[PSA] Fellow exchangers! Net Neutrality is up for repeal by the FCC. If it gets voted out, ISPs like Verizon have the right to block websites like Reddit, or charge for other websites like YouTube. (50 points, 6 comments)
[PSA] How to use GCXBot effectively and trade safely! (13 points, 15 comments)
[Q] BrokeMember and I are thinking of starting a regular thread where we will raise donations for the mods to say thanks for all their hard work. More details are in the post; leave a comment for suggestions/if you are interested. (12 points, 32 comments)
[PSA] Fellow exchangers! Net Neutrality is up for repeal by the FCC. If it gets voted out, ISPs like Verizon have the right to block websites like Reddit, or charge for other websites like YouTube. by dylanplayspkmn (50 points, 6 comments)
Preparing to sue a scammer in small claims court for $3000. Looking for advice on strength of evidence.
I posted about this already. I've decided that I'm going to sue a scammer who manipulated me out of ~$3000 in small claims court. The online filing process seems quite easy and reasonably priced, so I'm planning to do it myself. If this goes to court, I'll fly to London and represent myself. I'm wondering how strong my case will be before I decide to drop the almost $200 on the filing fees. Summary I sold an item on eBay. Buyer requested a refund. In a panic because I couldn't immediately figure out how to send a refund due to PayPal rearranging their transaction details page, I verbally offered on the phone to send the buyer Bitcoin until I can sort out the refund, hoping this sign of goodwill would get him to remove the negative feedback he left, and to close out the open eBay/PayPal case. Once PayPal refund is issued, buyer refuses to send Bitcoins back, and manipulates me into sending another $30 "to cover transaction fees" in order to send the Bitcoin back. Afterwards, he continues to ask for more money because I'm being annoying by calling so often and explicitly requests another $250 in order to send back the Bitcoin and to change the negative feedback he's left. It becomes clear at this point, that this guy is a seasoned scammer, and I end communications with him. The incriminating conversations all occurred on Skype. I called his listed PayPal phone number to discuss the initial arrangements and gave him my Skype username so we could negotiate things. He immediately added me on Skype after that phone call. I can now see that he was using a fake Skype account to talk to me which doesn't easily connect to his real identity which I have via eBay and PayPal. I suppose this was intentional to obfuscate his identity. So far, I've gathered multiple Skype accounts supposedly belonging to this person. One Skype account appears to be attempting to impersonate a US Government office, and another one impersonates a major UK retailer (this is the one I was talking to). I also found his authentic Skype account which I surprisingly now have a mutual connection with. I went ahead and deleted all my Skype contacts except the fake UK retailer, and the mutual connection with his real Skype still exists, therefore he must have connected his real and his fake UK Skype accounts. I mention the above because I suppose the strength of my case depends on how well I can prove that the person I was talking to on Skype is the customer from eBay. How I plan to prove Skype = eBay customer
Using the number on PayPal, I called the customer and gave them my Skype username. They then added me on Skype and it began.
One of his first messages in Skype conversation is "Want to send a bit coin please let me know I’ll call you and I will cancel everything in eBay and PayPal"
He mentions multiple times for me to stop calling him 40 times a day. I have call records showing that I was calling his PayPal phone number. So I suppose that's another connection.
After writing all this, it does feel like the Skype/identity thing is pretty solid. The only next question is, is the transaction history on the blockchain of the Bitcoin I've sent to him admissible for the amount he owes me? He gave me a wallet address, I sent the specified amount, and there's a publicly viewable link showing how the transfer went down. I also have the transaction history available from my personally verified Coinbase account. Supposedly to a Poloniex wallet from what I can deduce. One of the most appalling things about this, is at the end of the conversation when I tell him that I'm going to sue and report him to the UK government, he just says, "Ok ,,, tha Go and do that." And then he continues to request me to pay him again for fixing the feedback. I don't know if he thinks he's completely immune from prosecution, or he's an idiot, or he thinks I'm bluffing, or I'm missing something. I have his Facebook, eBay account, multiple Skype accounts, WhatsApp, four phone numbers, address, previous address, full name, photos, dating profile, VK account, YouTube account, G+ account, and a list.am account. I understand that this is a lot of information to digest, and that I really should be paying a professional. In that regard, I would be willing to spend a bit of money if any qualified individuals reading this would like to dive into the specific evidence I have and give me some specific advice on how to legally proceed with this matter. Just send me a PM if you're interested in that. Or let me know if I'm not allowed to offer cash and I can edit this out of the post.
