Enel Group Attacked Again by Ransomware, Netwalker Demands for 1234.0238 Bitcoins

According to an update from Bleeping Computer, Enel, a multinational energy firm based in Italy, is facing yet another ransomware attack. Barely five months since the firm neutralized a Snake ransomware attack, a Netwalker has now attacked its systems, touting to have accessed 5TB of Enel’s data. They are demanding to be paid 1234.0238 BTC ($16.3 million at the time of publication) as a ransom to surrender its decryption keys and maintain Enel’s data privacy.

As per the Bleeping computer report, the attacker first shared a ransom note with them; it appeared to be from a Netwalker who had compromised Enel’s data. Notably, Enel is a leading Fortune 500 company and operates in over 40 countries, while its customer outreach is more than 61 million.

Netwalker-Enel-ransom-note (1)
Source; Bleeping Computer

While Enel has yet to comment on the issue, the attackers have shared links to confirm that they have compromised data from the Enel group. So far, Enel has yet to respond to Netwalker, a situation that now appears to be doubling the amount of ransom. The attackers are now asking for 1234.0238 BTC to give Enel access to the decryptor; something they say must be bought.

Nonetheless, the Netwalker attackers have communicated with the Enel group as per a recent post on Enel’s support chat.

“Hello, Enel. Don’t be afraid to write to us. Tomorrow we will make a blog post about you or start looking for good hands for your files.”

Meanwhile, they have shown that they are willing to leak Enel’s data if their demands are not met. The Netwalker has already released a screenshot of Enel’s unencrypted data, threatening to make it public and analyze further for ‘interesting things.’

As the crypto industry grows, attackers have found a ‘favorite’ in privacy coins like Monero while others don’t go past Bitcoin. Recent months have seen multiple malicious players demand ransom in BTC, one of the latest attacks on Argentina’s immigration office where the hackers demanded $4 million in BTC.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

IOTA Tangle Tech Project Funded by Japanese Govt, to Build DLT-based Maintenance Solutions

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a national research and development organization under the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industries in Japan, announced a strategic partnership with IOTA Foundation to create risk-based maintenance (RMB) systems across industries using artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs).

In a press release shared with BEG, IOTA Foundation will team up with Best Materia, IMC, High-Pressure Institute of Japan, The Society of Chemical Engineers Japan, OMC, Lloyd’s Register, and Yokohama National University in the project. The project aims to provide solutions in the 170 Trillion Yen ($1.5 Trillion) domestic social infrastructure conservation market to build durable and secure infrastructure across industries worldwide.

The AI-driven RMB systems built by IOTA Foundation will be integrated across various industries in Japan to target more countries in the future. The project will assess the damages and risks involved in maintenance – using past maintenance data to predict which parts in industries, factories, and plants need maintenance.

As a software solution (SaaS) service, the RBM solutions will provide a decentralized data service built on IOTA Tangle, a distributed artificial intelligence system, and digitization and sharing infrastructure for data.

As Japan struggles to solve its aging problem across the country, the launch of AI-powered solutions will be vital in replacing current RBM specialists who manually carry out the maintenance schedule. Shigemitsu Kihara, CEO at Best Materia, hopes the integration of IOTA Tangle protocol will enable secure collection and storing of RBM related data, “which is the key to the AI system’s accuracy,” he said.

With blockchain-based RBM systems in place, plants and industries will benefit significantly in mitigating risks from the machines’ maintenance, etc. This will further reduce “unplanned outages, improve plant availability and lower costs” by reducing the manual influence and unnecessary repairs.

According to the release, over 30,000 industries require AI-powered RBM systems in Japan alone. The cost to integrate the project is estimated at 30-50 million Japanese Yen each – totaling 900 billion Yen (~$7.9 billion) to 1.5 Trillion Yen (~$13.2 billion).

In an email sent to BEG’s desks, Holger Köther, Director of Partnerships at IOTA Foundation, praises the open-source and distributed risk-based maintenance system. Holger hopes the IOTA Tangle platform will enhance data collection on the project and further stating,

“Digitalizing the risk-based maintenance (RBM) systems for safer and more efficient industrial plants is only one of many applications where IOTA will be used in the future.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

US Congress Adds Two Blockchain Proposals to the Consumer Protection Safety Act

The U.S House of Representatives has approved two blockchain-affiliated Acts through its Committee on Energy and Commerce; this marks the furthest a blockchain bill has come in the 116th Congress. The two Acts which will now be debated on the House as part of the larger Consumer Technology Act include the Blockchain Innovation Act and a section of the Digital Taxonomy Act.

