The company behind the digital currency Tether has said that close to $31m (£23.4m) worth of its tokens have been stolen.
The Hong Kong-based company said it had taken action to prevent the thieves from redeeming the funds but now required other users to install an update.
It follows a series of other recent scandals involving crypto-currencies.
Bitcoin fell on the news but soon recovered most of its lost ground.
Unlike many digital currencies, which tend to fluctuate wildly against the dollar, Tether is pegged to the US currency.
This is supposed to protect investors from the volatility that can affect Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin, while allowing them to take advantage of a Blockchain-based asset suitable for fund transfers.
According to Tether’s operator, $30,950,010 worth of tokens were removed from one of the company’s core “treasury wallets” and sent to an unauthorised Bitcoin address on 19 November.
“A thorough investigation on the cause of the attack is being undertaken to prevent similar actions in the future,” the company said in a statement published on its site.
It added that a software update should “prevent any movement of the stolen coins from the attacker’s address” but only if other investors installed it “immediately”.
“We appreciate the community’s patience, understanding, and support while we work to rectify the situation,” it added.
Coindesk also reported that Tether had links to Bitfinex – a Hong Kong-based exchange that reported a hack last year blamed for about $65m of losses – although the report added that the “nature of the connection” was unclear.
The BBC has contacted Tether to seek clarification on the matter.
Other recent controversies involving digital currencies include:
a “code bug” in Ethereum’s digital wallets being blamed earlier this month for freezing more than $150m worth of Ether, preventing investors from being able to cash out
a South Korean exchange, Bithumb, saying that one of its employee’s PCs had been hacked in June. Several of its customers reported follow-up scam calls
Google is to “derank” stories from Kremlin-owned publications Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik in response to allegations about election meddling by President Putin’s government.
Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt said the search giant needed to deal with the spread of misinformation.
RT has been described by US intelligence agencies as “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine”.
The publications said the move was a form of censorship.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum, Mr Schmidt said: “We’re well aware of this one, and we’re working on detecting this kind of scenario you’re describing and deranking those kinds of sites.”
He then named two of Russia’s biggest media outlets: RT, a TV and online news organisation, and Sputnik, an online media network.
“I am strongly not in favour of censorship. I am very strongly in favour of ranking. It’s what we do,” he added. “It’s a very legitimate question as to how we rank, A or B, right? And we do the best we can in millions and millions of rankings every day,” said Mr Schmidt.
But he added that it was a constant tug-of-war altering the search giant’s algorithms to detect “weaponised” information because those seeking to manipulate the news agenda “will get better tools too”.
The comments drew an angry response from the two publications, which have always defended themselves as legitimate news organisations.
In October, Twitter announced that it would no longer allow advertisements from RT and Sputnik.
And in November, RT was forced to register itself as a ‘”foreign agent” by the US Department of Justice. The broadcaster is fighting the order in court.
Russia has repeatedly denied claims that it interfered in the 2016 presidential elections. US intelligence services accuse the country of trying to sway the vote in favour of Donald Trump by spreading fake news and hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks in order to undermine Hillary Clinton.
“I reported a post about the rapper Lil Peep, after he passed away, due to vulgar comments,” he told the BBC.
“I received a message from Facebook at 04.05 GMT saying Unilad’s account has been deleted due to violating community standards.
“The comments on the post were disgusting, although I do not think Unilad were to blame, more the Facebook users.”
The BBC have contacted Facebook for comment.
Unilad, which has offices in London and Manchester, was founded in 2010. In 2012, it was shut down but relaunched in 2014 under new owners Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley.
It was named as one of Facebook’s most popular pages last year, news that was shared by Sam Bentley in a Linkedin post: “We got over 25 billion video views and nearly 1 billion people liked, commented or shared our content,” he posted.
But the account has also generated criticism by some social media users questioning the authenticity of some of its content.
A free service that helps stop consumers visiting websites known to be malicious has been set up by IBM and two other industry bodies.
The Quad 9 service requires people to change the settings on their home router so web addresses can be checked.
It uses 19 separate lists of web-based threats to spot those used by phishing gangs or other cyber-thieves.
One security expert said it could be a “challenge” getting people to adopt the filtering system.
The Quad 9 service is backed by IBM and two other partners – the Packet Clearing House and the Global Cyber Alliance. The GCA was founded by security research groups and law enforcement and aims to start initiatives that educate people about web threats and help make it safer to use.
“Consumers have considerable problems with phishing,” said Phil Reitinger, head of the GCA. “A majority of them cannot tell if a website is real or not.”
Mr Reitinger said the service would help solve this problem by blocking any attempt to visit a known bad site preventing people from falling victim to those that pose as reputable financial organisations. Many spam and phishing emails include links to sites that look like the real thing but only want to steal data.
Consumers turn on the service by changing the settings on their home router that determine which servers their computer consults when they want to look up the location of a website. Domain name servers (DNS) hold this information and act like address books for websites.
By changing the router’s DNS settings to 22.214.171.124 people can check that the sites they are visiting are safe. Videos and documentation guiding people through the changes needed have been prepared by the project partners.
