Browsing Tag

Bitcoin

cryptocurrencies,

Off-Grid Bitcoin Transactions Are Getting Traction

You need to just peep in our blog to realize we take crypto security seriously. We often tend to discuss interesting and intriguing topics such as exchange hacks, wallet hacks, cryptojacking, and virtually all things crypto. Today we are not doing that. Or at least we’ll do our best not to. Today we are going to talk about a guy from New Zealand who managed to conduct a Bitcoin transaction without using the web and without plugging to the grid. Are you getting curious?

So how does the magic happen?

Yeah, you’ve read it right no internet, no electricity, Bitcoin transaction made possible. An extra creative dude from New Zealand used low-cost equipment to send Bitcoin more than 12km away.

 

His hardware included four goTennas and a cheap $30 Android phone. GoTennas are tiny devices that the adventurers among you are familiar with. They pair with smartphones via Bluetooth and can send data between each other with the help of the old-school radio waves. The problem is that goTennas work best in the outdoor, thus limiting off grid transactions to vast areas or the next Zombie Apocalypse.

Coinsure (that’s the dev) placed the antennas six kilometers in higher ground. He then put Samourai wallet in action to generate and verify his Bitcoin transaction. The goTenna messaging platform successfully recorded it as a message and transferred it to the smartphone of the dev’s girlfriend (sorry girls, that clever dude is not single).

As simple as it sounds, off-grid transactions have the potential to completely transform the way we think about communication and obviously, cryptocurrency. Just imagine that governments fail to properly regulate the industry and decide to ban digital assets worldwide. We can practically migrate to off-chain/grid/web/whatever transactions and run an independent network. As far-fetched as it sounds, we should explore this opportunity and develop and off-grid ecosystem that can handle large-scale transfers.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Though I cannot help but ask “How do you secure goTennas?”.

security,

How To Protect Your Cryptocurrency In 1 Single Step

If you haven’t noticed so far we are often bitchin’ about security here. And while there are some things that are out of your control (like hacker’s attacks), others are up to you. For example, talking about how much Bitcoins you own is a bad idea. Doing this in public is even worse because you can easily drag the attention of any fraudsters nearby. Your bragging is music to their ears as they start to see you as a target.

In case you don’t believe us, consider this – a Google executive who specializes in fighting email frauds recently discussed the matter in a chat with CNBC. Mark Risher explained that people who like to talk about their cryptocurrency fortunes in public often fall victims to email hack attempts.

“It could just be a case of mistaken identity or guilt by association,” he said, adding that cybercriminals can easily find your email. He explained that they often monitor social media accounts and target people who are smart enough to reveal they own some tokens.

“They could be using someone who seems to be low value to pivot toward somebody considered a higher value target, like somebody political in nature. Or maybe they saw that you were discussing Bitcoin on a public message board.”

Another bad idea is to use one and the same email address to both log in to social media and back up your cryptocurrency wallet. It is a piece of cake to check somebody’s email on Facebook and then hack it, reset its password and do some other nasties.

Fraudsters are getting smarter

While you are unlikely to fall for the ancient “Nigerian Prince” scam (we hope so) the bad boys often do their research pretty well before contacting you. They might be impersonating someone you know and trust.

“You might think of this generic ‘Dear Sir or Madam, I am contacting you to ask you for a favor,’ but the truth is many of these attackers have done some serious research on their victims. So you might get what we call ‘social truth’ in your message,” Risher adds.

The point here is, don’t talk about crypto. Neither in public nor in social media. Use several email addresses and pay extra caution when dealing with those connected to financial services. Level up your passwords and pins to further enhance your protection.

security,

Crypto Thefts In Japan Triple In H1 2018

According to the Japanese media The Asahi Shimbun, the number of cryptocurrency thefts has tripled over the first half of 2018. Japan is one of the leading crypto markets but it looks like it has a hard time keeping cybercriminals away. The National Police Agency (NPA) reports that compared to the same period last year, the number of hacks has grown immensely.

