Kyber Network Makes DeFi Debut Following a Protocol Upgrade and KyberDAO Mainnet Launch

Kyber Network has launched a protocol upgrade dubbed ‘Katalyst’ alongside Kyber DAO on the Ethereum mainnet as per a blog post yesterday by the On-Chain liquidity provider. This initiative will see its debut in the fast-growing DeFi market, which currently has a total locked value of $2.15 billion, according to DeFi Pulse.

With this development, the Kyber network’s users will be able to leverage its native token – ‘KNC’ – to stake in the KyberDAO for proposal voting and participation rewards. The blog post reads:

“KNC holders can stake their tokens on the KyberDAO and govern the protocol by voting on important proposals and parameters while earning rewards (in ETH) for their efforts.”

The DeFi market growth has been exponential in the past few months, as crypto stakeholders’ shift focus to the latest market trend. It is not surprising that this field has hit the $2 billion mark despite a significant dip at the onset of the March bloodbath, which gave rise to ‘Black Thursday.’ Kyber Network is optimistic about making an impact in this space, especially following the launch of KyberDAO.

“The KyberDAO will empower the Kyber and DeFi community with an actual stake in Kyber’s future, and allow them to contribute directly to our development.”

Kyber’s Katalyst Protocol Upgrade

As for the improvement protocol, Kyber Network has made some technical changes to enhance the functionality of the ecosystem. The blog notes that its DApp innovators and users should expect reduced network fees, reserve routing for better rates, and customized spreads. Liquidity providers and reserves, on the other hand, should also look out for reserve rebates, more robust market-making tools, and a simplified fee system.

At some point, the protocol plans to improve the KyberDAO ecosystem through Kyber Improvement Proposals (KIP) in efforts to make the governance all-inclusive, hence efficient. Kyber has since remarked that they are glad to join the DeFi space as they eye expansion of their on-chain liquidity service.

“We look forward to working with the DeFi ecosystem to govern and increase adoption of our on-chain liquidity protocol and enhance liquidity for DeFi!”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Hidden Group Rakes in $200 Million in Two Years by Attacking Crypto Exchanges: Report

A hidden group dubbed “CryptoCore” has been targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, primarily in the US and Japan since 2018 has successfully stolen millions worth of digital assets, as per the ClearSky report.

The CryptoCore group has accumulated $70 million from its heists on exchange and is estimated to rake in over $200 million in two years.

Source: ClearSky

Though not extremely technically advanced, the group is swift and persistent and has been active since May 2018 but its activity has receded in the first half of 2020.

The cybersecurity company has been tracking CryptoCore for two years and found that it has links to the East European region, Ukraine, Russia, or Romania in particular.

CryptoCore Digital Infrastructure-Graph
Source: CryptoCore Digital Infrastructure-Graph

In its report, ClearSky points out that CryptoCore’s Modus Operandi is to gain access to the wallets of cryptocurrency exchanges, be it corporate wallets or exchange’s employees’ wallets. The group gains access to them through either spear-phishing against the corporate network or the executives’ personal email accounts.

The group makes use of cloud services, not limited to Google Drive and malicious crypto-themed domains such as btcprime[.]tk, krypitalvc[.]com, and blockchaintransparency[.]institute.

After extensive reconnaissance, the group carries out a spear-phishing attack by impersonating a high-ranking employee. From there, it moves to the victim’s password manager account from where it gets the keys of crypto-wallets and other valuable assets.

Millions Scammed, Millions Lost

Cryptocurrency scams are a growing problem, especially with everyone working from home due to COVID-19. Recently, we reported how bitcoin giveaway scams using the name of Tesla CEO Elon Musk made $2 million in less than two months.

According to a recent study by Scamwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australians filed 1,810 reports of crypto-related scams in 2019, totaling over $21.6 million AUD (almost $15 million USD).

“Most were Ponzi schemes, with no real cryptocurrency involved,” said the report.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also been receiving 16,500 emails on average every day since the service to allow people to flag phishing and other suspicious emails were launched two months ago.

