Cyber Security Firm Check Point Research Reports of ‘Evolving’ Monero Cryptojacker

Cyber security firm Check Point Research has found that the cryptojacking malware KingMiner is “evolving” as it targets XMR and attacks Windows Servers.

Cyber security firm Check Point Research has found that the KingMiner cryptojacker targeting cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) is “evolving,” according to a company’s blog post published Nov. 30.

KingMiner was purportedly firstly detected in mid-June, subsequently evolving in two improved versions. The malware attacks Windows Servers by deploying various evasion methods to skirt its detection. Per Check Point data, several detection engines have registered significantly decreased detection rates, while sensor logs have shown a growing number of KingMiner attacks.

The firm has been monitoring KingMiner activity over the past six months and concluded that the malware has evolved in two new versions. The blog post further explains:

“The malware continuously adds new features and bypass methods to avoid emulation. Mainly, it manipulates the needed files and creates a dependency which is critical during emulation. In addition, as part of the malware’s ongoing evolution, we have found many placeholders for future operations or upcoming updates which will make this malware even harder to detect.”

Check Point has determined that KingMiner uses a private mining pool to bypass any detection of their activities, wherein the pool’s (API) is turned off and the wallet is not used in any public mining pools. The attacks are reportedly widely spread around the world.

According to the company’s findings, the malicious software attempts to guess passwords of the servers it attacks. Once a user downloads and executes the Windows Scriptlet file, it reportedly identifies the relevant Central Processing Unit (CPU) architecture of the device and downloads a payload ZIP file based on the detected CPU architecture.

The malware eventually destroys the relevant .exe file process and deletes the files themselves, if older versions of the attack files exist. Check Point also notes that the file is not an actual ZIP file, but rather an XML file, which will circumvent emulation attempts.

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, Russian internet security company Kaspersky Labs has found that crypto mining malware became increasingly popular among botnets in 2018. During the Q1 2018 cryptojacking “boom,” the share of cryptojacking malware downloaded by botnets, out of total files, hit 4.6 percent — as compared with 2.9 percent in Q2 2017.

Botnets are reportedly therefore becoming increasingly viewed as a means of spreading crypto mining malware, with cybercriminals increasingly viewing cryptojacking as more favorable than other attack vectors.

New Report Finds 80% of Bitcoin Mining Running on Renewable Energy

Bitcoin mining Renewable Energy Trading Comes to Thailand – Power Ledger and BCPG Setting the Pace

A new report from CoinShares into Bitcoin mining suggests the practice is likely loss-making for the majority of miners at current prices.


Average Miner ‘Running At A Loss’

In a ‘whitepaper’ which received high praise from cryptocurrency figures, CoinShares examined various facets of mining, which has seen increased prominence in recent weeks as Bitcoin price 00 dropped to lows of $3500.

“Among our findings is an estimate that since May, the market-average, all-in marginal cost of creation, at ¢5/KWh, and 18-month depreciation schedules has increased from approximately $6,500 to approximately $6,800,” researchers reveal in their introduction.

This suggests that, at current prices, the average miner is either: running at a loss and unable to recover capex, mining at electricity costs closer to ¢3/KWh, depreciating mining gear over 24-30 months, or paying less for mining gear than our estimates.

Bitcoin Mining is 80 Percent On Renewables

As Bitcoinist reported, miners have appeared to experience considerable economic difficulties due to price depreciation regardless of the base price of electricity in their location.

Scenes allegedly showing Chinese miners dumping unprofitable units en masse hit social media last week, amid claims the dry season had pushed up hydroelectricity costs which were adding to miners’ headache.

The Bitcoin mining difficulty is set to decrease, not increase, for the first time since December 2, 2011.

Going forward, CoinShares says, mining will continue to focus on the cheapest possible sources of mostly renewable energy.

“Based on historical data on energy mix and locations of cryptocurrency mining operations in China, we have shown that contrary to the common narrative, the vast majority of global Bitcoin mining capacity (minimum 77.6%) is running on renewable energy,” the researchers conclude.

Responding, Saifedean Ammous, the author of ‘The Bitcoin Standard,’ agreed with the findings, adding he would be publishing his “first in-depth analysis of the (economics) of bitcoin mining” Friday.

What do you think about CoinShares’ Bitcoin mining research? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post New Report Finds 80% of Bitcoin Mining Running on Renewable Energy appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Vitalik Buterin Receives Honorary PhD from Basel University

One of the co-founders of the second largest public blockchain on the planet has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Basel. Vitalik Buterin received the recognition from the institution for his role in helping to build the Ethereum network.

That’s Dr. Buterin to You..!

According to a post from the University of Basel, the institution has just awarded Vitalik Buterin an honorary doctorate for his work on the Ethereum blockchain. As part of a traditional ceremony celebrating the university’s “Dies Academicus”, the co-founder of the most well-known smart contract platform was amongst a group of nine other individuals being celebrated.

Also in receipt of doctorates were: writer Hansjörg Schneider, hospice founder Verena Grether, medical engineer Robert Riener, judge Thomas Stadelmann, neuroscientist Thomas Insel, theologian Hans-Martin Barth, illustrator Armin Coray, and economist Beatrice Weder di Mauro.

Following the award ceremony, the institution tweeted the following:

During the video posted above, the institution states that Vitalik:

“… makes a groundbreaking contribution to promoting decentralization and equal participation in the digital revolution.”

It makes a lot of sense for a Swiss university to celebrate blockchain developers in such a way. The nation has quickly become one of the planet’s main hubs for innovation relating to the technology. Thanks to favourable taxation policies, many digital asset-focused startups have decided to settle there.

Further education facilities have been taking progressively more notice of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies over the last few years. The numbers of blockchain developer courses offered around the world is growing everyday and even the occasional high school has made the effort to educate students and parents on the fintech innovation.

Universities are not just interested in the technology side of cryptocurrencies, however. It recently emerged that perhaps the most respected higher education endowments manager on the planet, David Swensen, has diversified Yale’s investments to cover two crypto funds focused on not only blockchain startups, but also digital currencies themselves.

Related Reading: Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Receives Proposition from Google

Still A Long Way to Go for Ethereum

Despite the University of Basel taking notice of Vitalik for his work on blockchain technology, the platform he designed is still far from complete. Work is ongoing on a number of different protocol upgrades for Ethereum. These include a scaling solution known as Plasma, which Vitalik recently stated was nearing completion, but problems have since emerged.

On top of this, a plethora of other upgrades are in the pipeline aimed at improving the efficiency of the “Ethereum Virtual Machine.” The eventual goal is to do away with power-intensive mining altogether and instead use a proof-of-stake consensus finding system.

Featured image from Patricia Beatrix Villanueva via Unsplash, copyright free.

The post Vitalik Buterin Receives Honorary PhD from Basel University appeared first on NewsBTC.

500-Year Old Swiss University Makes Vitalik Buterin an Honorary Doctor

The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Switzerland’s oldest institution of higher learning, the University of Basel. According to the university’s Faculty of Business and Economics, which awarded Buterin the honorary doctorate, the award is ‘in recognition of his contribution to promoting decentralization and equal rights of participation in

The post 500-Year Old Swiss University Makes Vitalik Buterin an Honorary Doctor appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin volledig anoniem gebruiken met Wasabi Wallet

Na jaren van onderzoek, bijna een jaar werk en precies 5 jaar na de aankondiging van Dark Wallet (helaas nooit volledig afgemaakt), is op het 10 jarig bestaan van Bitcoin de eerste volledig anonieme Bitcoin wallet uitgebracht onder de naam Wasabi Wallet. Hiermee is het voor het eerst mogelijk om in één wallet met een zeer gebruiksvriendelijke interface Bitcoin volledig anoniem te gebruiken.

Vaak wordt onterecht aangenomen dat Bitcoin gebruikers al volledig anoniem zijn; dit is echter niet helemaal correct. Zoals we eerder al hebben beschreven zijn er verschillende manieren hoe je als Bitcoin gebruiker je anonimiteit kan verliezen. Bitcoin kan het beste omschreven worden als pseudo-anoniem en als Bitcoin gebruiker moet je heel erg je best doen om niet je echte identiteit te koppelen aan je bitcoin adressen (je pseudoniem).

