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Bitcoin

There's Some Intense Web Scans Going on for Bitcoin and Ethereum Wallets (bleepingcomputer.com) 32

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: With both Bitcoin and Ethereum price hitting all-time highs in the past seven days, cyber-criminals have stepped up efforts to search and steal funds stored in these two cryptocurrencies. These mass Internet scanning campaigns have been recently picked up by various honeypots installed by security researchers across the Internet. The first of these, aimed at Bitcoin owners, was picked up by security researcher Didier Stevens over the weekend, just two days before Bitcoin was about to jump from $7,000 to over $8,000.
Bitcoin

We'll Never Legalize Bitcoin, Says Russian Minister (siliconangle.com) 55

An anonymous reader shares a report: In yet another backflip worthy of the Moscow Circus, a Russian minister has said that the country will never legalize bitcoin, just seven months after another government minister said it was considering making it legal. Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolai Nikiforov made the statement this week, saying that "bitcoin is a foreign project for using blockchain technology, the Russian law will never consider bitcoin as a legal entity in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation." Recognizing that blockchain technology is separate to bitcoin, Nikiforov went on to say that "I think that it is quite possible to use blockchain technology and the use of various digital tokens." Those tokens may constitute a Russian-issued cryptocurrency. TASS reported that "Russia's Communication Ministry has submitted to the government the document containing technical details related to cryptocurrencies adoption."
Bitcoin

$31 Million In Tokens Stolen From Dollar-Pegged Cryptocurrency Tether 59

Mark Wilson shares a report from BetaNews: All eyes may be on the meteoric rise of Bitcoin at the moment, but it's far from being the only cryptocurrency on the block. Startup Tether issued a critical announcement after it was discovered that "malicious action by an external attacker" had led to the theft of nearly $31 million worth of tokens. Tether is a dollar-pegged cryptocurrency formerly known as Realcoin, and it says that $30,950,010 was stolen from a treasury wallet. The company says it is doing what it can to ensure exchanges do not process these tokens, including temporarily suspending its backend wallet service. Tether knows the address used by the attacker to make the theft, but is not aware of either who the attacker is, or how the attack took place. The company is releasing a new version of its Omni Core software client in what it says is "effectively a temporary hard fork to the Omni Layer."
Security

Sacramento Regional Transit Systems Hit By Hacker (cbslocal.com) 35

Zorro shares a report from CBS Local: Sacramento Regional Transit is the one being taken for a ride on this night, by a computer hacker. That hacker forced RT to halt its operating systems that take credit card payments, and assigns buses and trains to their routes. The local transit agency alerted federal agents following an attack on their computers that riders may not have noticed Monday. "We actually had the hackers get into our system, and systematically start erasing programs and data," Deputy General Manager Mark Lonergan. Inside RT's headquarters, computer systems were taken down after the hacker deleted 30 million files. The hacker also demanded a ransom in bitcoin, and left a message on the RT website reading "I'm sorry to modify the home page, I'm good hacker, I just want to help you fix these vulnerability."
Security

Iranian 'Game of Thrones' Hacker Demanded $6 Million Bitcoin Ransom From HBO, Feds Say (thedailybeast.com) 33

Anonymous readers share a report: The Department of Justice on Tuesday charged an Iranian national with allegedly hacking into HBO, dumping a selection stolen files, and attempting to extort the company by ransoming a treasure trove of the company's content. This summer, hackers released a bevy of internal HBO files, included scripts for Game of Thrones and full, unaired episodes of other shows. Behzad Mesri, aka "Skote Vahshat," at one point worked for the Iranian military to break into military and nuclear systems, as well as Israeli infrastructure, according to the newly released complaint. Under his Vahshat pseudonym, Mesri also defaced hundreds of websites in the U.S. and around the world, the complaint adds. Mesri started his hacking campaign in around May 2017, according to the complaint, probing HBO's systems and employees for weaknesses. Mesri managed to compromise multiple HBO employee accounts as well as other authorized users; from here, he allegedly stole confidential and proprietary information. These included unaired episodes of Ballers, Barry, Room 104, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Deuce, as well as scripts for Game of Thrones. Indeed, the hacker behind the HBO breach publicly dumped much of this material online this summer.
Bitcoin

An Ethereum Startup Just Vanished After People Invested $374K (vice.com) 190

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A startup on the Ethereum platform vanished from the internet on Sunday after raising $374,000 USD from investors in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraiser. Confido is a startup that pitched itself as a blockchain-based app for making payments and tracking shipments. It sold digital tokens to investors over the Ethereum blockchain in an ICO that ran from November 6 to 8. During the token sale, Confido sold people bespoke digital tokens that represent their investment in exchange for ether, Ethereum's digital currency. But on Sunday, the company unceremoniously deleted its Twitter account and took down its website. A company representative posted a brief comment to the company's now-private subforum on Reddit, citing legal problems that prevent the Confido team from continuing their work. The same message was also posted to Medium but quickly deleted.

