The financial services sector is bracing itself for an unprecedented period of disruption. Innovations such as smartphones, big data analytics, and the blockchain technology that underpins Bitcoin, are forcing banks, insurers, and Wall Street firms to adapt to an unpredictable future where some of the old rules no longer apply. We’ve seen this before – just look what happened with Blockbuster vs. Netflix, record stores vs. digital music, or even Yellow Pages vs. Google. But unlike those examples, a banking sector shakeup will not be a zero-sum game. (more…)
A friend of mine has spent more than the value of his San Antonio home on Amazon Prime in the last five years. That is precisely why the next big battlefield for marketing and advertising lies with artificially intelligent digital agents like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Facebook M, and Cortana.(more…)
Yesterday’s attack on the internet domain directory Dyn, which took major sites like Twitter and Paypal offline, was historic in scale. But the motivation for the attack may seem opaque, since no valuable information seems to have been stolen. A group called New World Hackers is claiming credit, but giving conflicting accounts of their motives—and security experts have called them “impostors.”
So why else might someone have done it? This class of hack, known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, has been around for a while. And while many DDoS attacks are indeed motivated by politics, revenge, or pettytrolling, there’s frequently money involved.
For instance, DDoS attacks are often used as leverage for blackmail. Once a hacking group has a reputation for being able to field a large and dangerous botnet to knock servers offline, they can demand huge ‘protection’ payments from businesses afraid of facing their wrath. In fact, they don’t even have to do the hacking in the first place—in one recent case, someone posing as a notorious cabal merely emailedblackmail messages and managed to pocket tens of thousands of dollars before they were exposed.
In the current case, there are rumors that Dyn was a target of extortion attempts before the attack. And the hackers behind what may be the biggest DDoS attack in history could demand a pretty penny to leave other companies alone. A wave of impostors will likely give it a shot, too.
There’s another, even darker money-driven application of DDoS attacks—industrial sabotage. Companies seeking to undermine their competition can hire hackers to take the other guys offline. DDoS services are often contracted through so-called “booter” portals where anyone can hire a hacker’s botnet in increments as small as 15 minutes. Researchers found last year that three of the most prominent booter services at the time had over 6,000 subscribers in total, and had launched over 600,000 attacks. (And despite the criminal reputation of Bitcoin, by far the largest method used to pay for DDoS-for-hire was Paypal.)
But it’s unlikely that this was some sort of hit called in by a competitor of Dyn—that tactic seems to primarily appeal to already-shady dealers, including online gambling operations.
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Finally, DDoS attacks can serve as a kind of smokescreen for more directly lucrative crimes. While a security team is struggling to deal with an army of zombie DVRspummeling their system, attackers can grab passwords, credit card numbers, or identity information.
In weighing possible explanations for Friday’s attack, it’s important to note the massive scale of the thing. Even if their claims of responsibility aren’t credible, New World Hackers’ description of about 1.2 terabits of data per secondthrown at Dyn’s servers is both vaguely plausible and utterly mind-boggling. That’s around twice as powerful as the huge 620 gigabit per second attack that knocked out a single website, Krebs on Security, last month. Dyn has also described the attack as sophisticated, arriving in three separate waves that targeted different parts of their systems.
That kind of operation could have been pulled off by a gang of kids doing it for kicks—and maybe that’s the scarier scenario. But such a massive undertaking suggests bigger, and possibly more lucrative, motivations.
Five insurance giants, Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich, which in combination manage trillions of dollars in assets, have launched a blockchain initiative B3i to study the feasibility of the use of blockchain technology for insurance and to launch a blockchain based insurance proof of concept.(more…)
NEW YORK – Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a global leader in transaction services, and ModoPayments, LLC (Modo), an industry leader in digital payments innovation, recently announced a strategic relationship that will give the bank access to Modo’s patented COIN® Operated Digital Payments Hub. Through the hub, Bank of America Merrill Lynch clients will have the ability to connect with multiple emerging payment networks. Furthermore, the new global capabilities can extend the reach of the bank’s existing digital business-to-consumer offering, Digital Disbursements. (more…)
Not so long ago, Theranos was flying high, its claims that it was upending the medical diagnostics business largely accepted by the public. Behind the scenes, however, some employees were growing wary of those claims, with at least one eventually reaching out to regulators to report the company’s failure to report its questionable test results.(more…)
The Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (CMA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) today signed a Co-operation Agreement which aims to promote innovation in financial services in their respective markets.(more…)
With this new deal, Abra users in the Philippines will be able to purchase Steam wallet codes, Skype credit, Amazon gift cards and Battle.net cards by paying with Abra at Codapay’s retail site, Codashop. (more…)