New malware uses Telegram app to replace crypto addresses

Cybercriminals are exploring every method they can to get to your crypto, and the latest malware is proof of the ever-evolving tactics. Known as Masad Stealer, the new malware strain uses the Telegram messaging app to exfiltrate the stolen information. Other than stealing crucial information such as browser passwords, the malware is able to replace crypto addresses from the clipboard with addresses controlled by the attackers.

Masad Stealer was discovered by security researchers from Juniper Labs. In their report, the researchers revealed that the malware is being advertised on black market forums under the name ‘Masad Clipper and Stealer.’ The most basic version of the malware is offered for free, with additional features being charged in tiers, the highest of which goes for $85.

There is at least one website, masadproject.life, dedicated to promoting the malware. The attackers have also established a Telegram group for their clients which already has hundreds of members.

The attackers’ main distribution tactic involves posing as legitimate software or bundling the malware into third-party tools. Some of the popular software products they have targeted include CCleaner, Tradesanta, Iobit, ProxySwitcher and Samsung Galaxy Software Update.

The malware is difficult to notice as it’s small in size, averaging 1.5 MB. Once it’s downloaded, it executes and immediately gets to work, collecting sensitive information from the host. This information includes system information, browser passwords, autofill browser fields, browser cookies, credit card browser data and cryptocurrency wallet addresses.

To ensure that it’s almost always running, the malware creates a scheduled task on the host machine that initiates every one minute.

It’s with cryptocurrency users that Masad Stealer is most lethal. The malware has been configured to recognize cryptocurrency addresses for over 20 cryptos, from BTC, Ethereum and Zcash to XRP, Dash and Lisk. Once the host copies a crypto address to the clipboard, the malware switches it with an address that belongs to the attackers.

One of the BTC addresses that the attackers have been swapping with has already registered 193 transactions, receiving 0.95 BTC at press time which is worth $7,500.

The report concludes, “Juniper Threat Labs believes that Masad Stealer represents an active and ongoing threat. Command and Control bots are still alive and responding as of this writing, and the malware appears to still be available for purchase on the black market.”

It’s been a hot summer for crypto malware, as CoinGeek reported recently. This year has seen a rebirth in the crypto malware menace, with millions of dollars being stolen in the past few months alone. Some of the most lethal malware campaigns include SkidMap which targeted Linux systems, Panda which is reported to be operated by Chinese hackers, Glupteba which relies on the BTC blockchain for extra resilience and Norman which is able to avoid detection.

Telegram calls off public ICO

Telegram calls off public ICO

The popular messaging app Telegram has decided against holding a public initial coin offering (ICO) after having raised a staggering $1.7 billion in a private pre-sale, reports have confirmed. The funding will be used to develop its third-generation blockchain as Telegram seeks to compete with WhatsApp and Messenger for the lucrative messaging market.

The revelation came from an article in the Wall Street Journal, which quoted sources familiar with the matter. According to report, Telegram founder Pavel Durov was pleased with the immense amount raised through the private offering that he was reluctant to go through the regulatory hassles that a public ICO would entail.

Telegram has been very secretive about its token offering,causing several prospective investors to complain that the details on the offering have been extremely sparse and without much clarification. Despite this, the private offering proved to be a success, with filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealing that the company held two funding rounds in which it raised around $850 million each between January and March 2018.

Less than 200 investors contributed to the pre-sale offering and this was, in fact, restricted to high net worth individuals and institutional investors who also had to undergo a rigorous accreditation process.

The sale was conducted under Rule 506 of the Securities Act Regulation D, which allows companies to sell unregistered securities as long as its restricted to accredited investors only. The company also needs to report the round of funding to the SEC with investors subjected to a vesting period that is predefined.

Reports had indicated that Telegram was hoping to raise around $5 billion from the private ICO and public token offering. However, it appears that due to increasingly onerous obligations on ICOs, the company decided not to go ahead with the public sale. In fact, the SEC has recently tightened its rules on ICOs and it has also been blatantly clear that most of the ICOs around are currently violating federal law with their owners liable to massive fines and even prison terms.