In 2017, the authorities have registered less than 60 cases, while this year they are 158 and counting. Unsurprisingly, Bitcoin leads the race. The number one cryptocurrency seems to be the most targeted  as it was the prime subject of the attacks 94 times. Bitcoin thefts amount to 860 million yen stolen. Second comes Ripple’s XRP, which was targeted 42 times. The bad guys have snatched 1.52 billion yen worth of XRP in the first six months of the year. Surprisingly, Ethereum was the prime target in just 14 cases, which however result in 60 million yen losses.

Of course, tens of altcoins have been compromised as well. NEM (XEM) for example made the news during the infamous Coincheck hack.

“More than 60 percent of all cases, or 102 incidents, involved individuals who used the same ID and password for their e-mail account and other Internet services, such as online shopping, for cryptocurrency dealings,” read the police report.

In total, the Japanese market has lost over 60.50 billion yen (roughly $540 million) in the first half of 2018. In contrast, for the same period last year, the cyber thieves have stolen a mere $5.5 million. We should note, however, that since the Coincheck wrongdoing the officials introduced stricter regulations. The NPA is monitoring whether exchanges comply with KYC and AML policies, while the Financial Services Agency has investigated many of the domestic exchanges.

Though in general, the number of crypto thefts declined after March, the culprits still managed to steal $60 million from Zaif earlier this week.

 

cryptocurrencies,

Why 2018 Is Not The Year Of The Bitcoin?

When Bitcoin was just shy of $20,000 in December 2017 everyone was shouting “To the MOON”. However, the events took rather a different turn and large portion of the crypto fortune got wiped off within days. It’s not that experienced crypto traders hadn’t seen the market crash before. 2018 is different because everyone had great expectations and had their pink sunglasses on.

Say that back in December it wasn’t just like that. If somebody had told me then that the crypto market will enter a downward spiral and will crash literally twice a month, I would have laughed my ass off. Well, karma is a bitch they say it this might actually be the truth. But what on earth happened? What got us begging for mercy? Why even the greatest opponents of crypto regulation now deemed it Bitcoin’s last chance? There are certainly many factors that played a role and I might possibly not cover all of them in this article but here are they anyway:

The Immense Hype

Yes, when the market is flourishing and the prices are surging nobody believes things might go the other way. The positive trend kept in November and December and that short two-month period got our perception of reality blurred. What am I talking about? Well, when your parents start talking about viral technology/financial/supposedly revolutionary things, then you know the topic has outgrown itself. I’m talking overhype here. It created the illusion that virtually everyone can become a millionaire overnight. There were people getting loans just to invest some cash in “the next Bitcoin”. Does that ring a bell? Sorry, but overhyping things usually leads to their demise. We collectively pumped the balloon and it eventually burst.

Scams, frauds, and swindles

Fraudster and criminals of all kinds exist since the dawn of humanity and they are capable of doing anything just to get your cash in their pockets. Yes, the crypto world makes no exception. Do you know how much money cyber culprits have snatched from January to June this year? More than $1.1 billion. These include exit-scams, phishing scams, crypto blackmails, physical crypto thefts, exchanges hacks and whatever you can think of. See, the crypto world is by no means a safe place and it’s not even necessary to see the market crashing to lose your investments.

Where are the authorities?

Scams lead us to my next point. The governments are willing to intervene for a variety of reasons – they want to regulate the space and eventually protect victims, solve disputes and so on. Another crucial pain point for the officials is that currently, cryptocurrencies are a great tool to launder money and finance crime organizations. Obviously, it wouldn’t have been that easier for criminals to do so if there were proper regulatory frameworks. Lack of regulation makes tokens volatile apart from just scaring the sh*t out of investors. Especially institutional ones.

Where do we spend cryptos?

Ok, I get it. There are retailers and merchants that do accept cryptocurrency payments. However, ask your uncle to name of few. See, if only crypto geeks know who they are there is no real cryptocurrency adoption. Since we cannot spend digital currencies the way we spend fiat, cryptocurrencies become illiquid. It’s like you have a vault with $10k in it but you don’t have the key. No one would enjoy that. Period. If you are still interested what are your spending options, click right here.

