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Category Archives: Bitcoin
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm
U.S. corporations that have long resisted bending to the demands of computer hackers who take their networks hostage are increasingly stockpiling bitcoin, the digital currency, so that they can quickly meet ransom demands rather than lose valuable corporate data.
The companies are responding to cybersecurity experts who recently have changed their advice on how to deal with the growing problem of extortionists taking control of the computers.
“It’s a moral dilemma. If you pay, you are helping the bad guys,” said Paula Long, chief executive of DataGravity, a Nashua, N.H., company that helps clients secure corporate data. But, she added, “You can’t go to the moral high ground and put your company at risk.”
“A lot of companies are doing that as part of their incident response planning,” said Chris Pogue, chief information security officer at Nuix, a company that provides information management technologies. “They are setting up bitcoin wallets.”
Pogue said he believed thousands of U.S. companies had prepared strategies for dealing with hacker extortion demands, and numerous law firms have stepped in to facilitate negotiations with hackers, many of whom operate from the other side of the globe.
Symantec, a Mountain View, Calif., company that makes security and storage software, estimates that ransom demands to companies average between $10,000 and $75,000 for hackers to provide keys to decrypt frozen networks. Individuals whose computers get hit pay as little as $100 to $300 to unlock their encrypted files.
Companies that analyze cyber threats say the use of ransomware has exploded, and payments have soared. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Mass., threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds.
“If you’re hit by ransomware today, you have only two options: You either pay the criminals or you lose your data,” said Raj Samani, chief technical officer at Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We underestimated the scale of the issue.”
Hackers often send out email with tainted hyperlinks to broad targets, say, an entire company. All it takes is one computer user in a company to click on the infected link to allow hackers to get a foothold in the broader network, leading to hostile encryption.
“At least one employee will click on anything,” said Robert Gibbons, chief technology officer at Datto, a Connecticut company that offers digital disaster recovery services.
Law enforcement counsels U.S. businesses not to succumb to ransom demands, urging them to keep backup copies of their data in case of hostile encryption.
“The official FBI policy is that you shouldn’t pay the ransom,” said Leo Taddeo, chief security officer for Crypt-zone, a Waltham, Mass., company that provides network security. Until 2015, Taddeo ran the cyber division of the FBI’s New York City office.
But practical considerations increasingly are dictating a different approach. “It’s an option to pay the ransom to get back up and running. Sometimes it’s the only option,” Taddeo said.
“But it has downsides,” he added. “Paying ransom just invites the next attack.”
Moreover, 1 in 4 companies that pay ransoms never get their files restored, Gibbons said.
The idea of rewarding extortionists with payment makes some technologists see red.
“That makes me super mad,” said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason, a Boston-area cybersecurity company. “There are things that are unacceptable, and we need to fight them.”
Div and his company have done something about the extortion epidemic. They built a product called RansomFree that claims to detect 99 percent of all ransomware strains.
So far, the free software has been downloaded 125,000 times, the company says.
As extortionists get more sophisticated, researchers say, they are modifying their malicious code, their infection strategies and the way they collect payments.
Once they weasel their way into your network, they now take a look around.
“They’ll actually explore your system to see how much money they can squeeze from you,” said Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection at Recorded Future.
And they won’t offer any sympathy, no matter how valuable the encrypted data, even if lives are at stake, say, in a health care network. They may even say they are doing nothing evil.
“They actually think they are on the moral high ground. They think the companies should have paid more for security,” said Barysevich, who spoke at a presentation this week at the annual RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco, which bills itself as the world’s leading gathering of cybersecurity specialists.
One of the reasons midsize and large companies are storing bitcoin for emergency use is that extortionists, once they succeed at penetrating a system, commonly give a deadline for payment before destroying data. But victims can’t rush out and buy bitcoin in a day or two.
“It takes at times a week for (brokers) to process you,” Barysevich said.
Setting up the wallet ahead of time, Pogue said, allows businesses an option that is quick, although perhaps repugnant.
“If they need to go to it, they are not spinning their wheels standing up a bitcoin wallet,” Pogue said.
2017 The Star Democrat under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
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Spooked by Cyber Extortion Spike, Businesses Stockpile Bitcoin – NewsFactor Network
Posted: at 2:54 pm
Its been a volatile year so far for bitcoin. The value of the cryptocurrency jumped 20 percent in the first trading week of the year to a record high of $1,161 per virtual coin. Its value then plunged by more than a third over seven days, to $750, before climbing back up to top $1,200 on Friday.
