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Crypto & Ransomware Attacks: What to do Before you Become a Victim

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Crypto ransomware

Imagine losing access to all your wallets and keys on your computer and in a flash losing all of your digital valuables.

If you think it is a wild thing to imagine, think again.

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

With over 88% organizations in Saudi Arabia and 54% of US organizations reporting Ransomware attacks in 2019 it is never too early to be cautious.

Especially, if you are in the habit of storing wallet keys and account passwords on your computer (or tablet).

In this article, we provide you some tactics that you can use to treat Ransomware attack as an inevitability and prepare for it in advance.

If it sounds morbid, that was the effect we were going for. 

What to do to avoid becoming a victim of Ransomware?

avoid ransomware

Be vigilant

The best antidote to Ransomware is to not get one. To avoid being a victim of Ransomware, you have to know how it attacks.  

Here are the top ways Ransomware attacks take place:

Phishing through email

This one method accounts for over 60% of Ransomware attacks.  Phishing is simply trying to lure victims to click on a link or download an attachment.

The creativity that goes into phishing attempts is quite sinister.

For instance, if you received an email from Coinbase.com and if you have an account with them, it is easy to click on the link without verifying the actual source.  

As an example, look at below link:

www.coinbase.com/verify

It is easy to think that this is a genuine link, however, if you hover over the link you will see it will take you to a different website entirely, in this case, we have directed the link to our own website.

Crypto specific:

Be very careful about clicking any links on emails telling you about any free airdrops or giveaways or security compromises.

Greed and fear are common triggers that scammers use to lure you into clicking links or installing Ransomware.

Ads

phishing

When we had a problem with the Binance account, we were trying to call the Binance customer support.

The problem is, we were looking for Binance support on google and astonishingly all the top slots were bought by scammers.

If you called any of these numbers they will listen to your problem like professionals and ask you for your ID, password, 2FA, etc.,

This is a dead give away.  No genuine company requests this information via phone (or even email).  

Hangup at once and go to their official website to find the customer support details.

Crypto specific:

As much as possible, try to type in the website address.  If you do use google, make sure you do not click on paid ads as some of them are bought by scammers sometimes.

Calls & spoofing

Many of my friends who are in the US on visa received a call during 2018 and 2019 threatening that police officers are on their way to their homes to arrest them unless they are ready to cough up $$s.

The callers were so intelligent that they actually spoofed the local sheriff’s number when they called so that at an off chance that you google the number – you will be even more convinced about the threat.

During one such event, I called the Sheriff’s office directly and the lady on the other end said that she was the only one who worked at the Sheriff’s office and they have no guys, and that the Sheriff (or any agency for that matter) will never contact anyone via phone about any legal matters.

Crypto specific:

Exchanges will never call you to tell you about hacks or security issues.  Never give away any passwords or 2FA on the phone.

Shady websites – look for the shield

If you have to access any shady websites, make sure you have a separate device for that other than the one that you use to access your emails and store files.

General rule of thumb is to look for the ‘secure’ key on the browser to make sure that the sites you are visiting are safe to visit.

Take regular offline backups

It is important to have backups either on an offline system or harddrive. To ensure you don’t lose data due to damage to the drive, strive to take 2 backups.

Crypto specific:

Hardware wallets are a great way to secure your crypto wealth. Do not store wallet keys or passwords to your accounts on your computer.

Redundancy is important but not too much

Have important files, keys and other information on offline devices that are not connected to the internet.

Use anti-virus and anti-malware software

Some anti-virus and anti-malware software warn you every time you try to install something to grant explicit permission.

This helps if some Ransomware tries to silent-install itself.   

What to do if you become a victim of Ransomware?

how to avoid hack

If you do end up becoming the victim of a Ransomware, do not panic and follow the following steps (these steps are assuming you are an individual and not an organization).