Blockchain joins the list of emerging tech that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Commerce (DoC) will be tasked with consumer threat identification if the bill goes through. Rep Darren Soto (D-Fla) who is one of the bill’s sponsors noted that blockchain tech is excellent and could go a long way with the right regulatory support,

“I believe our government needs to support that growth, establish light-touch regulations to ensure certainty, protect innovation, stop fraud and enable its appropriate use for government, business and consumers.”

As it stands, the unregulated nature of blockchain has provided adequate grounds for scammers to engage in fraudulent activity and get away with the same in a blink. This was one of the issues cited by the bill’s sponsors and, in particular Congressman Jerry McEnery (D-CA); he highlighted that the incorporation of parts of the Digital Taxonomy Act would play a major role in protecting consumers from the scammers.

Better Late than Never!

Although a little late to the party, the U.S is gradually catching up with pioneers like Japan which enacted regulatory frameworks for the blockchain and crypto industry as early as April 2017. Politicians in the country have also started to accept donations in Bitcoin; Rep Soto, who sponsored this bill told the Chamber PAC that his campaign would be accepting BTC donations. The Democrat Congressman is not the only one that has gone this road; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and MN-06 Rep Tom Emmer are the other candidates that have since accepted Bitcoin.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Power Ledger Report Suggest Its P2P Energy Trial is Ready for a Real-World Use

Power Ledger, a blockchain startup focusing on energy conservation through blockchain and based out of Australia, recently concluded its trial run for a blockchain P2P project for solar energy trading and released a report for the same suggesting the trail was a success.

The study also revealed that the trial run has the technical feasibility to launch on a large scale for real-world use.

The trial run was initiated in December 2018 and was concluded in January this year under the RENeW Nexus Project (An Australian not-for-profit organization). The trial made use of Power Ledger’s blockchain technology to trace the transaction for rooftop solar energy traded among households.

The peer-to-peer solar energy trading was partly funded by the Government of Australia, which surveyed 48 households in Fremantle, Western Australia. The outcome of the trial run found Ledger’s p2p energy trading reduced the cost of energy consumption. Jemma Green, chairman of Power Ledger, commented on the newly released report and said:

“Power Ledger has demonstrated how peer-to-peer energy trading can incentivize the right outcomes for the grid in a more cost-effective way.”

Blockchain Can Offer Stable Power Grids for Lower Costs

Power Ledger, in association with Curtin and Murdoch Universities, published another report last month detailing the findings of the P2P trial run. The study concluded that the use of blockchain for P2P energy trading helps local energy markets to keep the power grid stable and offer electricity at a lower price.

The P2P energy trial run includes a study of distributed Virtual Power Plant (VPP), a microgrid with 650 kWh battery powering homes for the East Village development in Fremantle, a sustainable development project featuring green homes that only run on clean and green energy. An excerpt from the report:

“Participants had a positive view of P2P energy trading and could see its benefits but stated that changes to the tariff structure would be required to make it attractive.”

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Author: James W

Power Ledger To Build P2P Renewable Energy Trading Platform in Thailand

PowerLedger, an Australian blockchain startup known for its work in the field of renewable energy, has partnered with Thai Digital Energy Development (TDED) which is a public-private joint venture.

The partnership was announced on May 25th, which would see the development of an energy platform that would enable environmental commodification and peer-to-peer trading renewable energy trading.

The platform would offer blockchain-based transactive energy solutions, virtual power plants, issuance of renewable energy certificates and trading of carbon credits. The partnership aims to boost renewable energy and acceptance in Thailand, where the government is seeking to generate 25% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2037.

Jemma Green, the co-founder and executive chairman of PowerLedger, believes the new partnership and energy platform would be crucial to the establishment of economically viable renewable energy markets. He said:

“Our partnership with TDED will allow us to accelerate our efforts to promote distributed digital energy markets in Thailand.”

Thailand is Looking at Private-Public Sector Cooperation to Push Renewable Energy Usage

TDED being a joint venture of the private and public sector between Thai energy authorities and green energy specialists BCPG which is a Bangkok firm specializing in solar, wind and geothermal power and operations flourishing across Thailand, Japan and Philippines.

The partnership would oversee four BCPG clean power projects, including Chiang Mai University’s 12MW Smart Campus and its carbon management system.

PowerLedger has been working with BCPG from 2018 itself where the Australian startup helped the energy specialist to launch a similar peer-to-peer energy pilot program.

Vinod Tiwari, head of business development and sales at PowerLedger believes the partnership between the private and public sector could really help Thailand in achieving its renewable targets and given PowerLedger’s experience in the clean, green energy would only help in accelerating those goals. He explained:

“The platform acts as an operating system and innovative facilitator in the transformation of energy markets from centralised to hybrid, distributed energy markets underpinned by renewable energy and distributed energy resources. This unique market-based approach acts as an incentive to accelerate distributed energy resources and renewable energy deployment in communities and helps in achieving a country’s national renewable energy targets.”

