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Cyberattack Momentarily Pauses Trading at Bitfinex Crypto Exchange

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DDoS attacks have become common in recent days. There have been many digital currency exchanges that have been targeted by hackers over the years in these short attacks that make the networks unavailable momentarily. The latest victim of the attack has been Bitfinex, which is among the leading exchanges in the world.

The attack forced the exchange to be closed briefly on Tuesday during the morning hours. The attack was typical of previously recorded attacks in other exchanges and the objective was to disrupt the services. DDoS attacks are known to be quite potent and capable of shutting down even the strongest systems.

Bitfinex Confirmed the Veracity of the Attack

The communication team at Bitfinex came out to clarify the issue after users reported issues with the system. A message from the company’s website indicated that the attack was indeed carried out on one of the company’s service providers, which resulted in a service outage for a while. Several users had already noted the system was behaving in a slow and passive manner.

The statement from the company explained that the issues observed were as reported due to the overloading caused in the systems by the said attack. The attack had ramifications on the markets as the price of Bitcoin fell by 2%.

The financial markets like forex, stock, and even crypto rely a lot on the news coming out from the media. Media channels that carry crypto trading information can momentarily influence what is going on in the markets as the recent attack has shown.

Even though the recent attack has had an effect on the market, they will be reversed in due course especially since services at the exchange have gone back to normal. As of 11 a.m. ET, Bitfinex was said to have restored its normal operations. The company also assured users that they were doing everything to follow up on the situation. Earlier news from the company was however conflicting since the attack was not mentioned. The company had instead chosen to claim that a planned maintenance was ongoing.

Regarding the extent of the attack, only trading operations were affected the most. As Bitfinex has revealed, the user data for its clients was not compromised nor exposed to risk. There has not been any major attack that compromised clients’ funds in recent history.

Bitfinex has been on the market for over five years now. The company has had an interesting journey since it was established in Hong Kong. Over the years, the company has had a fair share of challenges and successes. In overall, its successes have been more profound as it occupies a formidable position in the market today.

When it was founded, its main goal was to act as a peer-to-peer exchange for bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency at the time. As time went by and the market diversified, the currency exchange platform also grew and accommodated other cryptocurrencies as well. The history of attacks on this exchange and others is quite familiar to crypto traders. Last year, another major attacked that targeted various exchanges also hit Bitfinex.

Attacks on Exchanges are Common

One of the few major attacks that resulted in the loss of bitcoin was the famous attack of August 2016 where over 100,000 bitcoin were lost.

Security is often a major challenge for all digital financial platforms. There have been many efforts done over the years to overcome security challenges and there has definitely been an improvement in this area. The attackers on the system are however always bolder as time passes. This year, attackers stole crypto units of a minor digital currency to the tune of nearly $500 million in value. This happened on a well-known Japanese exchange, Coincheck. Youbit, a South Korean exchange that has a substantial number of users also lost nearly 20% of its digital assets after a successful attack on the system was performed.

There are indeed many more cases recorded over the world as attacks on exchange platforms are rampant. One of the most famous attacks was in 2014 when Mt. Gox, the Tokyo-based exchange was successfully attacked with profound losses. Assets of over 700,000 users were lost in the process and the exchange came tumbling down. This attack was major because the exchange was at the top of the market at that time.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Nanomaterials: the biotechnology of today and tomorrow

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Nano technology

There is a huge amount of interest in the development and use of nanomaterials, across a wide range of sectors. The properties of the micro-sized particles are perfect for application in everything from medical and pharmaceutical to clothing creation and the manufacture of filters, produced using the method of electrospinning.

Electrospinning, sometimes known as EHDP is method for the production of nano and micro-structures, and has huge benefits in industry. It can also be used for a range of materials to suit the intended purpose.

What are the benefits of using nano materials?

There are many benefits to electrospinning processes to produce nanomaterials. For example the surface area to volume ratio of nanofiber, due to the nanodimension of the fibers, is very high. Different materials, such as polymers, metals and ceramics can be spun together to give excellent results.

There is also a huge cost saving benefit. Although at the forefront of modern technology, setting up a lab or a clean room to carry out electrospinning is very cheap when compared with the set up of other industrial processes. Several companies have even scaled up the production of the nanofibrous membrane, to enable mass production at low cost. And setting up an electrospinning company is surprisingly simple, as staff can be upskilled quickly and efficiently to manage the process. Especially as there are machines now with incredibly easy user controls.