Disconnect from internet

Turn off your wifi, unplug your modem and internet connection.  Some of the 

ransomwares have worms (which is a fancy way of saying they install themselves on all connected devices on the network) and distancing the infected computer from the network is the first step.

Disconnect all devices from the network

Computers, printers, any device that uses the internet from the same network (devices connected via wi-fi is a good place to start). 

Wipe the system clean

The best bet when your files get locked is to clean up your harddisk and reinstall the entire system before you start using the device.

Restore the computer using original software

Try to use OEM sources to reinstall your original software onto the wiped system.  Do not login to any financial accounts from the computer until you have re-run a security scan using the latest version of antivirus.

Do NOT pay the ransom

Ransom looks like a tempting solution, however if you pay ransom, you run into following issues:

  • You may not get the access to the files despite paying the ransom
  • You will be encouraging internet terroris*s by paying them
  • You might get marked as someone they can bully into paying

It is always better to reach out to respective authorities for help. 

Special areas of concern for Crypto folks

Mining software

Many of the mining software files are flagged by the anti-virus and anti-malware software as suspicious.

You are forced to shut-down the firewall to complete the installation of these mining files.

Do you completely trust the source of these mining software? 

As a general rule, we try to use apps for mining that are available on popular platforms like AppStore.   

These companies have stringent protocols that the app needs to adhere to before it can be listed on the store.

However, when you download a mining software directly from websites – be sure that there is nothing phishy.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a method in which the malware sits silently on your computer and uses your computer (and any other device connected to the same network) to mine cryptocurrencies.

Any device that is connected to the internet is vulnerable to cryptojacking.

Because there are no alerts or ransom demands, it is difficult to detect if you have been a victim of Cryptojacking, this is why having a reliable anti-virus and anti-malware software could help.

In conclusion

Most, if not all, of our funds are in digital form.  This is especially true for cryptocurrencies. Unlike the traditional banking system where you can lodge a complaint or tap into insurance, crypto is our own responsibility.  

As such, the onus lies on each of us to make sure we are prepared for any potential attacks including Ransomware.

We hope this piece has given you some things to think about your crypto security.

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

best Crypto Tax Software

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

 

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Why this bull run has no precedence? ONE key metric to rule them all

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bull run 2020

Everyone is singing the praises for the bulls’ arrival in the crypto space.

Some say that 2020 will mark the biggest bull run in cryptos’, albeit short, history.  

We are already in October so we doubt any fireworks will take place now since there is a lot of uncertainty about the US elections.

Add the uncertainty around the stimulus bills, unemployment trends, soon to be lifted forbearances and the list goes on.

2020 still has another 2.5 months to go but most of these uncertainties will take a while to show their true impact.

For instance, what will a Biden presidency mean for the economy and cryptos?  

How many people will be forced to sell their homes once the forbearance’s are lifted?

What happens if the next stimulus bill does not pass through?

When will the vaccine become available?

These are some of the unique situations that we have no precedence for. Do not let anyone convince you that we know what’s going to unfold, because no one does.

Yes, everyone has theories, like the ones we are presenting here, but that is all they are: theories.

The BIGGEST metric that crypto community is not considering

We are no economists nor can we run any fancy charts to impress a point on you.  

We are just good observers and have common sense to deduce a few things based on data.  

For instance, between 2007 and 2010 consumer spending dropped by an overall .2% and we know what that meant for the economy.

Personal consumption expenditure

In 2020, people have literally cut down on their spending.  Some of it is forced due to the restrictions imposed by external forces and most of it is self imposed.

I am sure the spending on marijuana, liquor and food have gone up but what about other spending?

2020 also saw a spike in the savings balances.  

Economy is not stimulated by people hoarding their money. People need to exchange value for the economy to thrive.

What happens to the spending behaviors when the true stats around evictions, lost jobs (that are not coming back) and small businesses that are shutting down permanently are out?

Our guess is that people are going to be weary of spending money in the short to medium term. If we were forced to pick a timeline – we would say about 12-16 months (assuming we get a vaccine in Q1 2021).

