The launch date of the much-anticipated decentralised exchange being built on NEO, Nash, was announced by platform co-founder, Fabio C. Canesin during the Sunday afternoon session at Neo DevCon 2019.Canesin and the rest of the team working on Nash are hoping to provide an application that gives users all the convenience of centralised banking or exchange applications, without many of the immense security risks that traditionally plague them. Prior to the beta launch, Nash developers are calling on the NEO community to troubleshoot the software for them.Nash Beta Launch Date Scheduled for March 31During a presentation titled “Distributing Finance for Everyone”, Nash and City of Zion co-founder, Fabio Canesin, revealed the launch date for the Nash decentralised exchange platform as March 31, 2019. The news was greeted by rapturous applause from the NEO DevCon crowd.The Nash exchange seeks to address the problem of centralised exchanges in crypto. The platform aims to be more than simply a decentralised exchange, however. Canesin describes it as a “financial platform” for future digital economies.Nash is a rebrand of the earlier project Neon Exchange (NEX). It will, however, still use the same token in its operation, which also goes by the NEX ticker.Much of the 15-minute presentation was focused on the user experience of the Nash platform. The developers behind it have aimed to create the same convenient user experience that you would find at a centralised exchange, with none of the “honey-pot” risk highlighted by incidents like the recent QuadrigaCX debacle and countless exchange hacks over the years.Pre-release screenshot of the Nash DEX running.As part of the launch, Nash is calling on “passionate users” to iron out any kinks and provide feedback on development so far. In addition, the platform has a referral program that it is rolling out. To help promote it, there is a giveaway running, offering 30 prizes of a share of $100,000 in BTC and 46,000 NEX tokens.Pre-register your Nash account by participating in our referral program and you could win up to $100,000 in Bitcoin! You can find a sign-up code by searching for our hashtag #TrustYourselves https://t.co/yUNpyor2RS— Nash (@nashsocial) February 17, 2019To stand the best chance of as smooth a launch as possible, Canesin stated that the Nash platform was going after “every licence” going. This is consistent with the overall approach of NEO to constantly strive for regulatory compliance. Canesin proudly announced to the Seattle crowd that Nash would be supporting US users right from its launch date at the end of next month.As well as providing a seamless user experience, Nash has aimed to make its decentralised crypto exchange platform as developer-friendly as possible too. The project was founded by five of the founders of the largest NEO developer community, City of Zion. Steered by a team of active developers, Nash’s appreciation of the developer community was explicitly stated by Canesin:“Nash loves developers!”Nash is not the only project going after the decentralised exchange market. The main competition it will face at this early stage will surely come from Binance. The centralised exchange giant announced its own DEX last year.Paving the Way for Crypto Adoption with Slicker UIs.From two days of presentations, interviews, and informal chats with the NEO developer community, one of the standout impressions was just how elegant cryptocurrency applications are starting to look. Currently, the average user interface, even on the most popular Bitcoin or Ethereum interfaces, is often daunting for the lay person. This is, of course, detrimental to widespread adoption.Nash has evidently worked hard to create a platform that bares little resemblance to a typical decentralised cryptocurrency application. The minimalist, modern software design is more reminiscent of a modern banking application or exchange – such as those provided by Square or Coinbase. Nash was just one of many projects espousing the need for developers to provide the seamless user experiences required to see widespread adoption of digital assets at NEO DevCon 2019. Hopefully, this trend is consistent with the developer communities surrounding other blockchain platforms. Related Reading: Will Decentralized Crypto Exchange of Binance Change the Landscape of Digital Asset Trading?Featured image from NEO DevCon Photographers.