The new platform framework would be open to other players in the renewable energy field in Thailand.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Bitcoin’s Intrinsic Value has Effectively Doubled After Halving: JPMorgan Report

Bitcoin “markets effectively priced in a 25% decline in the amount spent on energy per day,” says the “Global Markets Strategy: Flows & Liquidity” report by JPMorgan & Chase Co. published on March 22, 2020.

JPMorgan that treats Bitcoin as a commodity because mining consumes electricity said Bitcoin miners have responded swiftly to the collapse in the revenue following the halving.

After the block rewards were cut in half to 6.25 coins, it has been found that “the intrinsic value estimate effectively doubled,” wrote Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, Managing Director at the bank.

In principle, if the market price of bitcoin is above its intrinsic cost miners should be induced to increase their resources to mine BTC, bringing the cost of mining higher until the marginal cost approaches the market price.

In contrast, if the price is below the intrinsic cost higher-cost producers must exit the market and lower the overall cost until it again approaches the marginal cost.

bitcoin market price intrinsic value

To find the intrinsic value of BTC, the estimated daily cost of production as a function of the computational power employed, cost of electricity and energy efficiency of hardware is calculated which is then divided by the expected number of bitcoins produced daily.

Since the halving, the hash rate has declined by 20%, such a drop was last seen when the BTC price collapsed 50%. This decline also happened against a backdrop of “an improvement in average efficiency of mining hardware, as energy consumption per GH/s has declined by more than 15%.”

This closed down the gap between the intrinsic value and market price.

Positioning Backdrop

Panigirtzoglou also covered the sharp increase in the open interest on both bitcoin futures and options. For CME contracts, it recovered faster than crypto exchanges and had a “steep” increase in both BTC and USD terms. Although CME’s OI has overtaken that of LedgerX, it’s way behind the nearly $1 bln OI on Deribit.

As for positioning in bitcoin futures, JP Morgan takes on cumulative weekly absolute changes in the open interest multiplied by the sign of the futures price change every week based on the rationale that when price increases so do the net long position of spec investors and magnitude of the increase and vice-a-versa.

bitcoin position proxy based on OI in bitMEX and CME

The trends in both CME and BitMEX futures have been similar this year directionally, “with net longs being cut or net shorts being increased sharply amid the March sell-off, and a significant adding of net longs or decreases in net shorts ahead of the halving event.”

JPMorgan’s report however, doesn’t mention the decline in BitMEX’s market share and more than 40% drop in its web traffic.

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Author: AnTy

Ukrainian Power Plants May Use Excess Electricity to Mine Cryptocurrencies

The Ministry of Energy in Ukraine thinks power plants could be used for crypto mining companies; considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on energy.

Crypto mining is one of the most efficient ways of using excess energy, argues the Ministry in a Facebook post from May 6th.

According to the same post, Ukraine’s nuclear power plants have been generating an energy surplus ever since the Coronavirus lockdown began.

Is Digitalization the Answer?

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has always encouraged the process of digitization, so the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy has decided to do the same in order to avoid the waste of energy and after warning that if the situation remains unchanged, the conditions for corruption may increase. Here’s what the Facebook post on mining says:

“There is a way to transfer this ‘liability’ into an ‘asset’. One of the modern approaches for using excess electricity is to devote it to cryptocurrency mining. That would not only allow to maintain the guaranteed load on nuclear power plants but also ensure that companies can attract extra funds. Therefore, it would open the way to a fundamentally new economy, new approaches, a new market model.”

Energoatom State-Owned Company to Take Charge

The crypto news website Forklog reported on May 5th that the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy’s acting head requested that Energoatom, which is a state-owned company, to look at how crypto mining could take place at nuclear power plants and have an answer by May 8th.

It wouldn’t be a first to see nuclear power plants involved in crypto mining, yet a first when it comes to the involvement of a government. Back in March 2020, the New York Finger Lakes’ privately-owned power plant resorted to Bitcoin (BTC) mining and started making about $50,000 a day.

Ukraine is a Crypto-Friendly Country

Ukraine has always been friendly and optimistic when it comes to crypto mining. At the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Digital Transformation in the country said it doesn’t want to regulate the crypto space because the blockchain consensus rules are already doing it.

As far as the proposition sent to Energoatom goes, there’s no knowing yet if the company has accepted it or not. No comments have been made, but there’s still time until the May 8th deadline.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Japanese Electric Co, KEPCO Extends Power Ledger’s Blockchain-Based Energy Trading Pilot

Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO) is moving forward with a blockchain-based renewable energy trading platform trial.

