US Government Hacks Global Bank System, Neccesity of Bitcoin

The US government’s ongoing extensive surveillance on the global banking system and payment transfers is demonstrating an urgent necessity of a decentralized financial network such as bitcoin. Over the past few months, various organizations including Wikileaks and Shadow Brokers have exploited most of the malpractices of the National Security Agency of the US. One of the recent tools of the NSA that was leaked and exploited on the dark web was the NSA’s surveillance tool on the Swift global banking system. Motive of the US Government Government agencies and law enforcement are required to undergo a lengthy process of filing

The US government’s ongoing extensive surveillance on the global banking system and payment transfers is demonstrating an urgent necessity of a decentralized financial network such as bitcoin.

Over the past few months, various organizations including Wikileaks and Shadow Brokers have exploited most of the malpractices of the National Security Agency of the US. One of the recent tools of the NSA that was leaked and exploited on the dark web was the NSA’s surveillance tool on the Swift global banking system.

Motive of the US Government

Government agencies and law enforcement are required to undergo a lengthy process of filing a complaint and request to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift) in order to gain necessary financial information of certain bank accounts of businesses and individuals.

With a surveillance and hacking tool however, the NSA can surpass the above mentioned process by simply gaining access to the actual Swift network without alarming its system and infrastructure. According to representatives of Shadow Brokers, a hacking group that has leaked many pieces of malware in the past, the hacking tool of the NSA allows the US government to surveil financial transactions settled within the Swift network with full transparency.

Matt Suiche, founder of the United Arab Emirates-based cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, said in an interview with Reuters:

“If you hack the service bureau, it means that you also have access to all of their clients, all of the banks.”

While some security analysts and firms including EastNets denied the claims of Shadow Brokers, prominent whistleblowers and security experts including Edward Snowden explained that if the exploitation of the NSA hacking tool by the security firm Shadow Brokers is in fact true, it could be described as the “Mother of All Exploits.”

In the meantime, Swift announced that its cyber security and research team were not able to find any evidences to conclusively determine the surveillance allegation against the US government.

“We have no evidence to suggest that there has ever been any unauthorized access to our network or messaging services,” said the representatives of Swift.

Necessity of Bitcoin

Whether the US government actually utilized the NSA’s hacking tool to surveil the Swift network without permission from Swift and its clients is not the major issue. The main problem is that such hacking tools exist and they are capable of unraveling transactions settled across the world.

Any centralized financial networks such as Swift impose such vulnerability, as any network, server or database connected to the Internet is vulnerable to hacking attacks, surveillance and data breaches, if it is not designed to be immutable or decentralized, unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Each transaction on the bitcoin blockchain is identified with cryptographic proof and it can be accessed on the bitcoin blockchain. Most importantly, because the bitcoin blockchain is public, it cannot be manipulated by a government agency like the NSA with sophisticated hacking tools.

Although there exists strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer systems in place on the majority of the world’s bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges, government agencies and law enforcement agents must go through proper channels to obtain the data.

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.

Wonga and GameStop Investigate Potential Data Breaches

TheMerkle Data Breaches GameStop WongaIt was only a matter of time until a new data breach would affect tens of thousands of consumers. Wonga, a payday loan firm, saw its database records affected by a data breach affected as many as 245,000 customers. This news comes on the heels of a major potential GameStop data breach, which saw credit card information of US consumers getting stolen. Data Breaches Remain A Big Problem It is impossible to deny the threat posed by data breaches. Whether it is consumer information or payment details getting exposed, companies are failing to protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Earlier

TheMerkle Data Breaches GameStop Wonga

It was only a matter of time until a new data breach would affect tens of thousands of consumers. Wonga, a payday loan firm, saw its database records affected by a data breach affected as many as 245,000 customers. This news comes on the heels of a major potential GameStop data breach, which saw credit card information of US consumers getting stolen.

Data Breaches Remain A Big Problem

It is impossible to deny the threat posed by data breaches. Whether it is consumer information or payment details getting exposed, companies are failing to protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Earlier today, news broke about UK-based Wonga suffering from a massive data breach which could affect up to 270,000 consumers in Poland and the UK.