Disclaimer:This post is not an endorsement to either buy or sell Bitcoins. I am simply attempting to outline the reasons why there is inherent value in Bitcoins, as well as the risks that come with investing in a crypto-currency. In full disclosure, I personally own and use them, but only a very small portion of my overall portfolio which I would be ok if BTC went to 0 tomorrow. Purpose: I’ve been seeing a lot of doom and gloom (as well as irrational exuberance) in a lot of posts lately, and a lot of people saying this or that with no evidence or fundamentals to back up their claims. So I wanted to put my thoughts and experiences [more about me below] out there in the hopes that people actually serious about utilizing Bitcoins (BTC from here on) might find this information helpful, as well as to connect with and solicit thoughts from anybody else that’s done research on the future of BTC. Also mods: I searched through old posts and the FAQ but couldn’t really find anything like this, so let me know if there is a more appropriate place to post this. I can also add hyperlinked sources to this to make it a reference document if there is interest. Summary/tl;dr: The fundamentals underlying the intrinsic value of Bitcoins haven’t changed. In fact, they continue to improve day-by-day, as merchant and user adoption increases. As long as this trend continues, and certain risk factors - see below - are minimized, BTC will eventually become widely accepted as a currency. That being said, you should never “invest” more money than you are willing to completely lose, or money that you would otherwise need for living expenses. Otherwise, you are gambling. (I put “invest” in quotes because I believe BTC are currently far too speculative to be considered an “investment.” This may change in the future, but the technology is still so new, and there are so many unknowns, that it should not be considered anything more than a speculative investment at this point.) This has happened before and it will happen again: This week hasn’t been good for those holding Bitcoins. In fact, if you invested in BTC anytime in the past year, I’d say it’s been a pretty shitty year, period. But the thing is, we’ve seen this type of thing in financial markets before, almost exactly to a t, and how they tend to play out. There have been various bubbles of all shapes and sizes throughout history, and the run-up in prices earlier this year, was no exception. However, unlike the critics, I believe BTCs are different, as there is significant intrinsic value in the BTC network and BTC as a value store - which I outline below. I also think it’s useless to speculate about the direction of BTC in the short to medium-term (I would argue the price adjustment has been a good thing for the long-term), so to me the only meaningful way to analyze what’s going on is to examine the fundamentals (apologies if a lot of this is basic, but I wanted to cover all the key points as I saw them):
Currency As a Store of Value: A currency has value because the holders of it believe it has value. This might seem like a paradox, but it is how fiat currencies (namely, the USD and every other major currency in the world) function, and BTC is no different. As the number of people owning and using BTC increases, the relative value of BTC will have to grow as the supply is limited to 21million BTC (to use an economics analogy: In this case, we can’t find more seashells, we can only break the ones we have into smaller pieces). What if user adoption were to plateau or decrease? Even if growth were to stop today, and not a single more person in the world were to use BTC than already are, there would still be value assigned to them by those who currently hold, which is reflected in the BTC/USD rate. There is already value there by virtue of the number of people that own it and merchants that accept it. As of me writing this, there are an estimated 1.2million BTC holders on ledgers worldwide. This number is greater than the population of many countries that have their own currency. I believe BTC are past the point where people should question the viability of BTC as a store of value, and instead look at BTC for the value it provides for the following reasons.
Worldwide Transaction Network: In my analysis, this represents the true potential value of BTC. Think of the major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX) - they’re accepted pretty much anywhere right? You can walk into almost any shop throughout the world, and as long as you hold one of these cards, the merchant will trade you his/her goods and services for a portion of what you’ve got in your account. And this is hugely valuable. To the tune of $Billions per year these companies make in profit, all because of the network of merchants that accept them worldwide. But one thing that people might forget is these companies had to grow their merchant network, just like BTC, one at a time. Thus, this to me represents the primary growth potential of BTC. I’ve seen estimates that 10,000 retailers are currently accepting them, and there are some pretty big names in the list (Overstock, Target, eBay via PayPal, CVS). As the number of places that accept BTC increase, so does the intrinsic value. This also has a compounding, even self-fulfilling, effect: as the number of places that accept BTC increases, the value increases, thus more merchants are willing to accept BTC as a currency because it has value…chew on that for a second.
Growing BTC Eco-system: This is represented by the growing number of Bitcoin-related venture startups and websites/wallets/apps that support BTC transactions. There is a network effect here, and as long as people are invested into it, will continue to grow.
Security/Anonymity/Ease of Transaction: I think most of us are familiar with BTC security measures (how important the password to your wallet/account is), how the hashes are generated by an algorithm that cannot be faked (essentially counterfeit-proof), and low transaction costs. These are all pluses that make the currency attractive as a value store, with some caveats listed in the “Risks” section below.
