Flowery V20 Talk and Government Terror: Why Darknet Crime Is the Least of Our Worries

Flowery V20 Talk and Government Terror: Why Darknet Crime Is the Least of Our Worries

Governments and central banking regulatory bodies continue to express concern about crypto being used for criminal purposes and terror. The terror campaigns of these very same governments continue unabated, however. In the wake of the V20 summit it might seem that lawmakers actually care about stopping darknet crime, money laundering, and other abuses facilitated by the anonymity crypto provides. What is really happening is the large-scale degradation of language, coupled with a gross misrepresentation of what actually constitutes the most pressing threat to the world, in finance and elsewhere: the state. Also read: Ross Ulbricht Letter Questions the Wisdom of Imprisoning Non-Violent Offenders Defining Terror: A Telling Change Terrorism is commonly defined as the use of violence, or threats of violence, to achieve political or ideological goals. In recent years however, major players in the cyber information market have been critically altering that simple definition. Altering it by adding one small word: “unlawful.” Whereas Google previously defined terrorism as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims,” this has now been changed to: “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The spine-chilling difference is clear and simple: now, no matter what the act—no matter how heinous, violent, or evil—once it is designated by lawmakers as “legal,” it can no longer be called terrorism. The implications of this change are as numerous as they are unsettling. George Orwell wrote in his classic novel 1984: Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? Artefacts of the change in definition are still floating around the web in image search results.Pop Culture Terror Attacks In popular culture, terrorism is usually viewed as something mainly non-governmental which radicalized ideological groups or individuals engage in. The media makes sure we know who they are, giving them an almost celebrity status: ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Bataclan bombers. Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh. More recently, domestic terrorists. The list, tragically, goes on and on. But there’s another group that’s…

‘Bitcoin Time’ Moving Faster Than ‘Internet Time,’ Says Hashcash Inventor Adam Back

‘Bitcoin Time’ Moving Faster Than ‘Internet Time,’ Says Hashcash Inventor Adam Back

Blockstream CEO Adam Back — inventor of the hashcash proof-of-work (PoW) system later used in bitcoin’s (BTC) mining algorithm —  says that “bitcoin time” seems to be running faster than the so-dubbed “internet time” of the early dotcom era.  Back made his remarks during a panel at the Bitcoin 2019 conference in San Francisco on June 26.  Following a discussion of hashcash’s inception as well as various early electronic money inventions such as digicash, Back noted that bitcoin had broken through with Satoshi’s decentralized vision and his solution to counter hyperinflation by fixing the coin’s supply curve.  “Bitcoin has come much further and much faster than people expected,” he said. “There was a saying in the early dotcom era about “internet time,” and […] bitcoin time […] seems to be moving even faster.” Back argued that it is pretty challenging — even for the technically adept — to keep up with the pace of new ideas and implementations in the crypto sphere, and that new areas for innovation are yet to be realized: “Because blockchain and bearer electronic cash is a whole new building block and it has implications with smart contracts. It’s sort of like picking up a new programming language with a new paradigm, and it takes a while for people to natively understand it.” Alongside smart contracts, Back singled out the fairly recent creation of second layer solutions such as Lightning Network as an area of intense energy and development, as well as state chains — which, he proposed, offer new insight and benefits by allowing for “less implied trust in the operators of a federated chain of some kind.”  He stressed that for all crypto innovations, trade-offs as regards privacy and security exist, but that incremental improvements — such as Schnorr signatures — continue to be made: “It strikes me that there are still major discoveries about the implications of the tech being found […] we’re still at early stages for what can be built […] and it’s surprising the number of things you can build on layers above it that retain interesting properties of what’s beneath.” Back also likened the space of proliferating crypto assets to “TCIP/IP — so that there’s one interoperable standard and it’s a lingua franca for…

Bitcoin Cash Register Surpasses 10,000 Installs and BCH is Coming to Brave in Weekly Video Update

Bitcoin Cash Register Surpasses 10,000 Installs and BCH is Coming to Brave in Weekly Video Update

