Autor Cointelegraph By Martin Young

Metaverse exploitation and abuse to rise in 2023: Kaspersky

Malware, ransomware attacks and phishing are not the only scourges of the crypto industry as the Metaverse could become a big target next year, according to cybersecurity experts.In its “Consumer Cyberthreats: Predictions for 2023” report on Nov. 28, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky forewarned that there will be greater exploitation of the Metaverse due to lacking data protection and moderation rules.Kaspersky acknowledged there are currently only a handful of metaverse platforms, but the number of metaverses is set to expand in the coming years and the market could even top $50 billion by 2026. That expansion will entice cyber criminals to the ecosystem seeking to exploit unwitting virtual world participants.“As the metaverse experience is universal and does not obey regional data protection laws, such as GDPR, this might create complex conflicts between the requirements of the regulations regarding data breach notification.”Social media is already a hotbed of data breach activity so it stands to reason that the Metaverse will be an extension of this. As reported by Cointelegraph earlier this year, Social media was responsible for more than $1 billion in crypto scam-related losses in 2021.Kaspersky also predicted that virtual abuse and sexual assault will spill over into Metaverse ecosystems. It mentioned cases of “avatar rape and abuse” adding that without protection mechanisms or moderation rules “this scary trend is likely to follow us into 2023.”Meta, the firm formerly known as Facebook, has already received a lot of pushback over its Metaverse ambitions due to the lack of user protection and privacy concerns on its social media platform.The report predicted that in-game virtual currencies and valuable items will be one of the “prime goals” among cybercriminals who will seek to hijack player accounts or trick them into fraudulent deals to fork over valuable virtual assets. Most modern games have introduced some form of monetization or digital currency support which will become a honeypot for malicious actors.Related: The Metaverse is a new frontier for earning passive incomeKaspersky noted that new forms of social media will also bring more risks. It specifically mentioned a shift to augmented reality-based social media, adding that cybercriminals can start “distributing fake trojanized applications” to infect devices for further malicious purposes.Threats to new AR-based social media and metaverse platforms are primarily data and money theft, phishing, and account hacking, the report concluded.

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Silvergate denies recent FUD, confirms minimal exposure to BlockFi

Institutional crypto services provider Silvergate Capital has confirmed its minimal exposure to the embattled BlockFi crypto lending firm.On Nov. 28, Silvergate announced that its deposit relationship with BlockFi is “limited to less than $20 million of its total deposits from all digital asset customers.” Those deposits totaled $13.2 billion in Q3 according to the firm’s revenue report. It added that BlockFi was not a custodian for its Bitcoin-collateralized leverage loans and the firm has no investments in BlockFi.To quell investor jitters, Silvergate CEO Alan Lane said, “as the digital asset industry continues to transform, I want to reiterate that Silvergate’s platform was purpose-built to manage stress and volatility.” Silvergate Provides Statement on Minimal Exposure to BlockFi https://t.co/FoBqzylpr6— Silvergate Bank (@silvergatebank) November 28, 2022Silvergate has been the subject of a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), or “false and misleading statements,” in its words.On Nov. 29, technical analyst and Swiss investor Walter Bloomberg told his 622K Twitter followers “Silvergate Capital said to have lent money to BlockFi,” but failed to provide any evidence. Others have added to the FUD fest with several Tweets over the past week, however, most of them were lacking specifics. On Nov. 28 Cointelegraph reported that BlockFi had become the latest victim of the FTX contagion to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing stated that BlockFi has more than 100,000 creditors, assets between $1 billion and $10 billion, and similar liabilities. The latest high-profile crypto bankruptcy appears to have fuelled this recent round of FUD, which Silvergate has seen fit to refute.Related: Silvergate Capital’s crypto-to-fiat transfers decrease by $50B compared with Q3 2021Earlier this month, the WSJ ran an article on Silvergate claiming that the company was battling the contagion fears. The crypto bank has seen its stock prices plunge this year but that has been the case for most publically listed crypto companies.SI prices declined 11.1% on the day to finish at $24.45 in after-hours trading according to Market Watch. Silvergate stock has slumped 83.6% since the beginning of the year.On Nov. 23, Cointelegraph reported that Block.one CEO, Brendan Blumer, had purchased a stake in Silvergate Capital.

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Cybercrooks to ditch BTC as regulation and tracking improves: Kaspersky

Bitcoin (BTC) is forecasted to be a less enticing payment choice by cybercriminals as regulations and tracking technologies improve, thwarting their ability to safely move funds.Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky in a Nov. 22 report noted that ransomware negotiations and payments would rely less on Bitcoin as a transfer of value as an increase in digital asset regulations and tracking technologies will force cybercriminals to rotate away from Bitcoin and into other methods.As reported by Cointelegraph, ransomware payments using crypto topped $600 million in 2021 and some of the biggest heists such as the Colonial Pipeline attack demanded BTC as a ransom.Kaspersky also noted that crypto scams have increased along with the greater adoption of digital assets. However, it said that people have become more aware of crypto and are less likely to fall for primitive scams such as Elon Musk-deepfake videos promising huge crypto returns.It predicted malicious actors will continue trying to steal funds through fake initial token offerings and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and crypto-based theft such as smart contract exploits will become more advanced and widespread.2022 has largely been a year of bridge exploits with more than $2.5 billion already pilfered from them as reported by Cointelegraph.The report also noted that malware loaders will become hot property on hacker forums as they are harder to detect. Kaspersky predicted that ransomware attackers may shift from destructive financial activity to more politically-based demands.Related: Hackers keeping stolen crypto: What is the long-term solution?Back to the present, the report noted an exponential rise in 2021 and 2022 of “infostealers” — malicious programs that gather information such as logins.Cryptojacking and phishing attacks have also increased in 2022 as cybercriminals employ social engineering to lure their victims.Cryptojacking involves injecting malware into a system to steal or mine digital assets. Phishing is a technique using targeted emails or messages to lure a victim into revealing personal information or clicking a malicious link.