Independent security expert Graham Cluley said relatively few people fiddled with the settings on their routers to change the way they found web addresses.
Getting across the benefits of switching would be a ” big challenge”, he said, given how reluctant people were to adopt other useful security technologies.
“We haven’t managed to convince most users to deploy VPNs and password managers,” he said. “I think it’s going to be similarly challenging convincing them of the merits of a different DNS service.”
Games publisher EA has suspended in-game purchases in its latest Star Wars title Battlefront II, following criticism from players.
Gamers had complained that unlocking popular characters such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader took too long unless they paid for credits.
EA said in-game purchases would be halted because it did not want the controversy to “overshadow” the game.
But it said the ability to buy game currency would return.
In Battlefront II, players earn credits by completing campaigns. The credits can be spent to unlock new items and characters in the game.
Players and reviewers were disappointed that earning credits through gameplay took several hours, and that there was a cap on the number of credits that could be earned in Arcade Mode each day.
The game was “diseased by an insidious microtransaction model that creates an uneven battlefield,” wrote Andrew Reiner in a review for Game Informer..
Others argued that it was unfair to encourage microtransactions in a game that typically cost between £49.99 and £69.99 in the UK, or $60 in the US.
EA initially responded by reducing the number of credits required to unlock in-game upgrades by 75% – but it also reduced the amount earned by playing campaigns.
It has now temporarily halted microtransactions. “Sorry we didn’t get this right,” it said in a statement.
“The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
The announcement was met with scepticism on Reddit, where players had raised complaints about the game.
“According to their statement, EA is disabling in-game purchases only temporarily. In other words, they’re waiting for the Reddit hive mind to get mad about something else and three weeks later they’ll put it back to how it was,” suggested one gamer.
For young people it is not uncommon to be quoted amounts in excess of £4000 a year – sometimes more than the car is actually worth.
Not long ago, the only option for young drivers was “black box” insurance to help them reduce such premiums. Under this system, a data recorder box is fitted to your car and sends information to your insurer.
Now there’s a rival technology in the form of dash cam policies, based around mini video recorders on your dashboard, which promise to cut prices by up to 30%.
So which is the best technology to minimise your bill?
Telematics – or black box – policies are designed to encourage you to drive safely, with data on your driving habits being sent to your insurer in real time.
The cheapest deals are likely to involve a box hard-wired into your car. These cannot be switched off, so they provide the most accurate data. That’s why insurance companies offer the best deals on them.
However there are also devices which you plug in under the glove box each time you drive, and apps on mobile phones.
The boxes – or the apps – are usually provided free of charge.
Restrictions: Telematics policies restrict driving behaviour in different ways.
Some come with a curfew, and apply a penalty for driving after 11pm.
However, since two teenagers were killed in Gloucestershire in 2013 as they raced home to beat their curfew, many insurers no longer apply a time limit.
In any case, such restrictions are not for everyone.
“Maybe you’re a nurse and you do nightshifts,” says Graeme Trudgill, executive director at The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba).
“So a daytime-only policy wouldn’t be very suitable.”
Other policies restrict your total mileage, meaning the less you drive, the less you pay.
Driving style: The most advanced policies monitor your driving style, by measuring your acceleration, braking, cornering and speed.
One provider, Marmalade, offers drivers their own personal online dashboard, on which each of their journeys is logged as green, amber or red.
A driver who gets an amber journey will receive an email, pointing out how he or she could improve.
If someone gets a red, they will receive a phone call. The staff member will even show them on Google Maps the exact location where they made a mistake.
“We actually speak to that young driver on each occasion, and talk them through how they’ve been driving,” says Andy Martin from Marmalade.
“We find they actually moderate their driving.”
After a third red journey the driver’s premium will increase by £125. By their sixth red journey they are considered unsuitable for insurance.
Parents are encouraged to become named drivers on the policy, so they can see the information, and have input into their son or daughter’s driving skills.
Another provider, Ingenie, sends feedback on your driving three times a year, and will review the premium as you go. At the end of your first year it will give you a “good driver” discount, as well as the no claims bonus.
Dash cam policies
An alternative to a telematics policy is a dash cam, a mini video recorder which is also supplied and fitted free.
They are wired into the ignition system, so they are always on when the car is driving.
The idea is that, should you have an accident, the insurer can see who was at fault.
James Noble, the 24 year-old founder of MyFirst Insurance, believes young drivers are often blamed for accidents unfairly.
“The dash cam prevents this,” he says.
“It’s a set of eyes in the vehicle, like a parent or instructor alongside you, that will protect you in the event of a claim.”
But equally well, a dash cam could confirm that an accident was your fault.
While dash cams do not monitor driver style directly, there is some evidence they can improve behaviour.
Most dash cam providers require a specific brand and specification of camera, so it is best not to buy one yourself.
Which is cheaper? Telematics policies appear to provide the best discounts, with savings of up to 50% on standard insurance, depending on the restrictions involved.
According to the price comparison site Uswitch, the average saving is £1,282 – but in many cases it can be more.
However its research shows that the biggest beneficiaries of such policies are those between the ages of 17 and 20.
Those above that age could find that dash cam policies provide a better deal.
