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  1. Bitcoin just ended its worst-performing month in seven years in terms of month-over-month price declines. The world’s largest cryptocurrency began November at an average price across exchanges of $6,341, but as of 0:00 UTC on December 1 is trading at just $3,964, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index. As it stands, the near $2,400 drop in bitcoin’s price has created a -37.4 percent monthly performance, which is its worst on record since August 2011, when it fell from roughly $8 to $4.80 to print a -40 percent monthly loss, according to data from the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). Since bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization by a considerable margin, now comprising 53.5 percent of the total market, all other cryptocurrencies tend to follow its lead when it comes to price performance. As a result, the broader market suffered substantial losses in November, with just one of the world’s largest 25 cryptocurrencies able to post a monthly gain. The outlier was bitcoin SV, a fork off of the original bitcoin cash blockchain, yet it has only existed long enough to accrue 22 days of pricing data on CoinMarketCap. As can be seen in the above graph, double-digits losses were common among the world’s largest cryptocurrencies in November. Tezos (XTZ) was the worst performer of the month, reflecting a 61.5 percent loss with bitcoin cash (BCH) just 3 percent behind. What’s more, the average performance of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization was -30 percent, while the average performance of all 25 was -37 percent. Market Cap Monthly Chart Since market capitalization is a function of the price of a cryptocurrency multiplied by its circulating supply, the capitalization of the total market takes a hit whenever prices experience a steep drop. At the beginning of November, the total market capitalization recorded a value of $203 billion, yet today that figure records $130 billion, a 35 percent loss. The total capitalization of the cryptocurrency market has now lost over $690 billion and 83 percent of its value since reaching its all time high north of $820 billion this past January, according to CoinMarketCap. Source
  2. Richard Stallman, the fervently committed founder of the free software movement, is discussing the term “libertarian,” when he stops talking abruptly and says, “Hello?” I tell him I’m still listening, but he explains that the confused greeting wasn’t intended for me. Instead, he says a man’s voice – neither mine nor an echo of his – had just cut in with one word: “liberty.” “Does that sort of thing happen a lot?” I ask. I hadn’t heard anything. “Yes,” he says. “It wasn’t a voice I recognize.” He added, “It could be … ” Then a quick burst of static made his next words inaudible. It was a strange incident, but apparently not a new experience for Stallman, whose emails urge any NSA or FBI agents reading to “follow Snowden’s example” and blow the whistle. Stallman seems to check all of the old school cypherpunk boxes: in addition to being an Edward Snowden admirer, he’s a hacker of the original ’70s and ’80s generation, a privacy activist, and a frequent invoker of liberty. As a result, cryptocurrency enthusiasts could be forgiven for thinking Stallman was also head-over-heels for bitcoin. He’s not. Before his oration on libertarianism was interrupted, he said that the right-wingers who made up a significant portion of bitcoin’s early adopters don’t really deserve the label. His own pro-freedom views are more “libertarian” than bitcoiners’ “anti-socialism,” he argued. As we spoke, it became clear that Stallman doesn’t find the decade-old technology all that appealing, for more reasons than just politics. “I have never used it myself,” he told CoinDesk. If that’s surprising, keep in mind that fine distinctions matter a great deal to Stallman. For example, he wrote a 9,000-word explainer on the difference between the terms GNU and Linux. In 40-ish words: GNU, which Stallman proposed in 1983, is an operating system using exclusively free software. Linux, created years later by Linus Torvalds, is a kernel. Many refer to packages combining the two as “Linux,” but Stallman insists that the proper term is GNU/Linux or just GNU. He also wrote 3,000 words on the differences between free software and open source software. Advocates of both push for the freedom to use, study, change and redistribute software, but Stallman said that those similarities conceal “a deeply important moral disagreement” centered on freedom and human rights, which the free software movement stresses. The GNU Project, which Stallman founded, is working on an alternative digital payments system called Taler, which is based on cryptography but is not – forgive the hair-splitting – a cryptocurrency. The Taler project’s maintainer Christian Grothoff told CoinDesk that the system is, rather, designed for a “post-blockchain” world. Concerned with privacy… It doesn’t even seem like the technology has been around long enough to already be thinking of a world after it, but to Stallman, bitcoin isn’t suitable as a digital payment system. His biggest complaint: bitcoin’s poor privacy protections. He told CoinDesk, “What I’d really like is a way to make purchases anonymously from various kinds of stores, and unfortunately it wouldn’t be feasible for me with bitcoin.” Using a crypto exchange would allow that company and ultimately the government to identify him, he said. And as for mining the bitcoin himself, it’s a big investment and besides, he continued, “I’ve got other things I’d rather do.” Asked what he thought about so-called privacy coins, Stallman said he’d gotten an expert to assess their potential, and “for each one he would point out some serious problems, perhaps in its security or its scalability.” And speaking broadly, Stallman continued: …But not ‘perfect’ privacy That pessimism aside, the GNU Project’s Taler does share some aspects with cryptocurrency projects – most notably it aims to fill the same niche. Start with Taler’s intellectual lineage. It’s based on blind signatures, a cryptographic technique invented by David Chaum, whose DigiCash was among the first attempts at creating secure electronic money. Plus, Taler’s attempt to create a digital money that resists surveillance by governments and payments companies aligns it with many cryptocurrency projects. Yet, Taler does not attempt to bypass centralized authority. Payments are processed by openly centralized “exchanges” rather than peer-to-peer networks of miners because, Grothoff said, such a system “would again enable dangerous, money laundering kind of practice.” Indeed, in a break with the anti-government ethos that has tended to characterize bitcoin and some of its peers, Taler’s design explicitly tries to block opportunities for tax evasion. Speaking to this, Stallman told CoinDesk, “We need a state to do many vital jobs, including fund research, fund education, provide people with medical care – provide everyone with medical care – build roads, maintain order, provide justice, including to those who are not rich and powerful, and so the state’s got to bring in a lot of money.” What a break from the political leanings of many of bitcoin’s first adherents. Stallman continued: Privacy in the Taler system, then, is limited to users spending their digital cash. They are shielded from surveillance because, Grothoff said, “the exchange, when coins are being redeemed, cannot tell if it was customer A or customer B or customer C who received the coin, because they all look identical from the exchange.” “Nobody,” he added, “exactly knows who has how many tokens.” Merchants (or anyone) receiving payments, on the other hand, do so visibly and in the open, making it possible for governments to assess taxes on their income – not to mention harder for the recipients to participate in money laundering. A place for crypto? While Taler is not a cryptocurrency and doesn’t have a native asset (there are no talers or TalerCoins), as a new payment rail for existing assets, the system could support cryptocurrency at some point. Just as euros (the first currency that will be supported by the system), dollars and yen could all be sent using Taler, so could bitcoin. Similarly, while Taler is not a blockchain, a blockchain-based system could take the place of a bank within the system. For users to be able to move euros into the Taler wallet, though, Taler exchanges will need to interact with the traditional banking system to withdraw that money. In this same way, a blockchain-based system could work with Taler exchanges to allow users to get access to their cryptocurrency. Grothoff compared the act of moving bank deposits to a Taler digital wallet to taking cash out of an ATM. Coins in the wallet are stored locally on a user’s device, and if a user loses the key to their wallet, there’s nothing that can be done to recover it, much like the crypto space’s use of private/public key pairs. Currently, Taler is in talks with European banks to allow withdrawal into the Taler wallet and also re-deposit from the Taler system back into the traditional banking system. While the launch date on the project’s website still lists 2018, Grothoff said, it’s dependent of how quickly discussions with banks can be wrapped up. And he said, “The banks are not necessarily easy or cheap to deal with.” Although, nothing about the traditional banking system per se is essential to Taler’s functioning (except perhaps for regulatory compliance). In principle, the “register-based system” that Taler plugs into could be a bank account or, in theory, a blockchain, said Grothoff. If Taler gains traction, developers can experiment with different implementations and integrations – using banks or blockchains or whatever other register system they prefer. After all, Grothoff said: Source