Telegram is currently in trouble in Iran, after the government banned its residents from using the messaging platform. This ban was probably in connection with the app being used to organize nationwide protests. However, Telegram’s plans to launch its own cryptocurrency could have played a part in that decision, too.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Iranian government outlaws Telegram app

Iranian government outlaws Telegram app

Authorities in Iran have outlawed use of and access to the Telegram messaging app, citing concerns over its potential for stoking civil unrest as well as the potential economic harms of its cryptocurrency.

According to state news outlet Mizan Online, the decision was prompted initially by fears that armed opposition militia were using the app to encourage rebellion. Similarly, government officials highlighted problems with the Telegram initial coin offering (ICO), which they suggested could undermine the local economy.

The news follows on from public calls by officials in April, in response to the second round of funding for Telegram. In the second phase of their ICO, Telegram’s pot grew to $1.7 billion, behind its concept for the development of a full-blockchain Telegram ecosystem.

The news will be a blow for consumers in Iran, and in particular, the 40 million or so in the country known to be users of the platform—roughly 50% of the entire population of Iran.

Nevertheless, Telegram has long been controversial in the country. Back in January, access to the service was temporarily suspended following street protests, which it was alleged were stoked by use of the app.

In particular, the government points to foreign-based agitators, whom it alleges were using the Telegram app to incite protest and violence amongst Iranian citizens. This resulted in Iranian authorities attempting to launch their own social networks to reduce the reliance on foreign-owned properties, which they claim present an anti-establishment bias.

One of those platforms, Soroush, claimed it has 5 million members, despite having been setup only a matter of months ago. Alongside rival platform, Gap, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to choose government-approved alternatives in his final message on the platform several weeks ago.

Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also posted to Telegram for the final time in April, committing to using alternatives in place of Telegram.

The ban will impose duties on phone and Internet service providers, who are now compelled to block access to Telegram by law. Any breach is deemed a contravention of the law, and firms that do not comply will be liable to prosecution.

It remains to be seen whether the move to ban the service in Iran will further undermine interest in the Telegram ICO.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Telegram's resistance to Russian crackdown takes paper wings

Telegram’s resistance to Russian crackdown takes paper wings

In the middle of its Initial Coin Offering (ICO), Russian courts attempted to have social media platform Telegram turn over encryption keys for the application. When Telegram refused, citing customer privacy concerns, Russia ordered the company to be blocked in the country, but, as any dedicated entrepreneur would do, Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov and the entire community found ways around the system, and many began protesting the court’s action.

Telegram fans began launching paper airplanes (the airplane is Telegram’s logo) at the headquarters of Russia’s security agency, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB). The airplane antics have resulted in several protestors being arrested, but this hasn’t stopped the movement. Durov is now pushing for extended protests, requesting that protestors fly their airplanes at the FSB building en masse at a specific time.

The ordeal began on April 13, when a Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitri S. Peskov, argued for the necessity of the information, telling the court, “There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation.” The courts agreed and Judge Yulia Smolina ordered the ban, saying that it will remain until the FSB’s demands are met.

Durov said on his personal Telegram channel, “For 7 days Russia has been trying to ban Telegram on its territory – with no luck so far. I’m thrilled we were able to survive under the most aggressive attempt of internet censorship in Russian history with almost 18 million IP addresses blocked.”

In a separate post following the ban, Telegram explained, “We don’t do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven’t disclosed a single byte of our users’ private data to third parties.” This was followed by a post by Durov, who said, “To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN. I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”

About four days ago, protestors began targeting their airplanes for the FSB building. It didn’t take long for police to show up, dispersing the crowd and making arrests. One of those arrested was Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot. Alyokhina and the other members of the all-girl band have found themselves in hot water with the police several times for controversial lyrics and inappropriate performances. She appeared before a judge, booked for “blocking a public passageway” and was released.

This past Monday, Durov was on his Telegram channel, urging activists to support the cause. He posted, “If you live in Russia and support free internet, fly a paper plane from your window at 7 PM local time today. Please collect the airplanes in your neighborhood an hour later – remember, today is Earth Day. My thanks to all the members of the #Digitalresistance movement. Keep up your great work setting up socks5-proxies and VPNs and spreading them among your Russian friends and relatives. They will be needed as the country descends into an era of full-scale internet censorship.”