Crypto mining monopoly

Just like cryptocurrency trade, cryptocurrency mining can be very profitable. However, the more time passes by, the harder it gets to mine through a regular hardware. That’s why hardware manufacturers are cashing on the trend by producing ASIC machines, which are specifically designed to mine certain cryptocurrencies. The current industry behemoth is Chinese-based Bitmain. And guess what, it accounts for 85% of the mining rigs sales worldwide. Moreover, its devices don’t come cheap, which means not everyone can afford them. Some say this centralizes the hash power in the hands of the rich. What do you think? Are cryptocurrencies really setting us free from the current financial system? Think twice, it’s alright! Yeah monopoly, really drives off early crypto supporters.

Some of the above-mentioned factors you can control and some you cannot. The good news is that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. However, before we see all their promises come to life, we really have to learn to think in the long-term.

security,

Monero GUI Wallet Now Offers Ledger Support

Most recently, the team behind Monero GUI wallet announced an update, which pleasantly surprised the Monero community. The new Version 0.12.3.0 offers Ledger support.

Monero has always stood out as privacy and security-oriented token but this time the development team really outdid itself. In fact, Monero has perhaps the most dedicated community and that dedication is often paid off. Without creating any unnecessary hype, the developing team silently builds a sustainable ecosystem.

These tactics over put Monero in the shadows and regular updates often go unnoticed. However, the last Monero GUI wallet release was difficult to miss. The most important update is definitely the one which allows for a native Ledger wallet support. The fact that the hardware wallet now integrates easily with Monero is a win-win situation. The cold wallet manufacturer adds a trusted token, while the Monero lovers get a chance to fully reap the benefits of Ledger’s hardware wallet.

GUI wallet users are now able to open Monero Ledger wallet within GUI itself. However, this is only possible if the user has connected a physical Ledger wallet to their computer. This further adds to the security offered by Ledger. Furthermore, this is not the only update GUI wallet comes with. The user interface is slightly adjusted as well as some minor bugs apparent in previous versions.

Unsurprisingly, one Redditor wrote:

“The professionalism and passion of this dev team continues to astound me. Well done!!!”

The price of Bitcoin may define the whole market and the unmatchable diversity of the Ethereum ecosystem may make or break the industry but it’s really projects like Monero that bring something special to the cryptocurrency world. It is fascinating to see how Monero evolves over time. We have to say that the team has really upped its game with the integrated Ledger wallet support.

More on Ledger, here.

security,

Secure Your Recovery Seeds With Crypto Key Stack

Last time we discussed how important recovery seeds really are. Earlier this year we also outlined the best practices when it comes to storing your recovery seed. Since everybody knows that the best way to store such confidential information is to put it offline, we’ve decided to show you one of the best products on the market that can help you do just that.

Of course, you can always write your seed on a piece of paper and lock it somewhere safe but water, fire, and even sunlight can destroy the paper, leaving you with empty hands. What I’m talking about is – Crypto Key Stack.

Crypto Key Stack is the perfect cold storage for your cryptocurrencies. Simply said, you get a stainless steel plate that can store up to 24-word mnemonic phrases. Ideal for backing up you hardware wallet or MetaMask. Since the team behind this revolutionary stack take security very seriously, they ask you to engrave your back up phrase by hand. When you purchase Crypto Key Stack you get one, three or ten stainless steel plates plus personal electric engraver. This way you can safely write your recovery seed at the comfort of your home, without having to worry that you might expose your backup phrase to someone else.

Why Crypto Key Stack?

Because it is manufactured out of black anodized stainless steel. Or simply said the black finish offers enhanced visibility once you engrave your precious words. Additionally, stainless steel is so durable that neither water nor fire can damage it. First of all, even fire above 2100o F (1150oC) cannot destroy it. This temperature is two times higher than the average temperature of house fires. Even if you store Crypto Key Stack in your wet basement it won’t get rusty and unusable because it’s made out of stainless steel, remember?

You can personalize your stack by purchasing additional plates (up to ten in one stack) or get plates featuring the logos of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

GET YOUR INDESTRUCTIBLE CRYPTO KEY STACK NOW!

cryptocurrencies,

What If The Cryptocurrency Bubble Bursts?

