Key security officials in Ukraine have accused hackers aligned with the Russian government of targeting its critical infrastructure, including the power grid and the financial systems, using a strain of malware previously linked to a major state-sponsored cyberattack.
Ukraine’s security chief, Oleksandr Tkachuk, said on 15 February the attacks were linked to a gang that uses a type of computer malware dubbed BlackEnergy. In an unprecedented attack, the attackers allegedly used it to cause a widespread electricity blackout in Kiev two years ago.
“Russian hackers [have] become an important tool of the aggression against our country,” Tkachuk said, as reported by Reuters.
He said the latest round of cyberattacks used a type of malicious software called Telebots with the aim of infecting its national infrastructure.
In late 2016, Slovakian cybersecurity firm Eset, which has previously tracked the BlackEnergy gang, said Telebots malware was used in “targeted cyberattacks against high-value targets in the Ukrainian financial sector.” Its main aim was simple: cyber-sabotage.
“It’s important to say that these attackers, and the toolset used, share a number of similarities with the BlackEnergy group, which conducted attacks against the energy industry in Ukraine in December 2015 and January 2016,” Eset experts wrote in a blog post. “In fact, we think that the BlackEnergy group has evolved into the Telebots group.”
The BlackEnergy and Telebots groups are known to use the same tactics, usually spear phishing emails with malicious Microsoft Excel documents attached. As with many nation-state backed cybercrime groups, the victims of these campaigns are usually highly targeted.
This week, a separate US-based cybersecurity firm called CyberX, which specialises in critical infrastructure research, found another espionage campaign in Ukraine that had successfully compromised over 70 victims. It named the scheme Operation BugDrop.
The firm described it as a “large-scale cyber-reconnaissance operation” designed to eavesdrop on sensitive conversations by remotely controlling PC microphones – in order to snoop on its targets. The hackers used Dropbox to store any exfiltrated data.
Targets – while unnamed – included a firm that nakes remote monitoring systems for oil and gas pipelines, a company that designs electrical substations and an international organisation that monitors human rights, counter-terrorism and cyberattacks in Ukraine.
“The operation seeks to capture a range of sensitive information from its targets including audio recordings of conversations, screen shots, documents and passwords,” the team said.
“Unlike video recordings, which are often blocked by users simply placing tape over the camera lens, it is virtually impossible to block your computer’s microphone without physically accessing and disabling the PC hardware.”
Chief Technology Officer Nir Giller told Reuters he was unsure who exactly was behind the attack, but suspected it was part of a reconnaissance mission.
“Its goal was to gather intelligence about targets in various domains including critical infrastructure, media, and scientific research,” the CyberX team said.
“We have no evidence that any damage or harm has occurred from this operation, however identifying, locating and performing reconnaissance on targets is usually the first phase of operations with broader objectives.”
Buying Bitcoin: The risks and how to overcome them
Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency. Although decentralised and fairly accessible to most investors and traders, there are some inherent risks associated with digital currencies. These need to be addressed in order that people can devise the proper risk mitigation strategies in case they wish to buy bitcoin and hold the crypto asset as an investment or trade it.
1. Crypto scams
Newcomers in the crypto space are usually the primary targets for both low and high level bad actors operating in the shadows. These are typically individuals or entities that exploit people through various communication channels including social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter or via emails. They will generally sell captivating stories about how they have made astronomical gains through trading or investing in bitcoin. They would then solicit unsuspecting victims, proselytise, offer them their so-called ‘expertise’ and promise to provide lucrative profits.
Other scammers convince people to join pyramid schemes. Both generally use jargon like ‘cloud mining’ or ‘algorithmic trading’ to confuse targets into thinking that they know some secrets that could also make the targets large sums of money. Other major threats come in the form of rogue exchanges which pose as legitimate platforms but are in fact bucket shops for illicit activities.