  3. Bitcoin tops $40,000 for first time, pushing cryptocurrency market value past $1 trillion KEY POINTS Bitcoin smashed through $40,000 to hit a new record high on Thursday as the cryptocurrency’s massive rally continues. Bitcoin’s resurgence has been attributed to a number of factors including more buying from large institutional investors. Bitcoin smashed through $40,000 to hit a new record high on Thursday helping to lift the total value of the entire cryptocurrency market above $1 trillion for the first time. The digital coin hit an all-time high of $40,188 at around 1:15 p.m. ET, just a few hours after blowing past the $39,000 level, according to data from Coin Metrics. Bitcoin was 13.1% higher from a day earlier. The cryptocurrency is up over 30% since the start of 2021 and in the past 12 months has surged 400%. Social Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiya thinks the digital currency has a long runway ahead even after its massive rally. “It’s probably going to $100,000, then $150,000, then $200,000,” Palihapitiya told CNBC’s “Halftime Report.” “In what period? I don’t know. [Maybe] five or 10 years, but it’s going there.” “The reason [it’s going there] is because, every time you see all of this stuff happening, it reminds you that our leaders are not as trustworthy and reliable as they used to be,” he said. “So, just in case, we really do need to have some insurance we can keep under our pillow that gives us some access to an uncorrelated hedge.” The value of the entire cryptocurrency market, which is made up of bitcoin and other digital coins like ether and tether, surpassed $1 trillion for the first time earlier on Thursday, according to data from Coinmarketcap. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency, with a market value of over $700 billion. Bitcoin’s resurgence has been attributed to a number of factors including more buying from large institutional investors. High-profile investors like Paul Tudor Jones, for example, have been buying the digital currency. Many bitcoin bulls say the cryptocurrency is akin to “digital gold,” a potential safe haven asset and a hedge against inflation. In a recent research note, JPMorgan said bitcoin could hit $146,000 in the long term as it competes with gold as an “alternative” currency. The investment bank’s strategists noted that bitcoin would have to become substantially less volatile to reach this price, however. Bitcoin is known for wild price swings. The idea of bitcoin as a hedge against inflation has continued to gain steam as governments around the world embark on large-scale fiscal stimulus programs. Analysts argue this could cause a spike in inflation. “This latest bull run in January is sure to attract the asset managers’ attention to diversify even more of their assets to crypto as they are keen on finding alternative investments, such as cryptocurrency or gold, to hedge inflation and geopolitical risks,” Simons Chen, executive director of investment and trading at cryptocurrency financial services firm Babel Finance, told CNBC. “A large number of retail investors have also joined the race recently as they fear to miss out on opportunities to make easy, quick gain from the latest bull run,” he added. Bitcoin’s rise has also been helped by moves in the space from big financial firms like PayPal and Fidelity. PayPal last year launched a feature that lets its users invest in cryptocurrencies, and is planning to offer crypto payments across its massive network of retailers later this year. Source: Bitcoin tops $40,000 for first time, pushing cryptocurrency market value past $1 trillion
  4. Some of the brightest minds in America are pooling their brain power to create a cryptocurrency that’s designed to do what Bitcoin has proved incapable of: processing thousands of transactions a second. Professors from seven U.S. colleges including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley have teamed up to create a digital currency that they hope can achieve speeds Bitcoin users can only dream of without compromising on its core tenant of decentralization. The Unit-e, as the virtual currency is called, is the first initiative of Distributed Technology Research, a non-profit foundation formed by the academics with backing from hedge fund Pantera Capital Management LP to develop decentralized technologies. Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and the first payment network to allow parties to transact directly without needing to trust each another or to rely on a central authority. Yet, while it has built a following among developers, anarchists and speculators, mainstream adoption remains elusive. That’s in no small part the product of its design, where inbuilt restrictions have constrained its performance and scalability and, as a result, reduced its usefulness as an everyday unit of payment, DTR said in a research paper. The academics are designing a virtual coin they expect will be able to process transactions faster than even Visa. “The mainstream public is aware that these networks don’t scale,’’ Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital in San Francisco, who is also a member of the DTR council, said in an interview. “We are on the cusp of something where if this doesn’t scale relatively soon, it may be relegated to ideas that were nice but didn’t work in practice: more like 3D printing than the internet.’’ DTR plans to launch Unit-e in the second half of the year and aims to process as many as 10,000 transactions per second. That’s worlds away from the current average of between 3.3 and 7 transactions per second for Bitcoin and 10 to 30 transactions for Ethereum. It’s also multiples quicker than Visa, a centralized network, which processes around 1,700 transactions per second on average. Bitcoin’s scalability challenge is a function of its design: the frequency within which new blocks, as records of transactions are known, can be created and their maximum size are capped. To achieve greater speed and scalability, DTR deconstructed the blockchain technology that supports most cryptocurrencies and sought to improve almost every element of it, said Pramod Viswanath, a researcher on the project and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The group first sought to understand the blockchain’s performance limits so as to design technologies that operate as close to these limits as possible, said Viswanath. The academics have published research on all aspects of blockchain technology and are relying on new mechanisms they designed for reaching consensus, as well as new ways of sharding — a process whereby each node maintains only part of the blockchain, thus increasing speed — and new payment channel networks, to reach their targeted transaction speed. The cryptocurrency industry is also very aware of the issue and a number of initiatives are underway to increase transaction speeds. Key efforts include the Lightning Network, which is to supposed to make crypto payments faster and cheaper by removing the need to record every transaction on the blockchain, while another, Segregated Witness, or SegWit, also aims to make transactions faster. David Chaum, a pioneer of virtual currencies, is also working on a new platform that would allow digital money to be traded more quickly. Success for Unit-e is far from guaranteed. While in the long-term the best technology should win out, in the short-term there is a risk that the new currency fails to gain traction, said Andrew Miller, head of the Unit-e independent technical steering committee and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The Swiss-based foundation brings together professionals from the fields of economics to computer science and cryptography, and its members also include academics from Carnegie Mellon University and the Universities of Southern California and Washington. It is funded by Pantera and some private individuals, said foundation council Chairman Babak Dastmaltschi, while declining to elaborate further. Unit-e is the group’s first initiative and future work could cover so-called smart contracts, said Viswanath. “Bitcoin has shown us that distributed trust is possible but its just not scaling at a dimension that could make it a truly global everyday money,” said Viswanath. “It was a breakthrough that has the capacity to change human lives but that won’t happen unless the technology can be scaled up.” Source
