Ransomware Attacks: US Rep Asks Colonial Pipeline, CNA Financial for Payment Details

Ransomware Attacks: US Rep Asks Colonial Pipeline, CNA Financial for Payment Details

Two US companies and ransomware victims, Colonial Pipeline and CNA Financial, have been asked to reveal details of the payments made to hackers before they recovered their data.

US Rep. Carolyn Maloney sent letters to the firm on Thursday requesting that they release payment documents relating to the communications made with the ransomware attackers.

Maloney Fixes June 12 Deadline For Documents

Colonial Pipeline and CNA have been given until June 12, approximately two weeks to gather the materials and send them to the House Oversight Committee.

In the letters, Maloney requested all documents that detail how the attack was discovered, whether the companies sought external consultation about paying the ransoms, and documents detailing the decryption tools provided by the attackers.

According to Maloney, detailed information about the ransom payments made to cybercriminals is required to legislate effective laws on cybersecurity and ransomware in the country.

“I am extremely concerned that the decision to pay international criminal actors sets a dangerous precedent that will put an even bigger target on the back of critical infrastructure going forward,” she said in a press release.

Colonial Pipeline was hacked in May by hackers believed to be from Russia. The company was forced to shut down due to the ransomware attack, which created fuel shortages in the Southeastern states. The company reportedly paid $4.4 million in ransom.

Another ransomware attack happened later in the same month against CNA Financial. CNA, one of the country’s largest insurance companies, reportedly paid $40 million in Bitcoin to restore access to its network.

Apart from these two companies mentioned above, other companies have also been attacked as ransomware hackers continue to terrorize US companies.

A few days ago, JBS SA, the largest meat producer globally, was forced to shut down its US beef plants after a ransomware attack. Details are, however, unknown as to whether a ransom has been paid or not.

Ransomware Attackers to Face Growing Scrutiny In The US

The constant rate at which ransomware hackers attack firms and the cryptocurrency payments the hackers often induce has heightened the US government’s concern.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) disclosed yesterday that it would start treating these attacks with the same urgency it treats terrorism.

The DoJ also sent a memo to the state US attorney offices and branches, asking US attorneys to file urgent reports if they hear of a significant ransomware attack.

These actions by the Justice Department to push ransomware into this special process show just how much the government is prioritizing the issue.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Aker ASA Considering Accepting Bitcoin as Payment; Elon Musk’s Remarks Change Nothing

Aker ASA Considering Accepting Bitcoin as Payment; Elon Musk’s Remarks Change Nothing

The company that invests in oil and gas, renewable energy, and green technologies and is interested in Bitcoin for the long term is focused on understanding how Bitcoin “will change behavior patterns and the markets.”

Aker ASA, an industrial investment company, is open to the idea of accepting payment in Bitcoin, a decision in opposition of Elon Musk announcing this week that Tesla won’t be accepting BTC as payment for its car purchases.

“Energy usage trend over past few months is insane,” said Musk about Bitcoin mining.

Earlier this year, Oystein Olsen, Governor of the Central Bank of Norway, had also called Bitcoin “far too resource-intensive, far too costly, and most importantly, it doesn’t preserve stability.”

But Aker ASA is unperturbed.

“We’re curious about this technology,” Oyvind Eriksen, chief executive of Aker, said in an interview. That includes understanding how Bitcoin “will change behavior patterns and the markets we are in.”

The firm isn’t reconfiguring its payments system just yet, but “things happen very quickly here,” Eriksen said. “I’m no stranger” to the idea of receiving payment in Bitcoin, he added.

And Musk’s latest comments “haven’t changed anything,” Aker said.

Founded in 1841, the Oslo stock exchange-listed company owned by billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke has ownership interests concentrated in oil and gas, renewable energy, and green technologies.

In March, the company announced that they would use Bitcoin as a treasury asset and be long-term HODLers. Roekke also created a Bitcoin invited company Seetee AS and injected 500 million kroner ($60 million) in it.

“Bit­coin may still go to zero. But it can also be­come the core of a new mon­e­tary ar­chi­tec­ture. If so, one bit­coin may be worth mil­lions of dollars,” said Roekke at the time. Now, they are interested in accepting BTC as payment.

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Author: AnTy

City of Williston North Dakota Adopts Crypto Payments for Utility Services

Following mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies as a payment option, the City of Williston is joining a posse of US states accepting crypto payments.

