Internet News (July 2018)

Another hack shakes cryptocurrency sector

An estimated $30 million theft has taken place at the Korean digital currency exchange Coinrail, following a massive breach resulting in hackers lifting coins from 9 separate currencies within its systems. Coinrail have confirmed that they have been able to account for approximately 70% of the coins, have since suspended service and moved stored coins to an “offline cold wallet” whilst investigations take place.

While news about the heist was spreading across the cryptocurrency sector, companies were witnessing the market plunge by approximately 10%. Both Ethereum and Bitcoin were both amongst the victims of losses, even though these currencies were not directly involved during the attack. Bitcoin saw the figures fall from $7,600 per coin to approximately $6,700; with Ethereum their figures fell from $607 to $518.

Pundi X, a payments company directly involved with the breach are working closing with Coinrail and the South Korean law enforcement agencies while investigations are undertaken. A spokesperson from Pundi X explained, “Since the amount of NPXS token is equal to 3% of our current supply, which could potentially affect the interests of all parties, we instigated an emergency security protocol to halt ALL the NPXS, transactions at 11:16 am Singapore time (GMT+8) to protect NPXS holders and help Coinrail and Korean law enforcement to investigate the incident”.

The breach follows an article written at the Wall Street Journal, which reported that several US cryptocurrency exchanges have been requested by an inside trader at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission to hand over their data as part of a Department of Justice probe following allegations of manipulating prices throughout cryptocurrency trading.

Facebook’s Aquila grounded indefinitely

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that plans have been ditched by Facebook to build the Acquila system, a series of drones designed to deliver the internet to inaccessible places, even after two successful test flights. It was in 2014 when Facebook began the Aquila project, part of its own initiative. The notion was to build pilot-less planes that would have the facility to transmit and receive internet traffic from the air, focussing on the 10% of the worlds population that resided and worked in remote locations where internet is not freely available. By connecting these areas, the whole world would have access to the internet.

Facebook were once one of the few companies that set their efforts to connect the world to areas that had little or no access to the web with a view of attracting new users and raising revenues. The Aquila project involved needed much investment- the project was led by a team of engineers based in of all places, Bridgewater, Somerset. The success of Aquila relied upon Facebook’s own engineers who were actively involved in its design, development and testing, and the whole project was overseen by Facebook’s Engineering Director, Yael Maguire.

Since the project started, the industry has evolved greatly, and leading aerospace companies have dipped their toes into the same technology, which has included the design and manufacture of aircraft with the ability to fly at higher altitudes. It was following these latest developments that Facebook decided to pull the plug on their work and to close the facility in Bridgwater.

Facebook will continue to work alongside aerospace partners like Airbus on projects involving connectivity to High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) and other technologies that will be essential to allow the technology to work, such as flight control systems and high-density batteries.

Facebook are currently working on other initiatives, and are currently focussed on improving telecommunications equipment within industries. They may also be looking into the delivery of internet connectivity via satellites; this could be pie in the sky at the moment, but worth looking out for, especially in view of how cheap it has become to put a satellite in orbit.

It has been confirmed that Andrew Cox, who was leading the Aquila program has left his post at Facebook. Even so, Facebook are continuing to employ people to work on humanitarian projects around the world.

Instagram’s a pretty picture

Bought for $1 billion in 2012 by Facebook, Instagram is now worth an estimated $100 billion according to Bloomberg with a user audience in excess of a billion users per month. Instagram has continued to see growth and have been an abundance of new registrations that are more frequent than those on Facebook’s main site, and with future estimates of over 2 million monthly users over the next five, years it doesn’t look likely to slow down.

It is believed that the 16% rise of Facebook’s revenue is due to the amount of new registrations for the photo app, a rise from the 10.6% during 2017. Announcements have been made that Instagram’s future plans involve the use of video, when they recently unveiled their “IGTV” standalone mobile app that focuses on programming from accounts that you follow. Users can create their own video content, not dissimilar to YouTube.

Blogging at the sharp end

Shockwaves are going through the internet world following news that Kenichiro Okamoto, a Japanese cybercrime expert has reportedly been killed by a man who he had argued with on his online blogging page. Police Officers attended the bloody scene in Fukuoka, South West Japan following the stabbing by suspect Hidemitsu Matsumoto, following a seminar ironically about resolving personal disputes on the internet.

It was reported that Matsumoto followed Okamoto – known by his blogging handle Hagex – minutes after the seminar ended. Okamoto sustained several stab wounds across his body including his neck and chest, and was then apparently seen to stagger out after Matsumoto.

Okamato lost his fight for life and the alleged assailant handed himself into police custody three hours after the attack had taken place. It is believed that the offending messages contained personal abuse directly aimed at Okamato as well as other commentators on the same blog. A source has since announced that Okamoto had issues previously and had some negative feedback on previous content posted to his blog page.

In Matsumoto’s statement after the stabbing, he explained how he abused Okamoto and that Okamoto would remove him from his blog pages. To work around this, Matsumoto would then create new anonymous accounts each time to continue contact.

Matsumoto confessed all to the police after voluntarily surrendering himself, and during his confession he openly admitted that he “hated the celebrity blogger and wanted to kill him”. Okamato was a well known expert in cybercrime and the dark web, having previously made regular TV appearances. He also worked for an IT security consultancy.

Twitter users across Japan paid tribute to the famous blogger, some of whom were in disbelief in the way that his life had been cut short so violently. The 41 year old blogger had many followers. One of his tributes sadly read “Rest In Peace, Hagex”. Daisuke Tsuda, a notable Japanese IT Journalist left the bewildering message “How could this have happened?” once he had learnt about Okamato’s demise. Unfortunately, online personalities and journalists find themselves often receiving online abuse in Japan, and this probably won’t be the last time this occurs.


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Internet News – June 2018

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