When is the next bull run? 

Based on what we have seen in 2007 through 2010 and observing the consumer spending habits in recent times, we think that Bitcoin (and cryptos) will not find their true peak until next halving.

We know this is not what you came to hear.  

If the bull run in your mind is hitting the 2017 highs then we do not think you have to wait until the next bull run.

If the bull run means a $100,000 bitcoin then we stand by our opinion on when that is going to be.

A case for bull run

In spite of what is going on in the street, following factors are acting as strong bull market signals for the crypto space. 

Hype: Crypto space (specifically Bitcoin) has been gathering a lot of steam in terms of brand awareness and mass penetration.  This is great for the long game.

Adoption: More than ever, private and public enterprises are becoming serious about bitcoin and underlying blockchain technology.  What is good for bitcoin is good for blockchain and vice-versa.  MicroStrategy investment, Paul Tudor Jones getting involved with bitcoin are some examples.

Tech explosion: Crypto space is home to some of the brilliant minds in the tech space. Add Big Techs interest in the crypto space and you have a perfect recipe for monumental shifts in crypto perception. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook are all getting involved with blockchain and cryptocurrencies in some shape or form.

Retail demand: More and more retail investors are looking for alternative investments and they are waiting on the sidelines to get involved with Bitcoin.  As soon as companies like Fidelity or other brands offer crypto investment through retirement plans – there would be a massive influx into this space.

DeFi: DeFi in its current state might be infested with shittty projects but as a concept and technological shift to turn the current banking system upside down – it holds great potential. Any demand to DeFi brings more demand to bitcoin, ethereum and blockchain in general.

Conclusion

The debate around when is the next bull run will hinge on how the market recovers from this pandemic. How soon will we get the vaccine and how many of the lost small businesses and jobs are we going to resurrect?

From a macro perspective, Bitcoin and few select cryptocurrencies will continue their upward trajectory so if you looked back to 2020 five years from now, you might think bitcoin was on sale.  

Question is: how many people have that kind of patience?

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

 

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Is Cryptocurrency driven by fundamentals or hype?

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Fundamentals or Hype

During the early 2000s India experienced a massive real estate bubble. With a lot of western companies opening their outsourcing centers in India, the land prices shot up 2x, 5x, 10x, and even 100x.

You read that right. 

Have you heard about 100x in Real Estate?

To be sure, the demand was exponentially growing in the major cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc., which were quickly turning into back offices for the many western companies.

The hype in these cities was somewhat justified.

However, here is the kicker.  Many remote places which did not directly benefit from this influx of foreign direct investment started seeing their prices go up in similar fashion.

In a crazy case of trickle effect and super-hype created by the real estate agents, properties were just trading from one party to another for unbelievable markups and the prices constantly went up.

Today, that massive bubble is still intact minus the crazy multipliers.

The reason we like the comparison of what happened in Indian Real Estate market to the crypto is that a genuine need in a specific space has been exploited to translate that hype onto anything tagged with the name. 

In India that hype tag was ‘land’ and in crypto that hype tag could mean anything from ICOs to DeFi.

Ask any crypto enthusiast they will make you believe that crypto is all about fundamentals.  However, anyone who has spent even a few months in the space quickly realizes that crypto prices don’t follow fundamentals.  

This is one place where Crypto space shares its similarities with the stock market as well.

Stock market is completely distanced from the economy and it too acts irrationally, that is, when people are losing jobs and businesses are shutting down permanently, the stock market rallies higher and higher.

Similarly, crypto space, to its own detriment, is ignoring the projects that have amazing fundamentals while pumping other projects solely based on the hype.

Long term vs. Short term

Hype is short lived. Fundamentals are a long game.

That is why we emphasize that anyone interested in the crypto space does their own research in finding the projects that meet their fundamental criteria.