De connectie met de fysieke wereld

Ten eerste is het altijd belangrijk om te beseffen dat de persoon of organisatie waar jij je bitcoins koopt of verkoopt jouw echte identiteit kent. Zonder maatregelen te nemen kunnen zij exact zien wat jij doet en vervolgens al je bitcoin transacties aan je identiteit koppelen. Om dit te voorkomen kan je als bitcoin gebruiker eventueel wanneer je bitcoins koopt bij partij X de bitcoins eerst naar partij Y sturen en vervolgens naar de eindbestemming. Op die manier maak je het lastiger voor mensen om jouw geldstromen te volgen. Maar uiteindelijk verschuif je daar het probleem alleen mee.

Je eigen wallet

Als je geen gebruik maakt van Tor en een light wallet of full node als wallet gebruikt koppel je onbewust je IP-adres aan al je transacties en daarmee aan al je bitcoins.

  • Bij een wallet zoals bijvoorbeeld Mycelium geef je deze informatie aan de centrale server van Mycelium. Mycelium kan vervolgens zien wat jouw IP-adres is en kan dit vervolgens koppelen aan alle transacties die jij verstuurt of adressen waarin je geïnteresseerd bent. Hiermee weet Mycelium exact welke bitcoins van jou zijn.

  • Bij een SPV wallet zoals Bread Wallet geef je deze informatie aan willekeurige full nodes door de bloom filters waar BRD gebruik van maakt en daarmee uiteindelijk ook aan analyse software die constant alle wallets in kaart proberen te brengen. Deze software wordt weer doorverkocht aan bedrijven, opsporingsdiensten en overheden.

  • Als je gebruik maakt van Electrum geef je deze informatie aan willekeurige Electrum servers. Hier kunnen ook kwaadwillende Electrum servers tussen zitten die Bitcoin gebruikers analyseren en daardoor heb je bij Electrum hetzelfde probleem als bij bijvoorbeeld Bread Wallet.

  • Een full node gebruiken is wat betreft je privacy al iets beter; je downloadt dan namelijk de volledige blockchain waardoor derden niet kunnen zien in welke transacties jij specifiek geïnteresseerd bent. Ook dan loop je echter het risico dat bij het versturen van je transactie op het Bitcoin netwerk bepaald kan worden vanaf welke node een transactie als eerste zichtbaar werd. Vervolgens kan daardoor wederom je IP-adres aan je transactie gekoppeld worden.

Wanneer je een wallet gebruikt die verbinding maakt over Tor is het al beter. Maar ook dan kan in het geval van een light wallet vastgesteld worden dat een bepaalde groep adressen toebehoort aan één persoon. Op een later moment kan deze cluster dan eventueel weer gekoppeld worden aan jouw identiteit, bijvoorbeeld in combinatie met de Bitcoin beurs die je gebruikt om jouw bitcoins te kopen of verkopen.

Als je een full node over Tor gebruikt worden veel van deze problemen al opgelost. Niemand weet dan namelijk in welke transacties je geïnteresseerd bent, omdat je de volledige blockchain download. En niemand kan jouw transacties aan je IP-adres koppelen omdat je Tor gebruikt. Het nadeel is echter dat je hiervoor de volledige blockchain moet downloaden (op het moment van schrijven 190 GB) en bovendien is een full node niet heel gebruiksvriendelijk. Maar het belangrijkste probleem is dat je ook bij een full node vatbaar bent voor blockchain analyse.

Blockchain analyse

Een nadeel van Bitcoin is dat de blockchain volledig transparant is. Alles wat iedereen doet kan door iedereen ingezien worden. Als iemand bitcoins van adres A naar adres B stuurt kan iedereen deze transactie zien verschijnen op de blockchain. Maar dat niet alleen; er kan tevens bepaald worden welke adressen er nog meer toebehoren aan de persoon die adres A gebruikt en de persoon die adres B gebruikt.

Dit werkt als volgt: stel Bob stuurt een klein bedrag naar Alice. In eerste instantie ziet Bob niet zo veel. Hij kan alleen zien dat Alice een klein bedrag van hem ontvangt op één van haar adressen. Wanneer Alice echter haar geld gaat uitgeven wordt het interessant.

Bob kan nu zien dat adres 1 t/m 3 blijkbaar ook van Alice waren en dat Alice in het verleden geld heeft ontvangen van adres X en geld verstuurt naar adres Y. Bovendien is het Bitcoin protocol zo geschreven dat bij het versturen van een transactie altijd al je bitcoins worden verstuurd en alles wat overblijft wordt teruggestuurd naar een change adres. Bob weet daardoor tevens dat adres 4 van Alice is en dat ze dit adres in de toekomst weer zal gebruiken. Bob weet nog niet wie adres X en adres Y zijn. Voor blockchain analyse bedrijven is dit echter vaak eenvoudig te achterhalen. Deze bedrijven sturen naar alle bedrijven die met Bitcoin werken kleine hoeveelheden bitcoins om op die manier te achterhalen welke adressen bij welk bedrijf horen. Veel van deze informatie is ook in iets beperktere vorm publiek toegankelijk waardoor ook Bob vaak kan zien wat Alice met haar geld doet.

Vervolgens zou het er dan bijvoorbeeld als onderstaand voorbeeld uit kunnen zien; Alice werkt blijkbaar bij het lokale ziekenhuis en heeft iets gekocht bij de supermarkt.

Dit is uiteraard een groot nadeel voor de verdere adoptie van Bitcoin. Stel je voor dat je een euro naar één van je vrienden stuurt en vervolgens zijn hele bankrekening en al zijn transacties kan inzien. Je weet precies hoeveel hij verdient, hoeveel spaargeld hij heeft en je kan tot in de kleinste details zien wat hij met zijn geld doet en op welk moment.

Wasabi Wallet

Het is de makers van Wasibi Wallet gelukt om voor al deze problemen een oplossing te vinden en hier tegelijkertijd een gebruiksvriendelijke interface omheen te bouwen. Hierbij is gebruik gemaakt van de volgende innovaties:

  • Een light wallet op basis van Neutrino met Tor integratie
  • Coin control
  • Chaumian CoinJoin

wasabiillustratie

Light wallet met Tor integratie

Een logische keus zou zijn om Wasabi Wallet in een full node te bouwen in plaats van een light wallet. Zoals eerder is toegelicht geef je daarmee namelijk geen informatie aan een derde partij welke bitcoins toebehoren aan jouw wallet. Het nadeel is echter dat Wasabi Wallet dan beduidend minder gebruikers zou hebben; niet iedereen is immers in staat om een full node op zijn computer te laten draaien. En voldoende gebruikers is van belang om Wasabi Wallet zo soepel mogelijk te laten functioneren (iets waar later in dit artikel op teruggekomen zal worden).

Om Wasabi Wallet als light wallet te kunnen gebruiken zonder bekend te maken in welke transacties de gebruiker geïnteresseerd is, is daarom door de makers van Wasabi Wallet gebruik gemaakt van BIP157 en BIP158, een redelijk nieuw idee dat in de Lightning wereld ook wel bekend staat als Neutrino.

Wanneer iemand Wasabi Wallet opstart wordt een filter tabel van de server van Wasabi gedownload; deze tabel is voor iedereen hetzelfde. Vervolgens bepaalt Wasabi Wallet met behulp van die tabel welke Bitcoin blokken nodig zijn. Deze blokken worden vervolgens apart bij verschillende Bitcoin nodes gedownload. Doordat de blokken volledig gedownload worden en bij verschillende nodes opgehaald worden kan niemand je transacties aan elkaar koppelen.

Om vervolgens te zorgen dat je IP-adres nooit aan je transacties gekoppeld kan worden, is Tor in de wallet verwerkt. Hierdoor is het voor de gebruiker niet noodzakelijk Tor apart te downloaden, iets wat tot nu toe wel altijd noodzakelijk is geweest bij andere wallets als men Tor wilde gebruiken. Door de integratie van Tor wordt je IP-adres nooit per ongeluk gelekt aan een derde partij.

