The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin Futures-Based ETF Likely To Be Approved in the US (thestreet.com) 50

The race is on: who will be the first to launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the United States? From a report, shared by a reader: In Europe, there is already a Bitcoin exchange traded note (ETN) available to investors. In the U.S., it is widely anticipated a Bitcoin ETF will be be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) very soon. In Europe, ETNs are designed to track the movement of Bitcoin against the U.S. dollar. The ETNs are Bitcoin Tracker One, which is traded in Swedish krona and Bitcoin Tracker EURO, which is traded in euro. Both ETNs are issued by XBT Provider AB and traded on Nasdaq OMX (Stockholm). Dave Nadig, CEO of ETF.com and previously the director of ETFs at FactSet Research Systemsm believes we can expect to see Bitcoin Futures-based ETF launched in the U.S. by the end of this year. "Yes, you can already trade a derivative in Europe, an exchange traded note which tracks Bitcoin," Nadig adds. "Then the race in the U.S. is the race to see what gets approval first. Will it be a Bitcoin future or a straight up Bitcoin holding ETF? My bet is that we will see Bitcoin futures approved fairly quickly."
China

John McAfee Said Top Executives From the Major Bitcoin Exchanges Weren't Allowed To Leave China (wsj.com) 88

An anonymous reader shares a report: China's widening crackdown on bitcoin trading resulted in a travel ban of sorts for two executives from the country's largest commercial bitcoin exchanges, which regulators are closing down. From a report: On Thursday, top executives of two Chinese digital currency exchanges who were scheduled to speak at an industry conference in Hong Kong didn't show up and their sessions were canceled. The event's organizer, a bitcoin-trading firm called Bitkan, didn't provide a reason. The two executives were Lin Li, chief executive of Huobi, and Justin Pan, who the event organizer listed as being the chief operating officer of OKCoin. The two-day conference was originally supposed to be held in Beijing but its organizers last week decided to shift the venue to Hong Kong after Chinese regulators earlier this month ordered digital-currency exchanges to wind down their operations. Software pioneer and former fugitive John McAfee -- a high-profile but controversial character in the bitcoin industry -- told conference attendees on Wednesday that top executives from the major bitcoin exchanges are currently not allowed to leave China.
China

China Orders Bitcoin Exchanges In Capital City To Close (bbc.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: China is moving forward with plans to shut down Bitcoin exchanges in the country, starting with trading platforms in key cities. All Bitcoin exchanges in Beijing and Shanghai have been ordered to submit plans for winding down their operations by 20 September. The move follows the Chinese central bank's decision to ban initial coin offerings in early September. Top exchange BTCC said it would stop trading at the end of the month. Chinese authorities decided to ban digital currencies as part of a plan for reducing the country's financial risks. All exchanges are required to send regulators a detailed "risk-free" plan of how they intend to exit the market before 18:30 local time on Wednesday 20 September. The regulator also ordered the exchanges to submit DVDs containing all user trading and holding data to the local authorities. Shareholders, controllers, executives, and core financial and technical staff of exchanges are also required to remain in Beijing during the shutdown and to co-operate fully with authorities.
Encryption

Why You Shouldn't Use Texts For Two-Factor Authentication (theverge.com) 101

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: A demonstration video posted by Positive Technologies (and first reported by Forbes) shows how easy it is to hack into a bitcoin wallet by intercepting text messages in transit. The group targeted a Coinbase account protected by two-factor authentication, which was registered to a Gmail account also protected by two-factor. By exploiting known flaws in the cell network, the group was able to intercept all text messages sent to the number for a set period of time. That was enough to reset the password to the Gmail account and then take control of the Coinbase wallet. All the group needed was the name, surname and phone number of the targeted Bitcoin user. These were security researchers rather than criminals, so they didn't actually steal anyone's bitcoin, although that would have been an easy step to take. At a glance, this looks like a Coinbase vulnerability, but the real weakness is in the cellular system itself. Positive Technologies was able to hijack the text messages using its own research tool, which exploits weaknesses in the cellular network to intercept text messages in transit. Known as the SS7 network, that network is shared by every telecom to manage calls and texts between phone numbers. There are a number of known SS7 vulnerabilities, and while access to the SS7 network is theoretically restricted to telecom companies, hijacking services are frequently available on criminal marketplaces. The report notes of several ways you can protect yourself from this sort of attack: "On some services, you can revoke the option for SMS two-factor and account recovery entirely, which you should do as soon as you've got a more secure app-based method established. Google, for instance, will let you manage two-factor and account recovery here and here; just set up Authenticator or a recovery code, then go to the SMS option for each and click 'Remove Phone.'"
Bitcoin

