Crypto Exchange Gate.io Removes StatCounter Service Following Report of Security Breach

Crypto exchange Gate.io has removed web analytics tool StatCounter from their website following a breach report by cybersecurity firm ESET, according to an official blog post published today, Nov. 7.

The company has reported that they immediately removed StatCounter’s traffic stats service after receiving a security notice by ESET about suspicious behavior. Gate.io claimed they subsequently scanned the website with 56 antivirus products, and “no one reported any suspicious behavior at that time.” However, the firm still changed its traffic tracker, also reporting that “users’ funds are safe.”

On Nov. 6, Slovakia-based cybersecurity firm ESET published a security report claiming that hackers had successfully breached major web analytics tool StatCounter, targeting Bitcoin (BTC) exchanges that use the traffic analytic service. According to ESET researcher Matthieu Faou, the attackers compromised the StatCounter platform — which is reportedly used by more than two million other websites — by modifying the JavaScript (JS) code on each page of the website.

The hackers managed to add a piece of malicious code containing “myaccount/withdraw/BTC,” which intends to replace the destination address of a Bitcoin transfers by crypto exchange users with an address belonging to the attackers.

Modified script at www.statcounter[.]com/counter/counter.js. Source: WeLiveSecurity

According to Faou, who is reportedly the first to detect the “supply-chain attack,” this Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) “myaccount/withdraw/BTC” has been solely valid on crypto exchange Gate.io, allegedly “the main target of this attack.”

Now-ranked the 38th top crypto trading platform by daily trade volume as of press time, the exchange is quite popular in China with a rank of 9,382 in terms of in-country traffic, while its global rank amounts to 33,365, according to SimilarWeb traffic data and analytics tool.

In the conclusion to his report, the ESET researcher stated that the recent security breach again demonstrates the fact that external “JavaScript code is under the control of a third party and can be modified at any time without notice.”

As reported by Cointelegraph earlier this year, JS has been one of the major tools of hackers implemented in cryptojacking. According to the analysis, JS-based browser add-ons and extensions are “extremely vulnerable to hacking attacks” and often used for hidden mining by deploying users computing resources. For example, in mid-October, researchers found a crypto-mining malware that hides itself behind a fake Adobe Flash update.

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Markets See Red Following BTC ETF Rejections, News of Anti-Crypto Measures in China

Thursday, August 23: virtually all of the top 100 cryptocurrencies are in the red today, with average losses of between 1 and 4 percent among the top 10 largest coins by market cap, as Coin360 data shows.

Yesterday evening’s news of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) disapproval orders for 9 different Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposals from 3 applicants — which intersected with emerging reports of toughened anti-crypto measures in China — has apparently reversed yesterday’s short-lived market upswing.

Pointedly, multiple crypto commentators had attributed the markets’ evanescent green to bulls exploiting a maintenance window on leveraged crypto trading platform BitMEX to force a spike. Many had also argued that the negative announcements from the SEC had been widely expected, and were contributing to the alleged market action.

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at around $6,452 at press time, down around 1 percent on the day, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin price index.

The top coin had been range bound around $6,400-6,500 for most of the week before sharply spiking August 22 and continuing to circle the $6,700 mark for most of that day. Breaking news from the U.S. and China then saw Bitcoin take a steep price hit, although the coin has since recovered back to hold its week-long levels.

Bitcoin’s 7-day price chart

Bitcoin’s 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

On the week, Bitcoin is up 0.8 percent, with its monthly losses at around 16.5 percent.

Ethereum (ETH) is trading around $274 at press time, dropping around 2 percent on the day.

While its losses have correlated with Bitcoin’s sharp descent, the leading altcoin has not since recovered to reclaim the earlier trading levels from its weekly chart, although it had notably been losing its hold on the $300 price point as of August 20. Ethereum is currently down 5.6 percent on the week; on the month, losses are at almost 40 percent.

Ethereum’s 7-day price chart

Ethereum’s 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Among the top ten coins by market cap, Stellar (XLM), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Cardano (ADA) and Ripple (XRP) are all seeing losses of around 2-4 percent on the day.

Among the top twenty, NEO’s losses are somewhat heftier, pushing 4 percent to trade around $17.12, after taking a tumble earlier today to as low as around $16.18.

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart

IOTA’s 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum Classic (ETC) is down 2.7 percent to trade at $12.40 at press time.

As ETC’s chart agains shows, the market-wide tumble aligns closely by time frame across all of the major crypto assets:

Ethereum Classic’s 24-hour price chart

Ethereum Classic’s 24-hour price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is around $208.5 billion at press time, down almost $13 billion from yesterday’s high of $221.4 billion.