For the time being, it remains unclear how may behind this attack against the payday loan firm. The company has issued a warning to all clients about an “illegal and unauthorized access to limited personal data”. No one knows for sure which types of data have been affected by this breach. Wonga stores personal information, partial bank numbers or bank account numbers in their database. It does not appear as if user passwords have been compromised during the attack, although clients are still advised to update their password just to be safe.

We do know Wonga is actively collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to find the people responsible for the data breach. Further details are expected to be revealed over the coming weeks. Most people are wondering how this breach was made possible in the first place, yet the company has not provided specific details regarding the attack itself.

What is rather troublesome is how this is the second major data breach to be reported within the past seven days. Late last week, it became evident GameStop suffering from a similar incident. To be more specific, the parent company is investigating reports of credit cards being sued by unauthorized third parties. It is unclear whether or not this is due to GameStop being breached, or consumer card details leaking as a result of a different incident.

To be more specific, the initial reports seem to indicate payment card data used on the GameStop.com platform has been sold on the darknet. Such reports always need to be taken seriously, as it could hint at a major problem related to the online Gamestop platform. If a data breach were to be discovered, it will be up to the parent company to take the appropriate course of action and ensure similar incidents cannot occur again.

Moreover, the reports seemingly indicate GameStop.com may have been compromised between September 2016 and early February of 2017. For the time being, the investigation is still ongoing, and an update is expected to be released in the coming weeks. GameStop.com is a very popular online platform among gamers, which also makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals.

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.

Open Source Remote Access Trojan Targets Telegram Users

TheMerkle RAT TelegramRemote access Trojans are mainly used to steal consumer data, either for consumers themselves or the conglomerate keeping this information safe from prying eyes. However, it appears criminals are looking at a different approach for these tools right now. A new open source remote access Trojan can now be used to extract data from the Telegram communication platform. Telegram is Vulnerable to New RAT Attack It is never a good sign when end-to-end encrypted communication tools are vulnerable to remote access Trojans. Unfortunately for all Telegram users, they have now become an official target for cybercriminals who make use of

TheMerkle RAT Telegram

Remote access Trojans are mainly used to steal consumer data, either for consumers themselves or the conglomerate keeping this information safe from prying eyes. However, it appears criminals are looking at a different approach for these tools right now. A new open source remote access Trojan can now be used to extract data from the Telegram communication platform.

Telegram is Vulnerable to New RAT Attack

It is never a good sign when end-to-end encrypted communication tools are vulnerable to remote access Trojans. Unfortunately for all Telegram users, they have now become an official target for cybercriminals who make use of the RATAttack toolkit. This new open-source hacking tool has been unveiled by security researchers late last night, as it could have major consequences for all Telegram users.

It has to be said, this new tool is quite a significant improvement compared to how most traditional remote access Trojans work these days. To be more specific, a RAT requires attacks to enable port forward to seize control over infected hosts. Moreover, these Trojans do not use encryption, which remains a critical weakness. RAT developers need to address this problem as soon as possible, and RATAttack seems to be an example of how this problem can be solved with relative ease.

Note from the Author: The source code has been removed from GitHub but rest assured there are copies of it floating around on the Internet.

This particular tool uses the Telegram protocol to create an encrypted channel of communication between victims and the assailants. Moreover, it does not require port forwarding, since Telegram’s protocol takes care of all of those “issues” as well. In a way, one could argue Telegram is the perfect communication protocol for hackers to leverage when distributing remote access Trojans.

Distributing this open source remote access Trojan is a bit of a challenge, though. The assailants first need to create their own proprietary telegram bot, which is relatively easy. The token generated by this bot needs to be edited into the RAT’s config file. Once someone interfaces with the bot, they will receive the RATAttack payload. Moreover, the person responsible for creating the bot will be able to interface with victims through the channel that is automatically created whenever a host is infected.  

Among the damage this RAT can cause are options to run keyloggers on a remote PC, retrieve IP information, download local files in the background and upload files to the computer. Criminals can also execute any file on the infected machine, which can lead to more malicious software being downloaded. In a way, RATAttack is a very versatile surveillance tool for criminals looking to cause harm to unsuspecting consumers.

It is evident open source “tools” like these can cause a lot of damage in the coming months.Telegram is one of the most favored end-to-end encrypted communication tools today. However, there are plenty of alternative solutions to look into as well. Rest assured criminals will always find a new way to come up with solutions that will affect consumers in one way or another. Remote access Trojans are the flavor of the month, so to speak, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous.

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.