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The Covid-19 Pandemic Reveals Ransomware’s Long Game

The novel coronavirus pandemic has stretched the world's health care systems to their limits, creating a global crisis. reported attempted attacks a day later, and the US State Department pledged not to attack hospitals during the coronavirus crisis, in practice hackers are increasingly attempting to cash in. The Microsoft researchers often observed attackers getting their […]

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has stretched the world’s health care systems to their limits, creating a global crisis. New research from Microsoft shows that ransomware attackers are actively making that crisis worse, forcing health care and critical infrastructure organizations to pay up when they can least afford downtime. In many cases, hackers are reaping the rewards of groundwork they laid months ago, before Covid-19 fully hit.

Hackers have known for years that hospitals and other health care providers make perfect targets for ransomware attacks, since there’s life-or-death urgency in getting back up and running quickly. During the pandemic, though, the risk has become even more dire. After a hospital in the Czech Republic was hit by a debilitating ransomware attack in March, the country’s cybersecurity oversight agency warned two weeks ago that it was bracing for widespread cyberattacks against critical services in the country. Two Czech hospitals reported attempted attacks a day later, and the US State Department threatened consequences if the antagonism continued.

The Czech incidents reflect just one corner of a worrying global trend of opportunistic ransomware activations.

“The attackers are definitely being what I’ll call rational economic actors, which unfortunately also means vicious,” says Rob Lefferts, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365 security. “We see behavior where they will break into organizations and actually lie dormant, both because they’re doing reconnaissance but also because they are apparently estimating what is the moment in time when that organization will be most vulnerable and most likely to pay.”

An initial attack might give hackers access to a victim’s network. But they’ll then wait weeks or months for a particularly opportune moment to actually infect the system with ransomware. Microsoft has been tracking such behavior from groups using a number of prominent strains of ransomware, like Robbinhood, Maze, and REvil. While some ransomware groups had pledged not to attack hospitals during the coronavirus crisis, in practice hackers are increasingly attempting to cash in.

The Microsoft researchers often observed attackers getting their initial network access by exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities in victims’ web infrastructure. They saw some hackers taking advantage of a widely publicized flaw in the Pulse Secure VPN and others exploiting flaws in remote management features like remote desktop systems. Attackers also targeted vulnerabilities and insecure configurations of Microsoft’s own products. Attackers could guess passwords of organizations using Remote Desktop Protocol without multifactor authentication or exploit known bugs in Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange servers that victims had neglected to patch.

Attackers even took advantage of tools used in security to proactively find and plug network holes, including the attack emulation platform Cobalt Strike and malicious techniques in Microsoft’s remote management framework PowerShell. This activity often looks legitimate and can sneak past scanners, allowing attackers to lie in wait and do reconnaissance undetected on the network until they choose the moment to actually strike.

While attackers wait for the right conditions to release the ransomware, they often exfiltrate data from their victims’ networks. The motive of this activity isn’t always clear, though, Microsoft says. It can be difficult to tell the difference between attackers who have IP theft or other intelligence gathering as their main goal and those that just collect what they can as a secondary benefit of positioning themselves for ransomware attacks.

“That dwell time can vary between days, weeks or even months,” says Jérôme Segura, head of threat intelligence at the monitoring firm Malwarebytes. “When the time has come for ransomware deployment, threat actors will typically choose weekends, and preferably the wee hours of Sunday morning. This made sense pre-pandemic as staff would typically return to work on Mondays to witness the damage. Now many businesses have their resources stretched far more than before and as a result may be in a tougher position to respond to a compromise.”

Source: https://blockchainconsultants.io/the-covid-19-pandemic-reveals-ransomwares-long-game/

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European Central Bank’s president calls for greater regulation of bitcoin.

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According to the Reuters report, the European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde has called for greater regulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. She linked the use of cryptocurrencies with global criminality and money laundering. ECB chief Lagarde said the digital currency was increasingly being used by criminals worldwide to cover their tracks online and launder money beneath the authorities’ detection. She said criminals are relying on BTC and patchy regulation to move illegitimate money without oversight or supervision.

ECB President calls for more urgency around the global regulation of crypto.

ECB president called for more urgency around the crypto sector’s global regulation and more effort to develop common standards to prevent criminals from abusing digital currencies as a backdoor to money laundering and other nefarious activities. Highlighting the “funny business” going on in BTC markets, Lagarde described cryptocurrency criminality as “totally reprehensible.” “BTC is a highly speculative asset, which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and reprehensible money laundering activity,” she added. Currently, crypto regulations remain in a grey area in most countries, but regulators are catching up gradually. 

Crypto regulations begin to tighten up after bitcoin’s massive rally. 

The most notable example of crypto regulation has been in anti-money laundering, with exchanges and other crypto services now adhering to standardized AML requirements. The news coincides with a rally in BTC prices in recent months, spurred on by an increasing mainstream interest in BTC tokens. This has led to further calls for regulation worldwide, amid fears that more speculators could end up losing all of their money. Combined with soaring rates of fraud and concerns over money laundering and other criminality running through BTC, Lagarde said the time for light-touch regulation of the digital asset was over.

Source: https://coinnounce.com/european-central-banks-president-calls-for-greater-regulation-of-bitcoin/

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Why this on-chain analyst thinks Bitcoin whales aren’t institutions

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While most had high expectations from the crypto-market for the year 2021, it’s safe to say that the market has well and truly exceeded these expectations. Not only did the world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, breach the $40,000-mark, but the industry’s cumulative market cap also went past $1 trillion.