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Author: AnTy

Brazil’s PIER Data Sharing Platform Runs on JPM’s Quorum Blockchain; At A Cost of $250K

Brazil’s financial watchdogs will start using a shared blockchain platform dubbed ‘PIER’ to enhance the transfer of information amongst the institutions. This initiative was launched in April with the major stakeholders being Banco Central do Brasil (BCB), insurance regulator (SUSEP) and the securities authority, CVM. Notably, the country’s social security oversight body (PREVIC) is also set to join this ecosystem eventually.

This blockchain network was initially developed by Brazil’s central bank, BCB, which credited the new tech for its horizontal layout in information sharing. The bank had begun experimenting on blockchain projects as early as 2017 and revealed its ongoing work on PIER network a year later.

BCB’s press officer, Ivone Portes, has since told media outlet Coindesk that the project cost R$1,300,000 which translates to $252,700 as per the current exchange rates. She went on to note that the bank is, however, confident in getting value from PIER blockchain.

The Value Proposition

PIER is run on JP Morgan’s open-source network, Quorum; this Ethereum based innovation has been hailed by the BCB for its ‘private IT infrastructure’. BNamericas further highlighted that the platform leverages cloud computing services from Microsoft Azure. Marcelo Barbosa, the president of CVM, said that PIER will change Brazil’s markets scene towards a more profitable outlook,

“Our objective is that this system promotes gains to the market, given the more efficient, safe and adequate supervision and enforcement to the new technological scenario that we are experiencing”

With PIER’s online bridge, the BCB is also optimistic about streamlining its oversight on Brazil’s financial institutions. One of the functions that have been mentioned by this central bank is vetting elected officials of its regulated entities. The bank’s deputy head, Daniel Bichuette, added that PIER would effectively reduce the processing time of assessing requirements.

This development will probably push Brazil’s blockchain space to newer practicalities. Currently, the South American country is among those that have embraced blockchain tech on a larger scale across the world.

As a result, some private banks within its jurisdiction have already pioneered digital currency tokens on Tezos blockchain. The BCB together with its peer regulators also formed a blockchain sandbox back in June 2019 as a means to spur growth within this industry.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Steemit’s Fork, Hive, Gets A Cease and Desist From Canadian Blockchain Firm Over Name

  • The new Steemit hard fork gave birth to a platform dubbed ‘Hive’ that is currently supported by over 30 developers.
  • This network is barely a week old but has already encountered its first legal challenge following an action by Canadian crypto mining firm, HIVE.
  • The latter claims that Steemit developers who forked the network are riding on a goodwill created by them over their existence period in blockchain and crypto markets.

This move by developers to shift from the original network was not unprecedented as it had been announced on March 18. It was later actualized on March 20 when the Hive platform went live as an alternative to Steemit.

The initiative comes at a time when Tron’s founder, Justin Sun, had just taken over Steemit’s network with the help of Poloniex, Huobi and Binance crypto exchanges. According to developers, this ecosystem takeover is the main reason they opted out of Steemit’s network given the uncertainty of Justin Sun’s actions in future.

The Legal Hurdle

As mentioned earlier, Hive has been called out for using a name that already exists within the crypto space. Canada’s, HIVE Blockchain Technologies, published a notice on 23rd March highlighting it had already sent out warning letters to as to the use of this name;

“In response to multiple shareholder inquiries understandably confused by this Blockchain’s announcement, HIVE clarifies that it has no association with this Blockchain,”

They further added that they are not in dispute of this new Steemit fork apart from the name. It therefore makes sense for the firm to initiate legal action so as to protect their brand according to HIVE’s interim executive chairman, Frank Holmes;

“However, for legal reasons, we have no option but to seek to protect our interests, dispel the ongoing confusion and avoid any potential damage to our reputation,”