Ethereum Will Match Visa In Scale In a 'Couple of Years,' Says Founder (techcrunch.com) 112

Ethereum's founder, Vitalik Buterin, believes that his cryptocurrency has the potential to replace things like credit card networks and gaming servers. He even goes as far to say that Ethereum will replace Visa in "a couple of years," though he later clarified that "ethereum *will have Visa-scale tx capacity*, not that it will 'replace Visa.'" TechCrunch reports: "There's the average person who's already heard of bitcoin and the average person who hasn't," he said. His project itself builds upon that notion by adding more utility to the blockchain, thereby creating something everyone will want to hear about. "Where Ethereum comes from is basically you take the idea of crypto economics and the kinds of economic incentives that keeps things like bitcoin going to create decentralized networks with memory for a whole bunch of applications," he said. "A good blockchain application is something that needs decentralization and some kind of shared memory." That's what he's building and hopes others will build on the Ethereum network.

Right now the network is a bit too slow for most mainstream applications. "Bitcoin is processing a bit less than 3 transactions per second," he said. "Ethereum is doing five a second. Uber gives 12 rides a second. It will take a couple of years for the blockchain to replace Visa." Buterin doesn't think everything should run on the blockchain but many things can. As the technology expands it can grow to replace many services that require parallelization -- that is programs that should run at the same time.

Piracy

Can The Pirate Bay Replace Ads With A Bitcoin Miner? (betanews.com) 122

Mark Wilson writes: When it comes to the Pirate Bay, it's usually movie studios, music producers and software creators that get annoyed with the site — you know, copyright and all that. But in an interesting twist it is now users who find themselves irked by and disappointed in the most famous torrent site in the world.

So what's happened? Out of the blue, the Pirate Bay has added a Javascript-powered Bitcoin miner to the site. Nestling in the code of the site is an embedded cryptocurrency miner from Coinhive. Users who have noticed an increase in resource usage on their computers as a result of this are not happy.

TorrentFreak reports the miner is being tested for about 24 hours -- as a possible way to earn enough revenue to remove advertising from the site.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Plummets Below $3,000 on Rising China Worries (ft.com) 219

Bitcoin dropped below $3,000 on Friday as the cryptocurrency extended a brutal eight-day sell-off that has reduced its value against the dollar by a third. Financial Times reports: The currency traded as low as $2,972, marking a 36 per cent fall from bitcoin's close on September 7, and a collapse of 40 per cent from the highs struck earlier this month. The latest bout of selling came after BTCChina, one of the country's biggest bitcoin exchanges, said it would halt trading at the end of the month. Focus has now shifted to the communist country's other two big exchanges: OKCoin and Huobi. Alternative source.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Exchange BTCChina Says To Stop Trading, Sparking Further Slide (reuters.com) 70

Several Slashdot readers have shared this Reuters story: Chinese bitcoin exchange BTCChina said on Thursday that it would stop all trading from Sept. 30, setting off a further slide in the value of the cryptocurrency that left it over 30 percent away from the record highs it hit earlier in the month. China has boomed as a cryptocurrency trading location in recent years, as investors and speculators flocked to domestic exchanges that formerly allowed users to conduct trades for free, boosting demand. But that has prompted regulators in the country to crack down on the cryptocurrency sector, in a bid to stamp out potential financial risks as consumers pile into a highly risky and speculative market that has seen unprecedented growth this year. Just hours after BTCChina announced its closure, Chinese news outlet Yicai reported that the country plans to shut down all bitcoin exchanges by the end of September, citing financial sources in Shanghai.
Bitcoin