Hedge Against Fiat Currencies: This is a two-edged sword. I think there’s a lot of investment in BTC because of the fear of overactive Central Banks inflating other currencies (again, namely the USD), but as we saw this week, this can work against BTC. I explain more later below.
So I’ve briefly outlined above some pretty clear reasons why there is inherent value in BTC, and the reasons why I personally am optimistic about the long-term future and will continue to use them. That being said, I’ve also identified several primary risk factors that worry me as a long-term investor, ones that all holders of BTC should be aware of. Please, if you know or can think of any others, reply or PM me so I can add them to this list:
Continued market volatility: Price volatility might be good for day-traders, but for a currency, it’s killer. As described above, one of the core elements a currency must have is as a store of value, and if the price fluctuates wildly from day-to-day, merchants (and currency owners) will be less willing to accept it. Who would want to hold currency that’s worth 1/2 of what it was last week? This is also a reason why it’s essential for the currency to have a limited supply (or perception thereof), or else rampant inflation would occur - look at Zimbabwe. The bottom-line is, if the USD (US Dollar) were to drop 25% in one week, like we saw with BTC this week, it would indicate a complete economic collapse was occurring. Faith in the currency would be destroyed, and it would take extreme measures to preserve it. It’s actually kind of a small miracle BTC hasn’t completely collapsed, but I think it’s because (1) there is real value in it, and (2) BTC are not widely used yet. The remedy for this is there has to be either (1) a large holder of the currency that is able to inject or take out some currency to keep the price stable -- if you look at the US Federal Reserve this is one of its two primary mandates, or (2) the number of BTC owners has to reach a saturation “tipping point” where enough people are utilizing the currency for day-to-day transactions, and not for speculative reasons. I don’t believe we’re quite at this point yet, but getting there.
Governmental regulation: This is a big unknown for me, and with recent news that Russia and China have prohibited use of BTCs, presumably in the effort to curb illegal transactions, could become a trend. However, to address people who are concerned about this, I would make the following points:
What is the reason for government regulation? Is it to curb illegal activity transacted in BTC? If this is the case, there is plenty of illegal activity being transacted in US Dollars, Russian Rubles, gold coins, jewelry, etc… What makes BTC special? If the reason is to prohibit a competing national currency, then that is a separate legal issue which will have to be resolved, but probably not until far in the future. In the US, a case like this would almost definitely go to the Supreme Court for clarification.
Which government agency should have regulatory authority? In more democratic societies (than Russia and China) that have a strong rule of law (most of the rest of the western world), government agencies can’t simply do something because they want to (unfortunately the trend is changing even in the US). There has to be a legal jurisdiction or precedence that would allow this, and because crypto-currencies are so new, none has been set. For example, just look at how long it took most state governments to start taxing Amazon purchases. I used to live in Virginia, and they just started in Dec 2013, almost 20 years after Amazon was founded…
How would governments enforce restrictions? Would it be by imposing fines on merchants that accept the crypto-currencies? Legally, how is this different than restricting payment in gold or silver then, or Craigslist transactions?
Ease of use: BTC are not quite easy enough to use where the average person will find it appealing. I think a lot of companies are working to address this (e.g. the hardest part of signing up on Coinbase was remembering my password), so to me this risk is what we can do the most about, but still a concern.
Loss potential: If you forget or lose your password, you’re SOL at this point. But this isn’t really different from losing cash on the street.
Market Cornering(added): There is the possibility a large percentage of the total available BTC are owned by a handful of individuals. For example, it is estimated that Satoshi alone owns ~1 million BTC. In the event that one or more of these owners were to attempt to corner the BTC market there could be extreme price volatility.
Current overall valuation may be a bit high: Back of the napkin calculation follows- Total valuation of BTC = (# of BTC available) x (current price/BTC) Total valuation of BTC = ~13million x $330 = ~$4billion $4 billion of perceived value is probably high for as small as the BTC network currently is. But, this number is reflective of the high growth rate in the number of users/owners and merchants that have accepted BTC. In other words, this may be a fair price. And, by definition, it is technically the actual fair price since it is, after all, an actual currency.
I could go on, but those are the major value and risk factors I see. If you have anything to add, please feel free. So, in the context of everything I said above, I’d like to talk about what happened this week in particular: I believe this week’s price movement (as of me writing this, has been a 25% drop) is a result of several factors:
Capitulation: I don’t have the ability to do Technical Analysis on BTC right now, but just eyeing the 1-year chart, it looks like $400 was a key support point for the price of BTC. Once it broke through that, psychological barriers were broken and selling cascaded.