Crypto Payment Cost-Effective

According to an announcement posted on its website, the North Dakota city said it would be accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment option. However, this would be limited to utility bill settlements only.

But it says it has plans to enable other bill payments soon. The city will conduct quality assessments to know if there is market demand for crypto payment in areas like landfills, permits, and licenses before supporting them.

Speaking on the initiative, Finance Director Hercules Cummings said the state is exploring the digital payment method to keep pace with a fast-changing financial landscape. Cummings said that it is also trying to meet growing market demand for these services and cater to users of all types.

He noted that digital payment methods like cryptocurrencies brought about convenience, cost savings, and security. Cummings stated the affordability of crypto payments, noting that Bitcoin payments attracts1% transaction fee against 3% from other payment options.

The City of Williston has selected Bitcoin payment company Bitpay as a partner.

Aside from crypto payments, the City of Williston said it would also be accepting fiat, checks, credit card, and automatic payment methods. This will see them support consumer payment platforms like Google Pay and Apple Pay.

It is also planning to add PayPal and Venmo to its virtual payment methods.

Williston Joins The Crypto Payment Wagon

Despite what many crypto investors believe about the US crypto space, there is growing interest in the volatile asset class. Across major cities in the U.S, more government officials are turning to cryptocurrencies. One of such is Miami.

The City of Miami has been pro-crypto for a long time. Its principal, Mayor Francis Suarez, has committed to making the state a crypto haven for crypto startups.

To facilitate this initiative, Suarez proposed that municipal workers should be paid with cryptocurrencies. He also said the City of Miami should begin receiving tax payments in Bitcoin.

Suarez has also reportedly hired Miami’s first CTO for crypto Saif Ishoof who he said would provide “concierge services” for crypto startups coming into the state.

In Jackson, Tennessee, Mayor Scott Conger said the city is working on paying workers in cryptocurrencies. The municipality will also be mining Bitcoin and adding it to the city’s balance sheet.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Tesla’s Elon Musk Considers Accepting Dogecoin As Payment For Cars in New Twitter Poll

Tesla’s Elon Musk Considers Accepting Dogecoin As Payment For Cars in New Twitter Poll

  • Months after introducing Bitcoin as payment for purchasing Tesla sedans, Elon Musk is now considering adding Dogecoin.
  • The billionaire started a Twitter poll asking his followers whether or not Tesla should accept Dogecoin.

Musk Continues His DOGE Campaign

Musk asked his almost 54 million followers on Twitter if they wanted Tesla to accept Dogecoin. So far, the poll had received no less than 2 million votes, with the overwhelming majority replying “Yes.”

Musk has been one of the meme coin’s most vocal and prominent supporters. He is known to have tweeted about Dogecoin severally and even once called it his favorite cryptocurrency. These tweets have helped to affect the price of Dogecoin over the months, making it rise exponentially.

The Tesla CEO’s new move comes after his appearance on the last Saturday Night Live show, in which some comments about the coin triggered a downturn in the cryptocurrency’s price.

The cryptocurrency had reportedly fallen by 35% after the show as it struggled to reach $0.47 against the dollar. By Sunday evening, it recovered slightly to reach $0.49, but that was still well below the $0.73 to $0.68 it hit before the weekend. Doge is still currently at $0.49, according to CoinMarketCap.

Dogecoin’s price tumble led to over $280 million liquidations reported across different cryptocurrency exchanges, with Binance leading with the largest single liquidation order valued at $12.07 million.

Dogecoin was originally created as a joke in 2013 by founders Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer. It was solely based on the Doge meme, an image depicting a dog of the Shiba Inu breed, whose inner monologue is displayed in comic sans font.

Tesla’s Interest May Push Other Companies To Accept Dogecoin

Over the past year, Dogecoin has risen in popularity and price. However, it has not been accepted widely by institutional investors, unlike Bitcoin, for example.

Musk’s possible move of making Dogecoin a payment method for Tesla may encourage other institutional investors to warm up to the meme-based coin.

Tesla already accepts Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment method for its electric vehicles. The company made the announcement back in March while also stating its intentions to run a Bitcoin node. Tesla also holds Bitcoin in its portfolio after purchasing $1.5 billion worth of the asset in February.

Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is also a known supporter of Dogecoin. The professional basketball team announced its acceptance of Dogecoin as payment for tickets, games, and team merchandise in March, making it the first merchant to do so.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

MasterCard Survey Reveals Users Interest In Purchasing Cryptocurrencies

Payment giant MasterCard has disclosed in an online survey that more people are considering using cryptocurrency for payments of goods and services.

40% Plan To Use Crypto Next Year – MasterCard

The company had polled 15,569 consumers across 18 countries, and 40% of this group plan to use crypto in the next year.

Millennials seem to be more interested in digital currencies.

67% said they were more open to using the technology than they were a year ago, 77% of this group want to learn more about them, while 75% are open to using it if only they understood it better.

The survey was conducted from February 26 to March 10, with consumers in four regions, including North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

According to MasterCard, no less than 500 respondents in five of the 18 countries and at least 1,000 in the other 13 were contacted by the Harris Poll and Mastercard’s research team.

Apart from cryptocurrency, MasterCard also disclosed that people also voted their interest in biometrics, contactless, and QR codes as a means of payment.

According to the company, people are comfortable with emerging payment technologies and would support services that require them to use less physical cash.

With connections across more than 210 countries, MasterCard is undoubtedly a global technology company in the payments industry. It was first founded 55 years ago in 1966 as Interbank Card Association but was later changed to MasterCard in 1979.

MasterCard Pushing Crypto Frontier

MasterCard has been contributing to the crypto industry for a while now. The payment company was one of the first firms to support cryptocurrencies on its payment network.

Recently, it signed a partnership with crypto exchange Gemini to help launch its cryptocurrency rewards credit card. The credit card would offer crypto cashback to Gemini customers every time they shop with it.

The payment network also has an interest in aiding governments to achieve their CBDC goals. Last year, MasterCard launched a platform that allows central banks to analyze digital currencies. The platform was introduced to facilitate an environment where fintech, banks, and consumers can partner to issue, distribute, and exchange digital currencies.

Earlier in February, MasterCard collaborated with the Bahamas government, which provided the citizens with the option of loading the country’s CBDC onto a prepaid MasterCard.

Now, the company is looking into exploring smart contract technology on central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

MasterCard said it was examining how smart contracts can help central banks worldwide develop digital cash and push towards the realization of state-backed currencies. It is reportedly already in talks with China to explore wider cross-border usage of the digital yuan. Mastercard is awaiting final approval for licenses to start onshore card business.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

eBay CEO says Company Is Looking at Crypto as Payment Option & Selling NFT on the Platform

eBay CEO says Company Is Looking at Crypto as Payment Option & Selling NFT on the Platform

eBay is keeping an eye out after reporting a weak second-quarter profit forecast as it faces stiff competition from Amazon while the total crypto market cap aims for $2.4 trillion.

eBay Inc. is looking at new payment options for its customers, and that includes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, said chief executive officer Jamie Lannone in an interview with CNBC on Monday.

“We are always looking at the most relevant forms of payment and will continue to assess that going forward. We have no immediate plans, but it (cryptocurrency) is something we are keeping an eye on,” eBay said in a statement.

Last week, eBay reported a weak second-quarter profit forecast as it faces stiff competition from Amazon. The shares of eBay (EBAY) recorded a 2.4% increase today, which has been down 14% from mid-April.

The eCommerce firm further explores a “number of ways” to get involved in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Lannone said.

“We’re exploring opportunities on how we can enable it (NFTs) on eBay in an easy way,” Lannone said on Reuters. “Everything that’s collectible has been on eBay for decades and will continue to be for the next few decades.”

NFTs exploded in popularity this year, and last month they were starting to lose traction with prices of digital art and volume dropping, but they seem to be making their comeback now.

“The bubble isn’t crypto, the bubble is everyone else realizing holy shit crypto is here to stay wtf can we do to get in on it,” noted popular trader Loomdart, who is also an advisor to eGirl Capital. It is also a “great” way to onboard new people, he added.

Already many companies are accepting Bitcoin as a payment option, such as Tesla. Both Visa and Mastercard have also taken steps towards integrating crypto in their payment systems.

Payments giant PayPal has already integrated crypto into its system by allowing its users to buy, sell, and hold crypto along with a crypto checkout service. PayPal-owned Venmo also introduced a crypto feature on its app last month.

“Demand on the crypto side has been multiple-fold to what we initially expected,” stated PayPal CEO Dan Schulman.

