New Cryptocurrency Ransomware Could ‘Become Very Dangerous’, Researchers Warn

A newly discovered cryptocurrency ransomware strain called “Anatova” has the potential to “become very dangerous,” according to cybersecurity experts who revealed the strain is more advanced than others that have in the past launched successful campaigns.

Anatova, according to cybersecurity firm McAfee, hides in common files, usually those of popular games or applications, to fool potential victims. Once downloaded, it asks the victim for admin rights, and then proceeds to encrypt as many files as it can in a short amount of time, to then demand a Dash ransom.

As first reported by The Next Web, researchers have detected over 100 instances of Anatova in the US already, with various countries in Europe also being significantly affected.

Known cases of Anatova by region

Speaking to the news outlet Christiaan Beek, McAfee’s lead scientist, revealed Anatova has “the potential to become very dangerous with its modular architecture which means that new functionalities can easily be added.”

Specifically, Anatova is reportedly more sophisticated than Ryuk, a malware strain that is estimated to have collected over $3.7 million in bitcoin ransoms over a five-month period. The researchers believe the team behind Anatova is better than that of Ryuk, as it has a “more advanced design” that “tries to make analysis difficult.”

Per Christiaan, those behind Anatova “have embedded enough functionalities to be sure that typical methods to overcome ransomware will be ineffective.” This, by making sure data cannot be restored without the payment being made, and stopping generic decryption tools from being working on it.

Notably, Anatova is using Dash instead of other cryptocurrencies. While it isn’t the first ransomware strain to demand Dash instead of Bitcoin or Monero, demanding the privacy-centric cryptocurrency is uncommon.

Per Christiaan, there’s a reason:

The main reason [Antova is] using DASH is that it has implemented a number of privacy enhancing protocols that make tracing transactions difficult.

As The Next Web pointed out, the GandCrab ransomware family, first discovered early last year, was reportedly the first to demand Dash payments.

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Amazon Could Pull off Launching Libra, ‘Bitcoin Billionaires’ Author Argues

Ben Mezrich, the author of the “Bitcoin Billionaires” book, has argued that Amazon would be better than Facebook to launch the Libra cryptocurrency, as it’s more trusted than the social media giant.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Mezrich argued the project is “all about trust” as there “can’t be a new currency without people trusting it if you’re going to sit in the middle of it, and people don’t trust Facebook.”

The author, who also wrote “Accidental Billionaires,” a book that served as the bases to the movie “The Social Network,” argued it would make more sense for Amazon to be leading its own cryptocurrency project. He was quoted as saying:

I think that Amazon could pull this off because for whatever reason we all trust Amazon. We put our credit cards in there everyday.

Facebook has announced last month that it’s developing its own cryptocurrency, and that’ll it be launched next year. The cryptocurrency, Libra, is set to be backed by a basket of fiat currencies and U.S. Treasury securities.

The cryptocurrency itself will be managed by the Libra Association, a nonprofit based in Switzerland with various large companies represented in it. As covered, U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson recently implied the Libra is a shitcoin because it has a central entity behind it, unlike decentralized cryptos like bitcoin.

This month David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s team working on Libra, testified before Congress for two days, and received requests to halt the project until the government can look into it and regulate it. Marcus had to answer various tough questions during the hearings, including whether he would accept his salary in Libra.

Speaking to CNBC Mezrich noted he believes Amazon would be subject to less scrutiny than Facebook. Per his words regulators would be on top of Amazon’s plans, but “it wouldn’t be like this.”

The author added that Libra won’t be a true cryptocurrency because it’ll involve financial mediators. It could, he said, serve as an “on ramp” to bitcoin, helping those unfamiliar with the cryptocurrency ecosystem look into the flagship cryptocurrency.