North Korea Is Dodging Sanctions With a Secret Bitcoin Stash (bloomberg.com) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: North Korea appears to be stepping up efforts to secure bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which could be used to avoid trade restrictions including new sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council. Hackers from Kim Jong Un's regime are increasing their attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea and related sites, according to a new report from security researcher FireEye Inc. They also breached an English-language bitcoin news website and collected bitcoin ransom payments from global victims of the malware WannaCry, according to the researcher. Kim's apparent interest in cryptocurrencies comes amid rising prices and popularity. The same factors that have driven their success -- lack of state control and secretiveness -- would make them useful fund raising and money laundering tools for a man threatening to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. With tightening sanctions and usage of cryptocurrencies broadening, security experts say North Korea's embrace of digital cash will only increase. The 15-member Security Council on Monday approved sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its latest missile and nuclear tests. U.S. officials said the new measures would cut the country's textile exports by 90 percent, restricting its ability to get hard currency.
China

Bitcoin Price Falls Again On Reports that China is Shutting Down Local Exchanges (cnbc.com) 115

China's clampdown on cryptocurrencies has reportedly taken a new direction -- to close down local bitcoin exchanges. From a report: Initial reports from Chinese media that the government plans to close down domestic cryptocurrency exchanges have seen the virtual coin shed more than $100 since Friday. Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal also reported Monday that that the country is planning to shut down digital currency exchanges. Bitcoin sunk to a low of $4,241 in late trading in the U.K. Friday, and reached a low of $4,108 on Monday, according to Coindesk data. It climbed to a record high of $5,000 dollars a little over a week ago, and has shot up by nearly 350 percent since the start of the year. The latest reported crackdown follows a decision by Chinese regulators -- including the People's Bank of China (PBOC) -- to ban initial coin offerings (ICOs). ICOs are a means of raising funds by selling off new digital tokens. A crackdown on ICOs would not affect the original cryptocurrency directly, but bitcoin still dropped more than $1,000 over a period of three days. China's latest move to shut down local exchanges would mark a new direction for the country in its efforts to regulate the market.
Security

Over 28 Million Records Stolen In Breach of Latin American Social Network Taringa (thehackernews.com) 16

Taringa, also known as "The Latin American Reddit," has been compromised in a massive data breach that has resulted in the leaked login credentials of almost all of its over 28 million users. The Hackers News reports: The Hacker News has been informed by LeakBase, a breach notification service, who has obtained a copy of the hacked database containing details on 28,722,877 accounts, which includes usernames, email addresses and hashed passwords for Taringa users. The hashed passwords use an ageing algorithm called MD5 -- which has been considered outdated even before 2012 -- that can easily be cracked, making Taringa users open to hackers. Wanna know how weak is MD5? LeakBase team has already cracked 93.79 percent (nearly 27 Million) of hashed passwords successfully within just a few days. The data breach reportedly occurred last month, and the company then alerted its users via a blog post: "It is likely that the attackers have made the database containing nicks, email addresses and encrypted passwords. No phone numbers and access credentials from other social networks have been compromised as well as addresses of bitcoin wallets from the Taringa program! Creators." the post (translated) says. "At the moment there is no concrete evidence that the attackers continue to have access to the Taringa code! and our team continues to monitor unusual movements in our infrastructure."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Prices Surge Past $5,000 Three Weeks After Passing $4,000 (fortune.com) 179

Less than three weeks after surging past $4,000, Bitcoin reached $5,000 on Asian exchanges Friday. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: The idea of Bitcoin breaking the symbolic milestone of $5,000 would have been unthinkable to most people at the start 2017, when the price topped $1,000 for the first time. If you're keeping track, the digital currency is up 500% this year, and nearly 2200% since mid-2015, when it was in the doldrums at around $220. There appears to be no single reason for the recent run-up. Instead, it can likely be explained by the same factors driving this year's cryptocurrency bull run: Publicity-driven speculation; New financial products creating unprecedented liquidity; Trading surges in Asian markets; Institutional investors treating digital currency as a permanent new asset class.
"Magical Internet Money Hits $5k" writes Bitcoin News, adding "so far in 2017 bitcoin has outperformed all government issued tender and a vast majority of stocks and commodities."