Hive’s Technical & Operational Prospects

Despite the legal shortcoming, the Hive (HIVE) token already secured a listing on Bittrex exchange and three other platforms. It is set to be listed by more exchanges in a bid to enable the distribution of its airdropped crypto coins. As it stands, Hive is trading at $0.193 on Bittrex while STEEM is at $0.154. developers have gone an extra step to completely eliminate Justin Sun’s Steemit rights. The team excluded Tron’s founder or any affiliate from its airdrop hence denying them a chance to convert their STEEM to Hive. These advancements by a group of Steemit developers may actually solve the rising issues on decentralization and censorship within this ecosystem.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

BitMEX Provides Clarity On The Insurance Fund After Traders liquidated Last Week

As the cryptocurrency market faced one of its worst days on Mar. 12 dubbed “Black Thursday” following Bitcoin‘s crash to $3,600 USD, BitMEX was put in the spotlight following a crash on its system. In a blogpost published on the website, the largest BTC Futures exchange explained what transpired on Mar. 12 and Mar. 13, to give traders a much needed clarity.

One of the key points that traders were curious about, is BitMEX’s insurance fund, which grew in value as the rest of the market collapsed.

BitMEX opens up on its BTC insurance fund

The statement starts by explaining the liquidation and bankruptcy levels and what processes take place during liquidation. The most important part of the blog is the explanation on what its insurance fund did once the world of crypto came crashing down.

At the time, the exchange was called out for “shutting down the exchange” for about an hour – BitMEX said it suffered double DDoS attacks – forcing out a number of traders in the process when the exchange came back online. Questions fielded in from most of the traders who wondered why the insurance was never activated during the crash.

The exchange wrote that the insurance fund is strictly levered to preventing auto deleveraging (ADL), which is explained as:

“ADL means the automatic deleveraging of the positions of profitable traders (ranked by profit and leverage in that contract) against liquidated positions to prevent bankruptcy.”

The post further states that the insurance fund is not be used to cover BitMEX running costs or contribute to BitMEX profits, and ‘it is not used to influence markets, intentionally or otherwise.”

Community rejects BitMEX explanation

While the explanation given by the exchange soothed a few hearts, a number of traders were left unconvinced. During the whole crash, the insurance fund hit an all-time high as other exchanges faces depletion on their funds. This prompted a number of questions from the community. One trader on Twitter wrote,

“Given that order book was well below mark price, liquidated long positions were well in the red, so it is strange that the insurance fund didn’t lose more.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Republic To Leverage Algorand’s Chain to Build A Digital Security for Startup Investments

A platform dubbed ‘Republic’ has announced it will soon launch its own digital assets based on Algorand’s blockchain. The former allows investors to acquire a stake in upcoming startups; they are now set to tokenize the underlying and have them regulated as digital securities. Algorand on the other hand, prides itself of being a leading provider of Blockchain 3.0 solutions especially for the scalability trilemma.

Kendrick Nguyen, a co-founder of Republic, highlighted that they are optimistic about this move;

The innovation comes at a time financial market stakeholders are looking for alternatives to boost participation. According to the COO of Algorand, W Sean, the equity markets playing field will be leveled for all sorts of investors based on tokenization;

“Republic’s mechanism of allowing anyone to invest in rigorously vetted startups across an array of industry sectors demonstrates a unique approach of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and investors of any size.”

So far, Republic has been successful in creating a market where investors and project owners can interact for progress. The firm has helped raise over $65 million in funds within the course of 2019; this together with other proceeds have been allocated to over 150 entities in the last three years.

Algorand’s Blockchain Solution

This distributed ledger service provider was created to tackle shortcomings by Blockchain 1.0 and 2.0. The platform plans to make its Layer-1 fundamental more scalable for businesses and enterprises. Founded by Silvio Micali, this project seems to attracting more prospects as blockchain enthusiasts embrace third generation innovations.