And that’s it. That’s all I can find about Bitcoins in the news. The value fundamentals I listed have not changed one bit, and if anything, the rate of user adoption has increased as more people are learningwhatit is. Which is why I’m excited about the future of BTC. It’s a product that I use and like, and see tremendous value for. This week’s sell-off just means I can buy more. About me: In a past life, I was an equity research analyst responsible for due diligence, fundamental/technical analysis, and making recommendations to the PM on which stocks a certain mutual fund should buy or sell. This meant reading through a lot of annual reports, financial statements, 10-K, 10-Q, shareholder calls, etc… My primary influences were Warren Buffett, Philip Fisher, and Ben Graham. If you recognize these names, you’ll probably guess that I was a value investor1 , and you’d be right. The fundamental premise behind value investing, for those that don’t know, is that you can find companies that are trading at a discount to their “true” intrinsic value, and thus can make money by buying the stock at a low price and selling when the market has realized the fair value of the company and the price has subsequently gone up. This is essentially how Warren Buffett built Berkshire Hathaway and became the world’s richest man (for a short period); his strategy has since greatly evolved, but this was the core philosophy he used for a long time. 1 Utilizing this strategy, our fund bought a significant stake in AAPL when the price per share was less than the amount of cash per share the company currently held (split adjusted something like ~$2 per share when we bought). It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, we’ve made some not-so-great investments, but that’s a story for a different time :) Edit: Paragraphs within bullets? How do you do them?
Erich’s “What in the (cyber security) world is going on?” 03-09-17 edition
Another crazy week in the Cyberz. This is my recap of the last week worth of fun (and not) related to the world of cyber. To get updates more often, subscribe to my blog or follow me on twitter. This has been formatted in Reddit markdown so inline images are gone. To see it in all it's glory, CLICK HERE I'll be down by Ft. Lauderdale Thursday and Friday while speaking at the South Florida ISSA Conference. If you are around and want to meet up for a cold one, let me know.
I'm just going to start with Vault 7 I mean, really, how could I not? On Tuesday WikiLeaks dropped a bomb on the infosec world (perhaps the world in general) when they published roughly eleventy-trillion pages of data related to CIA offensive cyber capabilities. It's full of 0-days and different vulnerabilities/hack with fun little names like "SnowyOwl" and "Weeping Angel". For example, Weeping Angel can use Samsung Smart TVs to covertly record audio conversations. If/when it's confirmed that this is really a legit CIA info dump (which it appears to be), it won't be pleasant. As it is, a lot of people int he US Government are probably creating new grey hair and ulcers at this very moment. I am not going to try to analyze the whole dump, but I will say that some of this stuff is a bit spooky. Just remember, Don't Blink!
Over 1 Biiiiiiiiilion email addresses exposed by spammers misconfigured backups Karma is a bitch. River City Media screwed up their Rsync configs and accidentally backed up their data to an internet-facing server, exposing all of the data where it was discovered by Chris Vickery, a security researcher for MacKeeper. He contacted the authorities and relevant orgs to help shut down the infrastructure. Hopefully that 1.3 billion records, some containing home addresses and IP's, don't drop in to the hands of other spamming orgs. Time will tell
TorrentLocker (aka Cryptolocker) is back and farming credentials as well. After taking some time off, Cryptolocker appears to be back in a very aggressive campaign, and it has some new 'features'. It's sent via Word docs with a PowerShell script, infects and spreads via shared files, and it's also grabbing credentials as well. Right now it appears to be targeting Europe, especially Italy, but we need to keep our eyes open regardless of where we live.
16 Senators and Staff In Pennsylvania Locked Out Of Their Systems By Ransomware This happened to the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus on Friday and the website is still down as of the time of this post on Wednesday evening. This can't be a fun day over there. As of Friday, Pennsylvania Democrats spokeswoman Stacey Witalec said, “At this point we are working with Microsoft to see where we’re at.” Odds are, it was a phishing email some poor unsuspecting staffer clicked on. This is a good time to take them from unsuspecting, to a healthy level of paranoia by training them about the threat.
Dot ransomware - Coming soon to a network near you I've mentioned Raas (Ransomware as a Service) before, but it's really starting to show some growth potential. The "Dot" RaaS strain is currently being advertised on the dark web, so we can expect to see it hitting pretty soon. This one is a zero money down, profit-sharing strain with a 50/50 split. Expect more of this sort of thing to start rolling out in the near future. If it remains profitable, it will continue to grow.