While the head of the Bitcoin Foundation has urged people to invest "no more than they can afford," Bitcoin now has a market capitalization of $82.6 billion.
Bitcoin

Nearly 3,000 Bitcoin Miners Exposed Online Via Telnet Ports, Without Passwords (bleepingcomputer.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Dutch security researcher Victor Gevers has discovered 2,893 Bitcoin miners left exposed on the internet with no passwords on their Telnet port. Gevers told Bleeping Computer in a private conversation that all miners process Bitcoin transactions in the same mining pool and appear to belong to the same organization. "The owner of these devices is most likely a state sponsored/controlled organization part of the Chinese government, " Gevers says, basing his claims on information found on the exposed miners and IP addresses assigned to each device. "At the speed they were taken offline, it means there must be serious money involved," Gevers added. "A few miners is not a big deal, but 2,893 [miners] working in a pool can generate a pretty sum." According to a Twitter user, the entire network of 2,893 miners Gevers discovered could generate an income of just over $1 million per day, if mining Litecoin.
Bitcoin

Litecoin Prices Surge Above $70 As Crypto Market Tops $175 Billion (coindesk.com) 67

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CoinDesk: The cryptocurrency markets continued to rise today as the asset class observed strong gains, including most notably, perhaps, litecoin. The digital asset once dubbed "the silver to bitcoin's gold" passed $78 to achieve a new all-time high at 06:54 UTC this morning, according to CoinMarketCap data. Standing at $75.57 at press time, litecoin has increased by 17.28 percent over the past 24 hours and an astonishing 49.37 percent over the last week. Long in the doldrums, litecoin has seen a resurgence since its community moved to activate Segregated Witness (SegWit) on its network early in May -- a scaling solution that also opens the door to new features such as smart contracts going forward. Taking a wider view, the combined market capitalization of all digital currencies attained a new record high today, and had passed $175 billion at press time. That's up from $170.8 billion just yesterday, also going by data from CoinMarketCap.
Businesses

Central Banks Can't Ignore the Cryptocurrency Boom (bloomberg.com) 165

The boom in cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology is becoming too big for central banks, long the guardian of official money, to ignore. From a report: Until recently, officials at major central banks were happy to watch as pioneers in the field progressed by trial and error, safe in the knowledge that it was dwarfed by roughly $5 trillion circulating daily in conventional currency markets. But now as officials turn an eye toward the increasingly pervasive technology, the risk is that they're reacting too late to both the pitfalls and the opportunities presented by digital coinage. "Central banks cannot afford to treat cyber currencies as toys to play with in a sand box," said Andrew Sheng, chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission and Distinguished Fellow of the Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong. "It is time to realize that they are the real barbarians at the gate." Bitcoin -- the largest and best-known digital currency -- and its peers pose a threat to the established money system by effectively circumventing it. Money as we know it depends on the authority of the state for credibility, with central banks typically managing its price and/or quantity. Cryptocurrencies skirt all that and instead rely on their supposedly unhackable technology to guarantee value.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Foundation Boss Urges Cautious Investment (bbc.com) 59

The head of the Bitcoin Foundation, Llew Claasen, has urged people to invest "no more than they can afford" in the crypto-currency. From a report: He was speaking at the TEDGlobal conference in Tanzania about the potential for Bitcoin in Africa. Billions lack access to formal banking, but the uptake of mobile money means many are willing to embrace alternatives. Bitcoin had been adopted in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, he said. The digital currency had particular resonance in countries with volatile economies, he said. "It offers people a chance to protect their savings from government abuse of monetary policy. A lot of people in Zimbabwe are interested in it as an alternative financial system, but that is not an easy thing to do formally as we don't want to be perceived as wanting to disrupt economies," he told the BBC. The Washington-based Bitcoin Foundation is a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of Bitcoin around the world.
Bitcoin