  5. I tried to pay with bitcoin at a Mexico City bar—it didn’t go well After 10 years, Bitcoin is still searching for practical applications. Enlarge / Me at Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City. Amanda Rohn I traveled to Mexico City last week to have a relaxing vacation with my wife—not to find stories for Ars Technica. But our Airbnb apartment happened to be around the corner from a bar called Bitcoin Embassy. How could I not check it out? The bar included a bitcoin ATM that lets users trade physical cash for bitcoins, and vice versa (there are more than 5,000 bitcoin ATMs like this around the world). Bitcoin Embassy offered a 10% discount if I paid for my tab in bitcoin. So I inserted a 500 peso note—about $25—into the machine. I downloaded a bitcoin wallet app from Google's Play Store to my Pixel smartphone. It generated an address for receiving the funds and displayed it as a QR code the ATM could scan. A few second later, the ATM spit out a receipt stating "Bitcoin purchased: 0.00245589." There was just one problem: my wallet app didn't show any bitcoins being received. We sat down at the bar and ordered drinks and a pizza while we waited for the bitcoins to arrive. By the time we'd finished our food, my app still showed a bitcoin balance of 0. The receipt showed the bitcoin address where the funds were supposed to be sent—bc1q7ayu350m8rntrw2uvewudrhqe5gj7d8d9ndggv—and I double-checked to make sure this address matched the one in my wallet. It did. But no bitcoins. So we gave up and paid with a conventional credit card. After leaving the bar, I sent off an email to the support address listed on my receipt. The next morning, I got a response: "Transactions under [1,000 pesos] are taking a day to two, in the course of today they will reach the wallet." I finally got my bitcoins around 6pm. I feel a little bad for leading with this anecdote. Everything else about the bar was great. It had good food, friendly service, and a classy—if nerdy—aesthetic. I'd probably visit regularly if it were in my neighborhood. But ultimately this is a "you had one job" situation. The point of a bitcoin bar is to showcase the advantages of bitcoin—and that was the one part of the experience that didn't go well. My experience at Bitcoin Embassy epitomizes the state of the larger bitcoin world. The fact that people continue to start businesses like Mexico City's Bitcoin Embassy demonstrates that there's still plenty of enthusiasm for the virtual currency, even after last year's crash in bitcoin's price. Yet the experience of using bitcoins to actually pay for things—supposedly its main application—remains rather rocky. The story of Bitcoin Embassy Enlarge / Lorena Ortiz, co-founder and manager of Bitcoin Embassy. Lorena Ortiz Before leaving the bar, I got contact information for General Manager Lorena Ortiz. She responded almost instantly on WhatsApp and agreed to meet me at the bar at 5pm the next day. She's charming, with accented but excellent English. "I'm kind of a punk and metal fan, so the ideology behind bitcoin was really appealing to me," Ortiz told me as we sat at Bitcoin Embassy Bar. Ortiz is the co-owner of the bar along with her boyfriend, David Noriega, an entrepreneur who owns a chain of comic book shops. Ortiz is a relative newcomer to the technology, dating back to 2017. But she told me that Noriega has been involved in bitcoin since around 2011. He operates a network of bitcoin ATMs inside his comic book shops—and now Bitcoin Embassy Bar—and hopes to add ATMs to other businesses in the near future. Noriega had long dreamed of opening a bitcoin-themed coffee shop—something that has become fairly common around the world. "I told him we can do it together if you want to," Ortiz said. But she suggested changing the concept from a coffee shop to a bar. The couple signed a lease in December 2018 and spent about four months renovating the space. The results are gorgeous. A monitor mounted over the bar shows the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in real time. A large glass case behind the bar offers bitcoin merchandise for sale. I bought a Bitcoin Embassy T-shirt. And, of course, there was a bitcoin ATM along one wall. Ortiz told me that my delayed bitcoin payout was unusual. Customers trying to cash in their bitcoins for pesos typically have to wait for 10 or 15 minutes for the transaction to be accepted by the bitcoin blockchain. She said she hadn't heard of customers suffering long delays buying bitcoins. And she insisted that, once I had my bitcoins, the purchasing process would have been simple. She demonstrated how the payment would have worked with her own smartphone. The bar's point-of-sale system generated an electronic invoice and displayed a QR code on its screen. Ortiz pointed her smartphone at it and the transaction cleared in a few seconds. The bitcoin world is still searching for its killer app On the one hand, there's no denying the continued vitality of the bitcoin community. There are a number of other establishments called "bitcoin embassy," from Poland to Australia. Most are co-working facilities rather than bars, but clearly Ortiz and Noriega are just two of many people around the world who are inspired by the bitcoin vision. At the same time, practical applications remain elusive 10 years after bitcoin's creation. The bar regularly hosts meet-up events for the bitcoin community, so I asked Ortiz how people were using bitcoin in Mexico and across Latin America. She quickly rattled off examples of people creating new blockchains for various purposes—from storing medical data to uniquely signing art. But when I asked for examples of people making practical uses of bitcoins specifically, she had a tougher time coming up with examples. A lot of people have talked about using bitcoin for remittances as an alternative to companies MoneyGram and Western Union. But Ortiz said she hadn't heard of many people doing this. She told me the chef who designed Bitcoin Embassy's menus asked Ortiz about using bitcoin to send money from overseas back to his family in Mexico. She explained the technology and walked him through the process. However, she said, "He couldn't understand very well, so he hasn't done it yet." One of the bar's Mezcal suppliers has asked Ortiz about using bitcoin to accept payments when exporting its product. However, she said, "I haven't heard of anyone that uses it that way." She said she had heard of an Indian bitcoin payments company that was using bitcoin to pay its employees in Mexico. Does Bitcoin Embassy pay its employees in bitcoin? "I always tell them I can pay you in bitcoin if you want to, but they don't want to," Ortiz says. Of course, it's not uncommon for new technologies to start out as toys for elite nerds before they mature into mass-market appeal. The first PCs in the 1970s seemed useless to the average consumer, and the Internet of the 1980s was hardly user-friendly. But visiting this Mexico City bar, I was struck by how little things have changed since I started covering the technology in 2011. Over the last eight years, the bitcoin community—and bitcoin's price—has grown by orders of magnitude. The bitcoin economy has much more sophisticated infrastructure for storing and trading bitcoins. But practical applications for bitcoin—beyond trading it, holding it, and hoping to get rich—seem almost as elusive today as they were eight years ago. Source: I tried to pay with bitcoin at a Mexico City bar—it didn’t go well (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  6. The suspect, only identified by the initials B.B.A., second from left, is presented at a press conference at the headquarters of the National Police in South Jakarta on Friday. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir) Police arrested a 21-year-old man in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Friday for allegedly using malicious software to extort victims and steal financial data for personal gain. Yogyakarta Police spokesman Senior Comr. Yuliyanto said the suspect, only identified by the initials B.B.A., sent phishing emails to at least 500 randomly selected addresses to spread ransomware, or software designed to block access to computer systems until a ransom is paid. The suspect had reportedly been acting alone since 2014 and collected 300 Bitcoins, or equivalent to around Rp 31.5 billion ($2.25 million), Yuliyanto said. He said the investigation started after a tipoff that the suspect had hacked the computer system of a company based in San Antonio, Texas. The suspect allegedly also stole credit card data from internet users for personal gain. The National Police's cybercrime unit is investigating the case. Yuliyanto said the Yogyakarta Police are assisting in the investigation and will forward evidence to the National Police headquarters in Jakarta. "The evidence includes a Harley Davidson motorcycle and several computers. We will send these [to Jakarta]," he said. The suspect has been in custody in Jakarta since his arrest. The suspect lived in a boarding house in Sleman for the past two years, Yuliyanto said, without providing further detail. Senior Comr. Rickynaldo Chairul, head of the police's cybercrime investigation unit, said separately in Jakarta that the suspect had sent emails containing hyperlinks that directed unsuspecting recipients to his webmail server, which would then install ransomware on recipients' computer systems and prevent them from accessing their data. In the case involving the US company, the suspect threatened to delete its data if it failed to pay the ransom within three days. "The suspect demanded the ransom be paid in Bitcoin before restoring access to the victim's mail server," Rickynaldo said. The suspect reportedly used the email address, [email protected], in his communications with victims. He faces up to six years in prison under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law. Source: Police Arrest Yogyakarta Man Who Used Ransomware Attacks to Amass 300 Bitcoins (via Jakarta Globe) p/s: For those who can understand Indonesian language, there's a news reporting on that. https://cyberthreat.id/read/3532/Pertama-Kali-dalam-Sejarah-Polri-Tangkap-Hacker-Ransomware
  7. SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese state media urged investors to remain rational and not equate Beijing’s support for blockchain as a boost for virtual currencies, after comments by Chinese President Xi Jinping drove up shares in blockchain-related firms and the price of bitcoin. Xi said last week that China should accelerate the development of blockchain technology, a digital ledger that forms the backbone of many cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. His remarks sparked a rush into the shares of firms engaged in, or believed to be engaged in blockchain or digital currency-related businesses. “Blockchain’s future is here but we must remain rational,” the People’s Daily newspaper, which is published by China’s ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary late on Monday. “The rise of blockchain technology was accompanied by that of cryptocurrencies, but innovation in blockchain technology does not mean we should speculate in virtual currencies,” it said. The government cracked down on the country’s cryptocurrency industry in 2017 with regulators banning the practice of creating and selling virtual currencies or tokens and shutting local cryptocurrency trading exchanges, saying that they were facilitating illegal fundraising and pyramid schemes. Chinese officials, however, said at the time that the research into blockchain technology was still encouraged although Xi’s comments were the first time Beijing had publicly thrown such vocal support behind the sector. Beijing is also creating its own central bank-issued digital currency to cut the costs of circulating traditional paper money and boost policymakers’ control of money supply. Source
  8. The price of Bitcoin crashed again yesterday. But the worst may be yet to come, according to crypto industry insiders. We said last month to expect more pain ahead for Bitcoin and the cryptomarket, and here it is. In a trend that is fast becoming a pattern, Bitcoinprice crashed suddenly yesterday, losing as much as $200 of its value in 30 minutes. The cryptocurrency is currently trading below $7,000, a price band it recovered from this past May. This is not the first time that Bitcoin price has shocked analysts this year. A chart for Bitcoin’s price movement in 2019 displays an undulating and craggy pattern, drawing the cryptocurrency’s often perilous attempts to climb out of a protracted bear market. At the moment, one bitcoin is changing hands at $6648.16, a decline of 21.36% from its price 24 hours ago. The crypto market is tanking along with the original cryptocurrency, and all coins in the top 10 most-traded cryptos are in the red. The overall market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has plummeted by almost $10 billion to $178 billion in less than 12 hours. Did PlusToken scammers cause the crash? Various theories are doing the rounds as to the causes for the current crash in Bitcoin prices. One of the most plausible ones focuses on PlusToken—an alleged scam perpetrated earlier this year. A report released by crypto forensics firm Chainalysis yesterday implicated PlusToken promoters, who held considerable amounts of Bitcoin, for the selloff that led to a crash in Bitcoin prices. But that explanation is insufficient to explain Bitcoin’s price action when you consider Bitcoin’s low liquidity and diverse trading venues, stated Brian Kerr, CEO of Kava Labs—a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform for crypto leverage and hedging, in an email interview with Decrypt. According to Kerr, the Chainalysis explanation is suspect because crypto exchanges and OTC desks, which account for a majority of crypto volumes, do not disclose trading figures. “In both cases, onchain movements only correlate with movements rather than indicate them,” he explained. This means that wallet transfers displayed on a cryptocurrency’s blockchain, which were cited in the Chainalysis report, may not be the exact trading numbers for cryptocurrencies. A year-end liquidation by traders and fatigue from the prolonged bear market are also being cited as possible reasons for the price drop. “Many companies and individuals that hold Bitcoin or other crypto still need to liquidate to fund their day to day expenses, and the fear of Bitcoin crashing even further is likely causing people to sell off further,” Simon Yu, CEO of StormX, an e-commerce platform for micro-tasking, told Decrypt. Source
  9. ‘CovidLock’ Exploits Coronavirus Fears With Bitcoin Ransomware Opportunistic hackers are increasingly seeking to dupe victims using websites or applications purporting to provide information or services pertaining to coronavirus. Cybersecurity threat researchers, DomainTools, have identified that the website coronavirusapp.site facilitates the installation of a new ransomware called “CovidLock.” The website prompts its visitors to install an Android application that purportedly tracks updates regarding the spread of COVID-19, claiming to notify users when an individual infected with coronavirus is in their vicinity using heatmap visuals. CovidLock ransomware launches screen lock attack on unwitting victims Despite appearing to display certification from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the website is a conduit for the ‘CovidLock’ ransomware — which launches a screen lock attack on unsuspecting users. Once installed, CovidLock alters the lock screen on the infected device and demands a payment of $100 worth of BTC in exchange for a password that will unlock the screen and return control of the device to the owner. If a victim does not pay the ransom within 48 hours, CovidLock threatens to erase all of the files that are stored on the phone — including contacts, pictures, and videos. The program displays a message intended to scare users into compliance with its demand, stating: “YOUR GPS IS WATCHED AND YOUR LOCATION IS KNOWN. IF YOU TRY ANYTHING STUPID YOUR PHONE WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ERASED.” DomainTools claims to have reversed engineered the decryption keys for CovidLock, adding that they will publicly post the key. Coronavirus-themed website are 50% more likely to be malicious According to cyber threat analyst, Check Point, coronavirus-themed domains are 50% more likely to be a front for malicious actors than other websites. Since January 2020, the firm estimates that more than 4,000 domain names that relate to the coronavirus have been registered globally — 3% of which are deemed to be “malicious,” and 5% of which are described as “suspicious.” U.K. public lose $1 million to coronavirus scams On March 11, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority warned of an increasing proliferation of coronavirus-themed scams - including investment scams fraudulently offering investments in crypto assets. According to the U.K. National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), many malicious sites are offering maps and visualizations tracking the spread of coronavirus — much like CovidLock. An NFID representative stated: “They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in bitcoin.” The NFIB estimates that coronavirus-themed scams have already defrauded the British public out of roughly $1 million. Source
