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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Developers of CTB-Locker Ransomware Start Using Bitcoin's Blockchain

Ransomware infections have increased dramatically over the last few months and their ingenious authors are now using bitcoin’s blockchain to send file decryption codes to paying victims.

In traditional CTB-Locker ransomware versions, perpetrators have to rely on a network of previously-hacked servers, which host hidden scripts that send decryption keys when victims pay bitcoin ransoms. This solution is very unreliable due to the fact that these hacked servers are frequently patched, and this cuts into the bottom line of the developers.

However, in more recent variants of the ransomware that targets servers, developers have devised a clever way to anonymously deliver decryption keys: embedding them in the OP_RETURN field.

The technique was explained in detail by Denis Sinegubko, a senior malware researcher at internet security firm Sucuri. The OP_RETURN field was implemented in the Bitcoin protocol so that small chunks of data could be added to each transaction.

According to Sinegubko’s post, the new variant of CTB-Locker - which was first observed in March of this year - baits victims into sending a small bitcoin transaction (0.0001 BTC) which decrypts a small portion of the victim’s encrypted files.

He explains in his post:

“If they see 0.0001 BTC, the wallet’s blockchain is appended with a new transaction whose OP_RETURN field contains the decryption key for the two free test files. If the victims pays the full price, they add a transaction with keys for both test and the rest of the encrypted files.”

Despite the “cleverness” of these ransomware developers, Sinegubko’s investigation revealed that very few webmasters pay the ransom, “Out of almost 100 sites I checked, only one had a real “free decryption test” 0.0001 BTC transaction.” he writes.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 13 forex trades (USDCAD, AUDUSD, GBPUSD, NZDUSD)

The 1-hour chart on the GBP/USD forex pair was showing a nice Head & Shoulders pattern, and the right shoulder had two bearish engulfing candles. So, I entered a short trade as soon as the that first bar broke to the downside.

It seemed to me this morning that the downtrend on the USD/CAD pair was a bit overextended. The 1-hour chart closed with two very nice Pin candlesticks with very long tails, so I decided to enter a long position. The stop-loss orders on the above two trades have been moved to break-even.

This AUD/USD trade is similar to the GBP/USD one, but the right shoulder has a Pin-bar, instead of the two bearish engulfing candles on the GBP/USD trade.

A simple short trade on this NZD/USD Pin-Bar. Stop-loss has now been moved to break-even as the market has already moved 35 pips in my favor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Airbnb Acquires Developer Team Behind Bitcoin Tipping Platform ChangeTip

Airbnb has acquired the team behind ChangeCoin, developers of popular bitcoin tipping platform ChangeTip.

According to Quartz, Airbnb has been very interested in blockchain startups and how the novel technology can augment and improve its existing rental business. While Airbnb has acquired the talent behind ChangeTip, the company has little interest in the tipping platform itself.

Figures from the Airbnb Summer Travel report for 2015, show that the company has served almost 17 million renters around the world. With services companies such as Airbnb - where user reputation is of paramount importance - a transparent and immutable user scoring system can be of great benefit.

Airbnb Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk explained to CityAM recently how user reputation may start to play an even bigger role in the Airbnb ecosystem in the future, “Within the context of Airbnb, your reputation is everything, and I can see it being even more so in the future, whereby you might need a certain reputation in order to have access to certain types of homes,” he said.

A blockchain-based reputation system can make Airbnb digital identities the standard in the burgeoning global sharing economy, and Blecharczyk knows this.

Blecharczyk told CityAM, when asked about blockchain technology:

“But then the question is whether there’s a way to export that and allow access elsewhere to help other sharing economy models really flourish.”

While the ChangeTip platform experienced tremendous user growth over the past two years after receiving $3.5 million in seed capital in December of 2014, ChangeCoin has been unable to find a sustainable business model. According to a party familiar with the Airbnb acquisition, ChangeCoin has been looking for buyers for its intellectual property for the past few months.

Image credit: tanuha2001 /

Forex trades for April 12, 2016 (AUDUSD, NZDUSD, GBPJPY)

I took this long trade on the GBP/JPY pair yesterday off the bullish Pin-Bar. The take profit was set right at the highs from the 6th April. When I woke up this morning, the TP order had already been hit. This one netted about 122 pips.

The NZD/USD short trade was initiated after I saw this long Pin-Bar on the 30-minute chart. There was already a very clear RSI divergence showing as well. The take-profit order is set to 0.6796, which is just above the swing low from yesterday.

The short trade on the AUD/USD was taken when that bearish engulfing bar - the one with the long tail - closed. I placed the take-profit order at 0.7546, just above the swing lows from from the 11th of April.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Couple of trades from today and yesterday (AUDUSD, USDJPY)

Entered a long position off this bullish engulfing candle. The take-profit order is set to 0.7637, which is right at the swing high from yesterday.
This short USD/JPY trade was entered at the break of the low of that large red Pin candlestick. The 30-minute chart also shows a Head & Shoulders pattern, which gave me a little more confidence to go short. Of course there is no guarantee that this trade will work out, even with the H&S formation.
I entered this long trade on the GBP/JPY pair yesterday. The downtrend has been relentless for the past few days, and it seemed like the market was in oversold territory. I saw this nice Pin-candle with a nice amount of divergence on the RSI, so I decided to go long. Exited with around 112 pips on this one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Two Trades on AUDUSD and NZDUSD today

I posted this AUD/USD trade yesterday and the stop on this one has now been moved to break-even. The take-profit has been set around 0.7640, which is swing high from the 4th of March.
I also entered a long trade on the NZD/USD fx pair yesterday. There was a very nice bullish engulfing candle on the 1-hour chart and I put in a buy-stop just above the high of that bar. The buy-stop was triggered several hours later and the stop-loss order was moved to break-even this morning. I placed the take-profit order about 100 pips away from the entry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Today's trades: Long EURUSD, Long AUDUSD and a closed USDCAD trade

I took this long USD/CAD trade yesterday after seeing that bullish engulfing candle form. The take profit was placed just under 1.32, which also happens to be a swing point from the 29th of March. This one netted about 130 pips.

This morning I entered this long trade on the EUR/USD pair. The 1-hour chart is showing a nice RSI divergence and there is a fairly large bullish engulfing candle with a very long tail. The take-profit order has been set at 1.1481, which is right at the swing high from October 15th of last year.

The AUD/USD trade is similar to the EUR/USD one. A bullish bar with a nice amount of divergence. The bullish bar has formed right around the swing point from the 29th of March, so the location of this formation is pretty good in my opinion. Let's see if any of these trades work out over the next few days.