Traders said the main cause of this roller coaster ride has been China, where the countrys central bank put domestic bitcoin exchanges on notice early last month that they needed to do more to tighten foreign exchange controls. China has been trying to curb the practice of using bitcoin to circumvent rules limiting the amount of money Chinese mainlanders can send abroad, which is currently capped at $50,000 a year.
This capital flight has caused a drop in the value of the renminbi and Chinese regulators have connected the dots between last years drop in the value of the countrys currency and a corresponding rise in the value of bitcoin. Bitcoin bought in renminbi accounted for a staggering 98 percent of all bitcoin trading activity in the last six months of 2016, according to bitcoinity.org.
Eager to convert the Chinese currency into a more stable global currency and stash that wealth abroad, many Chinese mainlanders have been buying bitcoin locally in renminbi and then, using bitcoins blockchain technology, which allows users to safely transmit bitcoin through the Internet, theyre sending bitcoin to other countries where recipients (family members, friends or other contacts) convert bitcoin back into a local currency which can then be used to make investments outside of the country.
But why isnt China simply clamping down hard on the whole bitcoin thing?
You have a government that likes to retain control, and bitcoin is a decentralized currency outside of the control of any nation-state, Christopher Burniske, blockchain products analyst at New York-based ARK Investment Management, told Salon. So that right there is a bit threatening, but at the same time China is working to be recognized as a global leader in technology and economics and the political fallout from outright banning or confiscating bitcoin is arguably too great.
Burniske said China may have other motives for not taking a hardline stance, such as working to develop its own form of digital currency, informally known as ChinaCoin. Early last year, the countrys central banksaid it was mulling a rollout of its own digital currency.
Theamount of bitcoin bought using the Chinese yuan has plummeted to less than 5 percent this week, thank to efforts by domestic exchanges to cool bitcoin trading activity with a one-month ban on making withdrawals and per-transaction fees that went into effect this month. Traders expect Chinas central bank to eventually impose regulations on local bitcoin trading, too, which helped to push the price of bitcoin down. Currently the market is unregulated in China, but traditional financial institutions are barred from dealing in bitcoin.
With so much less bitcoin trading activity from mainland China, why has the value of the currency bounced back to a record high?
Some of it has to do with traders betting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will approve at least one of three proposed exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin trading before a March 11 deadline. Though its uncertain whetherU.S. regulators would actually allow trading securities based on the fluctuation in the value of bitcoin, some less cautious investors are buying bitcoin hoping the value will jump after an announcement is made. The other reason is that bitcoin has become a alternative safe-harbor investment, like gold or U.S. Treasury bonds. U.S. inflation is expected to rise this year and bitcoin is being used by some to hedge against a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar. Global political uncertainty may also be playing a role.
Whatever the case may be, bitcoins quick rebound from the China scare could be a sign that the cryptocurrency is becoming more mainstream, according to Burniske, being used more frequently to buy goods and services from merchants that accept it.
This is a sign of global traction for bitcoin, he said. You now have more bitcoin being transacted as a means of exchange than traded as astore of value. Im seeing this as a positive indication of bitcoins globally distributed support, that its not as reliant on China as many people believed it was just a few months ago.
Posted: February 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm
Is there an alternative, profound French phrase or two that can describe what investors have seen this week with bitcoin? Because dj vu no longer seems to cut it.
Bitcoin is quickly headed toward fresh three-year highs after jumping up over $100 in value since last weeks tracker. After breaking through the $1,000 mark (again) at the beginning of February, bitcoin decided to stick around.
Though the cryptocurrency flirted with higher numbers, bitcoin mostly settled just above or below $1,000 for the first half of the month likely while investors waited to see how the whole Chinese exchange investigation storyline would pan out.
But now that the major exchanges have halted withdrawals for upgrades and it appears, at least for now, that no catastrophic changes to the crypto-status quo are coming from the PBoC its off to the races once again.
First, bitcoin has managed to stay above $1,000 for a record 10 days, leading some to speculate that the cryptocurrency could be developing a new, $1,000 price floor though it may still be too early to tell. The rise in value is likely due to speculation that the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will, in fact, receive approval from the SEC.
On Thursday (Feb. 23) morning, bitcoin had broken $1,150 in value, reaching a high of $1,153.04. At the time of writing, bitcoins price sat at $1,149 even, up 2.39 percent over Wednesdays close. The bitcoin market cap was over $18.5 billion. The cryptocurrencys maximum value, reached on Nov. 30, 2013, was $1,165.89, according to CoinDesk.
In stateside bitcoin news, Coinsource, the largest network of bitcoin ATMs in the U.S., recently announced the placement of three new machines in St. Louis, Missouri, the companys first foray into the Midwestern market.