7-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies

7-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap

Today’s $13 billion market cap squeeze is similar the sharp market tumble that came in response to July’s news that another Bitcoin ETF proposal — this time submitted by the Winklevoss twins’ — had also been rejected by the SEC, which then saw a dizzying $12 billion wiped from total market capitalization.

The parallels extend beyond market response, as the regulator had in all of its disapproval orders reiterated its qualms over inadequate “resistance to price manipulation” and vulnerability to fraudulent practices in the insufficiently sized Bitcoin derivatives markets.

China, meanwhile, has this week moved to prohibit all commercial venues from hosting any crypto-related events in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, as well as targeting communication channels or “loopholes” through which Chinese investors can gain exposure to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and crypto trading.

As reported August 21, China’s leading social media platform WeChat has permanently blocked a number of crypto and blockchain related accounts that were suspected of publishing crypto “hype” in violation of regulations introduced earlier this month. New measures are also reportedly underway to toughen the “clean-up” of third party crypto payment channels, including those used by over the counter (OTC) platforms.

Away from the negative onslaught from the U.S. and China, crypto analysts have today suggested that Segwit adoption is on the rise for Bitcoin transactions, as the top crypto continues to trade within a relatively stable price range. EToro Senior Market Analyst Mati Greenspan today tweeted:

“Price stability is great for network development!! Here we can see the adoption rate of the Segwit solution skyrocketing shortly after the number of transactions fell. Not sure when the next #bitcoin bull run will be but I’m quite confident we’ll be ready for it.”

Bitcoin Segwit Adoption, January 2016-July 2018

Bitcoin Segwit Adoption, January 2016-July 2018. Source: Woobull charts

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India Exchange Unocoin Suspends Withdrawals Following Central Bank Demands

Exchanges

“Deposits/Withdrawals Notice,” came the post title from popular Indian cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin this week. “As per orders from RBI,” the exchange explained, “bank INR withdrawals and INR Deposits have temporarily been disabled. Once an alternative method of funding is identified and deployed, we will resume the deposit and withdrawal services.”

Also read: Cryptowhispers: DDoS Attacks, Major Exec in Serious Crash, Twitter Drama

India Crypto Exchange Unocoin Suspends Withdrawals and Deposits to Comply with Central Bank Orders

Ahead of an anticipated regulatory move and potential clarification by the government of India on the subject of cryptocurrencies, popular exchange Unocoin suspended fiat deposits and withdrawals, noting “Cryptoasset(coin) deposits and withdrawals are ON @ Unocoin & Unodax; Using INR Balance Buy and Sell of BTC/ETH is ON @ Unocoin; Crypto-rupee and crypto-crypto pair trading are ON @ Unodax.”

India Exchange Unocoin Suspends Withdrawals Following Central Bank Demands

RBI is the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank; INR is the international short expression for the India rupee (₹), its fiat currency. Traditional banks were placed under strict orders this spring by the RBI to stop dealing in cryptocurrencies altogether.

Exchanges filed suit, a petition, against the RBI’s policy, making its way eventually to the Supreme Court of India. Just days ago, the Court upheld the central bank’s decision, suggesting a definitive ruling on the issue will come this fall.   

Workarounds

As a measure to mitigate against drawing further ire from officials, exchanges such as Unocoin have tried to find workarounds. Crypto trades for crypto is one step, and it does appear peer-to-peer arrangements will only see benefit from the crackdown.

India Exchange Unocoin Suspends Withdrawals Following Central Bank DemandsJust recently, the company’s Unodax revealed 17 crypto-only trading pairs, including bases made from bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum, and XRP. BTC is matched, for example, with BCH/BTC, ETH/BTC, LTC/BTC, XRP/BTC, BTG/BTC, GNT/BTC, CVC/BTC, ZRX/BTC, and OMG/BTC.

As we recently reported, “an unnamed senior official from the Ministry of Finance” insisted they’ve already drafted regulatory language and “consultation is on with all the stakeholders…before coming up with the final paper. We expect it to be ready by September. ‘The ministry has constituted an interdisciplinary committee under the chairmanship of Special Secretary (Economic Affairs) to examine the regulatory framework regarding virtual currency,’ [a regional publication] detailed. ‘SEBI and RBI have expressed some reservations regarding clauses in the initial draft.’”

What do you think ultimately the government of India will decide? Let us know in the comments section below. 


Images via Pixabay, Twitter. 


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