Connect with us

Features

Global NotPetya Malware Attack Reaches Africa

Published

on

petya

The “Petya” cyber attack has hit Africa, South Africa’s 702 Radio has reported. According to the media outlet, several companies in the country could have suffered from the attack that started in Ukraine earlier this week. The malware has hit several organisations in Europe and America, and is now being felt in Africa as well as in some parts of Asia.

How Petya Works

The ransomware targets networks belonging to large organisations and companies. In most cases, it attacks machines that run on Microsoft Windows. Just like WannaCry, Petya leverages the EternalBlue vulnerability in order to infect system files.

After rapidly infecting them, the malicious program starts to install. Then, it forces the machine to reboot and attacks Window’s vulnerabilities in order to encrypt all files. When it cannot compromise the computer through the weakness, Petya attacks Windows administrative tools. It then demands that victims pay $300 worth of bitcoin. The note on the dashboard has a Bitcoin address where victims are supposed to send the money. After settling the ransom, victims are required to send an email requesting a 12 character digital key for decryption.

Petya Reincarnate?

‘Petya’ is not the real name, because the ‘original Petya’ hit back in March 2016. After the first few reports, many users thought it was a reincarnation of the old version and thus named it ‘Petya’. Later, Kaspersky Lab redubbed it ‘NotPetya’. Other names that the malware has gained include Pneytna and Petna. Romanian’s security firm BitDefender named it Goldeneye. By then, the name ‘Petya’ had already gone viral. ‘NotPetya’ is the name widely used to refer to this attack.

Another WannaCry?

The NotPetya attack is barely two months after WannaCry hit several companies in Africa. After the NSA had warned that WannaCry was exploiting EternalBlue to attack Microsoft’s products, the company reiterated by announcing a fixing update for all Windows versions. But few users have updated their operating systems.

EternalBlue is a hacking weapon widely believed to have been created by the NSA. A secret group called the Shadow Brokers leaked it online in early 2017. According to Symantec, both WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware exploited the vulnerability. The agency traced the WannaCry attackers to North Korea.

But Maya Horowitz from the Threat Intelligence says

“Unlike other ransomware types, Petya does not encrypt files on infected machines one by one. Instead, it locks up the entire hard disk drive.”

Antivirus Response

Symantec and Kaspersky are some of the leading antivirus companies that claim to detect and protect devices against ‘Petya’ infections. The companies urge their users to update the security software for the new provision. Also, Microsoft in March fortified their Window’s security tools to patch the ExternalBlue vulnerability.

According to The Register Newspaper, some advanced Windows users have already discovered that the NotPetya outbreak looks for the C:\Windows\perfc.dat read-only file. It does not install on PCs where the file is present, but instead, it spreads out to other computers within the network.

Spreading Like Mushroom in Fall

As The Guardian quotes Proofpoint’s Ryan Kalember, the malware “has a better mechanism for spreading itself than WannaCry.”

Barely a few days after being reported in Ukraine, ‘NotPetya’ is moving fast to other parts of the world. It has disrupted large corporations in Europe and the United States. Companies such as WPP advertising company, Saint-Goban and Russia’s oil and steel leaders Rosneft and Evraz are some of the victims. Others include the DLA Piper law firm, Heritage Valley Health System and AP Moller-Maersk. It is also believed to have brought operations at Indias largest container port, JNPT, to a standstill.

On Wednesday, the ransomware was reported to have hit South African companies. The country’s Radio 702 announced that some local firms could have been infected.

What to Do If Affected

The NotPetya ransomware infects computers and then reboots to install it. During the installation, the malicious software starts to encrypt your files. Victims and researchers say that after the attack, the malware takes an hour before rebooting. So, @HackerFantastic on Twitter came up with a clever way of protecting files. The user tweeted;

‘If machine reboots and you see this message, power off immediately! This is the encryption process. If you do not power on, files are fine.’

If you switch off your computer while it is rebooting, you can stop the encryption process. Although the machine may still end up getting infected, your files will be safe.