  10. Bitcoin loses 21 percent of its value in broad cryptocurrency rout Falling cryptocurrency prices reflect a global selloff of risky assets. Enlarge Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images News 153 with 81 posters participating, including story author The cryptocurrency world has experienced its biggest one-day plunge in months. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, is down 21 percent over the last 24 hours. Earlier today, Bitcoin fell below $6,000 for the first time since May 2019. Ether, the currency of the Ethereum network, is down a whopping 27 percent. Lesser-known cryptocurrencies have seen similarly large losses. There's no obvious cryptocurrency-specific reason for the crash. Instead, it seems to be part of the broader coronavirus-related selloff that has rocked stock markets around the world. As of publication time, the S&P 500 is down more than 6 percent from yesterday's closing price and almost 25 percent from its mid-February peak. Bitcoin itself has fallen from a mid-February peak near $10,500 to its current value just above $6,000—a decline of 42 percent. Investors have been unloading volatile assets like stocks and cryptocurrencies and buying government bonds. This week the yield on the 30-year US Treasury bond briefly slipped below 1 percent for the first time in history. This was a sign of unprecedented investor demand for US government debt: a bond's yield is an inverse function of its price. Investors are worried that in the coming weeks, coronavirus concerns will cause consumers to drastically cut back spending at bars and restaurants, hotels, airlines, entertainment venues, and so forth. That short-term spending slow-down, in turn, could create ripple effects that reduce spending in other sectors of the economy. This could be a vicious cycle that tips the entire US economy into a 2008-style recession. The Federal Reserve acted decisively to address the issue last week with an emergency cut to interest rates. It is widely expected to cut interest rates again at its regularly scheduled meeting next week. But other parts of government have been slower to act. Congress and the White House have considered measures like paid sick leave, a payroll tax holiday, or just sending out checks to every American, but progress on these measures has been slow. Source: Bitcoin loses 21 percent of its value in broad cryptocurrency rout (Ars Technica)
  11. Bitcoin’s “halving” is bad for miners, good for everyone else A lower rate of bitcoin creation means the network consumes less energy. Enlarge Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images 53 with 34 posters participating, including story author The bitcoin network underwent a significant change on Monday as the number of new bitcoins produced in each block fell by half. This is according to a schedule established by bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto almost 12 years ago. Previously, each block in the blockchain came with 12.5 new bitcoins worth roughly $110,000. Now each block includes only 6.25 new bitcoins worth around $55,000. That's a challenge for the bitcoin mining industry, which derives the lion's share of its income from these block rewards. But it has a happy side effect for everyone else: the bitcoin network's energy consumption is likely to fall in the coming months as lower profits from bitcoin mining force miners to tighten their belts. Lower miner revenues will mean lower energy consumption To construct a block, miners make a list of all transactions that have been submitted since the previous block was created. They then race against one another, performing millions of trillions of SHA-256 hash computations every second, looking for a block that produces a hash below an arbitrarily low value. The winner gets the block reward (previously 12.5 bitcoins, now 6.25 bitcoins) as well as any transaction fees that are included in individual transactions. Right now, transaction fees are worth much less than the value of the block reward—around 0.6 bitcions, or $5,000, per block. So the halving of the block reward means that miners' income fell almost in half overnight. That sudden decline in the rewards for mining means that the mining is suddenly a lot less profitable. Barring a big increase in bitcoin's price, we can expect bitcoin miners to temporarily stop investing in new mining hardware for the next few months. If bitcoin mining becomes unprofitable enough, some miners might even switch off less efficient mining hardware because it's not generating enough bitcoins to cover operating costs. In the short term, fewer resources spent on mining should lead to a slower rate of bitcoin creation. However, the network has an automatic process to ensure that bitcoins get generated at a more or less constant rate. Every two weeks, the network changes the difficulty of the hashing problem in order to keep the network producing about six blocks per hour. If the network is producing blocks too slowly, the network lowers the difficulty of the hashing problem by increasing the range of hash values that are considered "winners." If the network is producing more than six blocks per hour, the network does the opposite, making the hashing problem more difficult to slow down the rate of block creation. The upshot is that in the long run, the bitcoin network always produces one block every 10 minutes, no matter how much hashing power the network has. Miners, of course, want to make a profit, and competition among miners keeps profit margins fairly steady over the long run. So if the revenues from bitcoin mining fall by half, that will ultimately translate to miners spending about half as much to produce those bitcoins. Electricity is one of the biggest costs of bitcoin mining, so the halving of block rewards should ultimately reduce the amount of electricity consumed by bitcoin mining by a similar proportion. And this is significant because the bitcoin network is stupendously wasteful. The exact figures are known only to miners themselves, but the website Digiconomist estimates that the network has consumed between 50 and 70 TWh per year—roughly as much energy as the 8 million people in Switzerland. We shouldn't expect that figure to fall by half immediately, but if bitcoin's price stays around the same level, we should expect to see it falling in the coming months. The halving will push up bitcoin's price—but not very much Of course, higher bitcoin prices could offset this effect. Higher bitcoin prices push up the revenues from each block and hence the amount people are willing to spend to mine a block. So a higher bitcoin price would induce miners to buy more mining hardware and increase electricity use. There has been a lot of discussion in the bitcoin world about the likely effects of the halving on bitcoin's price. Yesterday is the third time the block reward has declined. Previous halvings occurred in 2012 and 2016 (the next one is expected in 2024). Bitcoin's price rose 30-fold in the year after the November 2012 halving. It tripled in the year after the July 2016 halving—then soared even higher in the second half of 2017. Bitcoin bulls are hoping that a 50-percent decline in new bitcoin supply will put upward pressure on bitcoin's price. However, we should expect this effect to be much more muted this time around. The creation of bitcoins is declining exponentially over time, while the stock of existing bitcoins has been growing. There are now more than 18.4 million bitcoins in circulation, out of a total of 21 million that will ever be created. Only 656,250 were created in the year before yesterday's halving, a figure that will fall to 328,125 for the coming year. In other words, the halving reduces bitcoin's annual "inflation rate" from 3.6 percent to 1.8 percent. That's probably not a big enough difference to have much impact on bitcoin's price. That's not to say that bitcoin's price won't go up—the currency is famously volatile. But any impact of the halving on bitcoin's price is likely to get lost in the noise. Source: Bitcoin’s “halving” is bad for miners, good for everyone else (Ars Technica)