How to avoid the risk: The ultimate way to avoid these scammers is to buy bitcoin from trusted and secure cryptocurrency exchanges like Remitano. Remitano uses a secure escrow system to ensure that the seller sends your bitcoin before they receive your payment since bitcoin transactions are irreversible.
If you must buy BTC via a peer-to-peer exchange using social media, then make sure you verify the legitimacy of the parties with which you transact. There are some paid social media groups that apparently use an escrow system to monitor transactions between buyers and sellers but this means of buying bitcoin is generally not recommended.
2. Market volatility
Bitcoin is currently one of the most volatile assets in existence. Its volatility is an intrinsic risk that traders dread. The price of bitcoin could swing up or down by as much as over 20% within an hour. When prices drop suddenly and sharply, most novice traders or investors sell-off in a panic and most do so at a loss.
Bitcoin’s price movements like most traded assets is greatly affected by market news. For instance if a reputable investor or esteemed entity invests in bitcoin, what typically follows is price appreciation. And when there is news about a crypto exchange hack for instance, people panic sell and the price of bitcoin plummets.
How to avoid the risk: To prevent unnecessary losses after your bitcoin purchase, either establish buy and sell targets and stick to them so that you don’t react to every piece of news or get swayed by market sentiment. You can also dollar-cost average or if in South Africa, Rand-cost average. This means that you make your purchases consistently to a set schedule, irrespective of the price. This is generally good for those looking to invest long-term since the logic behind the strategy is that the average purchase price over time will work out to be better than trying to perfectly time the market. Let’s say you want to buy 1 BTC, you can buy it in increments of 10 i.e. buy 0.1 BTC at different intervals.
Volatility is a risk but day traders take advantage of the volatility to make profits. Day traders try to read the market and predict the price movements of bitcoin, opening and closing trades within a day.
Bitcoin trading is powered by blockchain technology and the internet. The fact that it depends on the internet makes it susceptible to cyber attacks. One of the serious risks is that your wallet can be hacked. If your wallet gets hacked, you might not be able to retrieve the stolen bitcoin. There have been different reports about huge amounts of bitcoin lost to cyber theft. Exchanges are also susceptible to hacking, so if your wallet is hosted on such an exchange, your funds can be at risk.
It is also important for crypto market participants to ensure that they don’t misplace the private keys or seed phrases to their crypto wallets.
How to avoid the risk: To ensure your funds’ safety, ensure you trade on a reliable and trusted platform such as Remitano and open a private wallet address. Offline wallets are the most secure private wallets out there, so ensure you get one. You should also activate the two-factor authentication and encryption on your crypto wallet. Having a multi-signature feature and wallet backup will also help you secure your crypto assets.
4. Government regulation
Although the South African government is yet to regulate the use or trading of cryptocurrencies, it may still decide to impose a ban on bitcoin transactions at any time. The Nigerian government recently stated that it will be placing a ban on cryptocurrency transactions. Even though it is unlikely cryptocurrencies will be outlawed, there’s still a risk to consider.
Buying bitcoin is a straightforward process but also risky when you don’t understand the basics. Volatility is a major concern for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and new market entrants ought to be extra vigilant. Security and regulatory issues are some of the other risks associated with bitcoin investing and trading. Therefore you need to seek a better understanding of how the crypto market works and the various risks involved. The rule of thumb when it comes to investing in general is – only invest what you are willing to lose. The same applies when you decide to buy bitcoin.
Article & Image source: Heath Muchena
AI Expo Africa, Wesgro, and Zindi launch the Deepfake Africa Challenge
AI Expo Africa, in partnership with Wesgro Film and Media Promotion and African Data Science competition platform Zindi, has launched the Deepfake Africa Challenge in a bid to raise awareness about deepfake media, tools and ethics on the African continent.
Deepfakes have been prominent in the news in the last two years as the tools and platforms that allow for such content to be produced are widely available and easy to use by both skilled and casual users.
While some deepfakes can be used to create fun, viral videos or new synthetic applications such as digital avatars that have multiple applications, they also can be used to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with the potential to deceive with subsequent negative impacts for people, organisations and wider society.
Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder & CEO of AI Media the company behind AI Expo Africa, stated, “The objective of the challenge is to create convincing deepfakes to highlight the power of this synthetic media, illustrating its creative potential for exploitation for both positive and negative outcomes and focusing debate about its ethical use or mis-use in an African context. We partnered with Zindi as they have the largest community of Data Scientists in Africa, and Wesgro Film Unit to tap into the award-winning creative industry based in the Western Cape, South Africa. This challenge is open to both creative and technical talent across Africa. We look forward to seeing the outcomes from the submission.”
Wesgro Film and Media Promotion head Monica Rorvik commented, “Deepfake media can have negative outcomes. This challenge serves as an opportunity and platform that we can leverage during this interesting time of the “Pandemic of deep fakes” – and by working together, and checking facts, we can learn together and gain some herd immunity.”
Zindi co-founder and CEO Celina Lee stated “Deepfakes are fast becoming a challenge of our time. Through the Zindi platform we are seeking to tap into the collective insights and creativity from twenty-six thousand African data scientists to shine a light on this topic and create debate about the potential harms these media and tools can do from a uniquely African perspective.”
Submission and evaluation
Submissions are welcome from across the African continent and from relevant communities including researchers, developers, content creatives and film makers. The winning submissions of the Deepfake Africa Challenge will be showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE between 7 to 9 September.
- Artistic creativity and relevance to the challenge topic
- Level of innovation used in the process to generate the content
- A short explanation of platforms, tools and techniques used to generate your submission will greatly enhance your submission and are encouraged so we can build a picture of the most common tools and techniques used
The judging panel will be made up of representatives from Zindi, The AI Media Group and Wesgro. The judge’s decision will be final.
1st Place Winner: Complimentary ticket to join AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE (including 1x return economy flight & 4x nights hotel stay B&B courtesy of Radisson Blue to join us at AI Expo Africa 2022). The 1st Place Winner’s flight is eligible to delegates joining from outside the host city capped to $1000 using economy class fare. Expenses and visas are not included.
2nd and 3rd prize winners to receive 1x complimentary ticket to AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE.
Top 3 placed winners will have work showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 along with write up and press mentions.
The competition closes on 30th July 2021. Final submissions must be received no later than 11:59 PM GMT 30th July 2021. Winners will be notified and announced by 17 August 2021 with the winning submissions being showcased at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE between 7-9 September.
The challenge organisers reserve the right to update the content timeline if necessary.
Possibilities of Making Profits On Crypto, Risk-Free
Over the course of the last decade, cryptocurrencies have experienced unprecedented growth and garnered a lot of interest across a range of demographics from all over the world. Interest in digital currencies is spiking globally and search terms such as “how to buy Bitcoin” have seen an uptick in interest according to Google trends. This is just one of many indicators that suggests a notable influx of people are entering the blockchain space and looking to explore the crypto ecosystem.
While the market cap of digital assets has varied extremely with price fluctuations, it, however, grew from about US$10 billion in 2013 to about $237 billion in 2019. Also, in the last 5 years, the increase in Bitcoin (BTC) private accounts and trades has averaged about sixty percent every year. Currently, the market cap for digital currencies is just above $2 trillion.
Even though many people have made early gains in digital assets, the cryptocurrency space is still in the early phase of development. The Internet for example, was created in 1969 and the “worldwide web” was designed in 1989 and subsequently the first web browser in 1990. Compared to those revolutionary technologies which massively transformed the communications landscape, blockchain technology is nascent and cryptocurrencies have only been in use for only a decade.
Crypto goes mainstream
Social media has exposed a lot of people to the crypto industry. The mass media is quick to broadcast the movements in bitcoin prices, leading to FOMO and FUD or the hysteria that sometimes characterizes crypto markets. Overall the ever growing coverage has done more to spur further development of new innovations within the space.
