A United Kingdom High Court ordered a proprietary injunction on Bitcoin (BTC) obtained through a ransomware attack on a Canadian insurance company. A proprietary injunction is an order which prevents a person from dealing with their own assets when it is subject of a proprietary claim. On Jan. 17, the UK High Court released documents concerning a ransomware attack, in which over 1,000 computers of the insurance company were rendered unusable through the use of malware that encrypted files, making them unaccessible.
The unidentified attackers demanded $1.2 million in Bitcoin in exchange for decrypting the data. The firm’s insurer covered the client’s losses from cybercrime and agreed with the hackers to pay $950,000 in Bitcoin to decrypt the files, and received a tool to unlock them 24 hours after making the payment. Still, the company needed 10 days to restore all of its systems, including 20 servers and 1,000 desktop computers.
The company’s insurer hired blockchain major analytics firm Chainalysis to track the ransom. The analysis revealed that most of the Bitcoin, 96 BTC had been immediately laundered through crypto exchange Bitfinex. The court required Bitfinex to provide any information concerning the holder of the account that received the ransom by Dec. 18, 2019. Bitfinex did not clarify the status of the ransomers’ Bitcoin or what data was handed over to the court, stating:
“Bitfinex has robust systems in place to allow it to assist law enforcement authorities and litigants in cases such as this. In this case we have assisted the Claimant to trace the stolen Bitcoin and we understand the focus of the Claimant’s attention is no longer on the Bitfinex platform. It now appears Bitfinex is an entirely innocent party mixed up in this wrongdoing.”
According to a Jan. 25 report from New Money Review, the case is still ongoing. Darragh Connell, the insurance company’s legal representative, said, “Return hearings of the interim injunction will be heard again in due course before Mr Justice Bryan who has reserved the case to himself […] As this is only the interim stage, my client’s claim will need be determined after a trial in the Commercial Court in London.” Ransomware attacks are a major cybersecurity threat and are becoming increasingly advanced. Texas-based data center provider CyrusOne paid a $600,000 ransom in BTC in such an attack. In June 2019, hackers managed to infect the systems of the city council of Riviera Beach with ransomware and encrypt government files. Florida agreed to pay $600,000 worth of Bitcoin to the hackers.
Rumor That Russia Will Investigate an Allegedly Fraudulent TON Offering in UK
Shortly after lifting the country’s Telegram ban, Russian authorities began investigating potentially fraudulent offerings involving the company’s unlaunched token, Gram. The token was at one time meant to serve a new blockchain ecosystem known as the Telegram Open Network, or TON. Reports indicate that Russian prosecutors are set to investigate a British firm that allegedly sold fraudulent tokens related to Telegram’s terminated blockchain project. The news was reported on July 3 by the local news agency, Baza.io.
According to the report, the action was brought to a local investigative committee by “several Russian entrepreneurs” that claimed to have purchased $11.7 million in Gram tokens. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov officially announced closure of the TON project on May 12. At that time, the Russian investors reportedly attempted to terminate their contract with the British company. Allegedly having Russian roots itself, the unnamed British firm reportedly wrote off $1.5 million in commissions, having returned just $10.2 million to investors, according to Baza.
This news comes soon after Telegram apparently settled its long-running legal battle with American authorities over the company’s $1.7 billion initial coin offering, or ICO. The ICO involved roughly $400 million in investments from United States citizens. On June 26, the U.S. court’s final judgment required Telegram to return $1.2 billion to investors. Telegram purportedly has already repaid the amount, with some U.S. investors confirming that they received a 72% refund. This amount is in line with Telegram’s original reimbursement scheme.
Russia’s interest in Gram comes against the backdrop of some meaningful regulatory changes. After two years of unsuccessful efforts to block Telegram messenger in the country, Russian authorities suddenly decided to lift the ban on June 18. The decision came just a few weeks before Russia conducted a seven-day long constitutional vote — the results of which could potentially allow President Vladimir Putin to extend his 20-year rule until 2036.
A New Study Reveals Indonesia Was Hit Hard By Crypto-Centric Attacks
Research from Microsoft reveals that Indonesia had the highest malware encounter rate across the Asia Pacific region in 2019. They conclude that this indicates a surge in cryptojacking and ransomware attacks. The report shows that the region continues to experience a “higher-than-average” encounter rate for ransomware and other malware attacks, posting figures 1.6 and 1.7 times higher than the rest of the world, respectively.
Indonesia had a 10.68% malware attack rate during 2019. While this does represent a 39% decrease, the figures remain two times higher than the regional average, Microsoft says. Regarding ransomware attacks, Indonesia is now ranked in second place in terms of encounter rate at 14%. This is 2.8 times higher than the average registered across other countries in the region. Cryptojacking encounter rates stood at 10% in 2019, two times higher than the regional and even global average. They had the highest encounter rate across the Asia Pacific region and ranked #4 globally. Haris Izmee, president director of Microsoft Indonesia, commented:
“While recent fluctuations in cryptocurrency value and the increased time required to generate cryptocurrency have resulted in attackers refocusing their efforts, they continue to exploit markets with low cyber awareness and low adoption of cyber hygiene practices.”
Microsoft Intelligence Protection researchers raised concerns about the increase of COVID-19 themed attacks across every country in the world. They note that there has been at least one incident per country, with the number of successful attacks in high-outbreak countries on the rise. Most COVID-19 related cyberattacks are delivered via malicious email attachments or URLs. Hackers often impersonate global entities with key roles in the pandemic like the World Health Organization, or WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, and the U.S. Department of Health.
UK High Court Shut Downs Allegedly Fraudulent Crypto Exchange
The UK High Court has appointed the Official Receiver as liquidator of the cryptocurrency trading platform, GPay Ltd. According to an announcement published by the UK Insolvency Service on June 30, the crypto exchange showed signs of being “nothing but a scam”.
The firm, also known previously as XtraderFX and Cryptopoint, advertised its services online and through social media channels. The Insolvency Service claims that the ads falsely alleged the service was endorsed by entrepreneurs who appeared in an unnamed UK primetime TV show and a high-profile money saving website. After complaints received by the local authorities, the Insolvency Service proceeded with confidential inquiries into GPay’s activities. These revealed that at least 108 clients claimed to have lost around £1.5 million ($1.84 million) while trading on the platform.
David Hill, a chief investigator for the UK Insolvency Service, commented:
“GPay persuaded customers to part with substantial sums of money to invest in cryptocurrency trading. This was nothing but a scam as GPay tricked their clients to use their online platform under false pretenses and no customer has benefited as their investments have been lost.”
The Court also received reports that clients were denied withdrawal requests if they had not actively traded their deposited funds within GPay. GPay’s case concluded on June 23, 2020 with a petition presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or BEIS. Recently, the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, and the Internet Advertising Bureau, or IAB, launched a new system to detect and remove fraudulent online ads.
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