Coin control

In het voorbeeld hierboven konden we zien dat door een kleine transactie van Bob, Alice al haar privacy verloor. Om dit te voorkomen is de gebruiker bij Wasabi Wallet altijd verplicht om ieder Bitcoin adres dat de gebruiker genereert een naam te geven. Vervolgens bepaalt de wallet niet zelf welke bitcoins worden verzonden wanneer Alice een betaling wilt doen, maar in plaats daarvan moet Alice selecteren welke bitcoins ze wil uitgeven. Hierdoor is het voor de gebruiker inzichtelijk welke bitcoins aan elkaar gekoppeld worden.

Alice heeft nu dus de keuze om de transactie van Bob niet te koppelen aan haar andere Bitcoin adressen, maar in plaats daarvan deze link eerst te verbreken door gebruik te maken van de grootste innovatie in Wasabi Wallet, namelijk Chaumian CoinJoin.

Chaumian CoinJoin

Om ervoor te zorgen dat niemand kan zien waar jij je bitcoins naartoe stuurt maakt Wasabi Wallet gebruik van Chaumian CoinJoin, voor het eerst voorgesteld in 2013 door Gregory Maxwell. Hierdoor worden je bitcoins gemixt met de bitcoins van andere mensen die ook Wasabi Wallet gebruiken, dusdanig dat zelfs de centrale coördinerende server niet weet van wie welke bitcoins zijn. In onderstaand voorbeeld laat Alice haar bitcoins mixen met Carol en Dave om ervoor te zorgen dat Bob niet langer kan zien wat ze met haar geld doet. Alice heeft haar geanonimiseerde bitcoins ontvangen op adres x, y of z. Alleen Alice kan vervolgens zien welk adres dit is.

In het voorbeeld is uitgegaan van 3 mensen, maar in Wasabi Wallet wordt een nieuwe ronde pas gestart als er 100 mensen mee doen. Dit is tevens de reden dat het voor Wasabi Wallet van belang is dat er zoveel mogelijk mensen de wallet gebruiken om de tijd tussen rondes niet te lang te laten duren. Op dit moment duurt het meestal een aantal uur voordat er voldoende mensen zijn om een nieuwe ronde te kunnen starten. Als Wasabi Wallet echter uiteindelijk net zoveel gebruikers heeft als bitmixer.io dan zal het 3 à 5 minuten duren voordat er een nieuwe ronde wordt gestart. Bitmixer en vergelijkbare mixers waren een gecentraliseerde vorm van mixen die men vroeger gebruikte. Dit is echter niet effectief mede door de centralisatie en omdat men bij dergelijke websites geen rekening hield met de hoeveelheid bitcoins die men inlegde en er vervolgens weer uithaalde.

Om ervoor te zorgen dat men op basis van de hoeveelheid bitcoins niet langer kan analyseren van wie welke bitcoins zijn na het mixen, worden de UTXO’s in Wasabi Wallet opgesplitst in gelijke hoeveelheden. Op dit moment is dit altijd 0,1 bitcoin en alles wat overblijft wordt vervolgens weer teruggestuurd naar het change adres van de gebruiker. In het geval van Alice betreft dit 0,01 bitcoin. Deze teruggestuurde bitcoins zijn niet geanonimiseerd; immers kan iedereen zien dat Alice 0,11 bitcoin inlegt en er iemand 0,01 bitcoin teruggestuurd krijgt. Er kan dan eenvoudig geconcludeerd worden dat de 0,01 bitcoin van Alice is. Het is daarom dan ook belangrijk om deze teruggestuurde bitcoins nooit te combineren met bitcoins die uit een mix komen. Mede daarom is de coin control functionaliteit in Wasabi Wallet van groot belang, waardoor niet per ongeluk je anonimiteit teniet wordt gedaan doordat je change adres gecombineerd wordt met de geanonimiseerde UTXO.

In het voorbeeld hieronder is te zien hoe dit er in Wasabi Wallet uitziet. De gebruiker heeft hier bitcoins ontvangen van BL3P en bitcoins uit de Mycelium wallet. De bitcoins die zijn binnen gekomen vanaf BL3P heeft de gebruiker vervolgens laten participeren in een Chaumian CoinJoin ronde. De bitcoins die hieruit komen krijgen daarom een groen schildje; hiermee wordt gevisualiseerd dat deze bitcoins geanonimiseerd zijn. De bitcoins die terug zijn gestuurd naar het change adres krijgen vervolgens net als de bitcoins uit Mycelium een rood schildje.

wasabi

Een praktisch voorbeeld is hieronder zichtbaar gemaakt. Alice werkt onder een pseudoniem als verslaggever in een dictatoriaal regime. In ruil voor haar werk ontvangt ze donaties van mensen die haar werk belangrijk vinden. Haar donatie adres is voor iedereen toegankelijk, deze staat immers op haar website. Als ze haar bitcoins direct naar een beurs zou sturen zou die beurs haar echte identiteit aan haar pseudoniem kunnen koppelen. Ze wil echter voorkomen dat de regering haar echte identiteit achterhaalt en ze weet niet welke beurzen allemaal loyaal zijn aan haar regering. Zonder maatregelen te nemen zou de Bitcoin beurs in het voorbeeld hieronder uiteindelijk niet alleen weten wie er achter het donatie adres zit (Alice), maar ook wie haar donaties heeft gestuurd.

Door gebruik te maken van Chaumian CoinJoin in Wasabi Wallet tussen de beurs en het donatieadres kan deze link verbroken worden en kan Alice zonder zorgen haar bitcoins inruilen voor haar lokale valuta bij iedere willekeurige beurs.

Gebruiken

Om de Chaumian CoinJoin functionaliteit in Wasabi te kunnen gebruiken is het op het moment nog noodzakelijk om in bezit te zijn van minimaal 0,1 bitcoin. In de volgende versies van Wasabi Wallet zal het gelukkig ook mogelijk worden om kleinere en grotere hoeveelheden bitcoins tegelijkertijd te mixen. Je kan uiteraard wel altijd gebruik maken van de overige privacy voordelen van Wasabi Wallet.

Voordelen

  • Volledige anonimiteit
  • Eenvoudig in gebruik
  • Light wallet (niet noodzakelijk om volledige blockchain te downloaden)
  • Bech32 adressen
  • Wallet encryptie
  • Back-up middels seed

Nadelen

  • Op het moment alleen nog mogelijk om vaste hoeveelheden te mixen van 0,1 bitcoin
  • Bij gebrek aan gebruikers zal je de wallet een paar uur open moeten laten staan voordat de Chaumian CoinJoin ronde wordt gestart (naarmate Wasabi Wallet meer gebruikers krijgt zal dit verbeteren)

Wil je Wasabi Wallet ook proberen? Dan kan je deze downloaden voor Windows, Linux en Mac op de volgende website: https://www.wasabiwallet.io/


‘I Come to Bury Bitcoin.’: UBS Executive Says Cryptos Will Never Be Currency

bitcoin dead

Bitcoin has failed in its attempt to be a currency and stands no chance of succeeding in this role in the future. It’s fatally flawed. This is according to Paul Donovan, the chief global economist at the Swiss investment bank, UBS. Following a scathing internal blog post he penned down just days ago, he appeared on CNBC to clarify his stand, and he had no kind words for cryptocurrencies. Donovan stated that cryptos’ fundamental flaw was that they are never going to be a store of value. In what has been a common phenomenon with most crypto skeptics, he concluded by saying that he believes blockchain technology has massive potential.

I Come to Bury Bitcoin

Just a few days ago, Donovan composed an internal blog post for the Basel, Switzerland-based investment bank which tore into cryptos. Borrowing from William Shakespeare’s famous play Julius Caesar, the post was aptly titled ‘I come to bury bitcoin, not praise it.’

In the post, Donovan stated that the crypto bubble was on its death throes and cryptos would never be currencies.

He proceeded to state that “the evil of the bitcoin bubble lived on”, and that it had deprived the masses of their wealth and given it to a select few. He concluded by stating:

There is some good news. The time, effort and electricity that built the bubble can now be used to do something useful. Giving money to cryptocurrency creators was not useful. Getting skilled people to do something useful boosts the economy.

Donovan later appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money, and he was as steadfast as ever about his opinion on cryptos.