Amidst this, Digital Currency Group (DCG), the parent company of Grayscale, announced that they are going to purchase up to $750 million worth of GBTC, 3x the original $250 million they were planning to buy.

As of April 30, 2021, DCG has purchased $193.5 million worth of shares of GBTC, it said in a statement.

The market is currently euphoric, with Bitcoin near $58,000, Ether constantly making new highs hitting $3,300 today, and the total crypto market cap set to hit $2.4 trillion.

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Author: AnTy

BTCPay Server Releases New Version After Tesla Discloses Vulnerability

BTCPay Server Releases New Version After Tesla Discloses Vulnerability

Bitcoin payment processor, BTCPay Server, has released a new version after Tesla’s security engineering team disclosed vulnerabilities.

As such, any BTCPay Server user running a version older than v. is recommended to update your instance. Aaditya Purani, Sr. Security Engineer at Tesla said,

“Got assigned 6 CVEs for my findings on BtcpayServer. Highlights include a pre-auth remote code execution by combining two bugs (under certain circumstances). Thanks to BtcpayServer for their swift remediation actions. Please update your instances to v1.1.0.”

Tesla’s security engineering team first reported the vulnerabilities on April 19th, and after investigating and confirming them. BTCPay Server, along with Tesla’s team, patched the vulnerabilities.

A newly patched version, v1.0.7.1, has been released today.

The vulnerabilities included CVE-2021-29251, a critical one that allowed a malicious part to generate an email asking for a password reset to the victim. If the victim clicked, then the targeted account could be taken over.

In CVE-2021-29246, BTCPay Server wasn’t properly validating file names in upload forms, which could result in uploaded files being saved in arbitrary locations on the server. CVE-2021-29250 was related to XSS vulnerability in the Point of Sale feature.

Another CVE-2021-29245 allowed the generation of legacy API Keys which can be used to generate new invoices, and the selection of UTXOs in Payjoin were using a weak RNG.

CVE-2021-29247 involved the lack of httponly, and CVE-2021-29248 allowed a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information.

“We would like to thank Tesla for submitting the disclosure that led to these fixes and helping us with remediation,” stated BTCPay Server, which is now looking into the creation of a bug-bounty program as one way to improve the security process.

Earlier this year, Tesla announced its billion-dollar worth bitcoin holdings and then later started accepting BTC as a payment. Instead of converting to cash, the company will be holding.

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Author: AnTy

Circle Collaborates With Signature Bank On USDC Integration

Circle Collaborates With Signature Bank On USDC Integration

Global payment technology company Circle announced a collaboration with Signature Bank to integrate Circle products and services into the bank’s suite of products.

Circle Picks Signature for USDC Reserve Deposits

The new partnership will enable the New York-based Signature Bank to be the leading financial institution for Circle’s USDC reserve deposits, per its press release.

Circle would also add its products into Signature’s blockchain-based real-time payment platform, Signet. Jeremy Allaire, CEO, and co-founder of Circle said,

“Adding a respected, forward-thinking financial institution to our USDC reserve network is another step forward in adoption and growth for the world’s fastest-growing digital dollar currency.”

The incorporation of Circle into Signet will bring about full integration of its products and services with the bank. Given that Signet offers real-time payment every day of the week, including weekends, the partnership will enable Circle’s customers to benefit from this special service.

Meanwhile, Signet’s speed of real-time payment during weekends is attracting many crypto industry players to the company.

Speaking on the development, Signature Bank President and CEO Joseph J. DePaolo disclosed that many of its digital asset-based commercial clients had demanded incorporating Circle into the Signet ecosystem. DePaolo added that the company would complete the integration of Circle in the Signet ecosystem in the coming months.

He equally said that the company would seize the opportunity to create future partnerships and tinker with the possible adoption of USDC stablecoin.

Circle had attracted partnerships from several global financial service firms in recent times because of the increasing usage of USDC.

In March, Visa Head of Crypto Cuy Sheffield tweeted that financial transactions can now be initiated and completed using USDC.

Circle’s USDC Growing Higher

The Boston-based Fintech firm is making waves in the crypto industry due to the growing adoption of USDC.

Earlier, the CEO of Circle Jeremy Allaire tweeted that the cryptocurrency industry will grow higher under the administration of US President Joe Biden. Allaire holds that Biden’s administration will be supportive because moderate politics benefit cryptocurrency.

