It’s been an explosive week in the crypto world. And we mean that (almost) literally.
Tensions were high when an Indian boy threatened to blow up Miami Airport in response to a hacker stealing his bitcoins. In Canada, a hacker carried off a less violent attack at St. Francis Xavier University by using school servers to mine crypto.
Crypto mining remained the spotlight, with research showing that mining bitcoin consumes more energy than mining gold. And well-known mining pool BTCC announced it would shut down its servers.
There was, thankfully, some good news, as Japanese authorities identified a possible culprit behind the Zaif exchange hack. Recent studies also found that cryptocurrency usage is increasing, especially in Asia and Africa. However, the uptake remains slow in Europe.
Asia sees growth in cryptocurrency usage, Europe still way behind
According to recent research, more people than ever are familiar with cryptocurrencies, especially the younger generation. Most of them, however, remain very cautious about investing.
In Germany, 49% of respondents said they are familiar with cryptocurrencies, but just nine percent actually own crypto coins. Why? Because they still see crypto as a risky investment.
Other European countries are in a similar boat. In France, cryptocurrency familiarity sits at around 37 percent, although the ownership rate is much higher at 19 percent. Italy has the highest cryptocurrency familiarity (50 percent), with 14 percent of respondents owning crypto. The most crypto-friendly European nation is the Netherlands, where cryptocurrency ownership has reached 27 percent, despite the relatively low familiarity of 39 percent.
Cryptocurrency usage and familiarity is much higher in emerging markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Africa. South Africa has the highest cryptocurrency familiarity of any country surveyed: 69 percent. Indonesia dominates cryptocurrency usage, with over 40 percent of respondents owning crypto.
Hacker uses Canadian University network to mine cryptocurrency
ICO scams and cryptojacking are two of the biggest barriers to increased cryptocurrency usage. This week, St. Francis Xavier University in Canada learned a lot more about the latter.
An unknown hacker embarrassed the university by installing crypto-mining malware into its network. Upon spotting the cyber attack, university staff immediately shut down the entire network, which affected the entire campus. The online course system, cloud storage, email services, debit transactions, and Wi-Fi were all temporarily disabled.
The university has not discovered the cryptojacker’s identity, nor what cryptocurrency they mined. However, officials confirmed that no personal or sensitive data was compromised during the attack.
Authorities find Zaif exchange hack culprit
On the other side of the Pacific, authorities appear to have found the culprit behind the infamous Zaif crypto cyberattack case. Japan Digital Design (JDD), a subsidiary of MUFG bank, is on the trail of the hacker, who stole $60 million from the Japanese crypto exchange. This is the first lead since the attack, which occurred in late September.
In cooperation with cybersecurity researchers, JDD monitored stolen coins and noticed when the hacker tried to trade them. Allegedly, the hacker tried to trade MonaCoin in five transactions, which JDD used to track the suspect’s IP address. JDD then sent the information to local authorities, which should help them identify and locate the hacker.
Teen threatens to blow up Miami Airport after losing bitcoins
Usually, cryptocurrency hackers target big exchanges. However, there are many lesser-known cases where individuals fall victim to cyberattackers.
This week, an 18-year old from India lost $1,000 worth of bitcoin to an American fraudster. And he wasn’t happy about it.
In order to get his coins back, the teen called the FBI several times. When they didn’t help him, he did what any reasonable person would do: threaten to blow up Miami International Airport …
The scammed teen used a fake email account and VoIP to make five threatening calls to the airport. During these calls, he claimed he had an AK-47 assault rifle, grenades, and a suicide belt. As you can imagine, it didn’t work. The Anti-Terrorist Squad traced his IP address and reported the case to the Indian authorities, who have already charged him.
Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than gold mining
A recent study by Nature Sustainability journal has found crypto mining consumes more energy than mineral mining. Researchers monitored crypto mining from the beginning of 2016 to June 30, 2018. They found that mining bitcoin, ethereum, and monero consumed an average of 17, 7, and 14 megajoules (MJ) respectively to generate $1.
On the other hand, mining copper, gold, and platinum consumed 4, 5, and 7 MJ respectively to produce the same value. Furthermore, the energy consumption of mining BTC, ETH, and LTC is increasing every year. In 2016, BTC consumed 17 MJ to generate one USD. However, in 2018, this rose to 19 MJ.
BTCC mining pool closes down
Increased energy consumption and stronger competition have forced BTCC to shut down its famous mining pool business. After four years, BTCC announced it would turn off its servers on November 15, and stop all operations 15 days later.
BTCC asked member miners to stop mining before the shutdown. It confirmed that all earned rewards would be delivered on time.
BTCC’s first warning signs surfaced in June, when Value Convergence Holdings wanted to buy 49 percent of BTCC for US$17 million. However, the deal never eventuated, sparking speculation that BTCC was in trouble.
Besides its mining pool, BTCC operated a USD/BTC exchange and the Mobi crypto wallet.