Looking at these fundamentals, a collaboration with Republic is likely to yield significant adoption for both networks. Republic currently enjoys over 500,000 users and are hopeful of greater figures once they integrate with Algorand’s chain.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Block.One’s ‘Voice’ Social Network Has An Open Door Policy To Other Blockchains, Not Just EOS

During its June ICO, had indicated that its Facebook rivaling social network dubbed Voice, would be launched on the EOS network. However, plans seems to have changed as CoinDesk reports.

Voice has been touted as a different form of social media network which will have in-built crypto and have the capacity to deal with bots since each account will be verified. However, after the announcement in June, the firm went mum but in Dec, it announced that Voice will be launched on Feb. 14.

The announcement came with additional information like a FAQ page found on the Voice website which indicated that a private EOSIO software will be used to run the application. However, the firm was non-committal on whether Voice will be run on EOS saying that other blockchain networks can also be used.

The statement in the FAQ is contrary to a press statement made in June which indicated that the social network would run exclusively on EOS. Still in June, to indicate its commitment to run on EOS, had reserved a large space of RAM within the mainnet.

Asked to comment on the latest developments, spokesperson turned down the request.

It is important to understand that mostly develops software but they are mostly run by other firms. For instance, while it developed EOSIO software, it was launched by a group of organizations from different parts of the world to what is today known as EOS.

Despite the eminent uncertainty, the CEO of EOS Dublin, Sharif Bouktila, remains bullish that will use the EOSIO for Voice. He explained that if fails run its apps on the EOS it would raise eyebrows in the industry as who else is better suited to use the blockchain. He said,

“There hasn’t been a decision that I can see but if didn’t need to use the EOS mainnet for its apps it would raise serious questions as to why and who else should use it.”

EOS has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the recent past due to performance issues. There have been allegations companies running on EOS prioritize speculative profits rather than the technology. The revelation of EIDOS smart contract that paid users for the number of transactions made is just one of the many. These could be the reasons why is considering other blockchains.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Thailand FinTech Startup, Lightnet, Secures $31.2 Million to Scale Stellar Development

A Blockchain oriented startup dubbed ‘Lightnet’ has secured $31.2 million in Series A funding for scaling its network. The Thailand based firm was supported by big players in Asia’s Financial services space with United Overseas’ UOB Venture Management leading the pack.

Lightnet’s blockchain solution targets the fast-growing Asian remittance market that has in the past faced cost and time constraints despite its trillion-dollar potential. The firm leverages Stellar network’s fundamentals for money transfer solutions under its existing products; SmartNet, LiquidNet and BridgeNet. Chatchaval Jiaravanon, the chairman at Lightnet, further emphasized on this niche;

“We launched Lightnet to offer low-cost and instantaneous financial inclusivity and mobility to the four billion lives across Asia Pacific — all powered by Stellar’s fast, scalable, and sustainable blockchain technology,”

A Big Boys Favorite Blockchain FinTech in Asia?

As mentioned earlier, Lightnet attracted big corporates in this latest funding round. Other companies which took part include; Hanwha Investment and Securities, Du Capital, Signum Capital, Hopeshine Ventures, HashKey Capital, Uni-President Asset Holdings and Seven bank. It is notable that these are among the largest conglomerates in Asia with UOB dominating Singapore’s market while Hanwha Investment is a Korean financial services giant.

Lightnet’s Goal to Replace SWIFT

The newly injected funds have since placed Lightnet in a better position to make bigger moves; the firm is looking to edge existing tech like SWIFT. Ideally, the payments solution by Lightnet will be implemented through smart contracts in order to integrate more fiat agents; this will be an improvement from the current underground banking avenues and other channels which are not as convenient.

According to Lightnet’s vice chairman, they are optimistic that annual transactional volumes within the ecosystem will have risen to $50 billion in a span of three years. The firm plans to integrate with some existing fiat payment solution entities operating in Asia; Ksher, Yeahka, Seven Bank and MoneyGram have been identified as potentials so far.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Poloniex Crypto Exchange Set to Integrate Decentralized Trading Following its TRXMarket Acquisition

According to the blog posted on Wednesday, TRXMarket operations will be dubbed ‘Poloni DEX’ and will be accessible on the platform’s official website. Poloniex has been making strategic moves with a recent spin off from Boston based FinTech firm, Circle. Reports within the crypto space have confirmed that this transaction was partly funded by Justin Sun who is the TRX founder.