Including the three new machines, Coinsource now has 80 machines in nine U.S. states up from 73 when PYMNTS interviewed CMO Bobby Sharp this past December. Founded in Feb. 2015, Coinsource debuted its first kiosk in the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas.
Coinsource CEO Sheffield Clark saidthe company hopes to have 100 machines installed in the U.S. by the end of Q1, adding: In 2016, we were installing bitcoin ATMs at an average of 1.2 machines per week. We hope to double that this year.
Locations on the radar for new Coinsource ATMs in 2017, according to Sharp, included in Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis.
By the end of 2017, I think we could potentially be in 1520 states, Sharp said. Possibly even a couple of other continents by 2018. We definitely have some company goals to explore outside the United States.
In addition to expanding into new markets, Coinsource has made it a goal to augment the functionality of its current and new machines in 2017. The company is looking to add more financial services and platforms, as well as to increase the number of two-way machines nationwide.
In the international market, the past few weeks have also seen a number of propositions and efforts by various global governments, financial regulatory bodies and other organizations to work toward bitcoin regulation.
The big news as of late has come out of the Philippines after the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), announced itwould actively regulate the bitcoin industry as a means to combat money laundering and terrorist financing schemes.
Earlier this month, the BSP published guidelines for entities that offer exchange services, including a registration requirement with both BSP and the nations anti-money laundering organization. Bitcoin exchanges will also be subject to annual fee services.
While not an endorsement of cryptocurrency by any means, the move is a step forward in the country of nearly 100 millionand could work to combat the seedier elements at work in the bitcoin ecosystem, while protecting consumers and increasing financial stability for citizens using the digital currency for legal payments and remittances.
Last month, the central bank and government of the United Arab Emirates had drawn up regulatory frameworks for FinTech and digital payments at large.
Additionally, The Cointelegraph reported that government officials and political leaders have also come together to discuss the potential of bitcoin and blockchain technologies for the future of the financial industry and ecosystem in the UAE.
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Bitcoin Tracker: Up, Up And Away? – PYMNTS.com
Posted: at 5:57 pm
Keeping bitcoin funds safe can be quite a challenge, especially for people who are new to the cryptocurrency world. There are several types of solutions to create a paper wallet, which make the process a bit easier. Do keep in mind that using single keys for anything but one-time paper wallet transfers is discouraged due to security concerns. Below are four paper wallet generation solutions which are all worth checking out.
Although very few people may know this app exists, it is an open-source tool that offers quite a few intriguing functions. One of those features includesprinting a bitcoin addresses as a paper wallet. It is worth noting this project was created by Casascius, the same person who introduced the most popular physical bitcoins to the world many years ago. It is also capable of creating private keys for brainwallets, which may be of use to some.
One of the oldest tools to be created as part of the bitcoin world goes by the name of CWallet. It allows users to easily and securely create paper wallets, although it is only compatible with the Pirate Linux live disc. The choice for that particular OS is not random, as Pirate Linux is based on Gentoo, the most secure operating system according to many experts. Keeping information secure while generating a paper wallet is of the utmost importance.
Unlike some other solutions, CWallet does not require a web browser to generate said paper wallet. Instead, it uses the graphic or command-line interface to create the wallet using real random numbers. Moreover, the tool ensures all printed data isnt corrupted and not tampered with. It is a very secure paper wallet solution, that much is certain.
The Bitcoin Paper Wallet site is one of the most convenient ways to generate a secure storage solution for cryptocurrency. The site lets users generate a wallet through the browser and print it afterward. Moreover, the owner sells tamper-evident stickers to ensure private keys are safe from harm and misuse. Its custom designs make this platform one of the most popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Plus, these paper wallets also make for excellent gifts, which is an added bonus.
When it comes to security, look no further thanVanityGen. Although this software is primarily used to generate vanity bitcoin wallet addresses, it can also be used to generate a secure paper wallet. Vanitygen accepts patterns or a list of patterns as input. It then produces multiple addresses and private keys based on this input. More complex patterns will require more time to generate. Using a complicated pattern may not be the best idea to generate appear wallet, though.
To generate a paper wallet, one could put Vanitygen on a USB stick and run it on a computer not connected to the internet. It is by far the most secure solution for this type of purpose, which still leaves room for customization. Generating a custom vanity wallet address can be a bit time-consuming, but it could be worth the effort to some cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
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Posted: February 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm
Bitcoin continues to advance like a rising river which slowly but surely overcomes each obstacle in its path. Indeed, while it is surprising that the advance has not yet taken on a greed-fueled vertical ascent, the tepid and fearful, but relentless, advance has served it well. Advances can continue longer when they assume a more measured climb.
