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Microsoft Research into Eastern European Hacking Should Cause Alarm for Crypto Exchanges

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Microsoft released a report detailing the extent of Russian hacking since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. The report details how the attacks were correlated with physical military operations on the ground. This included a cyberattack on a broadcaster at the same time a missile strike was occurring against a television tower in a general attempt to discourage disinformation. One fintech CEO is warning that this dovetailing on strategy could spell trouble for digital asset exchanges.

“It seems clear that cyberattacks out of Russia are being carried out in relation to what’s happening on the ground. Gazprom’s decision to cut off Poland and Bulgaria from Russian energy makes it clear that Russia is willing to use economics as a political weapon. If that’s true, and if Russia continues to see decreased revenues from its energy sector, it is absolutely conceivable to think that digital asset exchanges could see increased activity on the cybercrime front,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.

In particular, Microsoft noted:

“Starting just before the invasion, we have seen at least six separate Russia-aligned nation-state actors launch more than 237 operations against Ukraine – including destructive attacks that are ongoing and threaten civilian welfare. The destructive attacks have also been accompanied by broad espionage and intelligence activities. The attacks have not only degraded the systems of institutions in Ukraine but have also sought to disrupt people’s access to reliable information and critical life services on which civilians depend, and have attempted to shake confidence in the country’s leadership. We have also observed limited espionage attack activity involving NATO member states, and some disinformation activity.”

“As the industry continues to see hacks against its institutions, I truly believe that providers really need to better explore their options. Is the software they’re running hack-proof? Is their code fully vetted? Are their vendors up to providing the kind of security that their customers should demand? These are the tough questions that every exchange operator should be considering,” said Gardner.

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Modulus has provided its exchange solution to some of the industry’s most profitable digital asset exchanges, including a well-known multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable institutions, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“Whether we’re talking about Russian interests, or hackers with ties to North Korea, or even unaffiliated or loosely affiliated entities, it is clear that attacks are ramping up. The industry must be able to respond in a competent manner. Nine figure losses simply aren’t sustainable for an industry. Especially since improving our defenses is so comparatively inexpensive. Invest in security and risk management on the front-end. That’s the best bet for long-term success,” said Gardner.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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FG to Start Imposing Tax on Crypto Traders By 2023

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The Federal Government through the Minister of Finance, Budget and  National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has said there is a provision to start imposing taxes on cryptocurrency and other digital assets investing in the 2022 finance bill.

A  statement signed late Thursday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande noted that the finance bill was discussed at an extraordinary virtual meeting of the National Economic Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. 

The meeting also deliberated on other prevailing issues which include Taxation, Revenue Generation, Climate Change and the Green Growth pillar of the bill. 

If passed into law, this will avail the government an opportunity to start generating revenue from growing cryptocurrency investment in Nigeria.

Investor King learnt that the federal government is already talking to Investors in Europe, US and Canada to invest in Nigeria’s gas sub-sector. 

According to the statement, the meeting agreed that there should be incentives for the natural gas sector and discouragement of gas flaring.

“Under the climate change and green growth bill, there will be incentives for natural gas” the statement partly read. 

With respect to cryptocurrency, the bill these clarify the basis for the taxation of Cryptocurrency and other Digital Assets in line with the Government’s policy thrust of enhancing the cross-border and international taxation of growing e-commerce with emerging markets.

It could be recalled that the CBN in 2021 directed that all commercial banks should close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions. 

However, it seems the government is taking a soft position on cryptocurrency in recent times particularly as the largest crypto exchange in the world, Binance now accept naira deposit and withdrawal. 

Meanwhile, Investors King understands that if the bill is passed into law, Nigeria will join other countries which include the Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, India, Kenya and South Africa that are currently taxing cryptocurrency.

Speaking further on the finance bill 2022, the Minister of Finance noted that the proposed bill is anchored on five fundamental policy drivers which are tax equity, climate change,  job creation and economic growth, tax incentive reform and revenue generation. 

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FTX Missing Billions Remain Mystery After Bankman-Fried Grilling

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The mystery continues to shroud the missing billions at bankrupt crypto exchange FTX after its disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fried denied trying to perpetrate a fraud while admitting to grievous managerial errors.

In his first major public appearance following the Nov. 11 implosion of FTX and sister trading house Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried said he “screwed up” at the helm of the exchange and should have focused more on risk management, customer protection and links between FTX and Alameda.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” the 30-year-old said Wednesday by video link at the New York Times DealBook Summit. “There are things I would give anything to be able to do over again. I didn’t ever try to commit fraud on anyone.”

Bankman-Fried’s participation was controversial given there are outstanding questions about how Bahamas-based FTX ended up with an $8 billion hole in its balance sheet and whether it mishandled customer funds. Reports that FTX lent client money to Alameda for risky trades have stoked such concerns.

