SealsWithClubs warning over password hack; China ramps up Bitcoin crackdown

TAGs: Bitcoin, btc china, sealswithclubs, Switch Poker

btc-china-sealswithclubs-bitcoinBitcoin-only online poker site SealsWithClubs had warned its users to reset their passwords due to its customer database having been “likely compromised.” A notice posted to the site on Thursday indicated that the datacenter the site had used until November “permitted unauthorized access to a database server” containing Seals’ user credentials. The “manditory [sic] password reset “ notice also suggested that Seals’ customers would be well advised to change login info at other sites if they’d utilized the same password as their Seals’ account. Seals warned that transfers “may be disabled for a short period of time” and “sincerely” apologized for the inconvenience.

Technology blog ArsTechnica said the Seals’ warning was a response to the posting on Wednesday of 42k users’ login credentials to a password recovery online forum operated by software developer InsidePro. ‘StacyM’ offered forum users $20 in Bitcoin for every 1k cryptographically salted SHA1 hashes they could crack. Within 24 hours, close to three quarters of the 42k-strong list had been cracked, revealing passwords strongly suggesting that the database was a list of Seals’ users. It’s likely that some of these Seals’ users did in fact use the same passwords on other Bitcoin-related sites, potentially exposing them to the theft of Bitcoin assets.

Another Bitcoin poker site, Switch Poker, is looking to boost its liquidity by encouraging entrepreneurs to launch free skins on the Switch Poker Network. The offer is a freebie, allowing interested participants the opportunity to open their own skin within hours using Switch’s fully automated setup. Switch provides its branded player support and detailed analytics, while skin operators can collect a 30% revenue share. A second ‘Silver’ package is available for €850, for which Switch provides site and DNS setup, domain name registration and SSL certificates. A third ‘Gold’ package costs €4,995 + €2,495 per year, for which operators get a 70% revenue share – including casino game play – as well as an affiliate referral program and full ownership of players.

The fiat value of Bitcoin plunged earlier this month after China’s central bank ordered the nation’s financial institutions to avoid dealing with the crypto-currency. While Bitcon regained some of its value once the shock had worn off, China gave the currency another body blow this week after the world’s leading Bitcoin exchange BTC China reported that third-party payment companies would no longer provide clearing services for the exchange. This leaves users with few options for making deposits or withdrawals in yuan, although the ability to move Bitcoins on and off the exchange in their virtual currency form remains unaffected.

The restrictions were later confirmed by third-party payment providers PayPal, YeePay, TenPay and Alibaba subsidiary Alipay, all of which are licensed by the People’s Bank of China. BTC China CEO Bobby Lee subsequently told CoinDesk that he would solider on, but “if this keeps happening, ten times later, will I keep going? I don’t know.” China’s government has yet to issue an official statement on the matter, but it’s believed that all third-party payment providers have been given until the lunar new year – around the end of January – to curtail yuan transfers with Bitcoin exchanges. The present value of one Bitcoin is around US $680, barely half of its early December peak, but up from as low as $480 on Wednesday, reflecting the belief by some investors that such scares offer good buying opportunities.

Stateside, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued letters to Bitcoin businesses that they should “err on the side of caution” and register as money transmitters. Bitcoin Foundation founder Jon Matonis told Reuters the veiled threats would have a “chilling effect” on these businesses, which have reason to fear being “put out of business in an extrajudicial manner.” Earlier this year, FinCEN director Jennifer Calvery had warned virtual currency businesses that the onus was on them to demonstrate that they were operating within the law or they were “going to have to account for that.”


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