In order to do so, the company is working side by side with the blockchain-related company Power Ledger. The information was released by the company in a press release shared on December 9.

KEPCO Moves Forward With Its Blockchain Trial

As per the press release, KEPCO is going to extend its blockchain trial for its renewable energy trading platform. This is going to be very positive for a country that wants to increase the participation of renewable energies in the whole energy market. The firm will be starting this month and end in March 2020 with all the results.

According to the report, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced it was going to extend the sale of non-fossil fuel value certificates, also known as NFVs. This allows consumers to know which is the portion of the energy they use that comes from renewable sources.

At the same time, it is also possible to use this platform in order to have a better idea about which firms that will provide the largest environmental value. In this way, they will have the possibility to promote and support investment in green industries.

The platform uses Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) with the intention to track certificates and how they are used over time. At the same time, this reduces the number of times the certificates are used twice. Power Ledger plays an important role in providing the necessary solutions for this platform to move forward.

Companies can easily trade their energy surplus using the platform. This can help firms monetize their energy investments and allow customers to have low-cost green energy for their needs.

Considering climate change is putting pressure on developed and emerging economies, initiatives that promote and help renewable energies to expand will certainly help reduce the impact of contaminating energy sources.

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Author: Carl T

Is Bitcoin Mining the Solution to this Major Environmental Concern?

Denver-based company Crusoe Energy System Inc. to install data centers at shale drilling sites to take advantage of the excess natural gas supplies, and turn it into electricity with which it powers the data centers for mining Bitcoin.

The company has now has opened eight such operations across the US and is further planning to open 30 more in the first half of next year.

These centers are touted as a way to solve the growing problem of gas flaring. It is a popular but controversial way of eliminating unwanted gas, a byproduct of numerous industrial processes including landfill gas production, wastewater treatment, petrochemical process, and oil and gas recovery, which has become a major environmental concern.

The greenhouse gases it generates contribute to the burden of global warming. Gas flaring is running rampant that rose to a record in Texas this year.

Now, Crusoe is harnessing some of the surplus gas to turn it into electricity. Through this electricity, the company is powering the data centers that generate revenue by mining the leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

The company is planning to install 70 units next year, with a capacity of 1 megawatt each.

“It’s a very creative way to solve an environmental and economic problem for the oil and gas industry,” said Alex Urdea, the chief investment officer of Upper90 Capital Management LLC, which will be providing Crusoe with $40 million of project financing.

The business model, he said is attracting interest from large gas and oil producers. Earlier this year, Bitcoin billionaire Winkelvoss twins’ Winklevoss Capital Management LLC was also involved in an investment round where Crusoe raised $5 million of seed capital.

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Author: AnTy

Blockchain Startup Partners With Oil Consortium For The Management Of WasteWater

Blockchain technology is being implemented by many companies in the oil and energy sector. The new-age technology is close to achieving mainstream adoption as more use cases are developed.

A consortium of oil firms has engaged a blockchain startup to create a system for the management of water that is used in the extraction of oil. The system will be used in North Dakota’s Bakker oil fields. The companies that form the consortium include Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The blockchain system will bring increased efficiency to the management of wastewater from oil fields, and help these oil companies to conduct their business better.

Blockchain Firm Awarded Contract to Manage Oil Water

A blockchain startup was awarded the contract to run the blockchain water handling technology. Data Gumbo received the contract from the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC) Oil and Gas Blockchain Consortium on the 10th of September. The pilot program will be used at the oil fields in North Dakota.

One of the companies that is a part of the consortium, Equinor, said that they expect to save over 25% in costs related to the disposal of saltwater. Saving this amount of money will enable the companies to direct it towards other activities which will ultimately benefit the industry.

Data Gumbo will run an automated payment system using their blockchain network. The startup will also use the GumboNet platform for the management and synchronization of data about the wastewater. Having this data on one platform will allow the oil industry as a whole to make better decisions and achieve new levels of efficiency.

According to the EPA, over 2 billion gallons of liquid byproducts from the oil and energy sector come into the United States daily. These fluids come into the country through about 180,000 wells, and it is these fluids that will be managed by Data Gumbo’s System.

Data Gumbo and the Consortium

Data Gumbo has developed a technology for the management of supply chain and payment systems in the oil industry. According to Andrew Bruce, the startup’s CEO, streamlining the various processes in the oil sector will reduce all costs by over 30%.

The Oil and Gas Blockchain Consortium was formed in March and it is tasked with looking at the different proofs of concepts for blockchain networks in the industry. The consortium is the first of its kind in the United States and it will give the American oil industry a huge boost.

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Author: Ali Raza