• Bitcoin trades just below USD 8,000 as yesterday’s gains are lost
  • European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde puts her support behind the Eurozone’s studies into central bank digital currency (CBDC)
  • Interpol and Trend Micro have reported a 78% success rate in neutralizing cryptojacking malware in 20,000 router devices in Southeast Asia

 

After the heady highs of yesterday’s market, Bitcoin is suffering from a slight hangover, letting go of USD 8,000 range for most of Europe trading time today to settle now in an area around USD 7,900 after hitting a low of USD 7,780 as the US entered the fray.

The pullback could be witnessed in the first hour of US trading, and stepped in line with other safe haven assets like gold losing their grip on the bull market. Once more, many analysts chose to blame the geopolitical developments, this time easing tensions based on the words of US president Donald Trump who seemed to suggest that the US was not going to retaliate against Iran’s bombing of its base in Iraq yesterday. Bitwise Asset Management CTO Hong Kim said:

“Bitcoin’s price dropped down to $8,100 (from $8,300-$8,400 range) right as President Trump announced at 11 a.m. ET that the U.S. will not escalate the conflict with Iran.”

Ran NeuNer, another active crypto analyst, also noted how gold and Bitcoin almost together went down immediately after Trump’s speech. Strangely enough, the ominous words from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that promised “consequences… at a time of our choosing“, doesn’t seem to bring gold any higher.

Nevertheless, outside of US interference in international politics, the future looks bright for blockchain technology in the European Union, with the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, urging the central bank to get further into developing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that will fill the growing global demand for cheaper and quicker cross-border payments.

French business magazine Challenges put up a discussion with Lagarde on the potential threats to the global economy this year, with the ECB boss outlining a likely slowdown in trade, geopolitical risk and climate change. She did remind:

“…the EU is still the most powerful economic and trading area in the world, with enormous potential… ECB will continue to assess the costs and benefits of issuing a central bank digital currency that would ensure that the general public remains able to use central bank money even if the use of physical cash eventually declines.”

She also reminded how the ECB had an ongoing effort to understand CBDC benefits and feasibility, particularly in the financial sector and policies regarding money transmission. Lagarde said that the bank’s expert task force was collaborating closely with national central banks to see if the idea of a Eurozeone CBDC would work. Although coy on the specifics, she did say:

“We are working on all aspects of CBDC, with in-depth analysis of costs and benefits of such a new form of central bank money. It will take a while before we will communicate on our conclusions.”

Speaking of international efforts, international police Interpol — via Global Complex for Innovation based in Singapore — has collaborated with cybersecurity firm Trend Micro to mitigate cryptojacking attacks on MikroTik routers across Southeast Asia. A press release says that the partnership hopes to reduce affected devices by about 78%, although a hashrate impact is not likely. It boasts of a “spectacular success”:

“Over the five months of Operation Goldfish Alpha, experts from national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and police across 10 countries in the region worked to locate the infected routers, notify the victims and use our guidance document to patch the bugs and kick out the hackers.

Having helped to identify over 20,000 routers in the region that were hacked in this way, we’re delighted to say that by November, the number had reduced by at least 78%.”

Cryptojacking entails the silent hijacking of a device and directing its computing power to mining cryptocurrency, sending the profits to the hijacker. Most victims don’t even realize their device is being used, and while individual computers only have a small mining rate, cryptojacking tends to affect devices in bulk to combine all the mining power.

Dubbed Operation Goldfish Alpha, the collaboration involves Trend Micro developing a ‘Cryptojacking Mitigation and Prevention’ document that provides guidance on how to sanitize a common brand of home and enterprise routers in the ASEAN region, using the Trend Micro software to detect and destroy the malware.

While estimates vary, CryptoCompare calculators suggest that with some 20,000 devices infected, the combined hash rate would mean attackers could have mined USD 13,000 worth of Monero.

 

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