To be honest, I think anyone with a high school education in economics has been a bitcoin skeptic right from the start. These things were never going to be currencies, they are not going to be currencies at any point in the future. They are fatally flawed. And as a result, right from the start of the hype, sort of late last year, it was fairly obvious that this was going to end badly.

Any bubble begins by the innovation of new technology, Donovan explained. This allows the popular “this time it’s different” phrase to be used which lures people in. That’s exactly what we have with cryptocurrencies, he observed. Most of the people who invested in cryptos didn’t fully comprehend the quantitative policies involved and how printing money would create hyperinflation.

As with many other skeptics, Donovan believes that there is immense value in the blockchain technology that underpins cryptos. However, even this he believes has been overhyped.

So, does bitcoin have any use case?

Donovan believes not unless the government was to be wiped out.

I think if you are looking at a situation where the government ceases to exist, for all intents and purposes, that does help remove one of the main obstacles, which is you can’t pay taxes in bitcoin. Some people claim that you can in various locations, but you can’t.

However, Donovan’s sentiments come just days after the state of Ohio announced that it would accept crypto payments for taxes. While making the announcement, the treasurer of Ohio, Josh Mandel, stated that one of the reasons behind the decision was that the 1 percent charged by bitcoin payments processor BitPay is less than the 2.5 percent charged by credit card companies.

The post ‘I Come to Bury Bitcoin.’: UBS Executive Says Cryptos Will Never Be Currency appeared first on NullTX.

New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is Possible

New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is Possible

Since the recent Bitcoin Cash (BCH) upgrade, the protocol now has some newly added features like the re-enabled opcode OP_Checkdatasig. After the implementation, a few developers have been experimenting with the opcode and have developed concepts such as “spending constraints.” Moreover, in another instance, a programmer recently used the opcode to create an onchain chess game on the BCH blockchain.

Also Read: BCH Upgrades: What’s New and What’s Next

Spending Constraints

Over the last week, BCH supporters have been slowly trying to move away from the recent blockchain split and concentrate on building. One example of this is a recent proof-of-concept written by a BCH developer called Pein Sama, which uses the opcode OP_Checkdatasig to explore new capabilities. Sama details that before the Bitcoin Cash upgrade, the BCH script was limited to someone specifying that one could spend a coin but at the time there was no way of adding constraints on how it could be spent. The developer then demonstrates how it is now possible to create spending constraints with the new BCH coding language called Spedn.

New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is Possible
Spending constraints using OP_Checkdatasig as described by the developer Pein_Sama. 

After Sama published his idea, the BCH community discussed the concept of spending constraints and other ideas like covenants as well. A few people specifically discussed the end of Sama’s documentation, which says the concept could produce things like OP_Return based tokens that are “miner enforceable.” The programmer explained that it could be argued that OP_Group is a cleaner way of adding native tokens, but he didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter. “My article is just exploring the new land,” the developer noted on the Reddit forum r/btc.

A Game of Chess

New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is PossibleNot long after the published post about spending constraints with the opcode OP_Checkdatasig, a developer named Tobias Ruck was inspired by the opcode exploration and designed a chess game with the new feature. Because chess rules are deterministic, they can use a third party to help enforce the rules of the game and that’s where OP_Checkdatasig comes into play. By utilizing the “nifty spending constraints” originally published by Sama, Ruck shows how the concept can be applied to a game of chess.

“The good thing about chess is that its rules are deterministic, so no need to throw dice or do some cryptographically secure pseudo-random number generator magic,” Ruck explained in his recent blog post. The developer continued by describing the benefits of using OP_Checkdatasig as trusted oracle within a game of chess by stating:    

If Kasparov were to challenge Anand for a round of chess, they might trust some third party (referee) or even each other to enforce/follow the rules, but if they are anonymous people on the internet playing for not insignificant amounts of money, it would be good if the rules of the games didn’t require a trusted third party.   

In his blog post, Ruck further elaborated how chess can be played with the new opcode and implemented the concept into a Python environment. This is where Ruck adds the “juicy parts” of the code, like operations such as “apply_move,” “white_has_won,” “black_has_won” and “is_stalemate.” After messing around with the program some more, Ruck eventually runs into the situation where a stalemate occurs and the game ends as a draw. Ruck explains that if the game was being played for a 1,000 satoshi incentive “neither white nor black can get any of the 1,000 satoshis, except if they agree to a draw and split the money.”

New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is Possible
A look at the chess game code developed by Tobias Ruck.

The chess game creator also explains there are a few issues that could arise, like someone not making a move and the 1,000 satoshis getting locked into the blockchain forever. But Ruck says that a lock time could be added and the game will end after a certain amount of time has passed. Overall, Ruck’s chess concept is extremely raw and basic but shows how the opcode could be applied to all types of decision-based games. In conclusion, the developer’s blog post states that he hopes he was able to convey the idea of a chess game using OP_Checkdatasig as trusted and autonomous referee.

Building a Turing Machine on Top of the Bitcoin Protocol

After publishing the onchain chess game and while experimenting with the new opcode, Ruck realized that it is possible to build a Turing machine on top of the Bitcoin protocol. The researcher published a followup post, which shows how he simulated an old programming language using the BCH script.

“A simple way to show Turing completeness is by simulating a Turing machine,” Ruck details in his second blog post. “For that, we’ll pick a derivative of Smallfuck, an esoteric programming language, which has been shown to be Turing complete  If we can simulate that on Bitcoin, we know it’s Turing complete,” the programmer adds.

After showing how it can be done using the new opcode OP_Checkdatasig, Ruck emphasized that the Bitcoin protocol is Turing complete giving the technology a myriad of use cases. Ruck further adds that if developers optimized the code a “fully fledged and operational Bitcoin virtual machine (VM)” could be built. Ruck also adds that people who claim Craig Wright’s propositions “were right about OP_Checkdatasig introducing loops in the Bitcoin script are just wrong” and this is “false” information. “The idea that you could call another transaction by checking a signature is just ludicrous,” Ruck’s blog post states. In order to keep loops spinning, Ruck’s details that the program has to be fed with more satoshis per loop in a similar fashion to the Ethereum network’s gas limit.     

What do you think about the chess game that uses the BCH opcode OP_Checkdatasig as an autonomous referee? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Images via Shutterstock, Honest.cash, Pein Sama, Pixabay, and Tobias Ruck. 


Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com.

The post New Bitcoin Cash Opcode Shows an Onchain Game of Chess is Possible appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s Account Posts on P2P Foundation Forum, Likely Hacked

In a curious incident today, Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, posted to the P2P Foundation Forums for the first time since 2011. It is likely that one of Satoshi’s email accounts was hacked to gain access to the forum.

Today at 5:00 AM (UTC) Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous inventor of Bitcoin, posted the enigmatic word “nour” to his P2P Foundation account, his first post since 2011.

P2P Foundation is a small online forum used to discuss peer to peer alternatives for existing technologies. Currently, the forum is largely inactive.

In addition to posting the strange comment, the account added Wagner Tamanaha to his friends list. According to his social media profiles, he appears to be a P2P member based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Tamanaha has not commented on the P2P forums before, but from his linked social media pages he appears to have a degree in communications, and has no online presence in the terms of coding or software development.

According to a post on Steemit by Tamahana, translated from Portuguese:

“I’m on the rebound suddenly, and I’d like to write a more calm post about it [getting added to Satoshi Nakamoto’s friend list]. Now I’m preparing psychologically to receive visits from the FBI, KGB, and the Federal Revenue Agency ? Thanks!”

CryptoSlate reached out to Tamahana for an interview. He made the following comments:

” I asked for a friend request from that Satoshi account near one year ago and for my surprise it was accepted today. I did that request because another Brazilian was listed in Satoshi P2P Foundation account. [Cristiano Casagrande] was accepted as his friend in 2014 and he is an active user on Steemit…”

Although the post could bring some negative attention to Tamahana, he also expressed that he was honored to get mentioned by Satoshi Nakamoto:

“I was honored by being at that list and I think I should make public my commitment to Bitcoin more than ever.”

It is likely that the post is related to an alleged hack in 2014. The email used on the P2P forums was satoshi@gmx.com, which was allegedly compromised in that hack.

Going forward, it is unlikely that Satoshi Nakamoto would reveal himself given the controversy and liability associated with the creation of Bitcoin.