Telegram has become the main platform for cryptocurrency-related conversations, as well as, in some cases, transactions. Hopefully, there will be a resolution that is amicable to both sides in the near future.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Russian court blocks Telegram over refusal to give up encryption keys

Russian court blocks Telegram over refusal to give up encryption keys

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If we restrict liberty to attain security, we will lose them both.” A Russian court has determined that security weighs heavier than liberty in a case that pitted social media giant Telegram against the Russian powers, which, Telegram, for now, has lost. Telegram was ordered to go dark across the country for refusing to give up its encryption keys, which could have exposed its users’ data, Bloomberg reported.

Telegram was ordered to hand over its encryption keys by officials of Russia’s versions of the CIA and FBI rolled into one, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, or FSB. The agency had made numerous requests to Telegram for the keys, stating that it needed the keys to prevent terrorist attacks.  Telegram refused each time, arguing that it would give the FSB access to all encrypted chats between its users.

Pavel Durov, who founded Telegram in 2013 with his brother Nikolai, said in response to the ban, “The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money. At any given moment, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets and thus force these companies to do strange things (remember how last year Apple moved iCloud servers to China). At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”

Telegram has around 200 million users across the globe, of which about 9.5 million reside in Russia. The social media app has become increasingly popular with the cryptocurrency community around the world as a means to share information and, in some cases, transact sales.

Russia isn’t the only country to take action against the messaging app. Iran is said to be considering a ban on Telegram, arguing that it is transitioning into “an economic platform” that could, by their estimation, damage the rial, Iran’s national currency. Telegram is reportedly used by around 20 million Iranian citizens.

The ban comes as Telegram has been preparing for its Initial Coin Offering (ICO). It just completed round 2 of its ICO presale and has raised around $1.7 billion toward its Telegram Open Network (TON). The TON will offer its own cryptocurrency called the Gram, but there has been no word yet on whether or not the ICO will go forward.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Telegram considers cancelling its ICO

Telegram considers cancelling its ICO

Rumors have begun to surface that indicate Telegram might back away from its ongoing initial coin offering (ICO). It’s still early in the game, with plenty of time remaining before the final buzzer, but a couple of flags have already been thrown. If it were to come to pass, it would prove to be a huge setback for the social media platform that has become the go-to application for the cryptocurrency community.

One big reason that it might be contemplating turning around is, unsurprisingly, potential pushback from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to Telegram’s SEC filings, it is selling securities, and has already raised $1.7 billion. However, under SEC guidelines, it is prohibited for a company to sell securities to non-accredited investors, with limited exceptions.

Telegram would also have to go through its own verification process. It would have to show that it conforms to anti-money laundering regulations, as well as clear a know-your-customer (KYC) application. A known, established investor wouldn’t have any issue being confirmed, or accredited. However, for the multitude of individuals that have never stepped into the investment ring, each one would have to be verified.  This amounts to a massive amount of paperwork for Telegram.

Another reason is the lack of a tangible product or service. The Telegram blockchain, the Telegram Open Network (TON), currently only exists on paper. By the letter of the law, then, Telegram is offering nothing more than the “dream” of a future network. This is highly frowned upon the SEC, and other companies have already found themselves in hot water with the agency for similar acts.

Sid Kalla of the Turing Advisory Group indicates that it would be prudent for Telegram to back up, build the product and then move forward with the ICO. In an interview with CoinDesk, he said, “The private sales were raised at around the top of the market euphoria. For a public valuation to reach back to those levels, the crypto community would need to see something concrete.”

Telegram is now 5 years old. While it has certainly gathered a lot of business intelligence over this time, that intelligence does not necessarily translate into investment intelligence. It more than likely doesn’t have the resources or maturity to handle investor relations issues that could arise following a public ICO.