Interviewed by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who said Bankman-Fried was joining from the Bahamas, the fallen crypto mogul didn’t give a straight answer about whether he had at times lied.

Bankman-Fried told the summit that he “didn’t knowingly commingle funds.” At the same time, he said that FTX and Alameda were “substantially more” linked than intended and that he failed to pay attention to the trading house’s “too large” margin position.

He said he wasn’t running Alameda and added that he was “nervous about a conflict of interest.” No person was in charge of position risk at FTX, he said, describing the lack of oversight as a mistake.

Out of Control

The comments shed little light on the question of where client funds ended up as Bankman-Fried stuck to a hard-to-parse account of how Alameda ran up a massive margin position on the exchange.

The restructuring expert who took over the firm in bankruptcy, John J. Ray III, has painted a picture of FTX as a mismanaged, largely out-of-control company bathed in conflicts and lacking basic accounting practices, calling it the worst failure of corporate controls he’d ever seen.

Bankman-Fried faces a complex web of lawsuits and regulatory probes into alleged wrongdoing. Some observers speculate his public comments could be used against him in litigation.

The spotlight has also fallen on an apparent company culture of working and playing hard. Bankman-Fried said there were no wild parties and that he saw no illegal drug use. He added that he’s been prescribed drugs over time to help with focus and concentration.

Crypto Contagion

The digital-asset sector is braced for widening contagion from FTX, which once boasted a $32 billion valuation before sliding into bankruptcy. It owes its 50 biggest unsecured creditors a total of $3.1 billion and there may be more than a million creditors globally.

A crypto lender, BlockFi Inc., filed for bankruptcy Monday after being buffeted by the wipeout. Embattled brokerage Genesis is striving to avoid the same fate.

BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Larry Fink said earlier at the DealBook summit that most crypto companies will probably fold in the wake of FTX’s collapse. The world’s biggest asset manager was among firms stung by the chaotic unraveling of Bankman-Fried’s tangled web of 100-plus FTX-related entities.

Bankman-Fried has provided convoluted accounts on social media and in interviews with other news outlets about what led to FTX’s woes. Advisers overseeing the ruins of his business have slammed non-existent oversight.

Potential Hack

As if such travails weren’t enough, the exact breakup of a $662 million outflow from FTX as it tumbled into bankruptcy remains another enigma. Bankman-Fried said in the summit interview that there was improper access to FTX after its spiral.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, another speaker at the summit in New York, called the FTX debacle “the Lehman moment within crypto,” referring to the collapse of investment-banking giant Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Crypto markets have stabilized somewhat after lurching lower in November as the turmoil around FTX thickened. Even so, a gauge of the top 100 tokens is down more than 60% this year, hit by tightening monetary policy and a series of crypto blowups of which FTX is the most spectacular.

Bankman-Fried’s fortune at one point reached $26 billion, and just weeks ago he was described as the John Pierpont Morgan of digital assets, willing to throw around his wealth to bail out the industry. He said during the interview that he’s down to one credit card and $100,000 in the bank.

Pressed on whether he had been straight about FTX, Bankman-Fried said: “I was as truthful as I’m knowledgeable to be.”

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Binance CEO, Zhao to Create $1bn for Purchase of Distressed Assets

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According to an interview with Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao, cryptocurrency exchange Binance wants to create a fund of about $1 billion for the potential purchase of distressed digital assets.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Zhao made a suggestion about possible funding increases. He said, “If that’s not enough, we can allocate more.”

The recovery fund Zhao’s business plans to set up to help cryptocurrency projects experiencing a liquidity crisis as a result of the failure of rival FTX has drawn a lot of interest from industry players, Zhao said last week while addressing a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Zhao stated he doesn’t have a precise number in mind for the size of the recovery fund while speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

He declined to name other exchanges or institutions at this time, but said that there were “players that have strong financials and we should band together; we’ve got significant interest so far.”

Zhao stated that Binance has strong reserves, but he did not specify how much the business would contribute to the fund.

Zhao remarked that Crypto didn’t require saving. “Crypto will be fine.”

Zhao stated that more information about the fund will be made available over the following two weeks.

Investors King learned that earlier today, Binance’s Twitter account posted information about the launch of a new project and token sale by Binance Launchpad. Similarly to this, Binance has released information about the upcoming token sale for HOOK, the Hooked Protocol’s native cryptocurrency.

In the same manner, as with earlier projects that Binance has launched on its platform, the token sale will be conducted as a lottery.  Participants’ BNB balances will be recorded starting at 0:00 UTC today and continuing until 0:00 UTC on December 1.

Snapshots of balances will be made on an hourly basis during that period of seven days.

The self-custody wallet NGRAVE has received a strategic investment from Binance, and the company will manage its Series A round. The largest exchange by volume has decided to capitalize on the growing demand for hardware wallets. After the recent failure of the important cryptocurrency exchange FTX, a rise has been noted.

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