Once you know that a project has fundamentals (team that can execute, problem worth solving, solution that can solve, market demand, etc.,) then you just ignore the FOMO and FUD.

This will help you sleep better and use your spare time and energy in quality endeavors like taking care of yourself or spending time with family, etc.,

If you get on the hype train – it will be difficult to catch the right wave and this constant lookout for the next big thing is going to rob you of all the peace.

And, if you find yourself on the right side of the wave – you will be decimated and drowned.

DeFi defies all common sense

That is what happened with a lot of people who tried to ‘time’ the DeFi market.  

Don’t get us wrong. Many people made a ton of money (and good for them).  However, remember, crypto at this point of its evolution is a zero sum game.  That means, for everyone who made a million someone lost that million.

Unless you got on a project quite early keeping your risk level low or you have some insider information (not to mention this being illegal), you can generally not ‘time’ the market.

Many veteran traders have lost their shirts in chasing the market.

Conclusion: does this mean I should stay away from DeFi?

We cannot tell you that.  That is something you got to decide for yourself.

By market cap, Yearn Finance is considered one of the top DeFi projects. It lost over 67% in less than a month.   

Personally, if the top most project is still trying to find the ground while other projects are losing 99% of their value in a matter of a day, that means one thing:  the space needs time to mature.

We will continue to learn about DeFi. We will continue to invest what we can afford to lose when we find the right project that meets our fundamentals criteria.

That is our strategy at the moment. You have to find a strategy that suits you.

While crypto space is riding on the hype at the moment, we continue to believe in fundamentals.

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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Will India Ban Cryptocurrency Trading?

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Cryptocurrrency Ban India

India keeps playing with the emotions of the crypto community in India with constant back and forth of change in rules.

First it was a complete ban of crypto transactions. RBI forbids banks from serving any clients that deal in cryptocurrencies. Thanks to the Supreme court decision, RBI had to back off.

Now, there is a renewed effort to place a ban on crypto again.  

Is Crypto Ban a good thing for India’s financial future?

No, Cryptocurrency is here to stay according to many financial investors and billionaires. As nations prepare for a hyper-inflation cycle to sweep the world, Cryptocurrency can act as a hedge in addition to gold and silver.

If the government is concerned about illegal activities with cryptos then they can relax because most crimes happen in fiat cash transactions, not crypto which is traceable.

Crypto traders generally are not the ones that take part in illicit trades.  It is those who introduce illegal ICOs and OTC trades.

How about regulations?

Instead of banning crypto trades, how about bringing clear regulations to provide a framework for the crypto trading.

Such a framework should include stricter guidelines for ICOs and OTC trades.  

Crypto exchanges can relay the trading information directly to the tax authorities (instead of needing to be subpoenaed) so that there is transparency.

Will India Ban Cryptocurrency Trading?

That depends on whether India wants to be in the ranks of the United States, Switzerland, South Korea, etc., or if it wants to be counted among China, Russia and North Korea.

The United States, South Korea and Switzerland (along with other countries) are doing everything to stay ahead in the blockchain and crypto race.

Other countries we stated above are working to stomp on the innovation. 

A better question is: Can India ban cryptocurrency trading?  

The answer is NO.  

To ban cryptocurrency trading – India will have to shut down the internet.  

In the event of an actual law that bans Indians from participating in the cryptocurrency trading, the only people that will be impacted by those are the ‘honest’ citizens because the crooked ones will still find ways to trade using VPN or alias names.

For a country that wants to be at the forefront of technological revolution a ban would be a very backward decision.

We urge the Indian government to NOT punish the honest citizens by introducing a ban.  Rather, introduce a sensible legal framework for everyone to operate in.

This will bring more businesses to India and take India’s platforms to the world.

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. We appreciate you.

Stay safe and healthy!

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER

Everything in this article is an opinion, not an advice of any kind. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, investment, legal or other professional advice. Please consult with a professional for specific advice.

We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information and claims made.

All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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