Telegram has been relatively quiet on the subject, and there are some that don’t believe a recall is imminent, or even forthcoming. Kalla indicated that there could be major drawbacks to reversing course at this point, adding that any future attempts at offering a public-backed product would more than likely result in investors demanding lower prices for Telegram’s digital currency. “The only reason I see a public token sale making sense if there is investor demand or pressure or any contractual obligation for liquidity,” he said.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Sham company attempts to capitalize on Telegram's ICO

Sham company attempts to capitalize on Telegram’s ICO

Will the real Telegram please stand up? A company called the Telegram Open Network Limited (TONL) purported to be started by the real founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has been operating since the end of February, and is capitalizing on the fame surrounding the social media platform, which is popular with cryptocurrency developers and investors.

TONL claimed to have raised over $1.7 billion for the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of its Telegram Open Network and says that it will offer encrypted browsing platforms, private Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and secure file storage. It will also supposedly offer micropayment services, peer-to-peer payment capabilities, and services for decentralized apps and browsing. The problem is, the company doesn’t actually exist.

The company is registered in the UK, which has very lax regulations for how someone can register a company. For $20 and an Internet connection, and you’re in—applicants only have to confirm their details with no regulatory oversight. This passive attitude allowed the person or persons behind TONL to register the company and begin its deceptive practices.

Telegram—the real one—is running an ICO that last week brought in around $850 million. This is on top of another $850 million the company raised in February. It would appear that TONL is successfully capitalizing on Telegram’s current position to syphon funds away from the company, which Telegram vehemently denies being a part of.

In a Twitter post on April 6, The Calvert Journal tweeted, “[email protected] founder Pavel Durov has registered a UK company worth £800 million- revealing his new British citizenship in the process.” It didn’t take long for a response from Telegram’s official account, which read, “This entry is fake. Most likely a prank or scam, no such company was registered by Pavel.”

In addition to the public denial by Telegram, there were a couple of clues that lead to the company being proven a sham. If it had, in fact raised over $1 billion, it would have almost immediately been the target of UK authorities. It also listed Durov as the director, founder and secretary of the company and describes him as a British citizen. Durov became a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis when he gave a $250,000 donation to the sugar industry on the island nation.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.

source: https://coingeek.com/sham-company-attempts-capitalize-telegrams-ico/

Sham company attempts to capitalize on Telegram's ICO

Sham company attempts to capitalize on Telegram’s ICO

Will the real Telegram please stand up? A company called the Telegram Open Network Limited (TONL) purported to be started by the real founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has been operating since the end of February, and is capitalizing on the fame surrounding the social media platform, which is popular with cryptocurrency developers and investors.

TONL claimed to have raised over $1.7 billion for the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of its Telegram Open Network and says that it will offer encrypted browsing platforms, private Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and secure file storage. It will also supposedly offer micropayment services, peer-to-peer payment capabilities, and services for decentralized apps and browsing. The problem is, the company doesn’t actually exist.

The company is registered in the UK, which has very lax regulations for how someone can register a company. For $20 and an Internet connection, and you’re in—applicants only have to confirm their details with no regulatory oversight. This passive attitude allowed the person or persons behind TONL to register the company and begin its deceptive practices.

Telegram—the real one—is running an ICO that last week brought in around $850 million. This is on top of another $850 million the company raised in February. It would appear that TONL is successfully capitalizing on Telegram’s current position to syphon funds away from the company, which Telegram vehemently denies being a part of.

In a Twitter post on April 6, The Calvert Journal tweeted, “[email protected] founder Pavel Durov has registered a UK company worth £800 million- revealing his new British citizenship in the process.” It didn’t take long for a response from Telegram’s official account, which read, “This entry is fake. Most likely a prank or scam, no such company was registered by Pavel.”

In addition to the public denial by Telegram, there were a couple of clues that lead to the company being proven a sham. If it had, in fact raised over $1 billion, it would have almost immediately been the target of UK authorities. It also listed Durov as the director, founder and secretary of the company and describes him as a British citizen. Durov became a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis when he gave a $250,000 donation to the sugar industry on the island nation.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit-Coin BTC (inaccurately called Bitcoin Legacy or Core by many) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

Tipprbot is cool. It works well. It allows people to give tips to people whose words and thoughts they might find meaningful, agreeable, or, at the very least, arguable. Bitcoin Cash smooths out the process of sending and receiving tips from user to user. The bot’s hosted code does the rest.