The post Satoshi Nakamoto’s Account Posts on P2P Foundation Forum, Likely Hacked appeared first on CryptoSlate.

New ASUS Partnership Allows Users to Mine Crypto With Idle GPU Power

ASUS to allow its graphics card owners to mine crypto and cash out via PayPal and WeChat through a new partnership.

Taiwan-based tech giant ASUS has partnered with GPU mining platform Quantumcloud to allow users to mine crypto via their graphic cards, multinational tech media TechRadar reported Thursday, Nov. 30.

According to the agreement, ASUS graphic cards owners will be able to mine crypto through Quantumcloud software and withdraw earnings using PayPal or Chinese app WeChat.

The new partnership allows gamers to monetize idle GPUs when the units are not occupied by graphic-consuming processes by mining cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC).

However, Quatumcloud does not guarantee specific profits or outcomes for users, stating that users have to consider usage costs on their own, according to U.K.-based tech publication HEXUS.net. The GPU-mining startup claims to provide high standards of customer data protection compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Earlier in November, ASUS teamed up with California-based semiconductor supplier AMD and other major tech companies to produce eight new crypto mining rigs. Partner companies reportedly include Sapphire, ASROCK, and MSI, among others.

In July, Cointelegraph reported that GPU prices were declining along with sinking prices in crypto markets. Other GPU manufacturers like Nvidia have been negatively affected by the current bear market. When the firm announced its Q3 results earlier this month, it revealed a “crypto hangover” due to disappearing sales to crypto miners.

Meanwhile, major crypto mining firms in China have reportedly started selling off their mining hardware by weight, following a recent collapse of crypto markets that began in mid-November.

What Does Floyd Mayweather’s Crypto ICO Settlement with the SEC Imply?

Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khalid have both settled charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for failing to disclose that they were paid to promote initial coin offering (ICO) projects to the public.

The charges against the two celebrities came about after they both used various social media outlets to promote ICO projects that were in the midst of fundraising rounds.

Mayweather sent out a tweet to his nearly eight million followers regarding an ICO fundraising round being conducted by Centra Tech ICO, who reportedly paid Mayweather $100,000 to tweet about the project.

“Get yours before they sell out, I got mine…” Mayweather wrote.

The same project also paid music producer DJ Khalid to tweet about their ICO, who called the project a “game changer” while being paid an undisclosed $50,000 for the post.

Because the SEC largely classifies ICOs as securities offerings, the undisclosed celebrity endorsements were in violation of securities laws.

Steven Peikin, the SEC enforcement division’s co-director, spoke about the charges against the two celebrities, saying:

“Social media influencers are often paid promoters, not investment professionals, and the securities they’re touting, regardless of whether they are issued using traditional certificates or on the blockchain, could be frauds.”

In a settlement with the SEC, Mayweather paid a total of $614,775 in disgorgement, penalties, and pretrial interest, while also agreeing to not promote any securities products (even disclosed ones) for the next three years.

DJ Khalid also settled the charges, agreeing to pay a total of $152,725 in disgorgement, penalties, and pre-trial interest.

Related Reading: Floyd Mayweather and DJ Khaled Risk Lawsuits over Alleged ICO Scam

SEC Cracking Down on ICO Promotions

Due to the complex nature of ICOs, they have become the perfect venue for groups looking to garner tremendous amounts of money from investors, while offering little more than broad roadmaps and lofty promises, making them highly risky for investors.

Despite this, they can prove to be a highly lucrative and efficient method of fundraising for trustworthy projects, and regulation of the space is critical in order to increase investor-confidence in ICO investments.

Last year, the SEC announced that they would be cracking down on paid celebrity ICO endorsements that are undisclosed, explaining that celebrities or public personas who endorse ICOs must publicly disclose all the information surrounding their relationship to the project.

“Any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion,” the SEC said in a public statement.

Larry Cermak, the head of analysis at cryptocurrency research website The Block, explained the dangers of celebrity endorsed ICOs, noting that many unsavvy investors take their advice at face value and neglect to do prudent research into the project.

“The main reason why so many inexperienced individuals invest in bad crypto projects is because they listen to advice from a so-called expert. They believe they can take this advice at face value even though it is often fraudulent, intentionally misleading or conflicted.”

As the SEC further enforces ICOs as securities, it is likely that the tokens resulting from these offerings will also be regulated as securities products, which could spell trouble for their investors.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

The post What Does Floyd Mayweather’s Crypto ICO Settlement with the SEC Imply? appeared first on NewsBTC.

AriseBank CEO faces 120 years in jail for million-dollar scam

The CEO of blockchain startup AriseBank, Jared Rice, is facing up to 120 years in prison for a million-dollar scam.

30 year-old Jared Rice was arrested by the FBI on the 28th of November, as announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas. He was charged for defrauding hundreds of investors out of over $4 million. The money was used for private luxuries such as hotels, food and clothes.

But that was not it – the CEO has a number of convictions on his back. Rice offered customers FDIC-insured accounts and traditional banking services, including Visa-brand credit and debit cards. However, AriseBank was not authorized to conduct banking in Texas, was not FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insured, and did not actually have any partnership with Visa.

On top of that, he falsely claimed that AriseBank’s ICO raised $600 million within a few weeks, even though in reality only $4 million was raised. Rice was indicted on three counts of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

Without disclosing his prior guilty plea to state felony charges in regards to a different online business scheme, Rice continued to accept his tokensales in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and fiat currency.

Rice claimed to his investors that AriseBank was to be the “first decentralized banking platform” using the digital currency AriseCoin. Rather than playing the role of a central exchange, the company promised not to hold any cryptocurrency funds, and would give “people the freedom to hold, send, receive, buy, sell and spend cryptocurrency directly from their computer or mobile device.”

“My office is committed to enforcing the rule of law in the cryptocurrency space,” says U.S. attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “The Northern District of Texas will not tolerate this sort of flagrant deception – online or off.”

If Rice’s indictment is found guilty, he is convicted up to 120 years in federal prison.

Rice’s fellonies do not stop here. In January this year, Rice was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for  alleged fraud and issuing unregistered securities during AriseBank’s ICO.

In February, a SEC complaint states that Rice is on probation as a part of a plea bargain in Texas, an indictment in 2015 for theft and tampering with government records. He is also under felony indictment for an assault, followed by destroying the evidence of the crime by stealing the victim’s phone and deleting the recording of the incident.

Photo from Unsplash

The post AriseBank CEO faces 120 years in jail for million-dollar scam appeared first on Crypto Insider.

Bitcoin Price Nearing ‘Capitulation Moment’: IG Market Analyst

Bitcoin is not far from a critical loss of investor confidence that will lead to the market hemorrhaging vast amounts of value as nervous investors dump their holdings. This is the opinion of Chris Beauchamp, an analyst at the online trading platform IG. Speaking to the Financial Times, Beauchamp stated that the crypto market leader is

The post Bitcoin Price Nearing ‘Capitulation Moment’: IG Market Analyst appeared first on CCN

New Exchange to Offer Customizable Dashboards — Giving Traders the Information They Want

A company wants to stand out from ‘copycat’ exchanges by offering a customized dashboard where traders can decide the information they want to see.

A new exchange says it has the goal of becoming “the most professional, global and secure marketplace for digital assets” — utilizing state-of-the-art technology that it claims can deliver a processing capacity of 1.5 million order matches per second.

ProBit says its platform is “fast, robust and reliable” — helping to give its users an upper hand while trading. The company says security is a priority, and this is why it promises to store “95 percent or more of digital assets in a cold wallet” — protecting users against security breaches and theft. Hardware security keys are also being made available to traders, which are “impossible for hackers to crack,” yet convenient to use.

According to the company, many traders end up using multiple exchanges because they cannot find the trading pairs they want — or because the user interfaces are too difficult to understand. ProBit aims to remedy this problem through a modular dashboard — meaning that the layout can be personalized around the needs and interests of a trader. Instead of pushing the same information to every user, Probit appreciates different crypto enthusiasts are interested in different things, and wants to put the power in their hands.

Through ProBit, “a wide array of the most trusted coins and tokens on the market” can be traded — and the company says that more than 150 cryptocurrencies will be available. This is complemented by hundreds of trading pairs. Five of them — Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDT, EOS and the native ProBit token among them — serve as “base currencies.”