As these words are being typed, the asset has stumbled after hitting a 5th arc on a 4-hour chart. That is not surprising. The surprise will be when/if the 5th arc folds before continued buying pressure, like so many resistance points before it, over the past few weeks. Usually, I view 5th arcs as points to expect a reversal. But somehow, I feel it more likely that the arc will yield over the next several hours. Time will tell.
Still however, it is an axiom of this business that corrections must come sooner or later, even if they are just small ones. The age-old question looms: When and where will the next (relatively) significant one occur?
Obviously I cant say for a certainty where or when. But I can see where the sweet spots on the charts are points to watch. And there is a point that stands out as place to watch carefully.
There are 3 points that intersect on the chart above. The top of the 5th square, a 0.5 pitchfork line, and an energetic point in time on the 26th. I realize that the term energetic point in time sounds ridiculous to those not steeped in the esoteric. But they exist, for whatever the reason. WD Gann made millions in a time when a good house sold for $5000, utilizing esoterica far more bizarre than that.
The 3 points meet on 2/26, at a price ~ $1215. While I dont think that this will mark a long-term top, it is a likely a good place to take profits, and wait to see what happens next, if pricetime gets to that place. We will see
Remember: The author is a trader who is subject to all manner of error in judgement. Do your own research, and be prepared to take full responsibility for your own trades.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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Bitcoin is Challenging the All-Time High – CryptoCoinsNews
Posted: February 22, 2017 at 3:52 am
If You Traded Bitcoin, You Should Report Capital Gains To The IRS
The IRS considers cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, to be intangible property. Investors and traders holding cryptocurrency as a capital asset should use capital gain or loss tax treatment on sales and exchanges, with the realization method. For …
BitCoin For Weed Could Revolutionize The Entire Industry
Bitcoin Plus The new up and comer of cryptocurrency
Posted: at 3:52 am
The price of a single bitcoin leapt to its highest level in more than three years on Tuesday, as traders bought up coins in anticipation of the Securities and Exchange Commissions ruling on a proposed bitcoin exchange-traded fund.
One bitcoin US:BTCUSD went for as much as $1,105.48 on Tuesday, its highest level since December 2013, according to data from Coin Market Cap.
Both Amith B. Nirgunarthy, director of marketing & HNW Partnerships at Bitcoin IRA, and Chris Dannen, a founding partner at Iterative Instinct, a small New York-based private-equity fund that trades crypto-assets, said investors are attempting to so-called front-run the SECs decision on the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF. Front-running refers to buying an asset with the expectation of a larger buyer, or group of buyers, expected to come to push prices higher.
In this case, the SEC is expected to deliver its final decision on the trust by March 11. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who were famously portrayed by actor Armie Hammer in the hit movie The Social Network, first filed for creation of the ETF back in 2013. If approved, it will trade on the BATS exchange and could support prices of bitcoin.
This is probably front-running for a potential Winklevoss ETF, Nirgunarthy said.
To be sure, even if the Winklevoss ETF isnt approved, a Japanese law that introduces a regulatory framework for bitcoin is set to take effect in April, potentially leading to an influx of institutional money from that country, Dannen said.
There will be a lot of fresh fish out there next month, either way the [SEC] decision goes, Dannen said.
Read: And 2016s best-performing commodity isbitcoin?
Read: Path to Bitcoin ETF still uncertain but may be easier under Trump
Read: Bitcoin hits milestone of $1,000 as 2017 begins
Competition to launch what would be the first exchange-traded bitcoin fund has intensified in recent months. Back in January, Grayscale, the creator of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust GBTC, +2.78% filed to list shares of the trust on the New York Stock Exchange. It presently trades over the counter, with a large premium over its relative net-asset value in bitcoin. In January, the SEC delayed its decision on a third fund, the SolidX Bitcoin Trust, which would also trade on the NYSE.
Resurgent trading volume in China, which was, until recently, bitcoins largest market, has also helped to support the price, Nirgunarthy said.
Since the beginning of the year, Chinas largest bitcoin exchanges have imposed new transaction fees and halted customer withdrawals while they upgrade their antimoney laundering systems. These decisions, undertaken in response to stepped-up scrutiny from the Peoples Bank of China, initially caused trading volume in the country to plummet.
The bitcoin price more than doubled in 2016 as Chinese investors sought ways to protect their wealth from a depreciating yuan. Crackdowns on cash in India and Venezuela also helped support the digital currencys ascent, Dannen said.
