The Taliban Crushed Afghanistan’s Crypto Market, Study Says

    A crackdown by the Taliban has led to a collapse in cryptocurrency use in Afghanistan.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Oct 05 2022, 21:58 IST
    This malicious Firefox add-on stole thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency
    A particular malicious add-on for Firefox, that goes by the name Safepal Wallet, has managed to scam users by stealing money from them and managed to live on the Mozilla add-ons store for seven months before getting detected and removed.
    1/6 A particular malicious add-on for Firefox, that goes by the name Safepal Wallet, has managed to scam users by stealing money from them and managed to live on the Mozilla add-ons store for seven months before getting detected and removed. (Pixabay)
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    2/6 Safepal is essentially a cryptocurrency wallet application that is capable of holding more than 10,000 types of assets, including Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc. However, Safepal is an official smartphone app that is available for Apple and Android both. There are no known “authentic” Safepal browser extensions. (BleepingComputer)
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    3/6 According to a post shared by a user who goes by the name Cali on the Mozilla Support forum, within a few hours of installing and logging in to the Safepal Wallet extension with their real Safepal credentials, they saw their wallet balance drop to $0 from $4,000.  (Mozilla Support Forum )
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    4/6 While investigating Safepal Wallet, BleepingComputer came across the phishing domain used by the add-on and this webpage was also listed as the "support site" link on the fake add-on's home page: https://safeuslife.com/tool/. WHOIS records indicate the this phishing site was registered in January this year via Namecheap. And BleepingComputer reported that at the time of them filing this report, the webpage is still live and it instructs people to key in their "12-word Backup Phrase in the correct order to pair your SafePal Wallet". (BleepingComputer )
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    5/6 Once the recovery phrase is entered and the form is submitted, the page refreshes without any noticeable response and the recovery phrase is sent to the attacker. A stolen recovery phrase can give attackers control over your wallet along with the ability to access and transfer funds. (Pixabay)
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    6/6 Five days after Cali publicly reported the incident, a Mozilla spokesperson responded to say that they were investigating the issue and the page for Safepal Wallet has since been removed by Mozilla. The Mozilla add-ons store now has one-star reviews posted by some users that are warning others to not download “Safepal Wallet”. (BleepingComputer )
    Cryptocurrency
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    A crackdown by the Taliban has led to a collapse in cryptocurrency use in Afghanistan (MINT_PRINT)

    A crackdown by the Taliban has led to a collapse in cryptocurrency use in Afghanistan following a surge last year when the nation was cut off from global banking and international aid, according to a study.

    The value of crypto received in the country has fallen to an average of less than $80,000 a month since November, down from a peak of more than $150 million in September last year just after the Taliban swept back to power, according to a report by blockchain research firm Chainalysis.

    “The Taliban's crackdown has had a massive chilling effect on the country's crypto markets,” according to the report, which added that “crypto dealers are left with three options: flee the country, cease operations, or risk arrest.”

    Afghans turned to virtual coins as a lifeline to receive foreign remittances and donations, as well as to shield savings from the Taliban, who were shunned internationally after taking charge in the wake of a chaotic US withdrawal.

    In August, the regime imposed a nationwide ban on crypto, calling it “haram” -- or sinful business. The Taliban arrested 13 crypto dealers who defied orders to stop trading digital tokens. They were later released on bail pending trial.

    Chainalysis said Afghanistan has dropped to the bottom of its crypto adoption index after placing 20th last year.

    The Middle East and North Africa crypto market overall is relatively small but among the fastest growing, according to the researcher: Users there received $566 billion in crypto from July 2021 to June 2022, up 48% from a year earlier.

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    First Published Date: 05 Oct, 21:58 IST
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