How does it work in practice?

If those who are are unfamiliar with the method behind electrospinning of nanomaterials can understand the process relatively simply. It involves using an electrical force to pull charged threads of polymer melts or solutions.

The solution of polymers, solvents and the other components is prepared. At this stage molecular chair entanglement takes place. Next is the electrospinning itself. The solution is fed through the capillaries and a high voltage is applied which creates a jet. The jet is then whipped and stretched into fibers. It is at this point the solvent is evaporated.

Finally the dry fiber is formed into a membrane or material, depending on the intended use. This can be quite wide ranging, and so although the science behind it all remains exactly the same, the electrospinning machines must be correct for the type of usage as defined by the manufacturer.

What are nanomaterials actually used for?

The materials are huge versatile. The limit for future innovations is only as small as the next person’s imagination.  It is currently used across medicine, for example growing artificial tissues that can mold with living tissue for example in place of a skin graft, or to create a barrier around an organ. It is also used in biomedical implants that sit under the skin and release a slow stream of drugs into the body.

They are of course also used in the production of fabric, particularly whether that fabric needs to be lightweight and breathable. In fact the initial development of electrospinning and micro or nano materials was initially developed by the textile industry. Especially where the wearer needs to be protected by toxic substances. It is the perfect way to make seamless non-woven garments.

It is also often used as coatings for other items, for example furniture, or pharmaceutical drugs. The process helps give products protection from the environment around it but also maintain the quality of the interior product within.

This is because of the properties of nanofiber. The previously mentioned high surface to volume ratio, and the fact that due to the electrospinning process at a molecular level the material is virtually defect free.

It is vital that, in order to achieve outstanding results, the chosen manufacturer of machinery is of the highest quality. It is very important. Particularly when trusting the machinery to produce highly technical fibers, with the right polymers, but the right equipment.

Nano materials bring to humanity technological advances that revolutionize industries, such as medicine, that greatly benefit the health of human beings. At the forefront of modern technology and its development and production, the potential for vastly improving human quality of life is huge. Even the current uses are just the tip of the iceberg as to what could be achieved in the future.

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Why an Email Verifier Is A Necessary Tool for Your Business

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business email verifier

Most people promoting their businesses through email have realized they need to use an email verifier to keep their email lists clean. There are several reasons why your emails bounce or are reported as Spam, thus affecting your sending reputation. That’s why an email cleaning service is a necessary tool for any email marketer. But the question arises, what exactly is an email verifier and how does it help you?

To understand what an email verifier does, let’s talk about the several features it provides:

  • Email Bounce Checker: Online marketing and email promotions have become an integral part of any business advertisement model. However, if your emails are unable to reach genuine users and your email bounce backs are increasing day by day, an email verifier can save the day. It removes fake and invalid email addresses from your list, helping you reach your customers and increase your conversions.
  • Spam Trap and Abuse E-mail Checker: Spam traps and abuse emails will get you a bad reputation and might even get you blacklisted. An email verifier checks your email contacts and identifies any kind of risk prevailing email addresses. Otherwise, sending emails to spam complainers will cause your emails to land into the Spam folder, even when you’re emailing users who want to hear from you.
  • A.I. Email Scoring & Catch-All Validation: Email verifier ZeroBounce offers an email scoring system that incorporates the use of artificial intelligence to validate your email addresses. The system tells you which leads pose a high risk and which ones are safe to use.
  • E-mail Address List Append: This feature adds missing users’ data to your database. This process not only reveals full-fledged data about subscribers, but also helps you eradicate fake or inactive email accounts. Moreover, knowing your users or recipients allows you to personalize your emails according to their needs and expectations.

A good email verifier helps email marketers maintain a clean sending reputation with ISPs and ESPs. It also helps you reach a broader, genuine audience and eliminate inactive and fake leads.

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Wars: From Weapons to Cyberattacks

Alexandra Goman

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Historically war focused on public contests which involve arms, e.g. Gentili’s concept of war. The main goal of such contests is to inflict damage to soldiers of an opposing side. Through this lens, cyberwar may be seen as a contest which perhaps involves certain arms. But it should be noted that these contests are very seldom public, mostly due to attribution problem. Even more, cyberattacks do not kill or wound soldiers; instead they aim to disrupt a property. It is, however, somewhat debatable, because such disruption of a system (like meddling with the nuclear facilities of Iran) may have an effect on both, civilians and combatants in a longer run. However, these secondary consequences are not the primary goal of a cyberattack, thus, there should be a difference between a cyberwar and a war.