Circle has continued to improve its service to enhance seamless transfer for customers. Earlier, the company announced the roll-out of a new Application Programming Interface (API) to enable users to convert USDC to USD through an automated clearinghouse (ACH) system in a seamless manner.

The first exchange to adopt the new API was FTX.

Speaking on the innovation, Jeremy Allaire said that Circle’s API provides a fast, reliable, and trusted infrastructure in connecting bank transfers to retails products with the aid of USDC.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

WeWork to Accept Bitcoin, Ether, USDC, & PAX as Payment & HODL Them on Balance Sheet

WeWork to Accept Bitcoin, Ether, USDC, & PAX as Payment & HODL Them on Balance Sheet

WeWork is the latest company to start accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

In partnership with payment processor BitPay and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, the office-sharing startup will be accepting selected cryptos — Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos (PAX) among several unnamed ones. BTC 0.91% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 56,484.77
Volume 67.71 b Change $514.01 Open $56,484.77 Circulating 18.69 m Market Cap 1.06 t
3 h South Koreans to Face Tougher Crypto Laws to As Regulators Tackle Cases of Money Laundering 3 h Wall Street Journal Blasts The SEC for Setting ‘Inconsistent Rulings’ in Ripple Lawsuit 4 h TIME Now Accepts Crypto as Payment for Subscriptions in the US and Canada
ETH 6.97% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 2,338.20
Volume 39.3 b Change $162.97 Open $2,338.20 Circulating 115.55 m Market Cap 270.18 b
3 h Wall Street Journal Blasts The SEC for Setting ‘Inconsistent Rulings’ in Ripple Lawsuit 6 h Social Trading Platform, eToro US, Adds Chainlink (LINK) & Uniswap (UNI) For Trading 8 h Cryptocurrency Inflows Record A Five-Week High; XRP Captures Institutional Interest

Coinbase will also be the first WeWork member to use cryptocurrency to pay for its WeWork membership.

“It only makes sense for us to expand on the optionality we provide by adding cryptocurrency as an accepted form of payment for our members.”

Sandeep Mathrani WeWork CEO

With this move, WeWork joins the likes of Tesla and Visa. Earlier in the day, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service Venmo said it now allows its users to buy, hold and sell cryptos on its app.

Besides receiving payment in crypto, WeWork will also pay landlords and third-party partners in cryptocurrencies.

The company said it would also hold the crypto assets on its balance sheet in its official announcement.

“Cryptocurrency helps build a stronger global economy, and WeWork’s announcement demonstrates the company’s commitment not only to innovation but also to being a globally-focused business.”

Marcelo Claure WeWork Chairman and Softbank Group International CEO

SoftBank Group Corp. holds a majority stake in the company.

Late last month, WeWork had announced that it would go public through a merger with a blank-check firm (SPACs) in a deal that values the start-up at $9 billion.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Payment Network, BitPay, Joins Square-Led Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA)

Bitcoin Payment Network, BitPay, Joins Square-Led Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA)

The alliance promotes sharing open-source patents and projects across partners.

BitPay is the latest in a string of big crypto companies to join the Square-led Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a blog post released on Wednesday confirmed. The alliance aims to enhance development across the crypto industry by promoting open-source projects and shared patents among members.

Launched in 2020, COPA is an alliance working towards ensuring Bitcoin and crypto remain completely free and open – as first envisioned by Satoshi. Square and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has been at the forefront in calling for cooperation across the crypto field, stating the alliance will “help the crypto community defend against patent aggressors and trolls,” just like they recently did with Faketoshi, Craig Wright.

With cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies becoming mainstream, firms in the space are changing their way of business, with patent protection and court battles becoming the order of the day, Stephen Pair, CEO of BitPay, said.

“We see both business and consumer adoption accelerating as a result of COPA industry leaders working together to advance technology innovation, making the blockchain easy to use for both businesses and consumers.”

As one of the oldest Bitcoin payment channels, BitPay saw it fit to release their patents to the alliance to enhance innovation in the crypto payment space. The platform processes cryptocurrency payments to enable borderless payments using assets such as BTC, ETH, DOGE, BCH, and stablecoins such as USDC, PAX, and BUSD.

BitPay joins Coinbase (a COPA founding member) as the second high-profile company in the COPA alliance to push forward an ‘open patents policy’ to boost the growth in developments and innovation in the crypto ecosystem, a statement from Coinbase read at the time.

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Author: Lujan Odera