Financial analysts have long been saying that the cryptocurrency space is in a bubble-like state. Though I fiercely refused to accept their point of view last year, today I am more on their side. In fact, I really hope the bubble bursts.

No, I am not against cryptocurrencies. However, this year we can clearly see that there is something very wrong in the world of crypto finance. Apart from the long list of illicit activities that happen on a daily basis, it is obvious that the interest in digital assets has changed. The investors have changed and the attitude has changed as well. In my opinion, the sooner the bubble bursts the better for the whole cryptocurrency space.

“I want it all and I want it now”

This attitude killed the noble ideas of Satoshi Nakamoto. Cryptocurrencies emerged because they had to. Nakamoto intended to set us free from the corrupt financial system but instead, the crypto community thwarted that by speculating. Yes, I do believe that price speculation destroyed the crypto world. Instead of being independent we turned into robots which buy and sell thousands of worthless coins in an effort to bring something home. If you are still missing the point, the business side of crypto trade is bad for the market in general.

Why the bubble has to burst?

You know the answer to this question – there are way too many tokens, most of which are totally useless. In fact, there are at least 800 dead coins, according to DeadCoins.com.  What does this mean? I mean, everyone is trying to cash in on the crypto trend – developers, average Joes that know nothing of stock trading, digital assets or finance in general, fraudsters, ICO issuers, and most recently – institutional investors.

Let’s face it, the technologies underpinning cryptocurrencies are far from perfect. When something in its infancy draws so much attention and sucks up so much money somehow everyone forgets that it needs tons of improvement. What I am trying to say is, investors and traders are unconsciously forcing the events. The hype is poisoning the crypto environment because it paints a false picture that cryptocurrencies are ready to conquer the world, which they obviously aren’t.

On the other hand, when the bubble bursts we will have a more realistic point of view. Furthermore, all these shitcoins will disappear once and for all, which in turn will strengthen and consolidate the market. Indeed it would be much wiser to use a couple of well-developed tokens that have real-life use cases, that have no scalability issues and which operate under well-thought regulatory frameworks.

In conclusion

It is for the sake of cryptocurrencies to understand that we need to get rid of all these tokens that have no other use apart from speculation. Cryptocurrencies have to make our lives easier, not harder. However, at the moment it’s the opposite. We fail to justify the existence of each and every token, we fail to achieve worldwide adoption, and we even fail to have a clear stance on them. In contrast, a bubble burst will serve just like hitting the restart button. We will have the opportunity to start anew. After all, once the dot-com bubble exploded it didn’t destroy the internet but rather made internet projects more focused.

cryptocurrencies,

Cryptocurrency Regulation Won’t Be The End Of Bitcoin

The world of crypto finance is rapidly evolving and what worked yesterday is outdated tomorrow. Everything is changing so fast that it is hard to tell what is right for the crypto market and what is not. Not only does the market surges and drops a hundred times per day but the investors change by the hour. We see millions and billions raised through initial coin offerings, we see projects fading away, we see institutional investors stepping in, and even the authorities have their eyes set on the crypto world these days.

For years Bitcoin remained on the sidelines. Only a few hundred tech-savvies knew what it is and how it works. Until last year, cryptocurrencies were only for the geeks. However, their prices started to move upwards and this drew the attention of many people how wouldn’t have otherwise been involved in technology or stock trading. The more average Joes joined the party, the higher the prices went. Though this unexpected growth was crucial to the technological development of blockchains we refrain to say it necessarily did well to the sector. Mainly because many people decided to run fake projects just to squeeze some cash from their naïve supporters. Yes, exit-scams are perhaps the single most important thing that made the authorities crack on cryptocurrency projects.

Point of no return

Let’s face it, the authorities are going to regulate the sector sooner or later. The question is, how do we make the most of it? Bitcoin was originally created with noble intentions such as freedom and independence. However, thanks to dark web vendors, cybercriminals, hackers, exit-scamsters, and money launderers Bitcoin and especially privacy-oriented tokens like Monero, Zcash, and DASH are mainly associated with illicit activities.