Stats posted on Tron’s announcement blog however seem to have overstated the value of Poloniex crypto exchange. The figures show that its transaction volume within a week had hit an overwhelming $30 million while coinmarketcap stats indicate the platform’s activity within the past day is below $40,000.

Poloniex noted that it acquired TRXMarket to scale its operations especially in terms of product variety. The firm had been working on a design that can increase the options available for users within its DEX ecosystem for over a year. This milestone comes as a fundamental boost to both Tron and Poloniex as alliances continue to forge ways for more innovations within blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Analysis conducted by The Block shows that the spin off from Circle could actually have been a positive from Poloniex. The exchange increased its market share by 100% following the event; this is despite a struggle to achieve over 1% market share for the better part of 2019. However, a larger part of the spike has been attributed to the zero-trading fee program launched immediately after the spinoff.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Gorgon Group Unleashes MasterMana Botnet to Steal Crypto Assets from Wallets

A new Botnet, dubbed the MasterMana Botnet, is making waves with its sophisticated, cheap and straightforward design. The botnet was designed to steal personal information and cryptocurrency, using a phishing scheme to gain access to your systems. MasterMana is suspected to be made by the cybercriminal organization: The Gorgon Group.

Cybercriminals are always interesting things to talk about. A century ago, no one would be even able to conceive something like the Internet. Twenty years ago, things like Cryptocurrencies were merely nonexistent.

Now, we’re in an era where the Internet is a necessity for day-to-day life, and cybercriminals are a constant threat to your finances, personal information, and even your identity. It’s worth more, and at the same time far, far less, than what you would imagine.

Cybersecurity researchers had tracked MasterMana down to have started as early as December 2018. They suspect it’s financially motivated due to the indiscriminate nature of the attacks placed on businesses’ emails. They showed a specific intent to find cryptocurrency wallets.

It starts with a phishing email. Said email contains an infected document. Opening the document activates a sophisticated malicious code, broken down into layers to help prevent identification. It further avoids detection by using trusted third party mediums to deliver the code.

Things like Bitly, Blogspot, and Pastebin, common data-sharing platforms, are utilized to download infected pieces of code. Usually, attackers use their private domains to host this, making it relatively easier to track.

Cutting out this vulnerability makes the MasterMana botnet all the more dangerous. The code downloads ultimately culminate in an infected .NET dll file that in turn creates a backdoor into the system. The first attacks used Revenge Rat, a free Remote Access Trojan, but as the attack’s lifespan went on, they switched to Azorult, another well-known trojan software.

Azorult itself is a powerful trojan software, designed to steal usernames, passwords, web history, cookies, and even your cryptocurrency wallets. The software can upload and download files on the infected system, take screenshots, and enumerate the system.

This, in turn, leaves it open for more vulnerabilities. Things like cryptominers and ransomware one of many things they can decide to put on your system.

Guerrilla Warfare’s New Front

The most staggering fact about all this isn’t the coding itself, while sophisticated. It isn’t even the risk of financial loss, while considerable. It’s the price tag on an operation like this. Countless amounts of funds are spent every year by major companies to ensure their vulnerable data stays secure. Billions of Dollars of research, development, and hard work have been put into the cybersecurity sector.

This attack operates on an estimated $160 in its entirety.

Using a single virtual private server and using free online services like Pastebin, these criminals managed to thwart a billion-dollar industry. They achieved this by just creating something that kept them ahead for a while. As time goes on, this attack will doubtlessly become less and less effective, but it shows how cheap you can go if you know what you’re doing.

For the sake of your safety, please be suspicious of any and all files attached to emails. Please be aware that these things only need one moment of lack of focus to get into your system. Keep your cybersecurity up to date, and above all, be safe.

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Author: Ali Raza