Crypto-Ransomware Remains Most Prominent Cyber Attack

Cointelegraph previously reported that Europol, together with the Portuguese police, had seized funds worth €70,000 ($77,200) in what they describe as one of the most advanced counterfeiting operations ever seen. Law enforcement succeeded in bringing down the ring, which sold fake notes on the dark web in return for Bitcoin.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) released its 2019 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) report.

Crypto exchanges continue to be a magnet for hackers

On Oct. 9, Europol presented its IOCTA report of the cybercrime threat landscape. According to the EU-focused law-enforcement organization, cybercrime must be approached in a holistic sense, saying:

“Countering cybercrime is as much about its present forms as it is about future projections. New threats do not only arise from new technologies but, as is often demonstrated, come from known vulnerabilities in existing technologies.”

Europol’s fifth edition of its IOCTA report paints a troublesome picture and shows that cryptocurrency-ransomware remains the most prominent cyber attack that European cybercrime investigators are confronted with, followed closely by attacks that illegally acquire financial data, such as credit card information, online banking credentials or cryptocurrency wallets. The report adds:

“Cryptocurrency exchanges continue to be a magnet for financially motivated hacking groups. In 2018, over $1 billion in cryptocurrencies were stolen from exchanges and other platforms worldwide.”

Europol further points out that different entities within the cryptocurrency ecosystem could be perceived as profitable targets for cybercriminals. The law enforcement agency believes that the trend of crimes is evolving to target cryptocurrencies and that more financially motivated cybercrime gangs will shift their focus to any entity with large holdings of cryptocurrency assets. Europol adds:

“Law enforcement must continue to build trust-based relationships with cryptocurrency-related businesses, academia, and other relevant private sector entities, to more effectively tackle issues posed by cryptocurrencies during investigations.”

European Space Agency Funds Blockchain Project Recording Satellite Data

While Bitcoin might not be ready for the moon yet, its underlying technology of blockchain is being increasingly adopted in space.

The European Space Agency (ESA), a major intergovernmental organization dedicated to space exploration, is funding a new blockchain project aiming to boost the world’s mining industry.

A known contributor to blockchain technology applications, the ESA has now co-funded a joint project with Scottish startup Hypervine to improve data transparency for the mining industry by combining satellite data and blockchain. The news was reported by oil and gas-oriented publication Oil & Gas Middle East.

Preventing potentially fatal accidents in mining work

The project has the ambitious mission of preventing miscalculations and potentially catastrophic or fatal accidents in the mining industry by providing a unified and immutable database of mining data. The project is based on Hypervine’s technology, which enables mining teams and their subsidiaries to clearly record data on an unchangeable ledger, eliminating the risk of the smallest data alterations being magnified down a chain.

Specifically, the initiative aims to record satellite-sourced information on a distributed ledger to provide mining firms with a trusted and coordinated source of data, replacing paper-based sources that need to be cross-checked by multiple teams in different locations. As mining companies may spend months in order to obtain the right data from often-fragmented sources, the blockchain-powered satellite database project is also designed to cut costs of the mining industry.

Positive environmental projection

Finally, apart from boosting accuracy and reducing human error and potential risks, the ESA-supported project will also positively impact environmental conditions by reducing carbon emissions powered by operational efficiencies.

Beatrice Barresi, technical officer at ESA Space Solutions, outlined that the use of satellite-based data for mining is seeing rising investment, while expanding such initiatives with technologies like blockchain is expected to provide better commercial outcomes. Barresi continued:

“It is a core goal of ours to make industries such as quarrying safer, cleaner and more accountable. Working with companies such as Hypervine allows us to achieve these goals whilst improving the standards across multiple industries. It has been great working with Hypervine on this project and we look forward to the next phases to come.”

Cointelegraph contacted both Hypervine and the ESA for additional comments on the initiative and will update if we hear back.

The ESA has been actively exploring the blockchain industry alongside space research. In September 2019, the agency granted blockchain startup SpaceChain about $66,000 to commercially develop a multi-signature satellite wallet. Previously, the ESA issued a white paper on a potential future roadmap for blockchain implementation for Earth observation.

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