Customizable user interface for traders of all levels

According to ProBit, many of the exchanges out there at the moment are failing to hit the sweet spot when it comes to attracting users from all backgrounds. It says that, as a rule, most exchanges are geared toward inexperienced traders or experts. Although some platforms do enable traders to toggle between basic and advanced modes, the ProBit says this just means that every user is not getting what they fully need.

This is the rationale behind the fully customizable interface. Every component can be moved and resized as per their priorities — enabling traders to benefit from a service that acts as the left hand to their right hand. This personalization even extends to the colors used on tickers, giving users the chance to find a layout tailor made for them.

Of course, using a crypto exchange for the first time can be a daunting experience — and this is why ProBit offers an array of preset layouts for new users. This serves as a starting point which enables traders to figure out how they want to lay out the vast amounts of information that the company exchange has to provide.

ProBit says that its platform will be active 24/7, and customer support will be available in multiple languages — cementing its goal of becoming a global exchange.

A global player

The company is clear that it wants to be more than a copycat exchange that seems to offer identical features to the platforms already out there. ProBit says this ambition is going to be realized thanks to its team of executives. While CEO Hyunsu Do worked as an accelerator for fintech and blockchain-based companies, CTO Steve Woo amassed 25 years of experience in the software industry thanks to his tenure as CEO of Linux International.

The main sale of ProBit tokens — known as PROB — is taking place on Dec. 3, 2018 and will last for only one day. The company stresses that these tokens are never going to be used for marketing or bounty services. Moreover, its team adds that they are not going to charge listing fees for projects to be traded on ProBit for three reasons: to protect users, because it amounts to a conflict of interest and because it enables them to be selective.

Ronald Chan, the director of partnership for ProBit, shared that projects from around the world have submitted themselves for listing on ProBit because of the co-marketing campaign that ProBit and crypto projects will conduct together. He added that this win-win partnership raises the visibility of both parties.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

VanEck, SolidX Make Case for Bitcoin ETF at Latest Meeting With US SEC

The U.S. SEC has published a memorandum from the latest meeting regarding the Bitcoin ETF proposal from VanEck and SolidX.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published a memorandum Nov. 28 of the latest meeting regarding a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded-fund (ETF) proposal. The application was originally brought to the commission by U.S. investment firm VanEck and blockchain software and financial services company SolidX.

According to the memorandum, representatives from VanEck and SolidX, as well as from the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) met with members of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis and Office of General Counsel Nov. 26.

As previously reported, in June 2018, VanEck joined SolidX to apply for a physically-backed Bitcoin ETF to be listed on CBOE’s BZX Equities Exchange: its approval or disapproval is still pending since the SEC postponed its decision this August.  

At the center of the presentation’s argument was a comparison of Bitcoin as a commodity with more traditional assets — crude oil, silver and gold — all of which already have ETFs at market.

In an analysis of price formation across traditional commodities alongside Bitcoin, the team argued that “[s]imilar to gold and silver, Bitcoin derives its value as a “money substitute” (unlike crude oil, which is a “pure industrial commodity”).

The presentation emphasized that in all three traditional commodity futures markets, “empirical evidence” shows that “spot and futures prices are cointegrated,” indicating they “are tightly linked.” The same, as per the presentation, pertains to Bitcoin spot and futures, and this pattern — for all commodities at hand — is “evidence of a well-functioning capital market.”

In another central argument, the VanEck-SolidX team argued that Bitcoin was in fact more resistant to market manipulation than its traditional counterparts with approved ETFs.

In the case of physical commodities, the team said that “inside information,” such as “the discovery of new sources of supply” or “significant disruptions” at production sites, can be exploited. For Bitcoin, these situations are “inapplicable,” according to the claimants.

Among further examples of Bitcoin’s “resilience” to manipulation, the presentation included the lack of a “strong concentration of funds on any particular Bitcoin exchange or OTC platform,” given that “[a]rbitrageurs must have funds distributed across multiple trading platforms in order to take advantage of temporary price dislocations.”  

Moreover, the “arbitrage process also has advantages in Bitcoin as compared to other commodities, such as oil, because the homogeneity of Bitcoin makes for a uniform worldwide market rather than regional semi-independent markets that result in non-fungibility and market fragmentation.”

As reported earlier this week, VanEck has just announced a partnership with the world’s second largest stock exchange Nasdaq to jointly launch a set of “transparent, regulated and surveilled” digital assets products, starting with a Bitcoin futures contract, slated for as early as Q1 2019.

Steemit Lays Off 70% of Workforce, Hard Times Ahead

Blockchain-based social media platform Steemit is facing a crisis. CEO Ned Scott revealed on Nov. 27, 2018, that the company has been forced to lay off 70 percent of its workforce amid an atmosphere of falling crypto prices and high operational costs.

In a post published on the company’s website, Scott revealed that the company is currently undergoing a fundamental reorganization, with a key focus on reducing costs and making the platform more economically sustainable.

Background on Steemit’s Troubles

Steemit prides itself as the first open source, decentralized, social media platform running on the Steem blockchain, a platform founded by Ned Scott, and Dan Larimer, creator of BitShares and EOS. Using the STEEM token, it rewards content publishers, curators, and consumers using a first-of-its-kind framework that promised at launch to disrupt the world of online content publishing by giving users control of their data and the monetization of that data.

Parent company Steemit Inc. uses Steemit’s personnel and resources to develop and implement updates and upgrades to the Steam blockchain and equips third-party developers with Access Point Interfaces (API) as part of a holistic strategy to grow its developer ecosystem.

At launch in 2016, it initially generated a considerable amount of buzz—even becoming one of the six largest cryptocurrencies by market cap of $157 million. As the hype subsided, however, Steemit largely stalled with user numbers, never quite achieving the expected critical mass, coinciding with problems surrounding adoption and integration.

According to CoinMarketCap, the platform’s current market cap stands at about $106 million, substantially down from its peak. In addition to its own problems brought on by technology and user issues, it also suffered as a result of the overall crypto market downturn, which saw most major cryptocurrencies follow the losses of bitcoin. The result has been a general decline of about 70 percent across the board.

Because of this, Steemit is now in need of significant structural reorganization and cost rationalization to preserve the platform.

Steemit Corporate Reorganisation

In Tuesday’s statement, CEO Ned Scott blamed the ongoing market rout and high operating costs for the decision, revealing that the company has been forced to alter its short-term focus in the aftermath of the move. He asserted:

“[With] the fiat returns on our automated selling of STEEM diminishing, as well as and the growing costs of running full Steem nodes, we have been forced to lay off close to 70% of the team. The remainder of the team is staying on to focus primarily on reducing the costs of the infrastructure responsible for running steemit.com. . .”

According to Steemit’s founder, the company has already conducted a company-wide meeting in the aftermath of the mass layoffs, reaching an agreement that its key short-term focus should be on performing technical changes to Steem. By replacing Steem’s old plugins with Hivemind, the project could reduce the size of its blockchain from a massive 160GB to 0GB on the user’s end. Such changes could greatly streamline the user experience and reduce overhead costs such as cloud hosting.

These drastic moves by Steem show that the company is still dedicated to building a decentralized, user-driven, social media platform. However, to survive the market trough the company will need to make deep cuts and lay off a majority of its workforce. How this will impact the company’s long-term prospects is uncertain.

The post Steemit Lays Off 70% of Workforce, Hard Times Ahead appeared first on CryptoSlate.

Theta Token Price Gains Nearly 50% as Other Markets Suffer

NullTX Theta Token Price Surge

Considering how all of the top cryptocurrencies are going through another round of corrections. Traders are looking elsewhere for profits. One currency getting a lot of attention is Theta Token. Its massive price increase is quite impressive. The biggest development is how this relatively unknown altcoin generates nearly twice its market cap in trading volume.

Theta Token Price Increase Grows Steeper

Not too much is happening in the cryptocurrency top 50 right now. Most projects follow Bitcoin’s price trend, which is anything but positive. As such the profits will need to be found elsewhere, and lower-ranked altcoins offer an interesting option in this regard. One of those currencies is, by the look of things, Theta Token.