If it is too late and the PC is already encrypted, then you will get a note demanding that you pay the ransom. There’s no need wasting your time and money paying the ransom. The attacker’s web provider has blocked the ‘support’ email address provided by the attackers. This means that you cannot contact them to send the key to unlock your files.

Instead, take the device offline, format the hard disk and then reinstall all your files from a previous backup. It is wise to back up files regularly to circumvent such attacks.

Who Is Behind NotPetya?

After the first few hits, pundits noted that the attack was too substandard to have come from expert criminals. In fact, some even claimed that the hacker could be an amateur trying to take advantage of a leaked cyber weapon.

The first indication was that the bitcoin address provided was the same for every victim. In other serious hacking encounters, hackers indicate customised addresses for each target. In addition, the malware has only one email address which serves as ‘customer care service’. The suspension of the email address by the provider shows how shoddily the attack had been planned.

But recent findings project to something bigger than just an attack from a cyber-criminal. In an interview with the Krebs on Security, online safety expert Nicholas Weaver said that Petya is a “deliberate, malicious, destructive attack or perhaps a test disguised as ransomware.” This is because the malware’s code has been modified to ensure that any changes made to a computer’s files are irreversible. This makes it different from regular ransomware.

Although it is not clear enough, security researchers say that the attack is a destructive malware that may be targeting Ukrainian government institutions, but masquerading as a mere ransomware. One of those who hold this view is pseudonymous researcher Grugq, who acknowledges that this malware is different from the old version of Petya. Grudg notes that Petya “was a criminal enterprise for making money.”

The pundit draws the difference between the old Petya and the new NotPetya. “The new is definitely not designed to make money. This is designed to spread fast and cause damage, with a plausibly deniable cover of ransomware,” he adds.

On his blog, Grudg also notes that the payment method was too unrealistic, and no serious hacker could code such a thoughtful malware only to blow up the payment plan. He points out that it would be careless for a malicious coder to indicate a single traceable payment address and lockable email address. The blogger also finds it stupid that the hacker requires victims to email them for the computer’s 60-character unlocking key. According to Grudg, this is the same as ‘send a personal cheque to Petya Payments, PO Box … ’

Why Ask Ransom in Bitcoins?

Most ransomware attacks demand payment in the form of bitcoins. The hackers result to the cryptocurrency due to its pseudo-anonymity. Cyber attackers are smart, and they understand that using their bank accounts or credit cards will get them arrested in no time. Hence, to remain unknown, Petya attackers demand that $300 be paid to their bitcoin address.

Like WannaCry before it, Petya is a wakeup call for African organisations to take cyber security seriously. A number of government authorities are already helping companies to stay safe. In a press statement, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) outlines the online security measures that organisations and individuals ought to take. A similar statement has been issued by Nigerian authorities.

BitCasino
Continue Reading

Features

Amber Group Announces Q3 2022 Launch of Openverse, the Gateway Into the Metaverse

Published

on

Openverse

SINGAPORE, 11 May 2022Amber Group, the leading global digital asset platform, today announced its entry into the metaverse with the launch of Openverse, a Web3 enablement platform for creators, brands, and businesses. A culmination of Amber Group’s multi-disciplinary expertise in digital architecture and blockchain-native infrastructure, Openverse serves as a gateway to the metaverse, empowering Web2 creators, brands and businesses with tools and services to transition into Web3.

Amber GroupWith the metaverse economy projected to reach $13 trillion by 2030, Openverse marks Amber Group’s venture into Web3 community building. Due to launch in Q3 2022, Openverse is a significant milestone in Amber Group’s plans to aid businesses, industries and societies as they transition into Web3. As a one-stop platform, Openverse will create entry points into the metaverse by delivering end-to-end creative and digital infrastructures for creators, brands, and businesses.

