New Malware Emerges That Targets Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask and Other Crypto Extensions: Report

A new type of malware has surfaced that can compromise crypto wallets and extensions, putting investors at risk of hacks.

According to a new blog post by network security expert 3xp0rt, a piece of malware known as Mars Stealer – an improved version of information bootlegger Oski Stealer – has emerged to prey on web browsers, crypto extensions and crypto wallets.

Some of the popular web browsers the malware affects are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Thunderbird.

It also preys on crypto extensions such as MetaMask, TronLink, Binance Chain Wallet and Coinbase Wallet while also targeting wallets such as Bitcoin Core and its derivatives. Wallets under MultiDoge and Ethereum could also potentially be affected.

However, 3xp0rt notes that the malware only targets crypto extensions on Chromium-based browsers other than Opera.

The cybersecurity expert says that Mars Stealer operates by getting a handle of a computer’s internal library files to conduct a complex series of technical coding reconfigurations to do its bidding.

To steal a user’s wallet information, the malware targets sensitive data stored in the wallet.dat file. The file contains information such as the address and private key access data, according to the internet security expert. The malware also has a built-in grabber, loader, and self-removal feature.

“Mars Stealer is an improved version of Oski Stealer. [It] has added [functionality]: anti-debug check, crypto extension stealing, but Outlook stealing is missing. The code has been refactored, but some algorithm remained stupid as in Oski Stealer.”

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Hacker Steals $250 Million From Solana, Ethereum Bridge Wormhole

Wormhole, a protocol that allows users to move their tokens and NFTs between Solana and Ethereum, has gone offline as it investigates an exploit of $254 million in Wrapped Ethereum.

According to Wormhole’s Twitter account the network is “down for maintenance” due to a “potential exploit.”

But that exploit, pointed out by Paradigm security researcher samczsun, appears to be real. A message on the Ethereum blockchain, purportedly from Wormhole, states:

“We noticed that you were able to exploit the Solana VAA verification and mint tokens. We would like to offer you a whitehat agreement, and present you a bug bounty of $10 million for exploit details, and returning the wETH you have minted.”

VAA stands for “validator action approval,” and refers to the process by which transactions get approved.

The message means that Wormhole assumes with a wink and nod that the hacker acted in good faith. In return, it will give them $10 million for pointing out a vulnerability. But it wants its quarter-billion back.

Wormhole has not yet provided additional updates and did not immediately respond to a Decrypt request for comment.

In addition to connecting Ethereum and Solana, Wormhole also works with Avalanche, Binance Smart Chain, Oasis, Polygon, and Terra. It allows users of one chain to take “wrapped” assets and use them on another chain, often so they can take advantage of lower fees or different applications across networks.

But to get their Ethereum into Solana, they must first lock it into a smart contract and then get an equivalent amount in Wrapped Ethereum. They can then trade WETH for Solana-based tokens. If the message above is accurate, the hacker was able to short-circuit this and mint WETH without keeping ETH locked up.


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El Salvador to Fix Chivo Wallet’s Issues by Partnering With AlphaPoint

The government of El Salvador and the American financial technology provider – AlphaPoint – joined forces to improve the technology for the Chivo wallet. The feature allows access to bitcoin for millions of Salvadorans.

Chivo Wallet With an Upgraded Version

Last year, El Salvador put its name in the spotlight after becoming the first state to accept bitcoin as a legal tender inside its borders. The authorities also introduced the Chivo wallet – a crypto wallet where locals can facilitate BTC transactions.

At first look, it was met with huge enthusiasm among locals. At the end of September, President Nayib Bukele announced that the wallet had amassed 2.1 million users or around 30% of the Salvadoran population.

Nonetheless, the mass adoption led to some issues such as slow transactions, blocked accounts, unauthorized charges, and other technical glitches.

To resolve these problems, the government teamed up with AlphaPoint – a New York City-based software firm that supports crypto projects. Specifically, the authorities vowed to change the frontend and backend technology provider for its Chivo wallet with the help of its new partner.


