Bank of Japan Deputy Governor And Cryptocurrency Plans... Read More × Cryptocurrency Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Downplays Cryptocurrency Plans. Masayoshi Amamiya, Bank of Japan’s Deputy Governor, stated on Saturday that it was unclear whether digital currencies could enhance the monetary policies of central banks. He elaborated that the Bank of Japan had no plans whatsoever to issue a cryptocurrency. Ongoing Debate Mr. Amamiya said that there was “quite a hurdle” for cryptocurrencies to overcome fiat currencies, and pointed out that they are mostly used as a means for investment rather than for actual payment or settlement. However, it is clear that this trend is changing, as Ripple, a cryptocurrency in the global payments space, has announced high-profile partnerships with financial institutions such as PNC Bank, a Top 10 United States bank with over 8 million customers, and more recently with the largest private foundation in the United States, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is not the first time that someone associated with a central bank has weighed in on cryptocurrency, and whether it should issue a digital currency. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, and widely considered one of the most important figures in global finance, recently downplayed the idea, stating that the “underlying technology is still fragile”. Conflicting Opinions There are many in the cryptocurrency community who are not surprised at the fact that many central banks tend to downplay cryptocurrency, as it could disrupt the entire global payments and settlement sector, and as a result, is arguably a direct threat to central banks. Recently, the head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, Elvira Nabiullina, was vocal about the fact that investor interest in cryptocurrency was waning, and that “cryptocurrency fever was disappearing”. She also acknowledged that initial coin offerings were an effective way to raise funds, but was quick to point out the high percentage of scams in the sector, as well. Despite these statements from respected figures at central banks, there are other organizations that believe otherwise. The World Trade Organization, which many consider to be the number one organization in terms of regulating international report, recently released a report that seemed to praise digital assets and their potential. The report, called “The Future of World Trade: How Digital Technologies Are Transforming Global Commerce”, was not ambivalent in its claims, stating explicitly that “blockchain has the potential to profoundly transform the way we trade, who trades, and what is traded”. The report singled out Ripple specifically in terms of its potential with regards to the global payments sector, as well. Some text.. Nearly $13 billion wiped off of cryptocurrency market... Read More × Market Nearly $13 billion wiped off of cryptocurrency market as major coins plunge The price of major cryptocurrencies plunged on Thursday with nearly $13 billion of value being wiped out in a matter of hours. At around 10:23 a.m. HK/SIN, bitcoin had fallen nearly 5 percent to $6,303, while XRP and ethereum both tanked over 10 percent, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com. It's not unusual to see bitcoin lead other digital tokens lower. In just three hours, nearly $13 billion of value had been erased from the entire cryptocurrency market. The drop comes amid fresh warnings from financial authorities about the rapid growth of digital coins and the potential threat to the economy. "Continued rapid growth of crypto assets could create new vulnerabilities in the international financial system," the International Monetary Fund said in a recent report. Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts hoped 2018 would be a year that regulators warmed up to the idea of professionalizing the trading of digital assets through new financial products like exchange-traded funds. But the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has rejected several ETFs including a highly anticipated one planned by the Winklevoss twins. Other countries, including China, have come down hard on cryptocurrencies. Opinion: Cryptocurrency and Wealth Redistribution 2018 has been a harsh period for cryptocurrencies prices in general. Prices, in general, have been falling from late January until now, with the usual ups and downs. Nevertheless, as prices and technology rarely come hand-to-hand, during this period we’ve seen some conceptual improvements started being implemented, such as Ethereum side-chains and plasma orBitcoin’s LN and Superspace (which I aim at discussing on my next piece). Before you dive into this one, I urge you to read its predecessor available here, where I discuss the role of money in our society, how it can potentially have quantum-like properties and, finally, different ways to measure growth and value. Growth Accumulation VS Growth Redistribution One of the most important quests of mankind across centuries has been how to achieve continuous economic growth. From the first world empires to the industrial revolution, the single most important factor that allowed for this unsustainable mindset was the monies creation mechanics. Logic dictates if your monetary system is inflationary, future money will always be worth less than present money. Meaning, it’s quite hard to change monetary policies to support citizens wealth creation, when the object of said wealth creation loses value every year. If we could potentially find a solution to the debt-based system, it would most likely be connected to a better redistribution of wealth, I argue. There are many paths to chose from to achieve the above outcome, for example, through income distribution STO’s, utility via rewards, airdrops and bounties or even a completely new token scheme with both income, utility and governance. Decentralization allows for different kinds of money systems, not only based on debt but also on your actual time, user participation or physical assets. The point