  12. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin tested 15-month highs on Monday after jumping more than 10% over the weekend, with analysts ascribing the spike to growing optimism over the adoption of cryptocurrencies after Facebook unveiled its Libra digital coin. The biggest cryptocurrency hit $11,247.62 on the Bitstamp exchange late on Sunday, its highest since March last year. It later pulled back, and was last up 0.7% at $10,917. Facebook said last week it planned to launch a new cryptocurrency called Libra, though the announcement immediately led to questions from regulators and politicians across the world. Mati Greenspan, an analyst at eToro, said bitcoin’s gains underscored growing optimism among retail investors that Facebook’s plans were part of a wider trend of major companies adopting cryptocurrencies. “Traders are speculating on future involvement of large players like Facebook,” he said. “They believe that Libra will create mass awareness of cryptocurrencies and act as a gateway to adoption.” Other traders cited geopolitical factors from tensions in the Gulf region to the U.S.-China trade war as fuelling interest in bitcoin, which has more than doubled in price since March. Some investors have looked to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a hedge against possible declines in domestic currencies, traders said. Cryptocurrency markets are opaque, and it is difficult to pinpoint exact catalysts for price moves. Between 2200 GMT Friday and 0300 GMT Saturday alone, bitcoin rose more than 10%. Thomas Puech of Enigma Securities, a London-based firm that specializes in larger size over-the-counter cryptocurrency deals, said growing tensions between the United States and Iran were “gas” for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In late March, bitcoin broke out of a spell of limited price moves. It has since risen more than 160%, an ascent peppered by double-digit price swings that have reminded some of its retail investor-fueled 2017 bubble. Bitcoin’s volatility has been a boon to larger investors such as hedge funds, and other investors searching for returns as central banks across the world lean towards lower interest rates, said Puech. Gold prices hovered near a six-year high on Monday, with demand for the safe-haven metal boosted by dovish signals from major central banks. Bitcoin, which accounts for over half of the cryptocurrency market, has more than trebled in price since touching its lowest this year in January. Source
  13. Bitcoin rises above $10,000 for the first time in a year Bitcoin's value has risen three-fold since December. Enlarge Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images Bitcoin's price has soared above $10,000 for the first time since early 2018, a new milestone in the virtual currency's latest comeback. The price has more than tripled since hitting rock-bottom last December around $3,200. That was after crashing from an all-time high around $19,500 in December 2017. As always, it's difficult to be sure what drives changes in bitcoin's price. But one obvious candidate is Facebook's announcement of its own cryptocurrency, called Libra, earlier this week. Libra is a potential bitcoin competitor, but the announcement also brings added legitimacy to the overall cryptocurrency market. Also, as the world's most valuable cryptocurrency, bitcoin frequently serves as a medium of exchange among other cryptocurrencies—much as the US dollar acts as the default medium of exchange for global trade. So the introduction of Facebook's new cryptocurrency next year—and perhaps copycat efforts down the road—could bolster bitcoin's value. Bitcoin's rise is part of a broader cryptocurrency boom. Ether, the currency of the Ethereum network, is now worth more than $290, a 2019 record. Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Monero, and Dash are all at or near 2019 highs. Source: Bitcoin rises above $10,000 for the first time in a year (Ars Technica)
  14. Founder and operator of defunct bitcoin exchange Bitfunder gets 14 months jail time for lying to regulators about the loss of more than 6,000 bitcoins. A crypto criminal case that dates back to 2013 has finally come to an end. The founder and operator of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Bitfunder, Jon Montroll, was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in jail for lying to federal regulators about a hack that cost his customers more than 6,000 bitcoins—worth nearly $70 million at today’s prices. Montroll allegedly defrauded his customers by failing to disclose a hack of the exchange in July 2013. The Bitfunder operator then attempted to cover it up by misappropriating their funds to hide the lost bitcoins, according to federal prosecutors. The ordeal initially caught the eye of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the fall of 2013. When questioned about his bitcoin exchange’s operations and the breach of its systems by the SEC in November 2013, Montroll allegedly misled regulators, assuring them that his exchange’s funds were safe through a phony screenshot of balance statements. Montroll pleaded guilty to federal charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years probation by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. But the trouble doesn’t end there for Bitfunder’s founder, who also faces civil charges stemming from the case. In February 2018, the SEC charged Montroll with “operating an unregistered securities exchange and defrauding users of that exchange” in a civil-enforcement action. The Commission also alleged that Montroll sold “unregistered securities” that were supposedly “investments” in his business, and absconded with those funds as well. Source
  15. The Presidential manure is causing Bitcoin’s price to come up roses. Please sir, may we have another? Crypto Twitter had a field day yesterday President Trump delivered his tuppence-worth about Bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra project. “I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” said the President, in his first-ever tweet on the subject. “If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks, both National and International,” he added. But for cryptocurrency, as a whole, his tweets were nothing except good news. Here’s why. 1. As Trump knows, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. For cryptocurrency, it’s all about adoption. But how can you adopt something if you don’t even know what it is? Trump’s tweet to his 62 million followers presumably reaches some millions of people who are, shall we say, not super sophisticated about crypto. Indeed, Google searches for Bitcoin spiked post-Trump tweet. Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong tweeted that the POTUS tweets mark the third stage in the four stages that will lead to adoption: “getting ignored, getting laughed at, getting fought, and then winning.” And Jeremy Allaire, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs-backed Circle, tweeted that Trump’s tweets could be the “largest bull signal” for Bitcoin of all time. Within half an hour of Trump’s tweet, Bitcoin had risen by 2%. 2. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. If Trump is for something, automatically, much of the U.S. and the rest of the world will take the other side. Presidential hopeful Democrat Andrew Yang is already on the side of ethical crypto. Trump being opposed to it will only make the issue political, and force the rest of the pack to declare themselves. Indeed, Trump’s ignorant rant might even force Rep. Maxine Waters to soften her hardline, anti-Facebook position. She sure doesn’t want to be Trump’s comrade in arms. 3. Trump will focus his attacks on Facebook History will not remember Donald Trump as a great intellect. It will be far easier for him to rail against Facebook—which he’s already targeted as being biased against the Right. That will only increase the onus of the social network to spend gazillions of dollars appeasing regulators—which will benefit bitcoin and the rest of the crypto industry. Pull up your lawn chair and grab some popcorn, kids while we watch this play out. Source
  16. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin’s price skidded 12% lower on Thursday to around $11,383 after hitting an 18-month high of nearly $14,000 earlier this week. FILE PHOTO: A bitcoin sign is seen during Riga Comm 2017 The world’s biggest cryptocurrency has surged in value since April and has risen more than 260%, although it remains below its all-time high of nearly $20,000 hit in December 2017. Analysts say Facebook’s announcement that it would offer its own cryptocurrency Libra has revived interest in digital currencies, while investors seeking safety have also pushed up bitcoin’s price. Source
  17. Hugh Haney was identified when he tried to cash out on an exchange. A man was arrested on July 18 for trying to launder $19 million of bitcoin earned on the darknet drug marketplace Silk Road, according to Homeland Security. Hugh Haney faces one charge of money laundering and one count of engaging in a financial transaction using illegally-gotten gains. If guilty, he could face up to 30 years behind bars. Homeland Security identified Haney after he allegedly moved stolen funds to an unidentified crypto exchange. Haney claimed the large amounts of bitcoin were proceeds from bitcoin mining, but Homeland Security says it has evidence which can trace transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain back to the Silk Road. Once the bitcoin—which was earned between 2012 and 2013—was transferred into cash, Homeland Security officers say that’s when they seized the money. Silk Road was one of the original and most popular darknet marketplaces for buying and selling drugs, and other illegal (and legal) items. It was shut down by the FBI in 2013 and its founder Ross Ulbricht was later sentenced to life in prison without parole. In its two and a half year lifespan, it was reported to have more than 100,000 customers. Source
