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Weekly News Digest #84

Brazilian Senate passes cryptocurrency Bill to fight cybercrime

The Brazilian Senate has passed a bill regulating the cryptocurrency market in the country. The purpose of this document is to regulate crypto trading and protect users from illegal activity in the space. Under this bill, crypto exchanges fall under the scrutiny of the Brazilian Central Bank and the securities and exchange commission. The bill outlines measures aimed at tackling money laundering and other malicious practices such as fraudulent management of crypto exchanges, financing of terrorism, etc. 

This bill does not cover NFTs but this aspect may be addressed via a separate proposal. Brazil and Indonesia are the global leaders in crypto adoption according to Gemini with 41% of respondents in each country stating that they own crypto. 

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Romanian websites hit by pro-russian hacking group Killnet

Romanian government websites and other institutions experienced powerful DDoS attacks on Friday, 29 April. The country’s intelligence agency attributed this attack to a pro-russian hacking unit Killnet. The list of targeted institutions includes the Romanian defence ministry, border police, railway, and financial institution. 

According to the statements made by the Romanian authorities, these attacks have not caused any serious damage to their functioning as well as have not affected any user information. Last week, this hacker group attacked entities in another NATO country – The Czech Republic. 

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russian security agency wants exchanges to share data with crime investigators. 

russia’s Federal Security Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs have submitted their review notes on the forthcoming “crypto bill” proposed by the russian Finance Ministry. Law enforcement agencies want crypto firms to share transaction data with investigators and clarify the terms regarding the seizure of digital assets. 

Some of the proposals were reportedly accepted by the ministry while others were turned down. It is important to note that the Federal Tax Service contributed a proposition to tighten requirements for non-licensed exchanges and wallets. It suggests treating the advertising of these services as an illegal activity. But the Finance Ministry did not accept the FSB’s proposal of mandatory transaction of any mined cryptocurrencies to licensed exchanges and the application of Anti-Money laundering legislation to mining. 

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FBI has neutralized Cyclops Blink Russian botnet. 

The Department of Justice has urged businesses and computer users to take immediate actions to protect themselves against malware attacks. In a much-applauded triumph over Russian hackers, the FBI has neutralized the Russian-backed Cyclops Blink botnet that was involved in targeting institutions and organizations. The FBI has secretly infiltrated and neutralized systems that the hackers used as “C&C” servers to command and control the botnet. This botnet included thousands of compromised network hardware devices. 

It was used by russian-backed hackers for surveillance, DDoS attacks, spam campaigns, and other malicious activities. It targeted WatchDog and Asus routers and firewall devices to use them as command and control servers for the attacks. This botnet is believed to be operated by Sandworm, a russian-backed hacker group that has been reported targeting Ukrainian industrial control systems.

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New warning by IRS and Tax Enforcers: NFTs pose growing money laundering risks

On Thursday, global regulators issued a new warning of the growing risks of money laundering and fraud in digital, non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5), a consortium of regulators including the IRS and agencies from Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and the U.K., released a joint statement in which they mentioned that “criminals look for ways to exploit new technologies”. 

One red flag related to NFTs is a clearly established network of parties who send and receive “the same transaction or a group of transactions” from each other. Another “strong indicator” is “NFTs being sold for large sums and reacquired from the same party or a third party for smaller amounts. Also, often underpriced or overpriced NFTs are traded in frequent transactions. Some criminals use NFTs as storage for their illicit funds. There is a possibility that the NFT marketplace will be finally required to comply with KYC and other anti-money laundering obligations.

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