is: the more projects start to grasp the power tokens can bring as income, utility, governance or investment vehicles, the more token-based organizations will pop-up. There are many rolled-out platforms like Steemit from the creator of EOS, or the Brave browser from the Basic Attention Token team, which entitle users to receive a reward based on content creation. Independently of any of these projects success, please remember: –this article isn’t financial advisement as it represents my personal opinion and views only. I have savings invested in cryptocurrency so take whatever I write with a grain of salt. Do not invest what you cannot afford to lose and always read as much as possible about a project before investing. Never forget: with great power, comes great responsibility. Being your own bank means you’re always responsible for your own money— Redistribution Comes From Changing Paradigms There are many arguments against free money creation. How can taxes be applied? What about assets insurance? Will governments still be responsible to protect its citizens through public sponsored schemes? How can regulatory bodies adapt to overcome the challenges of regulating non-proprietary, decentralized and permissionless protocols? If we look into new organizational theory – how companies’ behavior towards social logic affect performance – we can find refreshing conclusions which may assist us in better understanding the role of money in our society. For one, companies which have strong social values (ie, hybrid organizations such as cooperatives) are able to maximize both consumers and suppliers utility by not maximizing profits. Bitcoin Price Could Crash to $100, Claims FOREX Analyst... Read More × Forex Bitcoin Price Could Crash to $100, Claims Forex Analyst There’s something about a prolonged cryptocurrency market downturn that leaves bears jockeying to be the one to twist the final knife in bitcoin’s battle-scarred back. The latest jab comes from Marek Paciorkowski, a financial market analyst at Polish forex platform Aforti Exchange S.A. Speaking in an interview with Romanian financial publication Business Review, Paciorkowski speculated that the bitcoin price could plunge as far as $100, a threshold it hasn’t touched in more than five years and a mark that would place it 99.5 percent below the all-time high it set in Dec. 2017. “Considering the triangle pattern that the Bitcoin market has been tracing since March 2018 and most importantly the height of this pattern, if a breakout takes place in line with the prevailing downward trend of the descending triangle pattern, the technical target price for the Bitcoin implied by the range of the pattern will come at … USD 100,” he said. “It may be hard to believe, but everything is possible in the financial markets and this scenario should be taken into consideration, especially if the subsequent attempts to resume the long term uptrend eventually fail and Bitcoin ends up breaching the USD 5,500 level.” Paciorkowski based his historically-bearish forecast on proprietary technical analysis, alleging that the bitcoin price is caught in a severe downward trend out of which there is a significant chance that it may not emerge. “Every recovery that we’ve seen so far, starting February 2018 to date, was each accompanied by lower volumes and interest from the buyers and under these circumstances we’ve concluded that ever since marking the USD 11,700 peak at the end of February/beginning of March, we’ve been clearly dealing with a downward trend within the triangle pattern,” he said. “In recent months, we have also been experiencing a contraction in the market’s volatility, as illustrated by the sideways movement in Bollinger Bands, which have acted for many times in a row as support and resistance levels.” Nevertheless, he said that if bitcoin can manage to break above $7,715, he would take that as a reliable buy signal. Conversely, a move below $5,613 would be a “definite” sell signal. He explained, “Should the market continue to track the Bollinger Bands, then only breaking above the USD 7,715 level will count as a reliable buy signal, while dropping below USD 5,613 will be a definite sell signal. ” According to the “Bitcoin Obituaries” index compiled by cryptocurrency resource site 99Bitcoins, bitcoin has died 312 times since the website began keeping track. You can chalk Paciorkowski’s eulogy up as number 313, but history seems to suggest that his apocalyptic prediction will not prove any more prescient than those that came before. Litecoin Payments are Quietly Starting to Catch On-2018 Crypto... Read More × Litecoin Litecoin Payments are Quietly Starting to Catch On One of the main critiques about Bitcoin is the digital currency’s troubles offering timely and cost-effective payments. Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin, foresaw Bitcoin’s future payment issues, and took action by designing a more payments-friendly blockchain. After earning the nickname, ‘SatoshiLite’, Mr. Lee earned a job at Coinbase, the large San Francisco-based crypto-exchange. Mr. Lee left Coinbase last year. Thereafter, he sold his Litecoin so that he could act more freely as a champion for the digital currency he founded and not be accused of pumping and dumping. After a tough few years for Bitcoin in the headlines when it comes to its payments weakness, attention might finally be turning to Litecoin – which admittedly has existed under the shadows of the modern ICO craze and even the Bitcoin Cash experiment. Last week, an article in Business Insider discussed how $99 million worth of Litecoin was sent for just 40 cents worth of fees. In February, the EU online retailer Alza.cz began accepting Litecoin as a payment method in February 2018. Alza is one of the largest Czech retail shops. They made the announcement via Twitter. Further, the first Lightning Network transaction was completed through Litecoin, when 0.00000001 LTC was transferred from Zürich to San Francisco in under one second. Then, this week, long-time provider of crypto debit cards, Wirex, announced