The price increase of cryptocurrency will probably be boosted by increased cryptocurrency adoption. While many institutions have started to invest and buy Bitcoin, there are still a lot of firms waiting in line to invest and buy Bitcoin. The average volume of digital assets transacted on any given day is just one percent of the FX trade. Regardless of cryptocurrencies increasing to more than $2 trillion in market cap according to Coinmarketcap, digital assets are still a tiny fraction of global equity trade ($34.8 trillion in 2020) and worldwide debt trade (over 281 trillion in 2020) according to Bloomberg.
With more institutional adoption of Bitcoin and other digital assets, traders and investors are presented with more chances to make money in the digital asset space.
How to make money with crypto
There are several ways of making profits with digital assets. Given that digital assets are basically volatile, many digital assets involve a great level of risk while some need greater expertise. It is important to have prerequisite knowledge about digital assets before you buy bitcoin.
One of the ways of making profits with cryptocurrency is through investing. This is generally for long-term purposes. It requires you to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and hold them for a chosen period of time. This can be done via different traditional crypto exchanges or P2P platforms like Remitano. Digital assets are usually well-suited to the investing practice of buying low, holding and then selling high. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile in shorter timeframes, however, they typically and have historically offered a much more lucrative upside over long periods compared to traditional investment vehicles.
Studies have also shown that most BTC profits are realized in the ten best trading periods of the year.
Due to cryptocurrencies being naturally volatile, investing for a long period is one of the ways of making profits with cryptocurrency. Just like with any type of investing, risks have to be thoroughly considered and expectations of rewards have to be managed well.
Another way of making profits with cryptocurrency is to trade digital assets. The most notable difference between investing and trading is the general time frames between entering and exiting positions. Investing is for a long period, while trading is basically to leverage opportunities over a short period. To trade digital assets successfully, it is important to know the basic fundamentals and have the capability to conduct technical analysis in order to avoid making costly mistakes.
Making profits via trading cryptocurrencies is more about knowing the price trend and pattern and utilizing it to forecast future value, many times over a short period. Find out the 20 best platforms to buy Bitcoin and other digital currencies in South Africa.
What is the possibility of making profits on crypto, risk-free?
Trading digital assets sounds relatively easy, however, due to the highly volatile nature of crypto assets, it involves a lot of risks. One of the ways to make profits on cryptocurrency with relatively low risk is by doing cryptocurrency arbitrage. This trading method exploits price and demand gaps between different digital asset marketplaces. But, the trades have to be done almost instantaneously to realize gains.
Crypto arbitrage involves exploiting price differences on different crypto exchanges for your benefit. This method is effective in places where bitcoin price varies from one exchange to the other like in South Africa and Nigeria. The price differences could be a result of several factors.
Arbitrage trading involves buying bitcoin or other digital assets from one exchange and selling it on other exchanges at a higher price. Selling the asset after the purchase must be done relatively quickly to avoid price movements narrowing margins or leading to loss at times.
Exploiting the price difference using the cryptocurrency arbitrage technique requires a cryptocurrency market that has price discrepancies depending on the supply and demand in the different markets.
Another way to make money risk-free is with Remitano Invest. Remitano invest allows you to buy and invest in cryptocurrencies without putting your capital at risk.
With the Stop Loss and Take Profit features, your crypto asset will be liquidated to USDT (a stable coin) to prevent loss and maximize your profit. You simply set the auto sell price for the Stop Loss and Take Profit. When the asset you have invested hits your Take Profit price, Remitano Invest converts it into USDT to secure your profit. However, if the asset’s price falls to your Stop Loss price, the system will convert it into USDT to help you secure your capital and prevent further loss.
Risks and benefits are an intrinsic part of most money markets and they go hand in hand. Risks cannot be eradicated but they can be managed. Some risks can be managed by utilizing effective risk management practices. Personal risks like wallet hacks, coin theft, and loss of access to funds can be offset by making sure you implement good security practices.
Article & Image source: Heath Muchena