"Right now, we are in a tight spot, as we are having legal trouble caused by a contract we signed," the message stated (a cached version of the Medium post is viewable). "It is likely that we will be able to find a solution to rectify the situation. However, we cannot assure you with 100% certainty that we will get through this." The message was apparently written by Confido's founder, one Joost van Doorn, who seems to have no internet presence besides a now-removed LinkedIn profile. Even the Confido representative on Reddit doesn't seem to know what's going on, though, posting hours after the initial message, "Look I have absolutely no idea what has happened here. The removal of all of our social media platforms and website has come as a complete surprise to me." Confido tokens had a market cap of $10 million last week, before the company disappeared, but now the tokens are worthless. And investors are crying foul.

The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin Prices Surge 26% in November, Pass $8000 (bloomberg.com) 209

Bitcoin's value has increased more than 26% in less than three weeks, writes Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report: Bitcoin topped $8,000 for the first time, as investors set aside technology concerns that had derailed its advance earlier this month. Bitcoin rose 4.8 percent to $8,071.05 as of 7:17 a.m. Sydney time on Monday. It's now up more than 700 percent this year after shrugging off a tumble of as much as 29 percent earlier this month. It's been a tumultuous year for the largest cryptocurrency, with three separate slumps of more than 25 percent in value all giving way to subsequent rallies.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Gold, the Latest Bitcoin Fork, Explained (arstechnica.com) 96

Timothy B. Lee via Ars Technica explains Bitcoin Gold: A new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Gold is now live on the Internet. It aims to correct what its backers see as a serious flaw in the design of the original Bitcoin. There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies on the Internet, and many of them are derived from Bitcoin in one way or another. But Bitcoin Gold -- like Bitcoin Cash, another Bitcoin spinoff that was created in August -- is different in two important ways. Bitcoin Gold is branding itself as a version of Bitcoin rather than merely new platforms derived from Bitcoin's source code. It has also chosen to retain Bitcoin's transaction history, which means that, if you owned bitcoins before the fork, you now own an equal amount of "gold" bitcoins. While Bitcoin Cash was designed to resolve Bitcoin's capacity crunch with larger blocks, Bitcoin Gold aims to tackle another of Bitcoin's perceived flaws: the increasing centralization of the mining industry that verifies and secures Bitcoin transactions.

The original vision for Bitcoin was that anyone would be able to participate in Bitcoin mining with their personal PCs, earning a bit of extra cash as they helped to support the network. But as Bitcoin became more valuable, people discovered that Bitcoin mining could be done much more efficiently with custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). As a result, Bitcoin mining became a specialized and highly concentrated industry. The leading companies in this new industry wield a disproportionate amount of power over the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin Gold aims to dethrone these mining companies by introducing an alternative mining algorithm that's much less susceptible to ASIC-based optimization. In theory, that will allow ordinary Bitcoin Gold users to earn extra cash with their spare computing cycles, just as people could do in the early days of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin

One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses As Much Energy As Your House In a Week (vice.com) 227

Long-time Slashdot reader SlaveToTheGrind quotes Motherboard: Bitcoin's incredible price run to break over $7,000 this year has sent its overall electricity consumption soaring, as people worldwide bring more energy-hungry computers online to mine the digital currency. An index from cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, aka Digiconomist, estimates that with prices the way they are now, it would be profitable for Bitcoin miners to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic puzzles to "mine" more Bitcoins. That's about as much as Nigeria, a country of 186 million people, uses in a year.