Bitcoin Cash Register has surpassed 10,000 installs on the Google Play Store, live streaming platform Twitch reinstates cryptocurrency payments and BCH is coming to the Brave web browser. Watch these and other developments discussed in this week’s video update on Bitcoin.com’s Youtube channel. Also Read: Over 22,000 Traders Have Now Signed up to Local.Bitcoin.com Twitch Reenables Cryptocurrency Payments Twitch is a video streaming platform owned by Amazon with more than 15 million unique daily visitors who mainly use it for watching live gaming and esports. Earlier this year, the website stopped accepting cryptocurrency payments by removing support for Bitpay. However, recently Twitch users have reported that the option to pay with bitcoin cash (BCH) and bitcoin core (BTC) is available once again. Speaking about Bitpay, the leading cryptocurrency payment processor has launched a new directory for anyone who is looking for recommended places to spend their BCH or BTC. The directory features a variety of retailers, arranged by categories such as electronics and fashion. The entertainment and gaming section still doesn’t mention that Twitch is back, but does cover other online play options such as Chess.com. In addition to enabling businesses to accept crypto payments, Bitpay also empowers charities to accept donations in digital assets. Recently the Tony Hawk Foundation announced it is now accepting cryptocurrencies from supporters through Bitpay. BCH is Coming Soon to Brave Browser Brendan Eich is creator of the Javascript programming language, co-founder of Mozilla and Firefox and current CEO of Brave Software. Eich revealed on Twitter that bitcoin cash (BCH) is coming soon to the Brave browser as an additional funding option in version 0.68 of the app. Brave is an open-source web browser based on Chromium that blocks ads by default but allows users to support the sites they visit with cryptocurrency. The HTC Exodus 1 phone will also feature Brave as the default browser in its upcoming release. Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver commented: “I think I may have to switch my phone to an HTC phone once all of this is out.” BCH and other funding choices coming in @Brave 0.68 (following up on https://t.co/XSSkZh1o2B). pic.twitter.com/KtZ6VwdVA2 — BrendanEich (@BrendanEich) June 22, 2019 Bitcoin Cash Register Surpasses 10,000 Installs Bitcoin Cash Register is a simple point-of-sale (PoS) app from…

Bitfinex Hack New Twist: Two Arrested in Israel After $1.5M Moved

Bitfinex Hack New Twist: Two Arrested in Israel After $1.5M Moved

One of the most prominent crypto cybercrimes in recent years took a dramatic turn on June 23, when two Israeli brothers were arrested in connection with the 2016 Bitfinex hack and other crypto-related phishing attacks. Just shy of 120,000 Bitcoin (BTC) were stolen in the attack back in 2016, an amount initially worth $72 million, though after Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in the summer of 2019, the value of the stolen funds now amount to around $1.4 billion. Speaking to Finance Magnates, an Israeli police spokesperson said that Eli and Assaf Gigi bagged tens of millions of dollars from their activities. The product of a police raid, the arrests also located a cryptocurrency wallet containing a much smaller sum than the pair are alleged to have stolen. According to the spokesperson, the duo lured in their victims by creating clone versions of major online crypto exchanges and wallet providers and shared links to them through both Telegram groups and other cryptocurrency-related communities. The Gigi brothers also stand accused of the Bitfinex hack, which also involved identity theft and compromising of several users’ accounts.  The arrests mark the second time the Bitfinex hack has been brought back into the open in the past few weeks. On June 7, Cointelegraph reported that $1.5 million of the funds stolen in the hack had been moved from the hackers’ personal wallets to an unknown address. Anneka Dew confirmed that the transfers were not related to any current company operations, The Next Web reports. The shifting of the funds was brought to light by crypto transaction tracker Wale-alert.io, which posted: One of the most headline-grabbing aspects of the arrest was the announcement that Eli Gigi, the elder of the two brothers, had received specialist training from an elite technological unit of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). While it is all too easy to cast a sinister shadow over the hack, cybersecurity experts believe that such attacks can be carried out with a far more rudimentary level of education and some self-taught skills. Hartej Sawhney, co-founder of Zokyo Labs, a digital product and cybersecurity agency and co-founder of Las Vegas-based smart contract auditing firm Hosho, told Cointelegraph via email that military training would not be necessary for cybercrime in the current environment: …

