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EU Supercomputers Hijacked From COVID-19 Research to Mine Cryptocurrency

European supercomputers programmed to search for a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) were remotely hijacked last week for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency.

According to a report by ZDNet, multiple supercomputers across the EU were compromised by a string of malware attacks that required a shut down after it was discovered they were being used for crypto mining – also known as cryptojacking. The hackers had gained entry via stolen SSH (remote access) credentials from individuals authorized to operate the machines.

Security researcher Chris Doman, co-founder of Cado Security, told ZDNet that the malware was designed to use the supercomputers’ processing power to mine monero (XMR). It is also believed a number of the compromised supercomputers were being used to prioritize research for a coronavirus vaccine, although details surrounding the hacks and the computer’s purpose appear to have been left deliberately vague.

Security incident reports came from Germany, the U.K and Switzerland, with a potential hijack also said to have occurred at a high-performance computer located in Spain.

The first reported incident took place on May 11 at the University of Edinburgh, which operates the ARCHER supercomputer. “Due to a security exploitation on the ARCHER login nodes, the decision has been taken to disable access to ARCHER while further investigations take place,” the university announced in a public update.

To date, the ARCHER supercomputer is still down pending further security purges, as well as a reset of its system and passwords. “The ARCHER and Cray/HPE System Teams continue to work on ARCHER and getting it ready to return to service. We anticipate that ARCHER will be returned to service later this week,” the university said.

Germany-based bwHPC, an organization that coordinates research projects across supercomputers in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, declared five of its high-performance computing clusters had to be shut down due to similar “security incidents.

A supercomputer located in Barcelona, Spain, was also impacted on May 13, with researcher Felix von Leitner declaring in a blog post that the computer had a security issue and had to be shut down.

On May 14, further incidents began cropping up with the first one coming from Leibniz Computing Center (LZR), an institute with the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The Academy said it had disconnected a computing cluster from the internet after its security was breached.

On Saturday, German scientist Robert Helling published an analysis on the malware that was infecting a high-performance computing cluster at the Faculty of Physics at the Ludwig-Maximillian University University in Munich, Germany.

And in Switzerland, the Swiss Center of Scientific Computations (CSCS) in Zurich also shut down external access to its supercomputer infrastructure following a “cyber-incident” on Saturday.

Similar incidents have occurred in the past. Earlier this year a group of hackers known as “Outlaw” began infiltrating Linux-based enterprise systems in the U.S. in order to hijack personal computing power and mine XMR.

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News Sputnik

European Supercomputers Researching COVID-19 Outbreak Reportedly Hacked to Mine Cryptocurrency


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Many of the supercomputers that suffered “security incidents” over the last week were reportedly being used for conducting research on the novel coronavirus outbreak, work that was apparently obstructed by the attacks.

Supercomputers in European countries including Germany, the UK and Switzerland were forced to shut down amid a series of intrusions made with the goal of installing cryptocurrency-mining malware, according to ZDNet. A similar “security incident” was reported from a high-performance computing centre in Spain. The malware reportedly saw the shutdown of the supercomputers as a means of restoring “a safe environment” and rewriting passwords and credentials.

Several intrusions reportedly took place over the last week, beginning with a Monday attack reported by the University of Edinburgh running the ARCHER supercomputer and followed by similar reports from Germany, Spain and Switzerland. The attacks were aimed at nodes that control computing clusters, which were then apparently infected with malware. 

According to a European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) security team report, the attacks – originating in Poland and China – were carried out by stealing SSH credentials from authorized users. 

Chris Doman, co-founder of Cado Security, told ZDNet that there was no clear evidence that all attacks were conducted by the same group. The malware filenames and network indicators, however, leave space for alleging that the source of the threats could be the same. 

According to Doman, hackers installed malware that mined the Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency, after accessing the supercomputers’ controlling nodes using an exploit for a CVE-2019-15666 vulnerability, allowing root access to the computers. 

Several supercomputers targeted in the attacks, including Edinburgh’s ARCHER, were prioritizing COVID-19 research, work which has now likely been obstructed by the intrusion and the resulting shutdown.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many reports on hacker attacks directed at the World Health Organization, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as possible security breaches and personal data protection issues revolving around the apps used to track those who have contacted COVID-19-positive victims.