Speaking on the matter was Igor Telyatnikov – Co-Founder and CEO of AlphaPoint:

“No one else has attempted to execute a project of this nature. We at AlphaPoint are honored to be involved in the process and provide the reliable, scaled solutions needed for this effort. The Chivo Wallet app is currently supporting millions of Salvadorans, many of them accessing financial services for the first time.”

The upgrade of El Salvador’s crypto wallet came a few days after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the government of the Latin American country to remove bitcoin’s legal tender status. It opined that such legislation poses a “large risk” to the economy and could create “contingent liabilities.”

Shortly after, El Salvador’s Treasury Minister Alejandro Zelaya responded to the criticism saying that “no international organization is going to make us do anything, anything at all.”

El Salvador’s BTC Initiatives

Apart from embracing the primary cryptocurrency as an official payment method, the Salvadoran authorities have also bought bitcoin on a macro-economic level. The latest purchase came at the end of January when the nation accumulated 410 BTC worth $15 million (at the moment of the deal). Currently, the state has 1,801 BTC, equivalent to nearly $70 million (calculated at today’s prices).

Additionally, El Salvador involved bitcoin in some extravagant endeavors. In October last year, the government said it would use some of its profits accumulated from bitcoin purchases (back then, they totaled nearly $4 million) to create a massive pet hospital.

A month later, the authorities vowed to employ some BTC revenue into building 20 schools. Interestingly, those would educate the locals about the leading digital asset and its underlying blockchain technology.


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Crypto miner in Texas shuts down 99% of operations as winter storm approaches

With Winter Storm Landon expected to hit parts of Texas this week, major crypto mining firms are powering down in anticipation of high demands on the state’s power grid.

Speaking to Cointelegraph on Wednesday, Riot Blockchain’s communications director Trystine Payfer said that the company’s data center in Rockdale already had “99% of [its] power currently shut off” since beginning curtailments on Feb. 1, with demands on the grid expected to peak on Thursday night. In addition, Bitcoin (BTC) mining firms with representation in the Texas Blockchain Council sent a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott informing him they planned to shut down or reduce operations in response to ERCOT’s needs.

“As Texans, we want you to know that we are actively monitoring the incoming cold front, as we would any seasonal weather event,” said Texas Blockchain Council vice president Reed Clay in the letter to Abbott shared with Cointelegraph. “Likewise, we are taking proactive measures to shut down operations, shed load, and create additional capacity in response to ERCOT’s needs should it be necessary.”

According to Payfer, major Texas-based miners use 1 gigawatt for operations under normal conditions, permissible with the state’s power grid. According to ERCOT’s website, Texans are using 35,016 megawatts, or MW, at the time of publication, with the firm stating there is “enough power for current demand.” However, ERCOT’s forecast shows this demand could increase more than ​​42% in the next 24 hours, peaking at 49,786 MW when temperatures drop to their lowest: roughly -8 C in Dallas.

The TBC letter added:

“Just as important as the positive market signals we send to generators is our unique ability to immediately shed load when ERCOT demands it. This sort of demand response has and should continue to be a powerful tool in any grid management strategy.”

In 2021, millions of Texans experienced days without power as a once-in-a-decade winter storm not only increased demand on the grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, but shut down many power plants, froze generators, and otherwise disrupted the flow of electricity to many residents needing heat. Despite many crypto mining operations calling Texas home, some experts posited that operations in the state were unlikely to have contributed to the power outages.

“I don’t know if it’ll be worse than last year,” said Payfer. “I think we’re either looking at similar or a little bit less judging by what has been communicated to us from ERCOT.”

Related: Russian region struggles to keep up with Bitcoin mining energy demands

In the last year, many regulators and crypto advocates in Texas have endeavored to sell the state as a fresh start for firms looking for new offices and headquarters. In March 2021, Governor Abbott described himself as a “crypto law proposal supporter,” seemingly encouraging mining firms to set up shop in the state. Lawmakers also passed legislation recognizing cryptocurrencies under Texas commercial law and setting up a blockchain working group.