“As you hit 21 and above, there’s less competition out there between telematics providers, so the dash cam policies could actually be cheaper as you get to that age bracket,” says Sabrina Webb, an insurance expert with USwitch.
To buy a dash cam policy some brokers insist that you need to be 21 anyway, with at least one year’s driving experience.
This suggests that many young drivers may find it cheaper to start on a telematics policy, and move to a dash cam policy when they get into their 20s.
In any case telematics providers tend to reduce your premium after the first year by up to 40% – if you have been a good driver – so after a couple of years the cost should no longer be such an issue.
To save money it is often tempting to go on a parental policy as an extra driver.
But beware being named as an additional driver when in fact you are the main user.
This practice is known as “fronting”, and is potentially fraudulent. At the very least an insurance company could refuse to pay out on a claim.
But in any case, you are only putting off the day when you will have to start a policy in your own name, which will still end up being pricey.
“Our view is that there would be minimal, if any benefit, to a young driver doing that,” says Martin Bridges, the technical services manager at Biba.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but by effecting a policy in a young driver’s own name you will also accrue a no claims bonus.”
Top tips: It is worth researching an insurance policy before you buy a car.
Sabrina Webb recommends:
Thinking about the car you need. Older cars are not necessarily cheaper
Working out what mileage you expect to do
Deciding whether you need comprehensive or third party cover (comprehensive isn’t necessarily more expensive)
Reducing your premium by offering to pay a higher excess
Among the firms specialising in young drivers are: Adrian Flux, Admiral, Be Wiser, Endsleigh, Direct Line, Ingenie, Marmalade, MyFirst Insurance, Only Young Drivers, Sky Insurance, Swiftcover, Woop.
Biba has a “find a broker” service. Young drivers can click here.
The trials, which rely on sensors that allow the cars to detect traffic, pedestrians and signals, took place in Coventry city centre over several weeks.
Jaguar said a human was on board to react to emergencies.
The government said the industry would be worth £28bn to the UK economy by 2035 and will support 27,000 jobs.
Labour quipped that under the Tories it would not only be the cars with no-one in the driving seat.
‘Long way off’
Critics have warned the technology necessary for driverless cars to succeed is a long way from being ready.
Former Top Gear host and now Grand Tour presenter Jeremy Clarkson said he was recently in a self-driving car which made two mistakes which could have killed him in just 50miles.
Writing in the Sunday Times magazine, Mr Clarkson said the incidents convinced him the technology was still “a very long way off”, adding: “For now, we’re miles away from it.”
In the Budget, Mr Hammond is also expected to announce:
£75m for artificial intelligence
£400m for electric car charge points
£100m to boost clean car purchases
£160m for next-generation 5G mobile networks across the UK
£100m for an additional 8,000 fully-qualified computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing
A retraining partnership between the TUC (Trade Union Congress), CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and the government
£76m to boost digital and construction skills
Funding for 5G technology will go towards the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure the security of the mobile network, as well as testing on roads to help provide the network needed for driverless cars.
A further £35m will be used to give rail passengers reliable mobile connections and “lightning-speed” internet during journeys. Trials are due to begin on the Trans-Pennine route, which connects Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Budget needed to show a “genuine, decisive change of course” and not “empty promises”.
A German regulator has banned the sale of smartwatches aimed at children, describing them as spying devices.
It had previously banned an internet-connected doll called, My Friend Cayla, for similar reasons.
Telecoms regulator the Federal Network Agency urged parents who had such watches to destroy them.
One expert said the decision could be a “game-changer” for internet-connected devices.
“Poorly secured smart devices often allow for privacy invasion. That is really concerning when it comes to kids’ GPS tracking watches – the very watches that are supposed to help keep them safe,” said Ken Munro, a security expert at Pen Test Partners.
“There is a shocking lack of regulation of the ‘internet of things’, which allows lax manufacturers to sell us dangerously insecure smart products.
“Using privacy regulation to ban such devices is a game-changer, stopping these manufacturers playing fast and loose with our kids’ security,” he added.
In a statement, the agency said it had already taken action against several firms offering such watches on the internet.
“Via an app, parents can use such children’s watches to listen unnoticed to the child’s environment and they are to be regarded as an unauthorised transmitting system,” said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency.
“According to our research, parents’ watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom.”
The agency also asked schools to “pay more attention” to such watches among students.
Such watches – which are sold by a large number of providers in Germany – are generally aimed at children between the ages of five and 12.
Most are equipped with a Sim card and a limited telephony function and are set up and controlled via an app.
In October, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) reported that ‘some children’s watches – including Gator and GPS for kids – had flaws such as transmitting and storing data without encryption.
It meant that strangers, using basic hacking techniques, could track children as they moved or make a child appear to be in a completely different location.
It is not clear whether the German decision to ban such devices was based on the privacy issues associated with them or wider security flaws that have been uncovered by NCC and others.
Both firms said that they had resolved the security issues.
Finn Myrstad, head of digital policy at the NCC said: “This ban sends a strong signal to makers of products aimed at children that they need to be safer.”
He called for Europe-wide measures to increase the security of such devices.