This averages out to a shocking 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of juice used by miners for each Bitcoin transaction (there are currently about 300,000 transactions per day). Since the average American household consumes 901 KWh per month, each Bitcoin transfer represents enough energy to run a comfortable house, and everything in it, for nearly a week.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin Drops Over $1,000 In Value Over 48 Hours (reuters.com) 107

sqorbit writes: Bitcoin dropped below $7,000 after hitting an all-time high. After the so-called "fork" was suspended, Bitcoin reached a peak of $7,888 around 1800 GMT on Wednesday before dropping down below $7,000. Some investors appear to be selling in order to buy "Bitcoin Cash" which was a split on August 1st. Bitcoin Cash reached $850.
Bitcoin

The Bitcoin Bubble (economist.com) 284

A reader shares an Economist article: More people will trade in Bitcoin and that means more demand, and thus the price should go up. But what is the appeal of Bitcoin? There are really three strands; the limited nature of supply; fears about the long-term value of fiat currencies in an era of quantitative easing; and the appeal of anonymity. The last factor makes Bitcoin appealing to criminals creating this ingenious valuation method for the currency of around $570. These three factors explain why there is some demand for Bitcoin but not the recent surge. The supply details have if anything deteriorated (rival cryptocurrencies are emerging); the criminal community hasn't suddenly risen in size; and there is no sign of general inflation. A possible explanation is the belief that blockchain, the technology that underlines Bitcoin, will be used across the finance industry. But you can create blockchains without having anything to do with Bitcoin; the success of the two aren't inextricably linked. A much more plausible reason for the demand for Bitcoin is that the price is going up rapidly. People are not buying Bitcoin because they intend to use it in their daily lives (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). People are buying Bitcoin because they expect other people to buy it from them at a higher price; the definition of the greater fool theory.
Bitcoin

Nearly a Third of Millennials Say They'd Rather Own Bitcoin Than Stocks (bloomberg.com) 312

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A survey by venture capital firm Blockchain Capital found that about 30 percent of those in the 18-to-34 age range would rather own $1,000 worth of Bitcoin than $1,000 of government bonds or stocks. The study of more than 2,000 people found that 42 percent of millennials are at least somewhat familiar with bitcoin, compared with 15 percent among those ages 65 and up. Bitcoin rose more than 6 percent Wednesday to as much as $7,545, helping to push the value of the total cryptocurrency market above $200 billion for the first time, according to CoinMarketcap. The digital asset has soared more than 600 percent this year, compared with gains of 15 percent for the S&P 500 Index -- which might explain millennials' attraction.
Bitcoin

2x Called Off: Bitcoin Hard Fork Suspended for Lack of Consensus (coindesk.com) 50

Alyssa Hertig, writing for CoinDesk: The organizers of a controversial bitcoin scaling proposal are suspending an attempt to increase the block size by way of a software upgrade. Known for its strong early support from bitcoin startups and mining pools, the plan, called Segwit2x, or simply 2x, was to trigger a block size increase at block 494784, expected to occur on or around November 16th. The suspension was announced today in an email, written by Mike Belshe, CEO and co-founder of bitcoin wallet software provider BitGo. One of the leaders of the Segwit2x project, he argued that the scaling proposal is too controversial to move forward. He wrote: "Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin's growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Mining Heats Home For Free In Siberia (qz.com) 106

Quartz has published a video on YouTube about two entrepreneurs who have figured out how to heat their homes for free by mining bitcoin. The "miner" -- that is, the machine mining the bitcoins -- warms up liquid that is then transferred to the underfloor heating system. The cottage has two miners, which bring in about $430 per month from processing bitcoin transactions -- all while keeping the 20 square meter space warm.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Among the Fastest-Growing Skills Online (bloomberg.com) 80

As cryptocurrencies explode in popularity, employers are clamoring for workers with expertise in the emerging field. From a report: Demand for online freelancers who specialize in blockchain and bitcoin-related work surged last quarter, according to data compiled by Upwork, a website that connects freelancers with employers. The two skills were respectively the second and third fastest-growing skills on Upwork's platform. With the price of bitcoin having surged more than 500 percent this year, companies are rushing in to capitalize on the boom. Other skills in Upwork's list of fastest-growing skills include robotics (No. 1), as well as a cybersecurity specialty called penetration testing (No. 4) and a subfield in artificial intelligence called deep learning (No. 8).
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Smashes Past $7,000 For the First Time (cnbc.com) 144

A reader shares a report: Bitcoin hit another all-time high Thursday morning, surpassing $7,000 for the first time. The cryptocurrency has had a bullish streak throughout the week following the CME's announcement that it will introduce bitcoin futures contracts. According to data from CoinDesk, the virtual currency reached an all-time high of $7,242.69 at about 7:08 a.m. ET. The jump in price saw the virtual coin rise by more than 7 percent on the day. A surge in the digital coin's value saw the total market value of all cryptocurrencies top $189 billion for the first time Thursday. The market cap of bitcoin alone is currently more than $121 billion, according to data from industry website Coinmarketcap.
Bitcoin