Bitcoin, Facebook and the End of 20th Century Money

Bitcoin, Facebook and the End of 20th Century Money

Michael J. Casey is the chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor for blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative. The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers. There is never a dull moment in the world of blockchains and cryptocurrencies. The two earth-shattering stories of the past two weeks – the launch of the Libra project and the wild swings in the bitcoin market  – might seem like unrelated topics. And, for the most part, the causal impact of the former on the latter is probably not much greater than that of another oft-noted bitcoin price correlation: the avocado chart. However, the coincidence of these two developments does speak to how globally impactful Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention has now become. From that wider perspective, these two developments are not at all unrelated. Indeed, they both capture elements of a massive, worldwide financial transformation, all happening at a time of growing economic uncertainty. Bitcoin’s role as ‘digital gold’ Whether now or in the future, I believe the arrival of Libra, far from being a competitive threat, will be extremely supportive of bitcoin. Not only will the looming international debate over Libra elevate the conversation around cryptocurrencies and so draw more people into the most established of them, it also represents a major step toward the kind of world in which bitcoin should thrive. Whether or not Libra succeeds, it confirms the inescapable reality that international money movements in the digital era will be based on blockchain-like solutions that disintermediate the existing gatekeepers and challenge the bank-and-sovereign money-dominated model of the 20th century. It also underscores how we are moving into an age of digital assets. And, just as people sought out physical assets to protect their wealth from the vulnerabilities of the analog era’s trust-dependent system – by storing value in gold, for example, or in real estate – they will now seek out similar protection in digital assets with similar properties. Bitcoin is not described as “digital gold” for nothing; it offers a level of censorship resistance and isolation from the politicization of money that the corporate-driven Libra project cannot. I see mainstream global money movements in the next decade or so flowing through a mix of blockchain-era stable-money services…

Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact on Cryptography

Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact on Cryptography

The major selling point of blockchain and its applications is that cryptographically secured distributed ledgers are virtually “unbreakable” under normal circumstances, given the current state of computational technology. Its validity, however, is heavily dependent on the “state of technology” assumption. Should a paradigmatic shift in computing occur, contemporary blockchain-based systems may become vulnerable to threats not accounted for in their design. But how urgent is the threat of this happening any time soon? The strides that physicists have been making for the last three decades toward building an operational quantum computer could soon contribute to such a shift. As the milestone called “quantum supremacy,” in which a quantum computer outperforms a traditional computer on a specific task, could be reached any day now, the question of whether prospective quantum-based devices are capable of “killing” blockchain comes into the spotlight.  A primer on quantum computing A quantum computer is any device that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations. To store and manipulate information, regular computers use binary units called bits, which can represent one of two possible states: 0 or 1. Quantum machines rely on quantum bits (or qubits), which can be both a 0 and 1 at the same time. This phenomenon, called superposition, allows such devices to perform certain tasks much faster than their bit-based counterparts. Another foundational term in quantum theory is entanglement. When two particles are entangled, they exist in the same quantum state, and change in the state if one prompts its peer to change accordingly, no matter how far apart the two are in physical space. Pairing qubits this way leads to the exponential growth in the quantum computer’s computational power. The state of superposition, which is necessary to perform calculations, is difficult to achieve and enormously hard to maintain. Physicists use laser and microwave beams to put qubits in this working state and then employ an array of techniques to preserve it from the slightest temperature fluctuations, noises and electromagnetic waves. Current quantum computers are extremely error-prone due to the fragility of the working condition, which dissipates in a process called decoherence before most operations can be executed. Quantum computational power is determined by how many qubits a machine can simultaneously leverage. Starting with a humble two qubits achieved in…