  18. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin dipped almost 8% on Thursday, extending losses the day after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called for a halt to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project until concerns ranging from privacy to money-laundering were addressed. The original cryptocurrency initially fell 7.7% to $11,164 in early morning trade, following a 3.8% slide on Wednesday after Powell's testimony on monetary policy before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. It was last down 4.5%. Other major cryptocurrencies including Ethereum and XRP's Ripple fell by similar levels. “This is a direct response to the Powell testimony and comments on Facebook’s Libra and the implications that could have for the entire cryptocurrency space,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at FX trading platform OANDA. “Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Powell told the committee, adding that he did not think the project could proceed unless those concerns were addressed. The proposed cryptocurrency has drawn close scrutiny from policymakers and financial regulators globally. Powell said existing rules do not fit cryptocurrencies. Other traders said the moves fitted within the pattern of bitcoin’s recent volatility, where double-digit intra-day price moves have been common. The biggest coin climbed nearly 55% in nine days after Facebook unveiled its plans for Libra on June 18, touching an 18-month high of nearly $14,000. The project has boosted hopes that cryptocurrencies could gain wider acceptance. Source
  19. Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin It takes the Apollo Guidance Computer 10 seconds to compute a single hash value. Enlarge / DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector. Tamorlan Among the many technological breakthroughs of NASA's Apollo project to land a man on the Moon was the Apollo Guidance Computer that flew onboard Apollo spacecraft. In an era when most computers were refrigerator-sized—if not room-sized—the AGC weighed only about 70 pounds. It was one of the first computers to use integrated circuits. A team of computer historians got its hands on one of the original AGCs and got it working. A member of the team, Ken Shirriff, then decided to see if the computer could be used for bitcoin mining. Mining is a key part of the process for maintaining bitcoin's shared transaction ledger, or blockchain. To win the right to add a block to the blockchain, you have to solve a difficult problem: finding a block whose SHA-256 hash starts with a minimum number of zeros. The only known way to accomplish this is by brute force: miners create a block with a random nonce and compute its hash value. If the hash value doesn't have enough leading zeros, the miner changes the nonce and tries again. The required number of zeros is automatically adjusted so that the network produces a new block once every 10 minutes, on average. Currently, a block's hash needs at least around 18 zeros (in its hexadecimal representation) to be accepted by the network—which translates to around 1022 trials to find a valid block. Today, most bitcoin mining is done using specialized hardware capable of computing trillions of hashes per second. Shirriff's software for the Apollo Guidance Computer was quite a bit slower than that: each bitcoin hash calculation takes about 10 seconds. The Apollo Guidance Computer isn’t a very good bitcoin miner "The computer is so slow that it would take about a billion times the age of the universe to successfully mine a bitcoin block," Shirriff wrote. This mostly reflects 50 years of progress in computing hardware. Thanks to Moore's law, modern chips have vastly more transistors and can operate at much higher clock rates. Custom mining ASICs can compute a huge number of hashes in parallel. But Shirriff also had to struggle with idiosyncrasies of the AGC that made it a poor fit for bitcoin mining. For example, the AGC used a 15-bit word, in contrast to modern computers that generally use 32- or 64-bit words. The SHA-256 algorithm performs a lot of 32-bit operations, so Shiriff had to split each 32-bit integer into three pieces—a 4-bit piece and two 14-bit pieces—and perform calculations on them separately. The AGC also lacked the shift and rotate instructions that are standard on modern computers—and heavily used in a SHA-256 calculation—forcing Shirriff to write subroutines to perform these operations. The AGC's limited memory was also a handicap: The AGC, like most computers of the 1960s, used magnetic core memory, storing each bit in a tiny magnetized ferrite ring. Since core memory was fairly bulky, the AGC had just 2K words (approximately 4K bytes) of RAM. The AGC's addressing scheme made things more complicated since you could only access 256 words unless you used an inconvenient bank-switching mechanism. The problem is that the SHA-256 algorithm uses eight (32-bit) hash values, a 64-word message table, and 8 words of intermediate values. These three arrays alone used up 240 AGC words, leaving about 16 words for everything else (temporary values, subroutine return addresses, loop counters, pointers, etc.) I managed to get everything to fit in one bank by reusing these 16 words for multiple purposes, but I spent a lot of time debugging problems when a variable clobbered a location still in use. This is not the first time Shirriff has implemented bitcoin mining on ancient hardware. A few years back he implemented bitcoin mining on an old IBM 1401 computer from the mid-1960s. This machine was even slower than the AGC, taking 80 seconds to compute a single hash. He also programmed a 1970s Xerox Alto to mine bitcoin—it could compute 1.5 hashes per second. Source: Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin (Ars Technica)
  20. Bitcoin near two-week highs, fueled by hopes for Facebook's Libra FILE PHOTO: A small toy figure is seen on representations of the Bitcoin virtual currency in this illustration picture, December 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin held on Tuesday near its highest for two weeks after surging as much as 9% overnight, a move analysts said was probably driven by hopes that cryptocurrencies are gaining wider acceptance after Facebook disclosed plans for a digital coin. Bitcoin touched $12,833 overnight on the Bitstamp exchange BTC=BTSP, its highest since June 27, before pulling back. It was last up 2.2% at $12,560. The biggest cryptocurrency has gained over 45% since Facebook laid out plans last month for its Libra coin, sparking renewed optimism that cryptocurrencies will gain mainstream acceptance among companies and individual users. “What we have seen in bitcoin over the last couple of weeks is still very linked to Libra,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “People allude to the idea that bitcoin is a more mature industry than previously.” Bitcoin remains highly volatile. It has gained nearly 240% this year after slumping by three-quarters last year. Analysts pointed to other data points that suggested usage of bitcoin is growing. Peer-to-peer exchange of bitcoin - a proxy for non-speculative usage - is at its highest for nearly eight months, said Mati Greenspan of eToro. Source: Bitcoin near two-week highs, fueled by hopes for Facebook's Libra
  21. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin slumped more than 10% over the weekend to a two-week low as fears of a crackdown of cryptocurrencies grew on mounting scrutiny of Facebook’s planned Libra digital coin. Bitcoin fell 11.1% from Friday to $9,855 early on Monday, its lowest since July 2. The original cryptocurrency slumped 10.4% on Sunday alone, its second-biggest daily drop this year. It was last up 1.3% at $10,319. Politicians and financial regulators across the world have called for close scrutiny of Facebook’s Libra coin, with concerns ranging from consumer protection and privacy to its potential systemic risks given the social media giant’s global reach. In a sign of widening U.S. attention, a proposal to prevent big technology companies from functioning as financial institutions or issuing digital currencies has been circulated for discussion by Democratic lawmakers, according to a copy of the draft legislation seen by Reuters. U.S. President Donald Trump had last week criticized bitcoin, Libra and other cryptocurrencies, demanding that firms seek a banking charter and subject themselves to U.S. and global regulations if they wanted to “become a bank”. Bitcoin, which initially shrugged off Trump’s Tweet, fell sharply after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called for a halt to Facebook’s project until concerns from privacy to money-laundering were addressed. “Together they have increased the tail risk that the U.S. will look to crack down on it in some way,” said Jamie Farquhar, portfolio manager at crypto firm NKB Group in London. Underscoring the growing attention on Facebook’s plans, Japanese authorities have also set up a working group to look at Libra’s possible impact on monetary policy and financial regulation, government sources told Reuters. European Central Bank policymaker Benoit Coeure is due to deliver a preliminary report on the matter at a meeting of G7 finance ministers this week in Chantilly, north of Paris. Bitcoin climbed nearly 55% in nine days after Facebook unveiled its plans for Libra on June 18, touching an 18-month high of nearly $14,000. The project has boosted hopes among some investors that cryptocurrencies could gain wider acceptance. Source