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Iris Energy to cut mining hardware after defaulting on $108M loan

Australian Bitcoin mining firm Iris Energy is the latest to suffer from the squeeze of the crypto bear market, losing a significant chunk of its mining power after defaulting on a loan.A filing by the firm to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 21 revealed that it has unplugged its hardware used as collateral in a $107.8 million loan as of Nov. 18.The units “produce insufficient cash flow to service their respective debt financing obligations,” the firm noted. The operation generates around $2 million in Bitcoin gross profit per month but cannot cover the $7 million in debt obligations.Iris has now reduced its capacity by around 3.6 EH/s (exahashes per second) of mining power. It stated that capacity remains at around 2.4 EH/s which includes 1.1 EH/s of hardware in operation and 1.4 EH/s of rigs in transit or pending deployment.The company stated that its “data center capacity and development pipeline are unaffected by the recent events,” and it will continue to explore opportunities to utilize its capacity. Iris is also looking at the prospect of “utilizing $75 million of prepayments already made to Bitmain in respect of an additional 7.5 EH/s of contracted miners for further self-mining.”Earlier this month, the firm was served with a default notice for $103 million. Iris Energy primarily operates Canadian BTC mining centers that run on fully renewable energy. In early August, the firm doubled its hash rate after energizing facilities in Canada.Iris Energy stock (IREN) slumped 18% on the day to trade at $1.65 in after-hours trading. It hit an all-time low on Nov. 21, down 94% from its all-time high of $24.8 when it first traded in November 2021. Related: Bitcoin miners rethink business strategies to survive long-termBitcoin miners are currently suffering a triple whammy of high hash rates and difficulty, high energy prices, and low Bitcoin prices. This is causing a lot of them to either power down their hardware or start selling the asset. On Nov. 21, Capriole Fund founder Charles Edwards observed that the current rates of miner selling had been the most aggressive in almost seven years.“If price doesn’t go up soon, we are going to see a lot of Bitcoin miners out of business,” he added.It’s a Bitcoin miner bloodbath.Most aggressive miner selling in almost 7 years now.Up 400% in just 3 weeks!If price doesn’t go up soon, we are going to see a lot of Bitcoin miners out of business. pic.twitter.com/4ePh0TIPmZ— Charles Edwards (@caprioleio) November 21, 2022That price increase is unlikely to come anytime soon. Bitcoin slumped to a new bear cycle low of $15,649 during the early hours of Asian trading on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to CoinGecko.

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Vitalik Buterin offers lessons for crypto in wake of the FTX collapse

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has spoken out in the wake of the FTX collapse, offering his thoughts and some positives from one of crypto’s biggest black swan events.In a Nov. 20 Bloomberg interview, Buterin said that the collapse of FTX contains lessons for the entire crypto ecosystem.He acknowledged that the underlying stability of distributed ledger and the technology powering the crypto asset economy has not come into question. The problem in this instance (and several before it) has been people, not technology.Buterin also labeled the FTX collapse as a “huge tragedy” but added that it reaffirms the position of many in the Ethereum community concerning centralization:“That said, many in the Ethereum community also see the situation as a validation of things they believed in all along: centralized anything is by default suspect.”He added that this ethos includes trusting in open and transparent code above humans. Over the weekend, Buterin posted a guide to having a “safe CEX” with proof of insolvency.He said rather than relying solely on “fiat methods” such as government licenses, auditors, corporate governance, and background investigations of people running exchanges, the exchanges could create “cryptographic proofs that show that the funds they hold on-chain are enough to cover their liabilities to their users.”Having a safe CEX: proof of solvency and beyondhttps://t.co/AKEweYZfj2Big thanks to @balajis and staff from @coinbase @binance @krakenfx for discussion!— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 19, 2022The problems for FTX are understood to have stemmed from the exchange’s use of customer deposits for other purposes. After a large influx of withdrawal requests came to the exchange earlier this month, it found itself unable to meet withdrawal demand with its current liquidity. Related: FTX fiasco means coming consequences for crypto in Washington DCVitalik Buterin is not the only industry leader recently speaking out about the FTX fallout. On Nov. 17, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that while regulation is necessary, it is more important for industry players to lead by example.During the Indonesia Fintech Summit 2022, Zhao said the entire FTX saga is likely to have set back the crypto industry by “a few years,” and will likely see regulators scrutinize the industry “much, much harder, which is probably a good thing, to be honest.”

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