Top-10 Industries Being Transformed by Blockchain

Top-10 Industries Being Transformed by Blockchain

After struggling to receive recognition of legitimacy within the mainstream zeitgeist during its sophomoric years, distributed ledger technology (DLT) now comprises the driving force behind a new wave of technological creative destruction. Today, we are going to take a look at some of the industries and processes that are most dramatically undergoing a transformation in response to the advent of blockchain technology. Food The opaque nature of global supply chains poses a significant challenge to efforts to ensure that the commodities, labor and inputs required to produce goods are from a safe and ethical origin. In order to tackle these issues, an increasing number of companies are exploring blockchain-based solutions. On June 25, Walmart China announced plans for the movement of food products throughout its supply chain using the “Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform,” which was built on VeChain’s Thor blockchain. Announced at the Traceability System Construction Seminar during the 2019 China Products Safety Publicity Week in Beijing, Walmart China indicated that “23 product lines” have been test-launched on the platform, with a further “100 product lines” spanning 10 different product categories expected to be incorporated onto the platform before the end of the year. Walmart China anticipates that 50% of its total sales of packaged meat will comprise products tracked using its traceability platform, in addition to 40% of its total sales of packaged vegetables and 12.5% of its total seafood sales by 2021. The platform will also allow Walmart China customers to acquire detailed information pertaining to the production for a specific item by scanning the barcode of the product with their smartphone. Among the information that will be made available to consumers are facts about a product’s source, geographic location, logistics process and Walmart China’s product inspection report.  During the announcement, Walmart China representatives spoke of the possibility for distributed ledger technology to ensure the quality and safety of edible agricultural produce and to bolster consumer confidence through enhancing supply chain transparency, in addition to facilitating significant efficiency savings in production. Across the pond, Walmart recently announced a collaborative endeavor alongside the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), IBM, Merck and KPMG to develop a proof-of-concept blockchain for the purpose of tracking prescription drugs. On June 27, U.S.-based snack food company…

A Blockchain System for Azerbaijan’s Digital Economy

A Blockchain System for Azerbaijan’s Digital Economy

Azerbaijan has been a hotbed for a series of ambitious fintech-related announcements over the past several months, as the nation’s authorities were apparently moving to implement a series of innovative technological solutions in banking and e-government systems. Repeated statements by government representatives suggested that at least part of the program relied on blockchain infrastructure. Most recently, as Cointelegraph reported, the chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee revealed plans to implement blockchain technology to build an online-accessible cargo transportation database. Earlier in May, a high-ranking official for the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA), speaking at the Fintex summit in Baku, mentioned the forthcoming implementation of a “blockchain system and artificial intelligence in the banking sector.” How are these disparate elements supposed to work together, and what is the scope of these blockchain-based solutions’ intended uses? Early announcements The snippets of news about a massive government initiative involving blockchain technology being underway in Azerbaijan began to pop up here and there back in October 2018. Farid Osmanov, CBA’s chief information officer, first announced the five-year program for the digital transformation of the economy — including a partnership with IBM on a distributed ledger system to be used in the banking sector — at the Azerbaijan-Germany Business Forum on Energy and ICT. In November, chairman of the Azerbaijani Internet Forum, Osman Gunduz, told the press that a few other state agencies were on the course to implement distributed ledger-based solutions in areas such as housing, utilities and even the court system to facilitate record-keeping and notary services. While it became clear from early statements that the pilot blockchain system was to be built in collaboration with IBM on Hyperledger Fabric, it was not until April 2019, when media reports began to surface, that a branch of another big-name technology firm — Lenovo Professional Services — was also involved in the project on the hardware side. With two major industry players on board, it became clear that a comprehensive state program is at work here. Government services hit X-Road According to Nijat Asadli, manager of Azerbaijan’s Digital Trade Hub (DTH), there are three main areas in which the government seeks to boost innovation by deploying digital infrastructure: the DTH itself, the e-Government portal and central bank operations. The DTH is an electronic public-private partnership…

