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Weekly News Digest #81

Is it easy to spend the stolen crypto?

The cases of crypto hacks take place regularly. But what do hackers do with the stolen assets? Is it possible to easily cash out these assets without being caught by law enforcement bodies? Generally, the blockchain system is not designed for processing large volumes of assets anonymously. If there are massive sums involved, the options for laundering them are limited. 

When speaking about Web 3.0, hacking may be viewed as the simplest part of the crypto crime. To hide their trails, cybercriminals may turn to “mixers” that allow users to deposit cryptocurrency to mix it with the virtual assets of other users. Tornado Cash is one of the most popular crypto mixers. However, mixers do not guarantee 100% anonymity for malicious actors especially if mixed sums are very substantial. Some firms including Chainalysis have started developing de-anonymization technologies.

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In Q1 2022, crypto losses spiked 692% compared to the same period in 2021

Last week the DeFi sector experienced the largest hack to date when Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network was exploited for about $625M. The more people enter the crypto field, the higher the total volume of crypto crime. The other big projects that fell victim to hacks were Wormhole ($320M) and Qubit Finance ($80M). Ronin and Wormhole hacks represent serious vulnerabilities in the crypto ecosystem. 

The total volume of losses experienced by the Web 3.0 ecosystem in Q1 2022 was $1.23B, 692% more than in 2021 ($154.6M). It is likely that the number of sophisticated attacks in crypto will continue increasing. And these attacks will become more lucrative. Even a single error in the project’s code may enable hackers to conduct the exploit. 

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EU targets crypto asset services to russia in latest sanctions

In the latest round of sanctions, the EU targeted crypto wallets, banks, trusts, and currencies to close loopholes that may potentially allow russia to move money abroad. Following the russian invasion of Ukraine, EU-based crypto exchanges were required to apply sanctions that bar transactions from particular individuals. 

On Friday the EU extended the prohibitions to deposits to crypto wallets. It is just a part of the wide list of financial sanctions imposed recently by the EU on russia. From now on, it will be extremely difficult for russian people to store their wealth in the EU. 

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Ukraine uses smash and grab cyberattacks to defeat russia

Cyber retaliation has already caused serious headaches to many russian organizations as well as foreign companies that still operate in this country. Such groups as Anonymous, IT Army of Ukraine, and Hacker Forces have been stealing headlines since the beginning of the war. However, many data leaks may seem to be useless or there is just too much noise around them without any real consequences. That does not mean that these attacks do not make sense. 

Smash and grab cyberattacks do not have narrow targets. Attackers simply take everything possible in the hope that there are sensitive files. However, these attacks force russia to allocate resources to investigate their consequences. Thus, these attacks tie up the resources of russian cyber specialists. And these attacks distract russian attention from more stealthy operations such as the ones carried out by the Cyber Operations Unit of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service. The main problem of the pro-Ukrainian hacktivists is that they are attacking where they can rather than where it would cause the most serious damage to russia. Nevertheless, any help is appreciated.

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Government-targeted DDoS attacks surge over 1,800% in 2021

Governments worldwide are now focused on protecting both their physical and digital borders. According to the data provided by Atlas VPN, the volume of DDoS attacks per customer aimed at the government sector soared by a shocking 1,881% in 2021 compared to 2020. At the same time, the number of attack events decreased by 70%. That means that attacks are becoming more severe. 

DDoS attacks are utilized to disrupt the functioning of governments or as a form of protest by citizens. Apart from government sector, the list of other heavily targeted sectors includes retail, research and education, online commerce and gaming, and technology. The modern cyber war between russia and Ukraine will likely further increase the volume of DDoS attacks targeting all these sectors but especially the government. 

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