Over the past 24 hours, there has been a pretty interesting Theta Token price trend. A whopping 47% increase in USD value, followed by a 55% gain over Bitcoin and a 53% gain over Ethereum are the cause of this sudden price spike. Despite its market cap of $56m, the altcoin also notes nearly $100m in trading volume. Very peculiar statistics, although they also raise plenty of questions.

Looking on social media, it seems a lot of people are waiting for THETA to hit very specific targets prior to selling. The top target was reached several hours ago, as the value surpassed 3,300 Satoshi at that time. It seems there won’t be much of a bigger uptrend to speak of, and this blatant pump will come to an end eventually.

The social media sentiment regarding Theta Token is, according to The TIE, heading in a positive direction. So much even the company still advises users to effectively buy this token even though it has clearly peaked – or close to it. As such, the sentiment might need to be adjusted a bit, even though there will always be people getting caught up in the FOMO.

According to the CoinAlert team, there already some violent price changes taking place where Theta Token is concerned. This is only normal after noting such strong gains, although hourly dips of nearly 7% and more are rather worrisome for the faint of heart. That is the life of cryptocurrency trading, after all, as everything that goes up must come down eventually.

Keeping all of this information in mind, there is a chance Theta Token will try to push to $0.1 once again. It has been rejected at a higher level before, and a push to $0.1 would still represent a near 65% increase. That is unsustainable either way one looks at it. especially in the year 2018.


Disclaimer: This is not trading or investment advice. The above article is for entertainment and education purposes only. Please do your own research before purchasing or investing into any cryptocurrency.

The post Theta Token Price Gains Nearly 50% as Other Markets Suffer appeared first on NullTX.

Blockstream launches Simplicity – a more expressive smart contracts language

When we think of smart contracts, we usually associate them with the two major programming languages: Bitcoin’s Script and Ethereum’s Solidity. Other examples include Cardano’s Marlowe and Plutus, Tezos’ Liquidity, and plenty of other developments that serve different purposes. However, the biggest issue with these languages is that the parties which sign a smart contract must be able to comprehend and analyze all the possible outcomes that may result from the code. Furthermore, a deployed smart contract cannot be modified, so the act of signing one requires intensive deliberation and an absolute agreement between the parties.

This is where Blockstream’s Dr. Russel O’Connor steps in and proposes a blockchain programming language whose functions and semantics fit on a t-shirt. The first presentation of Simplicity has been made on October 30th 2017 in anticipation for PLAS 2017 (Programming Languages and Analysis for Security), and the proposed 34-page paper cites the works of industry heavyweights such as Satoshi Nakamoto, Adam Back, Peter Todd, Vitalik Buterin, Greg Maxwell, and C.P. Schnorr (among many others).

While the t-shirt may look gimmicky, it’s a great way of showcasing the functions and syntax of Simplicity. Image Credit: Blockstream

The last time we heard of Simplicity was during Dr. Connor’s presentation from BPASE 2018 back in February. But this fall, Blockstream appears to be the most consistent company to release new products and services: after launching the Liquid federated sidechain and the privacy-oriented block explorer, now they have enriched their ecosystem with the addition of the source code for Simplicity.

According to the latest blog post on the matter, this release includes “Denotational semantics of the core Simplicity language and its extensions formally specified in Coq, operational semantics of the core Simplicity language formally specified in Coq, an interpreter, type-checker, and serialization of the Simplicity language written in Haskell, Example Simplicity expressions, including cryptographic operations such as SHA-256 and EC-Schnorr signature verification, and a technical report detailing the Simplicity language.

Why would anyone use Simplicity?

The first arguments presented by the Blockstream team involve the issues and limitations of the other programming languages: Ethereum’s EVM has recently had a failed upgrade where the implementations did not agree on the computation results, and there are instances where funds were stolen and became unrecoverable due to security breaches. Conversely, Bitcoin’s script relies on three criteria (digital signature checks, timelocks, and hashlocks) and therefore has limited expressivity.

In order to overcome these shortcomings, Blockstream’s Simplicity offers a simpler syntax and semantics that are more akin to Java and Python, formal proofs of correctness to allow smart contract parties to edit certain provisions that they agree on, and a code compiler which functions without the need of Turing completeness. In other words, programming smart contracts will become a lot easier for coders who are used to basic languages, parties which find loopholes in their smart contracts can mutually come to terms to make modifications, and even more high-level languages can be compiled to Simplicity.

This launch is special because the development has been moved into the open to allow other experts in the field to peer review the code and make suggestions to its improvement. In this regard, a dedicated GitHub for Simplicity has been created and the interested parties can join a mailing list.

Pros and cons of Blockstream’s Simplicity

Clearly, Simplicity is a useful project which brings smart contracts closer to mass adoption. It simplifies the programming language while allowing more expressivity than Bitcoin’s Script, it brings inter-operability with other languages by attempting to be a universal compiler, it allows for smart contracts to be amended in a secure way, and it’s integrated with Blockstream’s Elements platform which also opens up opportunities to develop for the Liquid Network.

The research paper looks impressive and references the works of some of the biggest heavyweights of cryptography and blockchain development, and the fact that the code was released in the open is a sign that the protocol while a mailing list gets built follows the cypherpunk ethos which is paramount in this field.

On the other hand, there are two types of criticism that can arise from this early phase of the project. First of all, it’s going to be interesting to see how the implementation of formal proofs of correctness actually works. Removing the immutability of smart contracts and allowing parties to make edits via consensus is a concept that is more akin to the amendments we make to real-life contracts.

It’s like inserting a dollar bill into the coffee machine thinking that it’s going to cost two dollars, the coffee company wants to double the price due to an unexpected shortage of coffee beans, but it can’t operate the change without your explicit consent. In the past, it was all about time-stamping the moment when the purchasing agreement is made and the first dollar bill gets inserted, so no modifications can be made in the whole process regardless of the long-term fairness of the deal.

In theory, it sounds great. In practice, it can open the gates of hell for plenty of abuses and inconveniences which make smart contracts less appealing to the masses. Immutability, despite having its bugs, is the killer app for blockchains and the true value of the functions that they operate comes from this feature.

The second wave of criticism can come from the regular “Blockstream is centralizing power” argument. It’s a bad idea to rely too much on the services of one company, and in the future we may see Blockstream turn into the Google of blockchains. On the plus side, all of their projects are transparent, privacy-friendly, and built by true experts who understand the legitimate concerns that enthusiasts have. The fact that their contributions are mostly open-source and anyone can review the code is also a factor which strengthen’s Blockstream’s position as a legitimate company, but it’s important to keep the cypherpunk ethos alive and constantly verify instead of building too much trust.

Simplicity is a fine addition which deserves praise, and it’s likely that efforts like Dr. Russel O’Connor’s will bring mass adoption through increased accessibility. After all, it was Xerox that invented the graphic user interface for operating systems, but it wasn’t until Steve Jobs picked it up and implemented it in Apple’s Macintosh that we saw a popularization and adoption of the technology.

Crypto Insider has contacted Dr. Russel O’Conor and asked for a comment on how formal proof of correctness works. His response was the following:

“Developers can use formal methods to prove programs correct and have software proof assistants verify every logical step. Simplicity is going to empower smart contract developers to really prove the correctness of their contracts so that parties can safely and securely transact with each other.”

Cover image credit: Blockstream

The post Blockstream launches Simplicity – a more expressive smart contracts language appeared first on Crypto Insider.

Ending Ethereum FUD over Tezos ICO treasury transfers

As the price of ETH continues to nosedive, losing almost 50% of its value over the past 30 days, several altcoin projects have proceeded to move Ethereum holdings out of their fundraiser ICO wallets. Two of the projects, Tezos and Aragon, have provided stated purposes for the transfers which, they say, does not include selling or dumping any Ethereum holdings. 

Tezos Foundation Moves 82,050 ETH

When Tezos (XTZ) launched a fundraiser in July of 2017, it collected 361,122 ETH along with a mass of 65,703 Bitcoin. Not all of the ETH went to the same wallet since Bitcoin Suisse, a Swiss cryptocurrency bank also accepted and stored ETH contributions for the project.

In a response to an email from Crypto Insider, Anthony Lacavaro, a spokesman for the Tezos Foundation, indicated that the movement of ETH was merely for relocation purposes only.