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News RT

US kills Telegram cryptocurrency to maintain dollar dominance as Durov concedes defeat in ‘battle of generation’ — RT World News

Telegram has been forced to abandon its cryptocurrency initiative, with its founder Pavel Durov blasting the US for seeking to crush any attempt at decentralization in order to maintain its global financial dominance.

Telegram founder and St. Petersburg native Pavel Durov announced the move in a post to his own Telegram channel on Tuesday, stating the crypto project – the Telegram Open Network (TON) and its currency, known as “Grams” – would have to be shut down.

“Unfortunately, a US court stopped TON from happening,” Durov said, adding that the court ruled “people should not be allowed to buy or sell Grams like they can buy or sell Bitcoins.”

Perhaps even more paradoxically, the US court declared that Grams couldn’t be distributed not only in the United States, but globally. Why? Because, it said, a US citizen might find some way of accessing the TON platform after it launched.

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As the project got off the ground last year and Telegram raised $1.7 billion through sales of the future crypto, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued the company in federal court, arguing it committed “ongoing illegal offering of digital-asset securities.” The agency also obtained an emergency restraining order barring Telegram from continuing to sell the currency, creating major legal obstacles for the initiative which culminated in the recent ruling.

“Today, we are in a vicious circle: you can’t bring more balance to an overly centralized world exactly because it’s so centralized. We did try though,” Durov said, adding that Washington controls the “global financial system” and can coerce ubiquitous tech giants like Google and Apple to serve its agenda.

The US can use its control over the dollar and the global financial system to shut down any bank or bank account in the world… So yes, it is true that other countries do not have full sovereignty over what to allow on their territory.

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According to the tech entrepreneur, TON was designed to “share the principles of decentralization pioneered by Bitcoin and Ethereum,” but would have superior speed and scalability when integrated with Telegram, allowing for “for an open, free, decentralized exchange of value and ideas.” The project now ceases to exist, with Durov “wishing luck to all those striving for decentralization, balance and equality in the world.”

We hope that you succeed where we have failed.

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Daily Beast News

15-Year-Old Ellis Pinsky Led Ring of ‘Evil Computer Geniuses’ in $24M Cryptocurrency Heist, Says Lawsuit

A powerful cryptocurrency investor is suing a New York high-school senior who he alleges led a “gang of digital bandits” to steal nearly $24 million in multiple cryptocurrencies from him in 2015.

Michael Terpin, the founder and chief executive officer of Transform Group, filed the complaint against Ellis Pinsky in federal court in White Plains, New York, on Thursday now that Pinsky has turned 18 years old.

In the complaint, Terpin claims that Pinsky seems like “an ‘all-American boy,’” but in reality the suburban Westchester County teen is an “evil computer genius” who led a “gang of digital bandits” in a “sophisticated cybercrime spree” in 2018, when Pinsky was just 15.

Terpin is suing Pinsky and 20 co-conspirators who have been named in the case as “20 John Does” for $71.4 million in damages, according to figures in the legal documents. “Pinsky and his other cohorts are in fact evil computer geniuses with sociopathic traits who heartlessly ruin their innocent victims’ lives and gleefully boast of their multimillion-dollar heists,” Terpin wrote in the complaint filed Thursday.

Bloomberg News unsuccessfully tried to reach Pinsky, who does not have a lawyer listed on the complaint.

In the complaint, Terpin accuses Pinksy of stealing data from him and others by tapping into their smartphones through “SIM swaps” and then accessing online accounts by tricking mobile phone carriers into transferring the victim’s phone number and data. Terpin alleges the crime violates federal racketeering and computer -raud laws.

Terpin is also suing AT&T Mobility in Los Angeles for $240 million, which was Pinsky’s phone carrier at the time the alleged hacking occurred. AT&T has filed a bid to dismiss the case based on user-agreement indemnities, Bloomberg News reports.

Terpin won a related civil judgment of $75.8 million in May 2019 against an associate of Pinsky named Nicholas Truglia, who is also facing criminal hacking charges in both California and New York.

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