  22. 10 bitcoin kidnapping and theft cases from around the world By Jai Pratap There have also been cases of stealing millions of dollars worth of bitcoins. Here's the list of 10 infamous bitcoin theft and kidnapping. Since the bitcoin has become mainstream, crime related to cryptocurrency has also risen around the world. There have been multiple cases when a kidnapper asks for ransom in cryptocurrency so that he can take advantage of the transaction’s nature. Some kidnappers managed to escape the police while others got caught. The unregulated and anonymous nature of cryptocurrency has attracted the attention of many organized criminal groups, and crimes related to it are continuously increasing around the world. There have also been cases where hackers have managed to steal millions of dollars worth of bitcoins. According to cybersecurity company carbon black, around 1.1 billion dollars worth of cryptocurrency was stolen alone last year. And apparently, it was easy for hackers to commit this crime, most of the hackers used malware that is readily available on the dark web, and it only cost around 1 dollar. Here’s the list of 10 infamous bitcoin theft and kidnapping that took place around the world. 1. American Businessman kidnapped for one million dollars in bitcoin In one of the most recent high profile kidnapping where kidnapper asked for a ransom in bitcoin took place in Costa Rica. According to reports, a local gang in San Jose kidnapped the American businessman William Sean Creighton Kopko on September 24 of last year and asked for one million dollars in bitcoin from the family. Kopko owns a gambling business “5Dimes’. After a few months of kidnapping, the family paid the kidnappers what they asked for, but Kopko never returned home. In January, police arrested 12 people as suspects, and 3 of them had already flown to Spain, but police managed to capture them too. As of now, there is no trace of the businessman, and the police are still investigating. 2. Kidnappers asked for 10 million dollars in the cryptocurrency in Norway. Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, 68, disappeared from her home on 3st1 October, the wife of Norweigan business tycoon Tom Hagen, one of the wealthiest man of the country. This time kidnappers asked for 10 million dollars in cryptocurrency Monero. According to police, Mrs. Hagen was in her house in Oslo when she was kidnapped, and a note saying that” if the ransom is not paid, she will be killed” was found. Her husband was the first person to see the note. The police are still investigating the case and have told the family not to give in to the demands of the kidnapper. According to many reports, the chances of Mrs. Hagen being alive are very slim. As the case has become a high profile, police are also looking at the situation with different angles. Tom Hagen has a net worth of 200 million dollars and owns 70% of the electricity company Elkraft. The police went public with the case to generate tips, and they also mentioned that international authorities are co-ordinating to catch the kidnappers. 3. The kidnapping of a Teenage boy in South Africa. In May of last year, a teenage boy was kidnapped in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Kidnappers asked for a hundred thousand dollars in bitcoin for the safe return of the boy. After a few months of hard work by police, they managed to grab the kidnappers. In November one kidnapper was arrested from Germiston in Gauteng, while the second was arrested in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on December 30. 13-year boy safely returned home to his family, and it was not disclosed whether the ransom was paid or not. This was the first kidnapping in the country where the payment was asked for to be paid in bitcoin. 4. Blockchain expert kidnapped in Ukraine On December 26, Pavel Lerner, a leading analyst and blockchain expert, was abducted by masked people. According to a local news website, Lerner encountered six people in masks, and they pushed him into a minibus on gunpoint. Lerner worked in EXMO, a Uk based crypto exchange firm. Kidnappers asked for one million dollars in bitcoins. Just a few weeks later Lerner was released by the kidnappers when they got the ransom amount. Police never found out who the kidnappers were and it also remained disclosed who paid the ransom money. 5. $840,000 Bitcoin ransom plot foiled in India A gang of 7 members in Rajasthan, India kidnapped two crypto traders Shaikh and Shazad and asked for 80 bitcoins worth of 850,000 dollars. But the plan did not succeed, and police arrested al the members of gangs in operation that went for 13 hours. Locals reported police about a man with a gun on a road, and police grabbed the man after 20 minutes of chase, and then he told the police about his partners that were near in building. After long search police on July 15, late-night arrested all members. Police said media that this gang had previously been involved in extortion and other crimes as well. 6. Kidnapping for bitcoin in NewYork Earlier last year, a businessman was kidnapped from a cab when he was heading home. The kidnapper on gunpoint asked the businessman to give his apartment keys and 24 digit password to his hardware wallet that stored his cryptocurrency. The businessman was able to escape from the cab, but he had given his keys and password to the kidnapper. Meza (kidnapper) went to his home and transferred half-million dollars worth of Ethereum to his account. Later he was captured by the police as he was caught on the apartment building’s surveillance camera. 7. Ransomware crypto locker In 2013, Crypto Locker gave its victims three days to pay the ransom via bitcoin or else their private key would be deleted permanently. As many as 40% of people gave bitcoin in ransom, and around 27 million dollars worth of transactions happened because of that malware. Some users got their money with the help of authorities. Scammer’s total ransom that he got away with is estimated to be around 3 million dollars and it was never found out who was behind the scam. 8. HC7 Planetary ransomware HC7 Planetary is ransomware increasingly affecting machines across the globe. The software infiltrates a computer and goes on to infect other devices on a given network. This ransomware asks up to 5,000 dollars in Ethereum to restore access to the affected system. This malware has affected many systems so far, but as security technology is getting better most of the ransomware is easy to detect. 9. Ryuk ransomware collected 3.75 million dollars in bitcoin Ryuk in just five months of this year has collected 705 bitcoin in ransom, which is worth of 3.75 million dollars. This ransomware encrypts all data of the host and locks it until the victim contacts the hacker and pays the ransom in Bitcoin. The highest ransom has been up to 99 Bitcoin. 10. Israelian hacker stole 1.7 million dollars from Europeans Gigi, a 31-year old from Israel, reportedly stole Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dash from various foreigners, including Belgians, Dutch, and Germans. So far, this cybercriminal has stolen 1.7 million dollars in multiple cryptocurrencies. Gigi used malware that would attack the victims’ computers and allow him to take cryptocurrencies. Gigi is currently under arrest and is yet to be convicted of his crimes. Source
  23. LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin fell 8% on Tuesday, breaching $10,000 for the first time in two weeks after U.S. lawmakers grilled Facebook on its cryptocurrency plans, as political and regulatory scrutiny of digital coins intensifies. The biggest cryptocurrency fell to $9828.89 by around 1630 GMT after David Marcus, the company’s top executive overseeing the planned Libra project, answered questions from the Senate Banking Committee. Earlier in the day, bitcoin had lost around 3%. Traders said the trigger for the selling was not immediately clear. During the testimony, a U.S. senator said Facebook was “delusional” to believe people will trust it with their money as the social media giant fights to get Washington onside for its planned Libra project, aimed for launch in 2020. Source
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