“The ETH were moved into a different storage system, not sold,” according to Lacavaro.

As of January 2018, the Tezos treasury wallet contained 203,468 ETH, according to Diar.

That number, since January, has remained steady until November when in recent days over 82,000 ETH was moved from the treasury account.

Diar reported the update via Twitter on Thursday morning:

The move originally sparked alarm among crypto watchers concerned whether the 80,000 ETH would be dumped on the open market, further driving down an already sagging Ethereum price. 

Other Projects Follow Suit

According to Diar’s data, Tezos is not alone this month in moving Ethereum funds out of treasury wallets.

Aragon (ANT), a dApp built on Ethereum designed to let users create and manage a decentralized organization, which launched an ICO in May of 2017, is another large ETH holder with approximately 263,523 in its treasury at the start of January 2018.

The most recent numbers show Aragon will end November holding just 182,388 ETH, a difference of over 50,000 moved from their treasury since January, the vast majority of which moved in the last 30 days.

According to reports, Aragon has been working to secure their funding and hedge against volatility by securing assets with a loan based on the Ethereum-collateralised Dai stable coin.

Aragon confirmed the reporting on Twitter and said their official position remains “long” on Ethereum:

Smaller blockchain projects, such as Aragon, will need to be more conservative during downward trends to protect large crypto holdings which can quickly be eaten by day-to-day costs as values plummet.

District0x (DNT), another Ethereum-based dApp ICO from 2017, also moved over 15,000 ETH in the past month.

Crypto Insider contacted District0x for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

ICO Treasuries Not Causing ETH Fall

Despite many ICO treasuries holding significant amounts of ETH, the analysis shows that these accounts amount to roughly 4% of all Ethereum worldwide holdings. Many ICOs from 2017, aside from Tezos, are built on tokens which rely on Ethereum contracts so it would be counterintuitive for those same projects to carelessly dump their holdings which could potentially drag down the ETH price and hurt their own market cap.

The main cause for the Ethereum downturn, other than following Bitcoin, is more likely related to the SEC ruling in mid-November which saw two ICOs agree to fines and refunds which has further exacerbated a bearish environment where projects are looking to protect their assets and weather this storm.

According to the numbers from DappCapitulation, most ICO treasuries have not budged in the past 12 months which means most projects are still holding their ETH untouched. If we start to see the moves multiply in the coming weeks, it could signal that more ICO projects are feeling the crunch or looking toward protective measures.

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eToro and Mumsnet Research Reveals over Half of Mums (55%) Want to Take Control of Their Finances

This is a submitted sponsored story. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the content below. New research from Mumsnet and eToro busts the age-old myth that women aren’t interested in their own finances and investments. In a new survey of 1,000 mums*, Mumsnet

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Mainstream Media Coverage of Bitcoin Goes up as Price Falls: Survey

Research suggests that when it comes to covering bitcoin, bad news sells. According to a study conducted by blockchain firm Clovr, the coverage of bitcoin by the mainstream media peaked at the time when the cryptocurrency fell from its all-time high at the beginning of this year. While coverage of bitcoin by the mainstream media

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Volentix Introduces Vespucci for Comprehensive Cryptocurrency Market Analysis

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Bitcoin Drops to $4,000 as Sell-Off Reignites, There Could Be a Larger Trend in Play

After a couple days of upwards trading, the cryptocurrency markets have continued to sell-off, led by Bitcoin, but are still sitting above their recently established lows. Today’s drop could be the result of traders taking profits on short-term long positions, according to one research firm.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading down 6.5% at its current price of $4,045, down from yesterday’s highs of just over $4,400, but still up over 12% from its recently established lows of $3,600, which were set earlier this week.

This downwards move, however, could be temporary, and could be the result of traders taking profits on their short-term long positions.

While speaking to MarketWatch, analysts at the U.K.-based research firm, FX Pro Insights, explained this theory, adding that it remains unclear as to whether or not a long-term bottom has truly been established in the markets.

“Many market participants have decided to take an optimistic approach and BTC’s decline to $3,500 was an important support point for the cryptocurrency… Within this context, it should be noted that speculators may soon begin to profit from this trend, which may trigger a new wave of sales… The real question is: Has the crypto market indeed reached the bottom?” they said.

Yesterday, Rob Sluymer, a technical analyst at Fundstrat Global Advisors, said that Bitcoin may be in the midst of a multi-quartering bottoming pattern, which could mean that a new upwards cycle is just around the corner.

“In contrast to bounces that have developed through 2018, weekly RSI [relative strength index] is now at levels not seen since BTC’s last bear market low in early 2015 and BTC is showing very early evidence of responding to its long-term uptrend after three major downside moves through 2018… Our expectation is that BTC is in the very early stages of establishing a multi-quarter bottoming process that is likely to extend well into mid-2019,” Sluymer explained.

Related Reading: Prominent Crypto Analyst: Bitcoin over $4,400 May Catalyze 10% Rally

Altcoins Trade Down 

Presently, the altcoin markets are trading down across the board, with many cryptos trading down 4% or more from yesterday’s prices.

At the time of writing, XRP has declined 4% at its current price of $0.36, a drop from its recent highs of nearly $0.40, but up over 10% from its recent lows of $0.32. It is important to note that XRP is still trading up significantly from its 2018 lows of $0.24, which were set in August and re-visited in early-September.

Ethereum is currently trading down just under 4% at its current price of $114.8, which is a drop slightly from yesterday’s highs of $126, but it is still trading up nearly 15% from its recently established 2018 lows of $100.

Stellar (XLM), which was one of the best performing altcoins of the past couple of days, was unable to avoid today’s drop, and is currently trading down 4% at its current price of $0.16. XLM has secured the number four position by market capitalization, surpassing that of Bitcoin Cash.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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SEC Chairman: Investors Should Consider Lack of ‘Safeguards’ Before Investing in Crypto

U.S. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton reiterated his wary view of the cryptocurrency markets, warning investors against the major risks of trading.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton reiterated his wary view of the crypto markets during an interview. His discussion with New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin took place at the The Times Center in New York City Nov. 29.

Mid-way through the interview, Clayton told Sorkin that the securities regulator had worked hard to educate investors about the risks of participating in an emerging and unpredictable market, one for which regulation is still taking shape. Clayton continued:

“We tried to get the word out that although the trading looks like the trading you would see on Nasdaq or on the New York Stock Exchange, these markets do not have the same kinds of safeguards for you. We’ve worked for [...] seventy years to try to prevent manipulation in those [traditional] markets, to try and prevent people taking advantage of the small player.”

The chairman also acknowledged the limitations facing the regulator in the context of offshore token sales, stressing that he has “tried to make it clear” that if investors purchase digital assets overseas, and something goes awry, ”there’s very little [the SEC] can do to get it back as a practical matter.”

The interview moved beyond market action to the very structure and innovation of the technology underpinning most digital assets, blockchain. In response to Sorkin’s point that the cornerstone ideology of a blockchain-based ecosystem is that it has “no real arbiter” — neither judge nor jury — Clayton implied this very principle was at loggerheads with existing regulation.

In comments after the interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” segment, Sorkin reflected that while he had previously expected the “next inflection point” for crypto to be some form of “positive regulation” from government regulators, he now felt the SEC was unlikely to shift its stance to adapt to and “work with” the emerging space. Clayton’s effective point, Sorkin argued, was rather that “crypto would have to change its technology to work with the law.”

In another interview earlier this week, Clayton underscored the SEC’s hardline stance on digital tokens that are deemed to be “non-compliant” — i.e. unregistered with the agency — securities offerings.

Clayton has previously affirmed that while cryptos that aim to act “replacements for sovereign currencies” — most notably Bitcoin (BTC) — are not securities, most sold through Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) are. He also emphasized the agency would not “do any violence to the traditional definition of a security” to accommodate the new sector.

Intel Gains Patent for Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining Design

Intel has been awarded patent #10,142,098 , which pertains to a system they’ve designed which improves the energy efficiency of Bitcoin miners. While it takes a hardware engineer to fully understand what’s going on in their patent, relevant to the discussion is the following quote: […] certain portions of the input message, state data, and

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