“Digital assets are the first step in realizing a decentralized future where people are empowered to create and connect with online communities, unlocking new digital experiences. While there has been a lot of interest in the metaverse, it remains largely conceptual. With Openverse, we are taking a solid step towards creating this digital reality for all. Backed by our expertise and partnerships within the digital asset ecosystem, Openverse is at the forefront of onboarding businesses and communities into the metaverse, unlocking the true potential of decentralization,” said Amber Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wu.

Openverse is designed to be a Web3 enablement platform, supported by leading real-time 3D rendering technology to create an experiential digital world for all users. The platform will be accessible on mobile, desktop and VR platforms, and will come equipped with features such as real-time content interaction, gameplay, customizable digital avatars and an NFT valuation system. Openverse will also leverage Amber Group’s flagship digital asset platform, WhaleFin, for its crypto financial services, creating synergies with the company’s thriving consumer business line to expand the reach of its digital asset services.

“We are excited to launch Openverse and convert the possibilities of the metaverse into reality in the next few months. As we develop a gateway for everyone to journey into the metaverse together, we are also building a strong line-up of partnerships with gaming studios, sporting brands, digital artists, and creators in an effort to bridge the gap between physical and virtual economies. Not only will this encourage more Web2 users to migrate into the metaverse, it will also herald a new era for digital assets worldwide,” said Openverse’s Chief Executive Officer, Jo Xu.

About Amber Group

Amber Group is a leading digital asset platform operating globally with offices in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The firm provides a full range of digital asset services spanning investing, financing, and trading. Amber Group is backed by prominent investors including Sequoia, Temasek, Paradigm, Tiger Global, Dragonfly, Pantera, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com.

For more information, please visit www.ambergroup.io.

BitCasino
Continue Reading

Features

Why Crypto Casinos Are on the Rise in Africa

Published

on

crypto casinos africa

Online gambling has become a rapidly evolving industry. Today, many online casinos are embracing cryptocurrencies to stay on top of the latest trends in finance and technology. 

Because of the continued evolution in the online casino space, crypto casinos in Africa have experienced and continue to experience rapid growth. But, why exactly is this the case?

Read on to learn why crypto casinos are on the rise in Africa. 

Crypto Adoption is Booming in Africa

One of the main reasons why crypto casinos are on the rise in the African continent is because of the booming crypto adoption.

Africa’s crypto adoption rate is reportedly the highest globally. For instance, between July 2020 and July 2021, African countries alone received close to $105.6 billion worth of crypto, representing a 1,200% increase in value within that period only.

Some crypto casinos have been able to benefit from Africa’s high crypto adoption rates by accepting bets in digital currencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and litecoin (LTC). 

Anyone Can Take Part 

Using cryptocurrencies, there are zero restrictions as to who can send or receive payments, alleviating all potential payment issues that can arise with traditional payments companies when you are located in certain African countries. 

Additionally, players are guaranteed privacy, which is very appealing to most online casino players. This is because players don’t have to share their names, location, or bank details to receive payments from the online casino they are using.

Fast Deposits and Withdrawals

One challenge with traditional fiat currency that most casino players experience is that it can take up to a few days for a transaction to complete. Moreover, having to change the pay-outs from fiat to crypto and vice versa in order to deposit or withdraw funds into an online casino can become costly.

However, cryptocurrency transactions typically only take a few minutes. This means that players are able to near-instantly make their deposits and withdrawals with very little wait time, thus being able to fully maximise any potential profits. Additionally, crypto transactions are also very secure.

African Gamblers Want to Win Crypto

Another reason for the rise in crypto casinos in Africa is because African gamblers want to win crypto. 

African currencies in many countries have been known to suffer from currency devaluation thanks to high inflation rates, which have resulted in citizens turning to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Besides, players also find it hard to make bets on online casinos using fiat currency as they become unable to fully maximise their profits due to high inflation.

Given that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a store of value, players can also choose to HODL their pay-outs for as long as they need in their crypto wallets and trade the same when the price of bitcoin, for example, rallies. This way, players are not only able to earn some “extra” money, but they are also able to avoid paying costly fees in transactions when converting from fiat to crypto and vice versa.

