The CoinGeek Pulse Episode 51: $70M BTC ransom, ‘Bitcoin King’ arrested and blockchain updates from around the world

On this week’s CoinGeek Pulse, we turn our attention to one of the biggest ransomware attacks to date.

REvil, a ransomware group linked to Russia, deployed a malicious software update that hit Kaseya, a U.S.-based infrastructure company and a software vendor to managed service providers (MSPs) and small to medium-sized (SME) businesses. The attackers compromised more than a million computers and stole data by attacking Kaseya’s VSA customers, demanding millions in BTC ransom to decrypt the files.

As of this writing, Kaseya said it is working with its partners to help affected customers get back up and running.

In a blog posted on the dark web, the attackers revealed they infected a million systems and offered to negotiate, “If anyone wants to negotiate about universal decryptor, our price is $70,000,000 in BTC”. The group announced they will publish a decryptor that will enable victims to recover from attack in less than an hour.

Experts said the timing of the attack was deliberately set on the Friday before a U.S. holiday weekend in hopes of spreading it as quickly as possible while employees were away from the job. U.S. President Joe Biden has directed the country’s intelligence agencies to investigate who was behind the attack. In a press briefing, President Biden said that the country could retaliate if the Russian government is involved.

In other news, Brazilian authorities have dismantled a cryptocurrency scheme that has defrauded at least US$300 million from 7,000 individuals.

After a nearly three-year investigation, authorities arrested Claudio Oliveira, also known as ‘The Bitcoin King.’ Oliveira is the president of Bitcoin Banco Group, a finance firm that gained popularity during the digital currency boom. The company accepts funds from its clients while promising large profits in exchange.

The police have pressed charges including money laundering and fraud against Bitcoin Banco and Oliveira. Authorities also seized Oliveira’s assets, including luxury cars, large sums of cash and cryptocurrency wallets.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Barclays bank recently stopped customers from sending money to Binance. The move comes after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a consumer warning on Binance last month. Barclays announced they are stopping payments made by credit or debit card to the exchange until further notice to keep their money safe.

The cryptocurrency exchange has been running into regulatory compliance difficulties in many parts of the world—from Thailand to Japan to the Cayman Islands to the U.S.—in recent months.

In Asia, Vietnam’s central bank will study and pilot a digital currency implementation. This would be the first bank that will trial a central bank digital currency (CBDC) based on a public blockchain and not a centralized protocol.

A proposed bill in Iran drafted by the Parliament Commission on Economy could restrict the use of digital currencies within the country. The bill titled “Support for cryptocurrency mining and organizing the domestic market for exchanges” would make its central bank the authority for digital currency trading in Iran.

In Hong Kong, AMM global and Phoenix Water Productions plan to launch a crypto-themed drama series on NFTs. Titled ‘Crypto Keepers,’ the drama series claims to be Asia’s first NFT drama series. The show will run for 12 episodes in English and Cantonese language ‘hybrid,’ featuring a competition between Hong Kong citizens and Americans to create a digital currency. 

Executive director Bizhan Tong said the show is part of their strategy to tell international, topical stories that will bridge the gap between the East and West in a trailblazing manner. The show is set to be ready by 2022.

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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