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$145 million funds frozen after death of cryptocurrency exchange admin

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Roughly $145 million worth of cryptocurrency funds are frozen in the cold (offline) wallet of a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange portal after the death of its owner.

QuadrigaCX, the exchange, has filed for legal protection against its creditors in accordance with Canadian law until it regains access to the funds, according to a message posted on its website.

Problems for the exchange started in December 2018, when its CEO, Gerry Cotten, died of Crohn’s disease in Jaipur, India.

Cotten was the only one who had access to the company’s cold wallet. Despite his death, the exchange continued to operate for nearly a month by using the liquidities stored in its hot (online) wallet and fiat currency bank accounts.

Cotten’s death wasn’t even noticed by most of the exchange’s users until two weeks ago when his widow, Jennifer Robertson, announced his passing on Reddit, triggering a mass withdrawal of funds that destabilized the exchange.

“For the past weeks, we have worked extensively to address our liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallets, and that are required to satisfy customer cryptocurrency balances on deposit, as well as sourcing a financial institution to accept the bank drafts that are to be transferred to us,” the company’s board said in a message posted this week on its website.

“Unfortunately, these efforts have not been successful.”

Some of these efforts “to locate and secure” the cold wallet funds included hiring an IT consultant to attempt to decrypt Cotten’s laptop and gain access to the cold wallet password, according to cryptocurrency news portal CCN.

This wallet is at the center of QuadrigaCX’s operation. It stores quite a considerable amount of funds, according to a court document filed this week by Cotten’s widow, obtained by CoinDesk, another cryptocurrency news site. In particular, around 0.5 percent of all Ether coins currently in circulation are now frozen in Cotten cold wallet, according to an Ethereum market analyst.

QuadrigaCX frozen funds

According to the same court filing, besides the $145 million worth of cryptocurrency funds frozen in Cotten’s cold wallet, the company also owes another $53.5 million in fiat currency, which it now cannot pay after using some of its reserves and after Canadian authorities froze other accounts due to irregularities –per an AMBCrypto report.

More and more users are getting angry that they can’t access their QuadrigaCX funds and for valid reasons. Some are even questioning Cotten’s passing, claiming that he actually may have faked his death and is now living off the funds he had stored on the cold wallet.

QuadrigaCX is now asking the court for a stay of proceedings that would preempt any lawsuits that may come from this whole mess. They are also asking the court to appoint international accounting firm Ernst & Young to oversee its operations until everything gets sorted out.

It is highly unlikely that the exchange would ever get access to these funds ever again.

A report from CipherTrace published this week revealed that hackers stole over $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency from exchanges in 2018. The QuadrigaCX case may be one of those strange events where users lose money and it’s not because of hackers or a scam.

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Work from Home Security

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Spin Master is a leading global children’s entertainment company that invents toys and games, produces dozens of television and studio series that are distributed in 160 countries, and creates a variety of digital games played by more than 30 million children. What was once a small private company founded by childhood friends is now a public global supply chain with over 1,500 employees and 28 offices around the world.

Like most organizations in 2020, Spin Master had to adapt quickly to the new normal of remote work, shifting most of its production from cubicles in regional and head offices to hundreds of employees working from home and other remote locations.

This dramatic shift created potential security risks, as most employees were no longer behind the firewall on the corporate network. Without the implementation of hardened endpoint security, the door would be open for bad actors to infiltrate the organization, acquire intellectual property, and ransom customer information. Additionally, the potential downtime caused by a security breach could harm the global supply chain. With that in mind, Spin Master created a self-imposed 30-day deadline to extend its network protection capabilities to the edge.

Key Findings:

  • Think Long Term: The initial goal of establishing a stop-gap work-from-home (WFH) and work-from-anywhere (WFA) strategy has since morphed into a permanent strategy, requiring long-term solutions.
  • Gather Skills: The real urgency posed by the global pandemic made forging partnerships with providers that could fill all the required skill sets a top priority.
  • Build Momentum: The compressed timeline left no room for delay or error. The Board of Directors threw its support behind the implementation team and gave it broad budget authority to ensure rapid action, while providing active guidance to align strategy with action.
  • Deliver Value: The team established two key requirements that the selected partner must deliver: implementation support and establishing an ongoing managed security operations center (SOC).
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Key Criteria for Evaluating Privileged Access Management

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Privileged Access Management (PAM) enables administrative access to critical IT systems while minimizing the chances of security compromises through monitoring, policy enforcement, and credential management.

A key operating principle of all PAM systems is the separation of user credentials for individual staff members from the system administration credentials they are permitted to use. PAM solutions store and manage all of the privileged credentials, providing system access without requiring users to remember, or even know, the privileged password. Of course, all staff have their own unique user ID and password that they use to complete everyday tasks such as accessing email and writing documents. Users who are permitted to handle system administration tasks that require privileged credentials log into the PAM solution, which provides and controls such access according to predefined security policies. These policies control who is allowed to use which privileged credentials when, where, and for what tasks. An organization’s policy may also require logging and recording of the actions undertaken with the privileged credentials.

Once implemented, PAM will improve your security posture in several ways. The first is by segregating day-to-day duties from duties that require elevated access, reducing the risk of accidental privileged actions. Secondly, automated password management reduces the possibility that credentials will be shared while also lowering the risk if credentials are accidentally exposed. Finally, extensive logging and activity recording in PAM solutions aids audits of critical system access for both preventative and forensic security.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure

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Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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