How the NSA Identified Satoshi Nakamoto (medium.com) 427

An anonymous reader shares a report: The 'creator' of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the world's most elusive billionaire. Very few people outside of the Department of Homeland Security know Satoshi's real name. In fact, DHS will not publicly confirm that even THEY know the billionaire's identity. Satoshi has taken great care to keep his identity secret employing the latest encryption and obfuscation methods in his communications. Despite these efforts (according to my source at the DHS) Satoshi Nakamoto gave investigators the only tool they needed to find him -- his own words. Using stylometry one is able to compare texts to determine authorship of a particular work. Throughout the years Satoshi wrote thousands of posts and emails and most of which are publicly available. According to my source, the NSA was able to the use the 'writer invariant' method of stylometry to compare Satoshi's 'known' writings with trillions of writing samples from people across the globe. By taking Satoshi's texts and finding the 50 most common words, the NSA was able to break down his text into 5,000 word chunks and analyse each to find the frequency of those 50 words. This would result in a unique 50-number identifier for each chunk. The NSA then placed each of these numbers into a 50-dimensional space and flatten them into a plane using principal components analysis. The result is a 'fingerprint' for anything written by Satoshi that could easily be compared to any other writing. The NSA then took bulk emails and texts collected from their mass surveillance efforts. First through PRISM and then through MUSCULAR, the NSA was able to place trillions of writings from more than a billion people in the same plane as Satoshi's writings to find his true identity. The effort took less than a month and resulted in positive match.
The Almighty Buck

Burger King Now Has Its Own Cryptocurrency - the 'Whoppercoin' - in Russia (fortune.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:According to New York Magazine (via local Russian news reports), the Russian subdivision of Burger King has launched its own cryptocurrency, aptly called "Whoppercoin"... For each Whopper burger customers purchase, they'll receive one Whoppercoin in a special cryptocurrency wallet. While the coins' wider use is unclear, some reports suggest that the Whoppercoin will be accepted as payment at Burger Kings across Russia... Burger King has reportedly issued one billion Whoppercoin tokens to date on Waves Platform, though it is possible that there will be more to come.
Burger King Russia is now also reportedly accepting bitcoin as a form of payment.
Bitcoin

IRS Now Has a Tool To Unmask Bitcoin Tax Evaders (thedailybeast.com) 210

SonicSpike shares a report from The Daily Beast: You can use bitcoin. But you can't hide from the taxman. At least, that's the hope of the Internal Revenue Service, which has purchased specialist software to track those using bitcoin, according to a contract obtained by The Daily Beast. The document highlights how law enforcement isn't only concerned with criminals accumulating bitcoin from selling drugs or hacking targets, but also those who use the currency to hide wealth or avoid paying taxes. The IRS has claimed that only 802 people declared bitcoin losses or profits in 2015; clearly fewer than the actual number of people trading the cryptocurrency -- especially as more investors dip into the world of cryptocurrencies, and the value of bitcoin punches past the $4,000 mark. Maybe lots of bitcoin traders didn't realize the government expects to collect tax on their digital earnings, or perhaps some thought they'd be able to get away with stockpiling bitcoin thanks to the perception that the cryptocurrency is largely anonymous.

"The purpose of this acquisition is to help us trace the movement of money through the bitcoin economy," a section of the contract reads. The Daily Beast obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act. The contractor in this case is Chainalysis, a startup offering its "Reactor" tool to visualize, track, and analyze bitcoin transactions. Chainalysis' users include law enforcement agencies, banks, and regulatory entities. The software can follow bitcoin as it moves from one wallet to another, and eventually to an exchange where the bitcoin user will likely cash out into dollars or another currency. This is the point law enforcement could issue a subpoena to the exchange and figure out who is really behind the bitcoin.

Bitcoin

Here's Why People Don't Buy Things With Bitcoin (vice.com) 376

An anonymous reader shares a report: One reason for this, if you live in Toronto like me (or anywhere else for that matter), is that there's basically nowhere to spend digital coins in the real world. Coinmap, a service that maps bitcoin-accepting locations all over the world, shows a few places that accept bitcoin in Toronto, but it's clearly out of date -- I called several businesses listed on the site and they had no idea what bitcoin even is. A bigger problem is perfectly illustrated in a Reddit post from Wednesday morning complaining that a bitcoin transaction worth just $9 still hasn't gone through the network after two days of waiting. Two. Days. The likely reason is that the fee attached to the transaction in order to incentivize faster confirmation -- 50 cents, which is about as much of a premium as I'd pay for a $9 transaction -- simply wasn't enough. "Should I have paid $3 on a $9 transfer to get it processed?" the person wrote.

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