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Over 19 Kenyan Firms Hit by WannaCry Ransomware Attack

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WannaCry ransomware

More than 19 companies and organisations in Kenya have been rendered victims of the WannaCry ransomware, which has affected about 300,000 computer users across the globe. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the cyber-attack hit local companies since mid-May, when the state department started receiving complaints.

The CA told The Standard Newspaper that by May 20th, the Kenya Computer Incident Response Team (KE-CIRT) had recorded 19 incidents of the WannaCry attack. But the authority refused to disclose whether the victims had managed to beat the virus and regain control over their IT infrastructure. Also, the CA did not reveal the specific names of the companies targeted by the attack. But the country’s Information and Communication Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru confirmed that major banks are among the victims.

WannaCry Ransomware

The WannaCry attack is ransomware that locks a network’s or computer’s files and then demands money to be paid in bitcoins for it to give back the access. The virus has software that encrypts systems and denies anyone the right to access them unless the amount is paid in full. The hackers demand that a total sum of $300 is paid in bitcoin.

According to Xinhua, “The virus has affected over half a million users globally. There is anxiety amid today’s deadline issued by the hackers.”

Reportedly, the attackers have already made more than $80,000 worth of bitcoin.

Fighting ransomware

WannaCry exposed the thin-skin security measures that companies and organisations across the world as well as in Kenya have put in place. The fact that the ransomware continues to be a threat is a wake-up call for all businesses to put up tougher cyber-security measures.

In the past, pundits have urged local companies and government departments to invest in cyber security infrastructure to prevent such attacks, especially because Kenya is a fast growing technological hub.

The authority is working closely with other stakeholders and IT experts to mitigate the situation and curb the ransomware before it hits other organisations. But local heads urge victims not to give the ransoms because it is not right to entertain the hacker and that no one is sure if the hackers give access to the systems after the payment. The Communication Authority’s Director General Francis Wangusi 

The Communication Authority’s Director General Francis Wangusi said: “Individuals and organisations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee access will be restored.”

Role of Bitcoin in the WannaCry attack

The attackers found the digital currency bitcoin to be the best way to demand the ransom. But in no way does the digital currency deserve the blame. The hackers may have resulted to bitcoin due to the high anonymity level involved in its transactions. However, bitcoin remains the world’s most reputable cryptocurrency and its recent price surge is a testament to that. 

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Binance Launches Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Uganda

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Binance Launches in Uganda

Global bitcoin exchange Binance has launched a new fiat-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The exchange will also be offering a reward of 0.5 BNB to the first 20,000 users that register on the site as part of its promotion in Uganda.

The announcement comes nearly two months after Binance partnered with Crypto Savannah, Made in Africa initiative, and Msingi East Africa to promote economic development in the East African country.

Changpeng Zhao and Yi He founded Binance in 2017 and raised $15 million through an initial coin offering for its ERC20 token BNB in July of the same year.

The exchange plans to move its offices to the island nation of Malta after the implementation of stricter regulations in China and Japan. In January 2018, Binance was the largest crypto exchange with a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

Binance in Uganda

BinanceBinance will also offer its Ugandan users a month of zero trading fees when trading goes online. The exchange will announce the opening for trading at a later date.

Users can find out if they have won any rewards by logging into their accounts and accessing ‘Distribution History’ in the Account Center. In addition, users will be required to complete ID verification to be able to withdraw funds from Binance.

Ugandan users will enjoy an exchange that offers fast transactions of up to 1.4 million per second and state-of-the-art storage technology for utmost security. The exchange also provides 24/7 customer support and has a user-friendly interface.

The presence of Binance in Uganda aims to boost financial inclusion in the country, which has increased from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013 according to its national financial inclusion strategy 2017-2022.

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LINE Corp to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange BITBOX in July for Global Trading

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BitBox
Image by linecorp.com

The developers of popular messaging app LINE and LINE Group’s cryptocurrency and blockchain company LVC Corporation have announced that they are set to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange called BITBOX in July 2018. The Japan-based firm made the announcement during the LINE Conference 2018 held in Tokyo.

The New BITBOX Exchange

BITBOXBITBOX will offer over 30 high-demand cryptocurrencies to users globally with the exception of Japan and the US. The exchange will trade coins such as bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash while charging low trading fees of 0.1 percent. BITBOX will support 15 languages, according to the company press release.

The selected cryptocurrencies for the exchange have undergone an extensive screening exercise and have been picked by an internal committee, promising users a convenient and safe trading experience. LINE will also incorporate its top security standards to the cryptocurrency exchange.

LINE Corporation CEO Takeshi Idezawa said:

“As a key part of LINE’s new financial services, BITBOX shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options. With BITBOX, LINE users will be able to access cryptocurrencies more easily, while also being assured of state-of-art security measures to protect their assets.”

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Nigerians Have Invested Over $5m in Cryptocurrencies Despite Regulator Warnings Says KureCoin Hub

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Nigerians Invest in Cryptocurrencies

Nigerians have invested over five million US dollars in the cryptocurrency market in the last couple of years according to data from Nigerian cryptocurrency platform KureCoin Hub.

The data shows that Nigerian retail investors are investing heavily in the cryptocurrency market despite warnings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) against investing in an unregulated market.

KureCoin Hub’s co-founder and CEO Tega Abikure has criticised the stance regulators have taken and argues that the country will lag behind as other countries enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Abikure told New Telegraph:

“It is not a matter of whether the government likes it; it is about whether they need it. I am not sure the internet was liked when it first came. […] It is not a matter of whether they are going to embrace it; it is about when they are going to do so.”

Abikure observed that other countries such as Uganda and South Africa have already taken steps towards adopting blockchain technology while Kenya is pushing forward with a functioning blockchain taskforce.

“Nigeria is being left behind,” he noted.

The Blockchain as a Source of Foreign Direct Investments

Abikure also believes that blockchain technology could be a major source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the next five to ten years. In addition, he is of the opinion that a lot of money is being made in cryptocurrencies on the continent with most of it leaving Africa’s economy.

On one of the benefits of blockchain technology, he said: “[The blockchain] is completely transparent and cannot be changed; it can be used to create a decentralised system of payment where the taxpayer had an unhindered access to the collector which is the government. It enhances revenue collection and removes the challenges of remittances.”

Blockchain technology can also improve the banking sector, the electoral process, the use of donations in charitable projects, and the supply chain, among many other use cases.

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