How do we clear the image of cryptocurrencies then? Well, one way is to try to educate people who are new to them. Check our survival guide, for real-life examples. The other way is to regulate the space. By designing proper regulatory frameworks the authorities can cut down fake projects without completely destroying the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies.

Think about it for a second, we can stop hacking or at least diminish it if we all migrate to decentralized exchanges. Let’s assume both blockchain experts and lawyers participated in their creation. What if smart contracts have legal bindings as well? I am pretty sure, if someone tries to deceive a smart contract it can automatically reveal his identity. In such case, the officials will know who tried to cheat. Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all, we all think hackers deserve prosecution.

What about the regulators?

Don’t get us wrong, we are in no way supporting centralization. However, the crypto world needs regulation either from the authorities or from its strong community. Otherwise, it will bury itself. Come on, Bitcoin wasn’t meant to launder money or to finance criminal organizations. It was meant to serve the ordinary men. We should stick to that when designing regulatory frameworks. No, it wasn’t meant to make you quick-rich either, it’s not about money all the time. Think about independence and proper governance instead, think about mainstream adoption and real-life use cases.

Of course, those who will be in charge of the changes should be under the strict surveillance of the community. Did you know that Zcash, which usually recognizes itself as a privacy-oriented token is not prioritizing ASIC resistance anymore? Why do you think its governance panel voted against ASIC resistance? We dare to say it is because many members of the crypto community had forgotten why cryptocurrencies emerged in the first place.

cryptocurrencies,

How To Act When Someone Says “Bitcoin Has No Value” During A Family Dinner

We all know how it feels sitting around the dinner table with your family. Everything is just perfect. You are all happy to see each other during these family gatherings. Then all of a sudden someone drops “Bitcoin” and everyone turns their eyes towards you. If you are lucky enough they will just ask you what are these cryptocurrencies, what the hype is all about and so on. Unfortunately, some of us draw the short straw. In this case, you hear some of the elders saying “This is total sh*t! You can’t spend these imaginary tokens, can you?”

Well, we’ve been there and it hurts. That’s why we decided to wrap up a short survival guide for those of you having to defend yourself for being a crypto enthusiast. Of course, you can just try to shut skeptics’ mouths by telling them they don’t understand the complex technology behind cryptocurrencies but, believe me, it won’t do the trick. You will just add fuel to the fire and the chances are you’ll lose your ground. On the other hand, being prepared with an appropriate answer will do you good as you won’t sound like an angry teenager.

Real-life use cases

In reality, you can use your tokens for practically everything. But first things first, you have to eat something right? The easiest thing you can do is search in Coinmap for venues near you that accept Bitcoins. What about grocery stores that do not accept cryptos? You can indirectly spend your cryptos there as well. Here is how – gift and prepaid card vendors such as Gyft and eGifter accept Bitcoin as a payment method, so the only thing you have to do is purchase the cards you need and then spend them in brick-and-mortar stores. Easy-peasy. Not only that, but you can actually make a gift to the crypto skeptic you are talking to by giving him a prepaid card. They’ll love it, I bet my…

Now that you’ve done the first step, the others are listening as well. You’ve made a proper answer to a person who doesn’t know a thing about digital currencies. You’ve just proven him wrong once, which means you can do it again. If they ask you whether you can travel on cryptos, you know the right answer, you can. There are many online platforms where you can instantly book and buy flights with your beloved Bitcoins. BTCTrip, aBitSky, and TravelbyBit allow you to do just that and boy, they offer great user experience. What’s more, the entire shopping area in the Brisbane Airport accepts Bitcoin. In addition, there are crypto ATMs in most major cities across the globe. So yeah, paying with cryptocurrencies for your trip has never been easier.

Even more use cases

Furthermore, the existence of OpenBazaar opens up hundreds of possibilities for you to shop for jewelry, art, music, movies, food & beverage, hardware, software, and practically anything in between. Unlike other e-commerce platforms, OpenBazaar is decentralized, meaning there are no middlemen. Users are directly connected with each other, which makes for a great shopping experience. If your listeners are still not impressed, here’s what you gonna do – show them how you can instantly buy healthcare products from AquaSource. Old people love AquaSource products and you know just how to tease them.