Shamoon 2 May Get a Ransomware Feature and StoneDrill Hides in Memory This is a good read from DarkReading. In summary, Shamoon was Sha-sleep for quite Shum time (You see what I did there, right?) but returned last year to harass some folks in the Middle East. It is typically deployed as data wiping malware, but it seems as if the developer realized that there can be money in adding a ransomware feature in version 2. While it's not in the wild yet, it's a lesson that malware devs are starting to see the value in coding a ransomware option in to what they are already distributing. Also, StoneDrill is injecting itself into the memory process of the user's browser and doing a good job of ducking under sandbox radars. It appears to share code with NewsBeef and/or Charming Kitten APTs which are generally affiliated with Iranian State-Sanctioned options. Currently these are still focused on the Middle East, but it appears at least one European org has been infected with it.
Mystery Shopper Email Scams - Yeah, They Still Happen It's important that we help educate others that these scams do still happen. Lower income, unemployed and retired people are especially prone to this sort of scam. It sounds like easy money, and even appeals to the undercover 007 type in most of us, but it can do a number on your bank account. Key thing to remember is, if someone sends you a check and asks you to send the change, it's a scam. This doesn't matter if it's a car purchase on ebay or craigslist, or anything else, don't do it. Checks can take a long time to clear, or be found to be fake, and you are held holding the bag. Mystery shopping is the SCAM OF THE WEEK here at KnowBe4, and there is some good info on what to look for, and something you can copy/paste for friends and family. Check it out.
W2 Scams are off the charts right now This week was just stupid, so I'm going to just group them together
Yet Another W2 Breach - 2,400 at Autoneum North America Inc. Sadly the Swiss company disclosed about 2,400 employees W2's to scammers. The employees were in Jeffersonville, Indiana; Oregon, Ohio; Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; and Aiken, South Carolina; and at its North American headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. At least 1 employee already found their taxes having been filed by the scammers.
Daytona State College W2 Breach Hundreds of current and former employees could be affected by the breach, although they are being very vague on how it happened. Gee, I wonder, could it possibly be a W2 phishing scam? Go figure.
Yukon Public Schools Hit With Data Breach And again I find myself reporting on a W2 scam. This time, It's Yukon Public Schools that fell for a phishing scam and emailed W2's to scammers. Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said the email looked like it was sent from him, then later in the story it was mentioned that it was spoofed from an AOL email address. Really? AOL in this day and age? This is twice today I have heard of people using AOL email. I really thought it was dead. Kids, today's lesson is, if you are handling sensitive information or transferring money, you might want to pick up the phone BEFORE you hit send. Just sayin.
Groton Public Schools - Yet Another W2 Scam Victim This is really getting stupid. School after school are sending the teacher's W2 to scammers. Groton Public Schools in Connecticut is the focus of this post. You know, because teachers don't have enough to deal with, what with miniature humans eating the all of the paste and creating mayhem by the truckload.
Glastonbury, CT Public Schools Hit By W2 Scam Another day, another district reporting a breach. This time it was Glastonbury Public Schools who did it. It was everyone but the food service personnel (the district appears to know enough NOT to mess with the folks that handle their food). How does anyone in the school systems not know about this scam already? Sheesh!
Tyler Independent School District Falls For W2 Scam From Tyler, TX. They found out about it on Wednesday. I like that they are taking steps though, as the district said they will "continue and improve upon our information security awareness and training programs for all employees." Good, comprehensive awareness training IS how you combat this
1 Bitcoin is worth more than an ounce of gold Pretty crazy that this unregulated vapor-currency is worth more than gold isn't it? AWESOME PICTURE
Gas Pump Tamper Alarm May Have Foiled Skimmer Install I am glad to see the new pumps have tamper alarms and that they may actually work. This one was an issue pretty close to home in Ocala, FL. The tamper alarm went off and the clerk checked it out, possibly spooking a few guys that were acting weird. We need more of this sort of thing happening.
#MHN, #kippo and #Dionaea still cooking along. Now to capture binaries... So, I've been playing with Kippo and Dionaea using the Modern Honey Network (MHN) tool and having some fun with it. At this point, I'm going to reload my Kippo box at home and deploy it with Dionaea as well rather than WordPot. I like being able to see the different types of attacks on FTP and HTTP, but I'm having some trouble with the config. Currently, FTP will make a connection, but fails to send a directory listing. Likewise, I am not capturing any binaries right now. I tried making the folder wide open (777 & nobody:nogroup) but still no luck. If you have any ideas, let me know please. I want to start playing with captures. In the meantime, my pew pew map is about done collecting sources now. Few of the attacks come from a new place now. Pew pew map Attacks on various services
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