Source: CoinMarketCap

The market and its largest cryptocurrency’s movements make for interesting reading, especially when its charts are observed. In fact, price charts noted an almost vertical movement by Bitcoin, suggesting that this bull run has far outpaced the bull run of 2017.

In such a case, the common perception is that the reason Bitcoin has seen such immense buying power is because a majority of this buying has come from institutions. The same sentiment was highlighted recently by Anchorage Co-founder Diego Monica who, while noting that institutions have more tolerance for volatility and are professional investors, said,

“This rally is absolutely followed and made by the institutions.”

As a result of this, investing in Bitcoin becomes less about following a fad and more about making an allocation to an uncorrelated asset class for purposes relating to capital preservation and appreciation. In fact, many have suggested that at current price levels, Bitcoin might even be too expensive for non-institutional investors to enter the market.

However, on-chain analyst Willy Woo isn’t so sure that this bull run is solely institutionally-driven. On a recent episode of the Unchained podcast, he said,

“We thought it would be, and right now the thing is, I don’t actually think that it is.”

According to Woo, Bitcoin’s bull run is being driven by the institutional narrative of institutions getting behind the idea of Bitcoin and crypto. While institutions have been suggesting that they are going to deploy funds, the majority of them are still yet to do so, he added.

In fact, it may be this validation from institutions that brought in many high net worth investors to this space, with family offices buying in at higher price levels.

Woo explained that a combination of things has contributed to his certainty about family offices making capital allocations towards crypto, including first-hand conversations with people in the space disclosing their intent to do so.

That being said, the main part of such certainty comes from his observation of capital flows on-chain. He explained that the value of withdrawals on exchanges is increasing, which at first glance, seemed to signify that institutions are present. However, a closer examination of clusters of wallet addresses pointed to the fact that a single entity controls multiple addresses.

“It’s not corporation scale where you’re talking tens of thousands of Bitcoin that are being held,” he claimed, adding, “The number of whales holding thousand Bitcoins or more is skyrocketing, and so are the smaller allocations of around 100 and 250.”

Source: https://ambcrypto.com/why-this-on-chain-analyst-thinks-bitcoin-whales-arent-institutions

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ETH Price Analysis [WoW]: Ethereum Price Trading at key Pivot, Oscillators Indicate Strong Momentum Despite Overbought Conditions

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  • ETH price breaking key weekly resistances and confirming them as support.
  • Breach of ETH price discovery is to be backed with increasing volume.
  • Oscillators suggesting strong momentum still present despite overbought conditions.

ETH price is currently trading at a true pivot where a bullish weekly candle close will greatly increase the probability of breaking into price discovery. Price action has been making consecutive higher highs and higher lows since it’s March 2020 Bearish Expansion. The projection remains bullish until proven as this is a strong weekly uptrend.

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ETH Price Analysis: Weekly Chart 

ETH price Analysis weekly
ETH price Analysis weekly

Preluding to the chart above, a strong uptrend is evident with continuous acceleration leading to a potential parabola. The 21 MA has provided a reliable Dynamic Support that has led to a strong Bullish Volatility Expansion from the lows. 

Key Weekly S/R levels have been breached with conviction; price action has confirmed S/R Flip retests along the way with further Bullish Volatility Expansions. ETH price trading in such a volatile range is deemed to have strong swings thus evidently, the volume profile has been increasing. 

Volume influxes are a key indication of a strong uptrend as bullish volume follow through is what drives price action. As evident on the chart, there has been a Volume Climax Node. Bearish volume is still below average as the current weekly candle trades open. For further follow through, an influx in volume is required to break the All-Time High with persuasion. 

The current shape of the weekly candle is of a Bullish Hammer; however, this is not confirmed until an official close. There has been a strong buy-back from the S/R Flip Retest which is indicative of strength. The next weekly candle open will be deemed telling of the overall direction of the trend. 

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Now holistically assessing the oscillators, momentum is still intact with the bulls, epically how the stochastics have been behaving.  

ETH Price Analysis: Weekly Stochastic oscillator

ETH price Analysis weekly: Stochastic oscillator
ETH price Analysis weekly: Stochastic oscillator

As evident, each and every bull cross has led to a substantial Bullish Volatility Expansion in price action. The stochastic helps to monitor momentum in the prevailing trend. It can remain trading in overbought regions for an extended period of time, epically in a strong up trend. Ethereum has an immediate Bull Cross coming to fruition, this will be confirmed on the next weekly candle close. Holding true will store momentum for the break of the All-Time-High. 

ETH Price Analysis: Weekly Relative Strength Index [RSI]

ETH price Analysis weekly: RSI
ETH price Analysis weekly: RSI

Furthermore, observing another key oscillator is the RSI that is responsible for measuring the speed and velocity of price action. Preluding to the image above, Ethereum’s RSI is considered to be in overbought regions however back testing swing high. This is considered to be very bullish if respected, breaking down will mean a reversion in price action. As long as the RSI and Stochastics maintain their respective bullish control zones, ETH price will remain very bullish as it comes close to price discovery, 

What to Expect for Weekly ETH Price ?

In conclusion, Ethereum price remains quite strong as it is approaching its All-Time High. Price action has been maintaining consecutive higher highs and higher lows. This next weekly candle close will be highly indicative of the overall direction. Both key oscillators are suggesting that the momentum is stored with the bulls. A true break is likely to be backed with increasing volume as price action enters price discovery. 

Hope this article helps in the preparation for the next volatility expansion in Ethereum. Follow us at tradingview for more in detail crypto price analysis. 

To keep track of DeFi updates in real time, check out our DeFi news feed Here.

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Source: https://coingape.com/eth-price-analysis-weekly-price-oscillators-suggest-strong-moomentum-overbought/

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