it would begin supporting Litecoin for its cards. Wirex’s full Litecoin integration allows users to spend Litecoin with the blockchain company’s payment card. Users can even exchange dozens of altcoins into Litecoin, potentially simplifying the process of cashing out of an ICO or crypto in general. “Wirex keeps growing as a platform so it’s natural for us to add new services and currencies,” said Pavel Matveev, CEO of Wirex. “Litecoin has huge potential and a big community, so there is a lot of demand for this service in the market”. As the company wrote in its blog: “Customer polls last year revealed the popularity of Litecoin as a rival alternative crypto to Bitcoin…It’s faster than Bitcoin, has lower blockchain fees and may become a global payment option available on dozens of big brand websites in coming months.” Wirex joins a limited number of payment cards that make this possible. As Mr. Lee recently tweeted: “FYI: Coinbase’s Shift Visa debit card can be linked to any wallet in your Coinbase account. So, in addition to BTC, it can be set up to deduct from your LTC (or ETH/BCH) wallet.” TenX, another crypto-card provider, recently announced on their blog plans in the future for a Litecoin debit card. “…[W]e have reached out to, and are working with the Litecoin Foundation to introduce a co-branded card for which more information will be available soon.” A peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and fork of the Bitcoin Core client, Litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011 by Mr. Lee. Key differentiators between Bitcoin and Litecoin were a decreased block generation time (2.5 minutes), an increased maximum number of coins (84 million), a different hashing algorithm (using scrypt instead of SHA-256) and a modified GUI. These reasons combined make Litecoin an intriguing payments option not only for individuals but businesses, as well. Just as Mr. Lee intended. The Lightning Network, Alza.cz and Wirex might be a sign of a coming wave of businesses exploring Litecoin for payments. Technical Details of Fake Adobe Update Cryptojacking Malware... Read More × Cryptojacking PSA: Hackers Are Using Fake Flash Updates to Hide Cryptocurrency Mining Malware It has been discovered that fake Adobe Flash updates are being used to surreptitiously install cryptocurrency mining malware on computers and networks, creating severe losses in time, system performance, and power consumption for affected users. Cryptojacking Breaks New Ground While fake Flash updates that push malware have traditionally been easy to spot and avoid, a new campaign has employed new tricks that stealthily download cryptocurrency miners on Windows systems. Writing in a post exposing the scheme, Unit 42 threat intelligence analyst Brad Duncan said: “As early as August 2018, some samples impersonating Flash updates have borrowed pop-up notifications from the official Adobe installer. These fake Flash updates install unwanted programs like an XMRig cryptocurrency miner, but this malware can also update a victim’s Flash Player to the latest version.” The implication of this unpleasant scenario is that a potential victim may not notice anything out of the ordinary while an XMRig cryptocurrency miner or other unwanted program is quietly running in the background of the victim’s Windows computer. This miner software could potentially slow down the processor of the victim’s computer, damage the hard drive, or extract confidential data and transmit it onto other digital platforms without the victim’s consent. Technical Details of Fake Adobe Update Cryptojacking Malware Duncan explained that it was not very clear how potential victims were arriving at the URLs delivering the fake Flash updates; however, network traffic during the infection process has been primarily related to fraudulent Flash updates. Interestingly, the infected Windows server generates an HTTP POST request to [osdsoft[.]com], a domain affiliated with updaters or installers pushing cryptocurrency miners. He said while the research team searched for certain particular fake Flash updates, it observed some Windows executables file with names starting with Adobe Flash Player from non-Adobe, cloud-based web servers. These downloads usually had the string “flashplayer_down.php?clickid=” in the URL. The teams also found 113 examples of malware meeting these criteria since March 2018 in AutoFocus. 77 of these malware samples are identified with a CoinMiner tag in AutoFocus. The remaining 36 samples share other tags with those 77 CoinMiner-related executables. Duncan encouraged Windows users to be more cautious about the kind of Adobe Flash updates that they try to install, stating that while the Adobe pop-up and update features make the fake installer seem more legitimate, potential victims will still receive warning signs about running downloaded files on their Windows computer. In his words: “Organizations with decent web filtering and educated users have a much lower risk of infection by these fake updates.” CCN recently reported that a report from McAfee labs showed that cryptojacking surged 86 percent in the second quarter of 2018, and is up 459 percent in 2018 so far over the whole of 2017. Air Gap Technology Has and Will Secure Our Cryptocurrency Assets... Read More × Technology Op-Ed: How Air Gap Technology Has and Will Secure Our Cryptocurrency Assets The truth is that anything connected to the internet can be hacked. However, hacking wasn’t always a problem. The History of Air Gap Technology Data used to be held offline, in what’s now known as cold storage. Data on external paper cards, then moved to tape and digital media as technology evolved. The first computers built were by default on cold storage or ‘air gap’ technology. Even when networks were initially built, much of the data still had to be manually connected to the system by adding in the media to a device. In the early days, sensitive codes and information were kept locked in vaults accessible by an authorized individual or in some cases, by multiple people