Of course, this is by no means a full list of real-life use cases but hey, it’s more than enough for you to survive the family dinner. Besides, why don’t you share your favorite ways of spending Bitcoin?

Exchanges,

Why Do We Need Both Centralized and Decentralized Exchanges?

When Sakotoshi Nakamoto came up with the concept of Bitcoin he emphasized heavily on decentralization. Neither Bitcoin nor any other cryptocurrency would have been that popular if they did not promise something the 21st-century kids want – independence. Sakatoshi painted a world where money is distributed peer-to-peer without the need for mediators. This idea touched our romantic hearts for a couple of reasons. It came to life in a moment when the 2008 economic crisis was at its peak. At this point, a great number of people had already lost their hard earned money. As you remember, the banks did not offer much safety back then.

Then all of a sudden we had this concept that there might be a currency that can be distributed over tremendous distances without the need for a bank. Needless to say, the idea that this currency is completely independent of the traditional financial system only made it even more viral. I dare to say that if it hadn’t been to this utopian world Bitcoin painted, cryptocurrencies would never have become what they are today.

Bitcoin has been around for almost ten years now but it only made it to the headlines last year. Why? Because its price tripled several times almost topping $20k in December 2017. But I have a question for you, do you think it would have been that huge if the crypto enthusiasts strictly stuck to decentralization? Sorry, but I am not buying that. Decentralization made people love crypto but centralization made them trade it. What I am trying to say is, decentralized and centralized exchanges played crucial roles in the evolution of cryptocurrencies.

Decentralized exchanges

For the uninitiated, a decentralized exchange (DEX) is a place where traders directly trade with each other. Simply said, Joe sells bitcoins straight to Sara and no one controls or monitors the process, apart from the blockchain itself. There is no governing body and traders remain completely anonymous. We can assume that DEX are in line with Satoshi’s vision on crypto finance.

Decentralized exchanges are important because they started it all and they are still the first choice for experienced cryptocurrency traders for a couple of reasons. First of all, since all the information is spread among the participants DEX are practically incorruptible. There is no single place or server if you like that stores all the bitcoin, all the Ethereum and so on. This makes life harder for hackers because they cannot corrupt the whole system, meaning your funds are safe. Though decentralized exchanges offer great security they are not completely protected. Hacker’s can still hijack traffic and direct reckless users to copycats websites and steal one’s public and private keys.

There is one big disadvantage of DEX, however. They are usually hard to use due to the poor user interface. Plus, they require more knowledge and patience compared to their centralized counterparts. In contrast, newbies want to quickly buy some tokens through their smartphones. Even better, if payment options include VISA or PayPal. Unfortunately, decentralized exchanges not always offer that, because if they did they will have to operate with personal data, something the whole cryptocurrency concept is against. That being said, one can only trade on DEX by depositing tokens from a wallet in another exchange, hardware or desktop wallet.

Why do we need centralized exchanges?

First and foremost, they are plain easy to use, they are user-friendly and they are convenient AF. Centralized exchanges account for the greater part of the cryptocurrency trading volume, just because they offer unmatched user experience backed with simple apps available for both iOS and Android. What’s more, one just have to deposit some fiat via VISA or PayPal and they are ready to jump into the crypto ocean. Yes, it is that easy and people dig it.

Nevertheless, centralized exchanges have their drawbacks as well. They have to comply with know-your-customer policies and anti-money-laundering laws, meaning they under the strict control of the regulators. That’s why crypto enthusiasts don’t dig them. They are the epitome of what cryptocurrency stood against in the first place. In addition, they are vulnerable to hacker’s attacks. That’s we it’s advisable to store your funds in cold wallets and never leave your tokens in a centralized exchange.

However, we need them because they are the main source of fresh money entering the market. Even little kids know that without fresh money the market will stop growing and would eventually die. Furthermore, they offer liquidity and last but not least they are the advocates of the worldwide bitcoin adoption.

Didn’t we all want to use cryptocurrencies as a payment method? We did and we still do, that’s why we need both types of exchanges. Ditch one of them and the market will crash in no time.