Spencer Bogart, a bitcoin analyst at Needham & Co., doubts the SEC will approve a bitcoin ETF. However, if it does, it could lead to as much as $300 million in institutional money entering the bitcoin market during the first week alone.
This would likely have an outsize impact on the price of a single coin, he said.
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Bitcoin prices touch fresh 3-year high – MarketWatch
Posted: February 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm
Even thoughthere are fewer bitcoin mining pools supporting Bitcoin Unlimited compared to SegWit, it would seem both solutions have virtually the same level of overall network support. With a total of six pools supporting BUright now, it is evident there is still a long way to go before this solution is activated on the network. That being said, this alternative branch of development is off to a good start, all things considered.
The newly launched Canoepool signals support for Bitcoin Unlimited right out of the gate. That is not unusual, albeit it would seem this pool is dealing with some controversy. Many people believe it is operated by the ViaBTC team in an effort to fake Bitcoin Unlimited mining decentralization. For now, Canoe represents a minuscule portion of the BU support.
One of the oldest mining pools in the world of bitcoin is trying to keep an open mind. Slush pool has different servers for both SegWit and Unlimited support, giving their miners all of the choices they need. Right now, Slush is the second-smallest Unlimited mining pool, although they are a valuable addition to the list.
While most people know the Bitcoin.com domain for other reasons, the team is also running a dedicated Bitcoin Unlimited mining pool. It was one of the first of its kind to support BU, yet has been overtaken in size by three others ever since. Nearly 10% of all BU blocks are mined by this pool, making them an invaluable pillar of the Unlimited ecosystem.
While most people may have never heard of the BTC.top mining pool, it is the third-largest pool supporting Bitcoin Unlimited. No one knows for sure who runs this pool, even though many believe the Antpool team is behind this project. That has not been proven to be either wrong or right up until this point. Either way, BTC.top is generating one in four BU blocks on the network right now. An intriguing pool to keep an eye on, that much is certain.
It has to be said, the GBMiners pool quickly limbed the Bitcoin Unlimited support ranks and is currently the second-largest mining pool on the list. It is good to see some of these pools gain such a large market stake, albeit it does not necessarily benefit decentralization in the long run. Then again, Bitcoin Unlimited is till in the early stages of gaining support right now.
No one will deny ViaBTC has taken the world by storm, as they are the leadingBitcoin Unlimited mining pool right now. Looking back over the BU blocks mined over the past seven days, ViaBTC is responsible for generating roughly 35% of all blocks. They are a vital part of BUs chance of success right now, although for nowit remains unclear if this scalability solution will activate anytime soon on the network.
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Posted: at 6:51 pm
A recent article by Yves Lamoureux states that Bitcoin price is going to hit $25,000 in the future. Read more…
Bitcoin is known for its volatile nature, which allows people to come up with their own predictions based on their observations, analysis or even guesswork at times. There are many occasions where Bitcoin has been declared dead (121 times according to Bitcoin Obituaries), but each time cryptocurrency has proven them all wrong.
Yves Lamoureux, the president of a market research firm Lamoureux & Co., has recently published an article where he has predicted the digital currencys price to hit $25,000. The prediction sounds sweet yet unbelievable. However, Yves goes on to explain his reasoning behind the forecast.
According to Yves, the prediction is not some guesswork but has a firm mathematical basis. For starters, the finite supply of Bitcoin, capped at 21 million tokens prevents the value of Bitcoin from diluting. He reiterates the familiar comparison between gold and bitcoin.
Gold is one of the most trusted assets out there. People love to invest their money in gold to prevent its value from getting diluted with time. This way, they can conserve the purchasing power of their money even in the future. The same can be applied to Bitcoin as well, and the growing demand for blockchain technology across industries is going to provide further credence to the digital currency.
The article states that like housing, tech stocks, etc., there is a need for increased public participation for any new asset to gain significant traction. The present-day numbers of Bitcoin traders indicate that the digital currency is going the right way at the moment.
In the article Yves states,
People trade today as they did last year, as they did 100 years ago. The psychology remains the same. Behavior does not change. Provide the same set of incentives throughout time, and the Pavlovian bell rings the same.
Even though Bitcoins price is predicted to hit $25,000, it is not going to happen right away. Before the cryptocurrencys price reaches that point, the digital currency will have to overcome the current skepticism and the inevitable pressure from the government and regulators.
While the prediction of Bitcoin price reaching $25,000 sounds plausible, it has its own challenges, including the scalability issue currently being faced by the network. If all goes well, the Bitcoin community is going to have a great time looking at their investment grow multiple folds.