required to key in simultaneously. This approach was the genesis of multi-signature authorization. Eventually, with the invention of the internet, those computers and that data could be connected to an outside, worldwide network. The concepts upon which the internet was built had some basic principles of security within them, but the exchange of data and the ease of doing so was paramount in the original architecture of the web. Sensitive institutions were slow to add their most critical data to the internet, and all-important military institutions initially relied on a manual air gap, where a command was sent to a person who would retrieve data devices out of a vault and connect them to a machine for a short period in which they needed to be used. Some institutions still rely on these methods. The Russian military is famous for its continued reliance on typewriters for some of their most sensitive documents – if it’s never digital, well, it’s certainly a lot harder for your enemies to get their hands on it. The value of air gap technology is unparalleled in its ability to hide data away from digital thievery; however, inaccessibility has always been its shortcoming. With the institutions using the tech over the course of history, having the physical manpower on hand to mount drives online at a moment’s notice was not an issue, but the corporate application of this technology requires some automation of that process to scale and serve the needs of millions of customers simultaneously. However, how to bridge that gap without systems being online? The fact is that with a recent invention, human interaction, and the resulting security risk those touch points entail are no longer required to remotely close an air gap. Application of Air Gap in Crypto Custody Individuals have been storing sensitive data on cold storage devices for decades. USB thumb drives are ubiquitous across society these days, and their use for storing cryptocurrency keys began almost as soon as currencies were first invented. Over the years, the complexity of these drives has evolved, and now cold storage wallets like Ledger or Trezor are de rigueur for smaller independent investors. However, these drives are not a viable solution for larger investors who need instant access to their funds but who do not wish to take the risk of employees carrying around their codes. Additionally, for institutions the gaping holes in the security of these devices, and their applicability to the global needs of their clients renders them useless. Beginning in 2013, institutional grade custody providers came to market to provide offline storage of digital assets. Amongst the first of these was Xapo, a group focused on serving the needs of long-term holders of cryptocurrency. Xapo built vaults within mountains for the long-term cold storage. Since the founding of this company, many other institutions offering deep cold storage have entered the market. Most recently, the Winklevoss twins announced a cryptocurrency-based patent in the air gap space, lending even more credibility to the application of the technology. The solutions all rely on a combination of codes on digital or physical (paper or other) media in coordination with some vaulting solution. These options are great if you don’t need to access your keys to make trades; however, trading is a key to doing business. All of these solutions have the same issue which has vexed institutional investors for years – entirely locking them out of the market in many cases – and that problem is accessibility. The typical solution, like Xapo, requires a 2-day notice to bring your keys online manually for you to make a transaction. This delay means these solutions can’t meet the needs of active investors who need access at a moment’s notice. Additionally, the additional human interaction point represents a significant risk to data. Remote Automated Air Gap Security (RAAS) In early 2017, Tony Hasek, one of the founders, of Goldilock was working with a company offering deep cold storage for physical assets – mostly precious metals. He had been trading cryptocurrencies for years and was worried about the constant breaches suffered by even the largest institutions, starting with Mt. Gox back in 2011. Not wanting to carry his codes around, he started thinking about ways to keep them offline using some of the same concepts of cold storage combined with some analog technology he’d worked with back in the 90s. Combining forces with his co-founder Jarrod Epps, who had also worked with analogue telephony solutions, the two collaborated for several months to build out an architecture which would allow all data to be kept offline in a vaulted, air gap, cold storage state until the exact moment the owner of the data wanted to bring it online (also known as ‘hot’). By relying on a sophisticated combination of legacy offline technology as a trigger mechanism for remotely-toggling data nodes on/offline, alongside cutting-edge cryptography and biometric gateways, and adding in options for remote multi-sig approvals, the two filed a patent for a unique way to access cold-stored data at a moment’s notice. Also, they built it in a way so simple and secure that anyone with a mobile telephone could use it. This new RAAS technology (pronounced ‘race’) allows anyone to access their data anytime from anywhere that he or she has a mobile or landline phone. RAAS into the Future Remotely accessible air gap technology is truly transformational for the handling of all data across the internet. Institutions such as banks, credit rating agencies, video distribution groups, software developers, healthcare record custodians, crypto funds, crypto custodians, and crypto exchanges have all reached out to get on the waiting list to use this technology. Outside the cryptocurrency space, being able to bank, manage credit data, health information safely, even personal photos and videos will transform the way consumers interact with the internet, allowing them to do so without fear of hacking, identity theft, or hijacking of their credit.