The element of war being public is very important, as war is always openly declared. Additionally, an opposing side is given a chance to respond to the enemy by whatever means it deems necessary. In the context of cyberwar, this is more complicated. In case of cyberattacks, it is very difficult to determine the source and the initial attacker (more precisely, an attribution problem which is to be addressed further). Moreover, many attackers prefer to remain silent. This argument is further exacerbated by the lack of evidence. At this date the best example of cyber warfare, going somewhat public, is Stuxnet – not attributed to and officially admitted.

In the end, the attack became public but it was hidden for a year before its discovery. The specialists did notice the Iranian centrifuges malfunctioning[1] but they failed to identify the source of problems. This cyberattack was new because it did not hijack a computer or extort money; it was specifically designed to sabotage an industrial facility, uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

However, attribution still falls behind. U.S and Israel are believed to launch Stuxnet, however they denied their involvement. Moreover, not any other country as officially admitted that. Based on the previous argument, for war to happen it has to be public. The case of Stuxnet or its similar computer programs does not therefore prove the case of cyberwar.

Moreover, if war is seen as a repeated series of contests and battles, pursued for a common cause and reason (for example, to change the behavior of the adversary), then there should be more attacks than just one. Nothing seems to preclude that one state may attempt launching a series of cyberattacks against an enemy in the future, which consequently be named a war. However, the adversary should be able to respond to the attacks.

Another view argues that the just war tradition[2] can accommodate cyberwar; however there are also some questions to take into consideration. In cyberwar, a cyber tool is just means which is used by military or the government to achieve a certain goal. This fits the just war tradition very well, because the just war tradition does not say much about means used in war. It is more focused on effects and intentions (See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online).

The example of cyberweapons and the debate around them prove that they are discussed in the same way as any other evolving technology. If agents, effects, and intentions are identified, cyberwar should supposedly apply to the just war tradition similarly to any other types of war. However, cyber means has unique characteristics: ubiquity, uncontrollability of cyberspace and its growing importance in everyday life. These characteristics make cyberwar more dangerous, and therefore it increases the threat in relation to cyberwar.

Another useful concept of war to which cyber is being applied is the concept of war by the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz. It presents the trinity of war: violence, instrumental role, and political nature (Clausewitz, 1832). Any offensive action which is considered as an act of war has to meet all three elements.

Firstly, any war is violent where the use of force compels the opponent to do the will of the attacker (Ibid., 1). It is lethal and has casualties. Secondly, an act of war has a goal which may be achieved in the end of the war (or failed to achieve in case the attacker is defeated). The end of war, in this sense, happens when the opponent surrenders or cannot sustain any more damage. The third element represents political character. As Clausewitz puts it, “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means” (Ibid., p. 29). A state has a will that it wants to enforce on another (or other) states through the use of force.  When applying this model to cyber, there are some complications.

Cyber activities may be effective without violence and do not need to be instrumental to work. According to Rid, even if they have any political motivation, they are likely to be interested in avoiding attribution for some period of time. That is why, he highlights, cybercrime has been thriving and was more successful that acts of war (Rid, 2012, p.16).  However, in all three aspects, the use of force is essential.

In the case of war, the damage is inflicted through the use of force. It may be a bomb, dropped on the city; or a drone-strike that destroys its target. In any case, the use of force is followed by casualties: buildings destroyed, or people killed. However, in cyberspace the situation is different. The actual use of force in cyberspace is a more complicated notion.

[1] International Atomic Energy Agency (2010). IAEA statement on Iranian Enrichment Announcement. [online] Available at: https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-statement-iranian-enrichment-announcement [Accessed on 28.12.2017].

[2] Jus bellum iustum (Lat.) – sometimes referred both as “just war tradition” and “just war theory”. Just war theory explains justifications for how and why wars are fought. The historical approach is concerned with historical rules or agreements applied to different wars (e.g. Hague convention). The theory deals with the military ethics and describes the forms that a war may take.  Ethics is divided into two groups: jus ad bellum (the right to go to war) and jus in bello (right conduct of war). (See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online). In the text Cook applies cyberwar to the just war tradition, rather than theory. In his belief, “tradition” describes something which evolves as the product of culture (In Ohlin, Govern and Finkelstein, 2015, p. 16).

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