In the United States’ effort to crackdown on ransomware attacks, a new task force is being created to stop those conducted through exchanges.
The United States continues to contemplate taking further action in regards to the growing crypto space. In the latest endeavor, the Justice Department has decided to create a task force to stop hackers from utilizing digital asset exchanges to conduct ransomware attacks.
Ransomware on Exchanges
As reported by Bloomberg, the new team’s goal is to target infrastructure that allows hackers to exploit their victims financially. Typically, this is done by freezing a victim’s data and demanding a ransom payment – often using cryptocurrency.
Lisa Monaco – Deputy Attorney General of the United States – believes digital asset exchanges can play a role in this.
“Cryptocurrency exchanges want to be the banks of the future,” says Monaco. “We need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they use these systems.”
There is some reason for Monaco to be concerned. Last month, the US treasury department decided to sanction the Czech Republic-based exchange “Suex” for facilitating ransom payments.
The Justice Department has also started a new cyber-fraud initiative requiring government contractors to report hacking attacks and security vulnerabilities. Otherwise, Monaco said there will be steep consequences:
“We will extract very hefty fines. This is a tool we have to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used effectively.”
Using Crypto for Ransomware Attacks
The department’s new team is one part of the United States’ increasing war on ransomware attacks. These crimes have skyrocketed in the country in recent years, with over $400 million being lost in ransomware payments in 2020. This is over four times the amount lost in 2019.
Cryptocurrencies play a partial role in this. Due to the peer-to-peer and decentralized nature of blockchain networks like Bitcoin, payments are uncensorable and irreversible. This makes them helpful for cyber criminals to use without their payments being identified or stopped.
It’s not just Bitcoin either: Privacy-enhancing coins like Monero are also utilized to facilitate these payments. Two months ago, John Oliver poked fun at Monero for deliberately catering to cyber-criminals in its advertisements.
That said, the use of cryptocurrency for financial crimes may be overstated. Data shows that illegal activity accounted for less than 1% of crypto transactions in 2020. Of that, only a small portion are ransomware crimes, and most of the others simply involve scams.
Legendary Trader Peter Brandt Challenges Binance with Four Questions about 88% BTC Crash
Here’s what is unclear for Mr. Brandt about mysterious Bitcoin (BTC) flash-crash of Oct. 21, 2021
Prominent trader and analyst Peter Brandt has taken to Twitter to ask his four questions in the context of the flagship crypto’s 88% dropdown.
What do Binance and Binance.US have in common?
First of all, Mr. Brandt challenged the character of corporate relationships between Binance and Binance.US, its unit focused on American markets.
1. What is exact corp. relationship @binance w/ @BinanceUS
2. Will firm release T&S with all trades/volume/price?
3. Did firm take opposite side of client fills
4. Will firm change low to reflect actual fills
cc: @GaryGensler @CFTC @SECGov @cz_binance @IBKR pic.twitter.com/huqzZbSGIt— Peter Brandt (@PeterLBrandt) October 24, 2021
Also, Mr. Brandt asks whether Binance is planning to release detailed documents to specify statistics for trades, their volume and prices during the flash-crash.
Then, the trading legend asked about the role of the platform in taking the opposite side of a client fills.
Besides the Binance CEO and co-founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Mr. Brandt mentioned the Interactive Brokers platform, U.S. watchdogs CFTC and SEC and Gary Gensler, the SEC chairman.
Most expensive “trading algorithm bug” ever?
Also, Mr. Brandt attached a screenshot of a tweet by CZ when Binance’s boss warned his audience about expected volatility spikes across cryptocurrency markets.
Finally, Mr. Brandt added that he never used Binance for trading.
As covered by U.Today previously, on Oct. 21, 2021, amidst a spending rally, the Bitcoin (BTC) price briefly tanked to the $8,000 level, losing more than 88% in no time.
A similar flash-crash was registered on 26 other low-liquidity exchanges. A Binance.US representative attributed this dramatic plunge to a critical bug in third-party mechanisms by one of the platform’s sophisticated institutional clients.
Crypto investments a financial backup for Facebook whistleblower
Haugen worked as a Facebook product manager before accusing the company of spreading controversial and insensitive misinformation. She allegedly possesses numerous confidential research documents, which, according to her, shows that “Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users.” Previously, Facebook has been accused of influencing the 2016 United States presidential election with the help of Russian agencies.
In a follow-up interview with The New York Times, Haugen was asked about her financial situation:
“For the foreseeable future, I’m fine, because I did buy crypto at the right time.”
The whistleblower also received financial help from nonprofit organizations (NPO) backed by Pierre Omidyar, a co-founder of eBay. However, Haugen clarified that Omidyar’s NPO fundings were only used to finance travel and related expenses.
According to Haugen, shifting to Puerto Rico helped her join her “crypto friends” who enjoy capital tax exemptions on Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency assets.
Iconic whistleblower and former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agent Edward Snowden also continues to show support for the Bitcoin economy amid regulatory pressures from governments across the world.
On Oct. 4, Snowden tweeted about Bitcoin’s tenfold growth despite China’s blanket ban on crypto mining and trading.
Sometimes I think back to this and wonder how many people bought #Bitcoin then.
It's up ~10x since, despite a coordinated global campaign by governments to undermine public understanding of—and support for—cryptocurrency.
China even banned it, but it just made Bitcoin stronger. https://t.co/pbnOFGfaVf— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 3, 2021
Binance Bitcoin Balances Are Draining: 40,000 BTC Moved Away from Biggest Crypto Exchange
According to CryptoQuant data, Binance cryptocurrency exchange once again faced a massive fund outflow totaling 38,246 BTC. After a significant drop in the Bitcoin balance, the total balance on the sheets is close to 500,000.
In-house redistribution of funds
Previously, Binance.US faced a major bug that led to so-called “slippage”—the difference between the expected price of a trade and the actual execution of an order.
Whenever the order book on the market is too thin and an exchange cannot provide enough liquidity, volatility on the asset tends to rise exponentially, which leads to a massive drop in value.
Due to the bug that appeared, the price of Bitcoin on Binance.US has dropped to $8,000, with numerous buy orders being executed on the way down. In order to provide more liquidity to the market on Binance.US, the main platform could have moved some of its funds to the U.S.-targeted platform, which is being counted by on-chain metrics as “outflows.”
With Bitcoin moving past the previous ATH and trading volumes remaining stable, some traders and investors are choosing to move their funds away from exchanges and keep them in their wallets.
According to volume metrics, no significant selling pressure has been present on centralized exchanges, along with no abnormal trading activities.
Previously, notable exchange inflows appeared back in May, when Bitcoin’s price retraced from the previous ATH to $29,000. Most retail investors have moved funds from their wallets to the exchanges to take profit.