FBI Conducted 3.4 Million Warrantless Searches of Americans’ Data

Surprising news abounded this week as Ukrainian officials weigh next steps in their digital campaigns against Russia, given that their efforts so far have been unexpectedly successful, if sometimes controversial. Overall, Russia is being pummeled with cyberattacks of all sorts at a scale beyond anything the country has dealt with before.

Meanwhile, new research indicates that a small group of North Koreans have taught themselves to jailbreak smartphones in an effort to bypass the regime’s extensive digital restrictions and access forbidden media.

Elon Musk’s bid this week to purchase Twitter highlighted a host of potential privacy and security concerns for the platform’s users. The United States faced a notable spike in child sexual abuse sites in 2021 as CSAM hosting continued to increase dramatically [...]  read more

One of the Most Powerful DDoS Attacks Ever Hits a Crypto Platform

A cryptocurrency platform was recently on the receiving end of one of the biggest distributed denial of service attacks ever recorded, after threat actors bombarded it with 15.3 million requests, the content-delivery network Cloudflare said.

DDoS attacks can be measured in several ways, including by the volume of data, the number of packets, or the number of requests sent each second. The current records are 3.4 terabits per second for volumetric DDoS’s—which attempt to consume all bandwidth available to the target—and 809 million packets per second, and 17.2 million requests per second. The latter two records measure the power of application-layer attacks, which attempt to exhaust the computing resources of a target’s infrastructure.

Cloudflare’s recent DDoS mitigation peaked at 15.3 million requests per second. While short of the record, the attack may have been more powerful, because it was delivered through HTTPS requests rather than the HTTP requests [...]  read more

Crypto Is Poised to Reshape Taxes—and Cities

Taxes, CityCoins founder Patrick Stanley says, can stop being a mind-numbing civic ritual and become an exercise in freedom—if we tokenize and calibrate them the right way. Stanley’s crypto-based invention is what he calls “an opt-in tax of opportunity, as opposed to obligation,” wherein boosters tithe a particular city with crypto because they have faith in the municipality and its mission. “They want to see the city working as a capital allocator, and they want to bet on the success of the city,” Stanley said in a podcast interview. Essentially, they can cheer a city government on through computational processing worth millions, if not billions, of dollars—the equivalent of a gilded “like” button.

CityCoins launched its first project with the city of Miami in August 2021, raking in $2.5 million in “pseudo-tax” income in its first 20 days. New York City and Austin now have their own coins. Within the CityCoins matrix, miners receive a city-specific [...]  read more

Wikipedia Editors Are Ready to Stop Accepting Crypto Donations

More than 200 longtime Wikipedia editors have requested that the Wikimedia Foundation stop accepting cryptocurrency donations. The foundation received crypto donations worth about $130,000 in the most recent fiscal year—less than 0.1 percent of the foundation’s revenue, which topped $150 million last year.

Debate on the proposal has raged over the last three months.

“Cryptocurrencies are extremely risky investments that have only been gaining popularity among retail investors,” wrote Wikipedia user GorillaWarfare, the original author of the proposal, back in January. “I do not think we should be endorsing their use in this way.”

GorillaWarfare is Molly White, a Wikipedian who has become something of an anti-cryptocurrency activist. She also runs the Twitter account “Web3 is going just great,”which highlights “some of the many disasters happening in crypto, defi, NFTs, and other web3 projects,” the account profile says.

In her proposal [...]  read more

Inside the Takedown that Shredded the Myth of Crypto’s Anonymity

At the bottom of several pages of the site was a copyright date: March 13, 2015. Welcome to Video had already been online for more than two years. Even at a glance, it was clear that it had grown into one of the biggest repositories of child sexual abuse videos that law enforcement had ever encountered.

“You cannot let a child be raped while you go and try to take down a server in South Korea.” Simply pulling the site offline couldn’t be their first priority.

As Janczewski and Gambaryan analyzed the site’s mechanics, they saw that users could obtain points not just by purchasing them but also by uploading videos. The more those videos were subsequently downloaded by other users, the more points they would earn. “Do not upload adult porn,” the upload page instructed, the last two words highlighted in red for emphasis. The page also warned that uploaded videos would be checked for uniqueness; only new material would be accepted—a feature that, to the agents, [...]  read more

NFTs Are a Privacy and Security Nightmare

Venmo’s baffling decision to turn payments into a social media feed, where public transactions are the default, has rightly been met with criticism. But at the very least, it’s always been possible to make Venmo transactions private. Now, imagine a financial system that’s not just public by default, but can’t ever be made private, and nothing can ever be removed or deleted.

That’s how crypto works. And for years, it’s been too seldom recognized as an issue—in large part because systems like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other crypto platforms are technically “anonymous.” More specifically, unlike a bank or financial app, you don’t have to attach your real name, address, or other identifying information to a wallet. Sure, everyone can see what a random wallet is doing, but they don’t necessarily know who is doing it.

NFTs, however, radically undermine this already tenuous anonymity. 

Public Blockchains Are Low-Privacy Environments

With [...]  read more

What Twitter Is Really Planning for Crypto

You might have heard of crypto Twitter, the corner of the social network where accounts have Bored Apes as profile pictures, posts are rife with talk of tokens, blockchains, and buying the Bitcoin dip, and Elon Musk is venerated.

Photograph: Christian Peacock

Then again, you might have heard of Twitter Crypto, the business unit devoted to developing the social network’s strategy for cryptocurrency, blockchains, and that grab-bag of decentralized technologies falling under the rubric of Web3.The team’s unveiling came in November 2021 via a tweet from the newly hired project lead, Tess Rinearson, a Berlin-based American computer scientist whose career includes stints at blockchain companies such as Tendermint and Interchain.

Rinearson joined Twitter at a crucial moment. Jack Dorsey, the vociferously pro-Bitcoin company CEO, would leave a few weeks later, to be replaced by CTO Parag Agrawal. Agrawal had played an instrumental [...]  read more

Shutdown of Russia’s Hydra Market Disrupts a Crypto-Crime ATM

On the dark web, the takedown of yet another cryptocurrency-based black market for drugs has become almost a semiannual routine, with plenty of competitors ready to fill the shoes of any market law enforcement manages to bust. But the seizure of the Russian-language dark-web site Hydra may have ripple effects that go further than most: It represents a disruption of not just the post-Soviet world’s biggest hub of online narcotics sales, but also of a cybercriminal money-laundering and cash-out service that had been used in crimes with victims across the globe.

German law enforcement agencies  [...]  read more

In the World of NFTs, Who’s Making Money Off Your Image?

Regulatory solutions should be codified regionally and internationally through compatible language and legal definitions. Policy solutions like “online harms and safety” bills could be used to expand recourse to citizens and noncitizens alike.

Deduce governance lessons from social media platform regulation

OpenSea’s “fraudulent content” reporting form doesn’t cover copyright and trademark requests. For IP claims, the marketplace has a specific, offsite takedown request form. But while OpenSea has reached a critical mass within the digital collectables market now, once other NFT marketplaces gain steam, and perhaps even mint tokens on other non-Ethereum blockchains, the diffusion of the ecosystem could make it harder for an individual to claim personality rights.

Strengthening NFT market arbitration mechanisms, like making it easier for individuals to report persona-encroaching NFTs, could make it easier to flag abusive imagery (a route OpenSea has already pursued [...]  read more

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