BitCasino
Continue Reading

Features

Weekly Roundup: African-Inspired NFT Art Collection to Launch in October & More

Published

on

African Inspired NFT Art Collection

An African-inspired NFT art collection is set to launch in October. To learn about this and other top stories this week, read on.

African-Inspired NFT Art Collection to Launch in October

Masks of EtherMasks of Ether, an NFT collection that draws inspiration from West African tribal art, will launch on October 5. Harrison Foko, the artist and creator of the NFT collection, “will release 10,000 generative images featuring pixel art masks.” Foko’s goal is to bring traditional African art to the blockchain and expose it to new audiences.

“I am excited to bring my own roots into the NFT space. Using something so tribal and traditional in this modern pixel-art form has never been done before. The community is ready and excited for something new,” he said.

Foko plans to give $100,000 of the NFT proceeds to The CryptoSavannah Foundation and Survival International. The former is a non for profit organisation using the blockchain to change African lives, while the latter is a human rights organisation that fights for the rights of indigenous people.

More and more African artists are embracing non-fungible tokens. For instance, these three Zimbabwean artists have made some income from selling their art on NFT marketplaces.

Crypto Exchange Yellow Card Secures $15M in Funding

Yellow Card, a crypto exchange operating in twelve countries, has secured $15 million in funding. According to the company, they will use the funds to scale their operations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has increased its users across Africa almost 30-fold.

Yellow Card

“Our mission has always been to make cryptocurrency accessible anywhere and everywhere across the African continent. Now, we have the backing to make that a reality, alongside an amazing team of investors who share our vision,” said Chris Maurice, the CEO.

The Series A funding round was led by Valar Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, and Third Prime with participation from Square Inc., Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, GreenHouse Capital, BlockFi, Blockchain.com, MoonPay, and more.

“We believe in Yellow Card’s vision of a Pan-African cryptocurrency platform. What cemented the deal is their multi-national team, which we believe has the local knowledge, technical expertise, and unequivocal passion to address the basic financial services needs of the continent,” stated James Fitzgerald from Valar Ventures.

eNaira Website Goes Live

Nigeria’s eNaira website is live ahead of the launch today. This could indicate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is keen on seeing its plans for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) succeed.

The website states: “[The] eNaira serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments.”

With a CBDC in place, experts are worried that Nigeria will follow China’s steps and implement more anti-crypto policies.

“Yes, we expect the CBN to champion even more anti-crypto policies, as it is clear it sees crypto as a hindrance to its monetary policy objectives even though data confirms that as a fallacy. Every crypto company in Nigeria should innovate ways to work within a restrictive system and think about jurisdictional changes,” Chiagozie Iwu, CEO of crypto exchange Naijacrypto said.

Paxful Promotes Crypto Developers in Nigeria with Donation

Paxful has announced that it is donating to the Human Rights Foundation. The funds will go to “the Qala Fellowship, a program that will find and grow local Nigerian talent, starting with the developers who want to build a career in crypto.” The program will help the crypto developers to contribute to the open-source network, secure jobs with bitcoin companies, or start their own companies.

Paxful

Paxful CEO Ray Youssef said: “Paxful follows energy, and it is clear that the Nigerian youth will make a profound impact on the global economy through Bitcoin. They have entrepreneurship baked into their DNA, but they [do not have] the chance to showcase their talent on the global stage. First and foremost, the Qala Fellowship is a career roadmap for Nigerian developers. But it also is a way to support the local economy and a means for Bitcoin to capture more developer mindshare. We are proud to fund this project and cannot wait to see what these developers create.”

Nigerians that join this program will benefit from a six-month course that will teach them everything they need to be successful crypto developers. Moreover, Qala Fellowship will facilitate internships and full-time jobs and set up talks with seasoned professionals.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

BitCasino
Continue Reading

Popular Posts