Samsung Made a Bitcoin Mining Rig Out of 40 Old Galaxy S5s (vice.com) 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Samsung is starting a new "Upcycling" initiative that is designed to turn old smartphones and turn them into something brand new. Behold, for example, this bitcoin mining rig, made out of 40 old Galaxy S5 devices, which runs on a new operating system Samsung has developed for its upcycling initiative. Samsung premiered this rig, and a bunch of other cool uses for old phones, at its recent developer's conference in San Francisco. Upcycling involves repurposing old devices instead of breaking them down for parts of reselling them. The people at Samsung's C-Lab -- an engineering team dedicated to creative projects -- showed off old Galaxy phones and assorted tablets stripped of Android software and repurposed into a variety of different objects. The team hooked 40 old Galaxy S5's together to make a bitcoin mining rig, repurposed an old Galaxy tablet into a ubuntu-powered laptop, used a Galaxy S3 to monitor a fishtank, and programed an old phone with facial recognition software to guard the entrance of a house in the form of an owl. Samsung declined to answer specific questions about the bitcoin mining rig, but an information sheet at the developer's conference noted that eight galaxy S5 devices can mine at a greater power efficiency than a standard desktop computer (not that too many people are mining bitcoin on their desktops these days).
The Almighty Buck

North Korea Could Be Secretly Mining Cryptocurrency On Your Computer (qz.com) 102

An anonymous reader shares a report: North Korea has a cryptocurrency infatuation. Its government has been accused of unleashing a global ransomware attack to raise bitcoin, mining the cryptocurrency within its borders, and hacking South Korean bitcoin exchanges. Now, research firm Recorded Future says there's a strong chance Kim Jong-un's regime is experimenting with malware that secretly mines currency using other people's computers. Malware crypto-mining is a new global trend among hackers, says a new report from Recorded Future, which monitors discussions among "the criminal underground" on the so-called dark web. Starting this year, hackers seem to be shifting away from high-intensity, widespread ransomware attacks, towards "long-term, low velocity" crypto-mining in the background. Recorded Future has not detected specific instances of North Korean malware mining, but believes that the regime has the knowhow, motive, and interest in cryptocurrencies to execute similar attacks. "North Korean threat actors have prior experience in assembling and managing botnets, bitcoin mining, and cryptocurrency theft, as well as in custom altering publicly available malware; three elements that would be key to effectively creating and managing a network of covert cryptocurrency miners," Recorded Future's report reads.
Bitcoin

TV News 'Hack' Sees Bitcoins Swiped (bbc.com) 33

Two French hackers used their computer skills to reconstruct a blurred-out code on TV and claim bitcoins worth $1,000. From a report: Michel Sassano and Clement Storck had seen an interview with entrepreneur Roger Ver on French television. Mr Ver had offered $1,000 to viewers - but a QR code needed to claim the money had been blurred out. The duo analysed a small part of the code that was visible, however, and managed to access the funds. When the France 2 channel broadcast its interview with Mr Ver earlier this month, he promised the money -- just over three bitcoin cash coins, worth $1,000 -- to whichever viewer was quickest to scan an on-screen QR code. However, the code had been blurred out by France 2 -- Mr Sassano believes this is because of French broadcasting regulations that prevent news programmes from giving away prizes. "The process to decode the private key from the moment we watched the show to when we entered it in the wallet took, I think, between 12 and 16 hours," Mr Sassano told the BBC.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Pioneer Says New Coin To Work on Many Blockchains (bloomberg.com) 65

A reader shares a Bloomberg report: Jeff Garzik, one of a handful of key developers who helped build the underlying software for bitcoin that is known as blockchain, has seen its shortcomings firsthand. So he decided to create a better digital currency. He's calling it Metronome and says it will be the first that can jump between different blockchains. For example, coins that are used for applications on the Ethereum blockchain will be able to move to Ethereum Classic before jumping onto Qtum or Rootstock, which connects with the bitcoin blockchain, said Garzik. The mobility means that if one blockchain dies out as the result of infighting among developers or slackened use, metronome owners can move their holdings elsewhere. That should help the coins retain value, and ensure their longevity, Garzik, co-founder of startup Bloq that created metronome, said in a phone interview. It will be unveiled Tuesday at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas. "Institutional investors should be very excited to see something like this," Matthew Roszak, the other co-founder of Bloq and chairman of industry advocate Chamber of Digital Commerce, said in a phone interview. "We've built a thousand-year cryptocurrency, something that's built to last." That's a concern for many digital currencies. Infighting among developers and various supporters, and the slow pace of enhancements on the bitcoin blockchain have helped to limit use. Both bitcoin and its main rival, ethereum, have split into several versions.

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