Grand Theft Crypto: The State of Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware and Other Nasty Techniques

Grand Theft Crypto: The State of Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware and Other Nasty Techniques

Much of digital assets’ appeal stems from the fact that many of them are not affiliated with or controlled by governments, central banks or transnational corporations (at least, not yet). The price paid for the independence from institutions of global capitalism, though, might sometimes be extremely high, as, in the event of cryptocurrency theft, there is no one to appeal to for recourse. Further still, the irreversible nature of blockchain transactions renders it extremely difficult to get the money back once its gone. The villains of the internet love cryptocurrencies for the same reasons. In the last few years, marked by the spike of popularity for digital money, hackers and scammers of all sorts have perfected the art of pilfering it from unwitting users, many of whom are newcomers to the space. Roughly a year ago, Cointelegraph had already compiled a lengthy overview of many popular crypto-stealing tricks and tips on how to avoid falling prey to them. While the list remains relevant as ever, the time has come to revisit the subject to see if there are new threats to your crypto assets to beware of. Aggregate dynamics A recent report by cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace estimated losses from digital currency theft and scams in the first quarter of 2019 at $356 million, with additional fraud or misappropriated fund losses amounting to $851 million in the same period. Alarmingly, this Q1 total of $1.2 billion constituted 70% of the total losses to crypto crime in all of 2018, indicating intensified hacking activity in the first months of 2019. At the same time, a study conducted by a security company Positive Technologies registers a change in the structure of attacks. The share of cryptojacking — or, hidden cryptocurrency mining — in the overall volume of cyberattacks seems to be declining: Having reached a peak in early 2018, this type of criminal activity dropped to just 7% in the first quarter of 2019. The analysts noted, however, that the observed trend merely reflects the way malware previously used primarily for cryptojacking has become smarter and more versatile. If the virus recognizes that the machine it took over lacks processing power, it may divert to other modes of operation, such as clipboard jacking. Researchers at Positive Technologies predicted an increase…

Neither Dominant Nor Defeated, EOS Still a Work in Progress

Neither Dominant Nor Defeated, EOS Still a Work in Progress

Blockchain projects that comprise the greater cryptocurrency sector’s market cap are unquestionably bootstrapped — a product of ingenuity and crowdsourced blockchain fundraising. But with the industry evolving further in the last few years, gaps between mature projects and less developed ones are more noticeable, exhibited by issues that a well-funded or more thorough team of development experts could avoid. The latest example of this came from EOS — a competitor with Ethereum — when a user figured out how to broadcast a fake transaction to the network for 1 trillion EOS (a single transfer for $3.6 trillion). While the incident was entirely harmless, it cast doubts on the sanctity of a platform that’s meant to oust Ethereum from its position as the de facto decentralized computer. Using an exploit in an EOS idea called deferred transactions, the user set up a payment that would be settled at a later date — and it was published to the network, even though it was 1,000 times as large as the EOS market cap itself. EOS block producers EOS New York noted that the transaction that created the deferred incident can only determine whether the create request was submitted or whether it failed, thus getting around the limitations. Once that happened, “it is subject to normal validity checks.” These events cast the upstart “Ethereum-killer” in a less-than-positive light, but they do create an opportunity for an updated, in-depth look into this promising platform. The EOS evolutionary timeline EOS is an auspicious blockchain project and remains a top market contender, vying for fifth on the list of top market capitalizations at any given moment. It began as a competitor to Ethereum in 2017, arriving as that solution began demonstrating issues with scaling and transaction speed. EOS had similar ideas: decentralized storage, bandwidth and incentives. In turn, EOS announced its intention to create a similar idea to Ethereum but with a different consensus, mining and other foundational concepts that would solve Ethereum’s transactional bottlenecks. The initial coin offering (ICO) for EOS was astoundingly successful, thanks to its ambitious timeline, outlook and circumstantial trends. It garnered over $4 billion worth of ETH, setting records but, at the same time, demonstrating the inflated the value of most cryptos and the sector’s unsustainable…