.” The exchange was citing FATF, an intergovernmental organization that combats money laundering on a global scale. The task force in October 2018 enforced a so-called ‘travel rule,’ which requires cryptocurrency exchanges to obtain relevant users’ information, including the virtual wallet addresses of senders and receivers involved in a cryptocurrency transaction.
Privacy coins such as Monero and Zcash assists users in hiding those details. That makes it difficult for cryptocurrency firms to monitor and report those transactions to FATF. OKEx said it would delist Monero, Zcash, Dash, Horizen, and Super Bitcoin, merely to keep itself in line of the global watchdog’s directives.
The move has made OKEx the second exchange to have gone after anonymity-focused coins under regulatory pressure. Earlier in June 2018, way before FATF had imposed the ‘travel rule,’ Japan-based Coincheck had removed Monero, Zcash, and Dash from its exchange after facing pressure from the Financial Services Agency (FSA).
OKEx would disable the privacy coins’ deposits on October 10, 2019. Nevertheless, users will still be able to withdraw their privacy coins to their wallet addresses until December 10, 2019.
Troubles for Litecoin Ahead?
As exchanges operating from FATF member states follow suit and start delisting privacy coin, the move could spell troubles on the world’s fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.
The $4.5 billion cryptoasset Litecoin in August announced that it is going to become a privacy coin. Founder Charlie Lee went ahead and admitted that they are going to introduce “confidential transactions” in a “future release of the the full [litecoin] node” in 2019 – after the online community accused him and core developers of abandoning Litecoin.
The announcement kept Litecoin investors happy, as it maintained the coin’s bullish narrative intact. The LTC/USD exchange rate had risen by more than 500 percent between December 2018 and July 2019 – before Lee confirmed the development of “confidential transactions.” The upsurge majorly came on the shoulders of Litecoin’s halving event, which earlier this year reduce the cryptocurrency’s supply-rate by half.
Litecoin price slipped by more than 50 percent from its YTD high | Image credits: TradingView.com
The LTC/USD pair is now down by more than 50 percent, driven by higher demand for rival asset bitcoin. And as the Litecoin project goes ahead with its plans of becoming an anonymity-focused coin, the likelihood of it being rejected by exchanges operating from FATF’s 39 member states could go higher.
Monero Price Analysis: Corrects sharply from a six-month high, bullish bias still intact
- XMR/USD corrects from fresh half-yearly highs hit on Saturday.
- Technical outlook across the time frames favor the bulls.
- Coin ditches its other crypto peers, trades in the green.
Monero (XMR), the 14th largest cryptocurrency with the current market capitalization of $ 1.68 billion and an average trading volume of $167 million, is leading the pack of top 20 widely traded cryptocurrencies this Saturday. The coin has gained almost 2% over the last 24 hours, bucking the bearish momentum seen across the crypto space. At the time of writing, XMR/USD trades near the 95.25 region, having hit the highest levels in six months at 96.78 in the last hour.
XMR/USD, 1-hour chart
- An ascending triangle breakout was confirmed earlier today, pattern target lies at 100.49.
- Hourly Relative Strength Index (RSI) takes a U-turn for just beneath the overbought territory, looking to test the mid-line at 50.0.
- Correction from multi-month tops likely to extend in the near-term.
- Bullish 21-HMA offers immediate support at 94.50 while the next support awaits at 50-HMA of 93.25.
XMR/USD, daily chart
- No. 14 coin portrays a potential rounding bottom formation.
- A break above 97.91 needed to validate the pattern, with the target seen at 151.83 over the next six months.
- The spot trades above all the key Daily Simple Moving Averages (DMA).
- Daily Relative Strength Index (RSI) consolidates in the overbought territory, with further room for upside.
- All in all, any corrective downside in a bargain-buying opportunity for the XMR bulls.
XMR/USD technical levels to watch
|Today last price||95.2509|
|Today Daily Change||0.4277|
|Today Daily Change %||0.45|
|Today daily open||94.9132|
|Previous Daily High||95.1302|
|Previous Daily Low||90.9657|
|Previous Weekly High||95.5428|
|Previous Weekly Low||80.4637|
|Previous Monthly High||75.9505|
|Previous Monthly Low||44.3395|
|Daily Fibonacci 38.2%||93.5394|
|Daily Fibonacci 61.8%||92.5566|
|Daily Pivot Point S1||92.2092|
|Daily Pivot Point S2||89.5052|
|Daily Pivot Point S3||88.0446|
|Daily Pivot Point R1||96.3737|
|Daily Pivot Point R2||97.8342|
|Daily Pivot Point R3||100.5382|
New Report Finds North Korean Mining of XMR Increased Tenfold in 2019, Online Activity 300%
A report published by cybersecurity organization Insikt Group claims internet use in North Korea has grown significantly in the past three years. The group cites a “300% increase in the volume of activity to and from North Korean networks since 2017,” and part of this activity involves monero (XMR) mining. Insikt observes a tenfold increase in mining of the privacy coin by the DPRK since May 2019. Though the global internet is used only by elite parties in the communist nation, crypto is said to be mined in an effort to avoid Western sanctions, with monero likely “more attractive than Bitcoin” according the group, thanks to its anonymity.
New Report by Insikt Group on North Korean Mining Activity
Insikt Group, a division of private cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, has just released a new report on internet activity in North Korea which finds that both internet usage and mining of monero have increased drastically in recent months.