Now, not everyone willing to support and donate great content with Bitcoin Cash is on Twitter or Reddit. Some dwell at the instant-messaging platform called Telegram. How to send and receive tips from there then? r/BitcoinArtist’s tipmebch bot does just that.

Telegram is a messaging platform that offers one of the best encryption algorithms in the instant messaging (IM) space. While other proprietary communications platforms rely on a core branded platform—Messenger for Facebook, Hangouts for Google—to identify with, Telegram offers a unique, singular experience.

The platform has all the standard features of a messaging app, and currently supports authentication methods across multiple devices. It can also send files like .doc, .zip, .mp3 and many others. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Telegram is the ability to create ‘channels’ or groups with up to 100,000 people subscribed to a lead user, which is oftentimes an organization or business sending out regular updates.

Because of its public availability and wide reach, Telegram’s open platform became popular with discussion groups in the cryptocurrency community. Recently, Telegram also announced its attempt at leveraging blockchain technology through its own cryptocurrency called TON, one that is embedded into its existing system.

Pardon the digression. Now let’s get back to tipmebch, an inline bot developed for transferring Bitcoin Cash through Telegram. It’s a simple implementation of Telegram’s open development for bots, and works through an integration made by the author. Telegram users may send commands to the bot or invite it into their groups.

Below are a few screenshots of the Telegram bot in action:

tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

tipmebch: A Bitcoin Cash tipping bot for Telegram app

Here, it indicates the commands currently available for the bot to respond to. Bitcoin Cash users must be wary though, as the bot itself says in its introduction that it is “not a wallet,” hence “Your funds will be lost if there are bugs.” The bot is currently at version v1.0.0 and is maintained by Andreas Brekken, a cryptocurrency developer who has been working since 2011. The bot’s feature branch on Github may be viewed here.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.
Appetite for ICOs shows no signs of waning

Appetite for ICOs shows no signs of waning

With the jargon of cryptocurrencies continually expanding, the word ICO—or Initial Coin Offering—looms large on the investor’s radar of late. In fact, well over $1.5 billion have been raised in ICOs for January 2018 making this an all-time record after a steady increase in 2017, with the largest amount raised was in December when just over $1.2 billion were committed to ICOs. February also seems to have been a rather good month so far with $413 million already raised and there seem to be more waiting in the pipeline.

Data published by tokendata.com showed that there were a total of 93 ICOs so far in 2018 with a total of $1,971 million raised, certainly an impressive number so far with less than two months of the year out. Average pre-sale capital varies between 57 and 67% showing an exceptional high interest from investors. The returns are also very good with the average pre-sale bonus varying from 25 to 34%.

Tokens pre-sales have continued to grow and the take-up rate is also impressive. What is also interesting is that there is a wide variety of topics with ICOs ranging from security systems to gaming companies. Although the rate of return seems to be far smaller than that in 2017, it is still attractive for those who wish to make quick capital gains. As everyone knows, the cryptocurrency sector is extremely volatile so it remains rather unclear which will succeed in the long run.

One of the most controversial ICOs so far has been the one where the encrypted messaging service Telegram is concerned. Over the past few months, the CEO of Telegram convinced 81 accredited investors, including Silicon Valley giants Sequoia Capital and Benchmark, to give him $850 million in a pre-sale of his company’s cryptocurrency in advance of an ICO. Now the company is trying to raise even more money from accredited investors before the coin gets offered to the public in a secretive second pre-sale.

This week, investors got an email explaining that Telegram is doing another private pre-sale, according to sources. The exact amount to be raised is still being determined, one source noted, but two other sources said Telegram is estimating it will be around the same size as the first round, which would bring the total raised to over $1.6 billion before the ICO even opens up to the general public. Telegram’s offering was already the largest ICO ever, dwarfing the previous record of $232 million.

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true  Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.