“For this research, Insikt Group examined North Korean senior leadership’s internet activity by analyzing third-party data, IP geolocation, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing tables, network traffic analysis, and open source intelligence (OSINT) using a number of tools,” the paper states. “The data analyzed for this report spans from January 1, 2019 to November 1, 2019.”
As global internet usage is restricted to elite parties and political officials in the communist regime, findings on crypto mining and network usage can be viewed as all the more compelling. Insikt observes:
For the North Korean political and military elite, the 2019 data show that the internet is not simply a fascination or leisure activity, but is a critical tool for revenue generation, gaining access to prohibited technologies and knowledge, and operational coordination.
The report analyzes the global internet, accessible only to these parties, and does not focus on activity occurring via “Kwangmyong,” the country’s domestic intranet.
10x Increase in Monero Mining
For those in the crypto space, the finding likely to be most notable relates to mining of XMR in the regime. Stating that as of November last year the group has continued “to observe small-scale mining of Bitcoin,” Insikt details, “The traffic volume and rate of communication with peers has remained relatively static over the course of the last two years,” and that “we remain unable to determine hash rate or builds.”
While North Korea has previously been reported to be involved in the mining, stealing, or generating of bitcoin, litecoin, and monero, Insikt emphasizes:
By our assessment, as of November 2019, we have observed at least a tenfold increase in Monero mining activity. We are unable to determine the hash rate because all of the activity is proxied through one IP address, which we believe hosts at least several unknown machines behind it.
The report cites the “Wannacry” ransomware attack of 2017, noting: “Monero has been used by North Korean operators since at least August 2017, when the Bitcoin profits from the Wannacry attack were laundered through a Bitcoin mixer and ultimately converted to Monero.”
The group further elaborates: “Monero is also different in that it was designed to be mined by non-specialized machines, and its mining ports tend to scale by capacity. For example, many miners use port 3333 for low-end machines, and port 7777 for higher-end, higher-capacity machines.” The notable increase is observed as occurring over port 7777 according to the group, which added:
…we believe that these two factors — anonymity and the ability to be mined by non-specialized machines — likely make Monero more attractive than Bitcoin to North Korean users.
Malware, Foreign Operators, and DNS Tunneling — Other Means for Revenue Generation and Obfuscation
Insikt Group’s report also details various hacking schemes and obfuscation techniques thought to be used by DPRK to generate revenue, evade sanctions, and even “to acquire nuclear-related knowledge banned by U.N. sanctions.”
“North Korean defectors have also talked extensively about the role that foreign countries play — many unknowingly — in the Kim regime’s cyber operations,” the group notes. “From the cyber perspective, third-party countries are used by the Kim regime to both train and host state-sponsored operators.”
Regarding malware, Pyongyang-linked hacker group “Lazarus” is one example of how the North Korean government may be leveraging fake “trading platforms” to generate funds. As news.Bitcoin.com reported last month, multiple fronts for phony trading platforms have been discovered, and Telegram groups were also leveraged to deliver sophisticated malware.
The Insikt Group report further details changes in North Korean opsec behavior, with the incorporation of domain name system (DNS) tunneling. “The original intent for DNS was to ease the lookups and associations of domains and IP addresses, not to secure that process,” the group elaborates. “As a result, and because DNS is so critical to a network’s operation, DNS ports (port 53 typically) are left open, and traffic is relatively unscrutinized.
DNS tunneling is when the DNS process is used not for a domain resolution, but for data transfer or tunnel between networks or devices.
The report maintains that though DNS tunneling is nothing new, North Korean users appear to have introduced the practice just recently, in mid-2019.
North Korea Is Expanding Its Monero Mining Operations, Says Report
North Korea is stepping up mining of the privacy coin monero as the regime continues its efforts to circumvent sanctions.
U.S. cybersecurity firm Recorded Future said in a report Sunday that network traffic for monero (XMR) mining, that had originated from North Korean IP ranges, had increased by “at least tenfold” since May 2019, making it the most popular digital asset to mine and surpassing the regime’s mining activity for bitcoin.
The report attributes the changing preference for monero to the fact XMR mining can take place on non-specialized machines, such as conventional computers, which lowers operating costs and negates the need to import mining rigs from abroad.
Monero transactions are also anonymous, making it easier for North Korea to “evade attempts to track funds,” as well as circumvent sanctions imposed on the regime by the U.S. and the UN Security Council.
“We assess that cryptocurrencies are a valuable tool for North Korea as an independent, loosely regulated source of revenue generation, but also as a means for moving and using illicitly obtained funds,” the report reads.
Recorded Future’s report said the regime’s mining activity had been obfuscated with proxy IP addresses, meaning analysts could not determine the share of the XMR hashrate North Korea was responsible for.
Although a UN study previously suggested a branch of the North Korean military was responsible for the regime’s crypto mining activity, Record Future’s study was not able to suggest what entity was responsible based on the data collected.
Monero has been used by North Korea since at least August 2017, when operatives involved in the WannaCry attack exchanged extorted bitcoin into monero. The regime’s bitcoin mining activity has remained relatively static over the past two years, according to the report.
Monero is the preferred cryptocurrency for many illicit and criminal organizations. A Japanese cybersecurity firm reported this week that the mysterious hacking group Outlaw had developed a range of sophisticated crypto mining bots that can infiltrate enterprise computer systems to covertly mine monero.
A year ago, it was estimated that crypto malware had mined almost 5 percent of all monero.