According to a recent survey, advertising executives found the word “blockchain” to be the most overrated word used in 2018. The crypto-associated buzzword beat out “AI” and “Programmatic” for the top spot.The survey, conducted by MediaPost, also covered words that the executives deemed to be important during 2018. Ironically (for anyone with the slightest clue about blockchain technology), the number one word in this regard was “transparency”.2018: Year of the Blockchain?A survey conducted by MediaPost’s pay-per-view sister publication, Research Intelligencer, has found that the word “blockchain” was the most overrated word heard by advertisers in 2018. The purpose of the study, according to the publication, is to…“… measure how the rest of the industry thinks, including ad agencies, and also to find out what words or terms have been given too much weight.”The survey asked 120 marketers and 181 agency executives for their views on both the most important and the most overrated words of the last year. Of the advertisers, almost one third (31%) named “blockchain” as number one. Meanwhile, fewer of the agency executives felt that the name given to the system by which data is stored in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin was the worst offending buzzword (21%).Coming in tied for second after “blockchain” was “AI” and “programmatic”. These two words suitably irked enough of the advertisers over the twelve month period to relegate “crypto” to number three.… And the Most Important Word of 2018 Was?Along with the most overrated, the advertisers were also asked to give the word they felt was the most important during 2018. Funnily enough, at least for those in the know about public blockchains, the word that rose to the top for most was “transparency.”Transparency important, blockchain not: Can ad execs not see the wood for the trees?Of course, many folks reading this will not need explaining why there is a clear irony here. However, we will spell it out for our less frequent readers.A blockchain is a distributed database. By virtue of it being distributed, any single network participant can look at the entire thing. There are no secrets on a blockchain.Criminals have been brought to justice thanks to investigation into their use of the most successful blockchain to date – Bitcoin. In fact, a whole sub-industry of blockchain forensics firms is emerging to plough through the data stored on public blockchains for various purposes.However, the technology is not quite there for such disruption. But the hype certainly is. Examples like Long Island Iced Tea and Kodak’s use of the “blockchain” in late 2017 highlighted that there was definitely a tendency to throw the word in where it was not needed or relevant. It is highly likely that the advertising executives surveyed were overwhelmed by uninspiring ideas dressed up as revolutionary innovation last year and this inspired the answers to the survey.That said it is we will see the use of blockchains to bring greater transparency to just about every industry on the planet in the future. There are already examples from as disparate sectors as the UK beef supply chain and JP Morgan’s new dollar-backed-digital-token. Related Reading: Will the Blockchain Technology Revolutionize the Travel Industry?Featured Images from Shutterstock.
Multinational investment bank JP Morgan has announced that it will launch its own cryptocurrency of sorts. The so-called JPM Coin will bring some of the benefits of Bitcoin to some of the users of the bankJPM Coin will be built on a private blockchain, be backed by fiat currency, and be exclusive to JP Morgan’s institutional clients. In short, it represents few if any of the truly liberating qualities of Bitcoin.Your Cryptocurrency is a Fraud, Ours is FineIt is less than two years since JP Morgan exec Jamie Dimon had his famous outburst against Bitcoin. The CEO of the multinational investment bank called the world’s most popular digital asset a “fraud” back in September of 2017. Yet behind the scenes, the firm he represents has clearly been working on ways to strip the liberating qualities from Bitcoin and present only the features it agrees with to the world.The announcement of the JPM Coin prototype today is the first of its kind on the planet. No other bank has launched its own digital asset. However, the news should not be taken as the bank’s endorsement of cryptocurrency. It seems more likely that this is an attempt by an institution that feels deeply threatened by true, decentralised digital assets to stay relevant.In an interview about the launch of JPM Coin, Umar Farooq, the bank’s head of Digital Treasury and Blockchain, stated the following of the new project:“JPM Coin is a digital coin designed to make instantaneous payments using blockchain technology. Exchanging value, such as money, between different parties over a blockchain requires a digital currency, so we created the JPM Coin.”The JPM Coin is, of course, backed by the dollar. This means that its value remains behest to the whims of the Federal Reserve. If the Fed wants to print some new greenbacks, you had better believe that the value of your JPM Coins is going down, along with that of every physically held or digital stored dollar on the planet.Oh, wait. Did I say “your” JPM Coins? My mistake. What I meant to say was the JPM Coins of whoever the institution deems worthy enough to use the new digital currency. After all, it will only be “institutional investors” who are given the freedom to use the digital representation of dollars being pedalled as an innovation.You can almost hear the boardroom meeting now:“This Bitcoin thing is interesting. What can we steal from it? Permissionless? No, let’s make sure we call the shots. Completely uncorrelated to any other asset or currency? No, fractional reserve banking is working out just fine for us. Peg it to the dollar. I like this part about it being fast though. Let’s keep that. In fact, let’s make it faster by being more under our own control. Nice. Lunch time?”Could JPM Coin Render XRP Useless?Basically, with its permissioned design and sole use case being to facilitate payments between institutional clients and banks, the JPM Coin could indeed pose a threat to some corners of the disparate cryptocurrency space. As is highlighted by long-time Bitcoin proponent @WhalePanda in this Tweet:If you listen very carefully you will hear all Ripple holders now scream in agony.
Congrats @jpmorgan on creating a useless shitcoin.https://t.co/frM3POunQ1— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) February 14, 2019With similar stated utility, the JPM Coin is essentially pursuing exactly the market that the Ripple company is going after with its line of products, including the XRP token. With such a large and established name providing essentially the same functionality as XRP, it seems much more likely that the banks of the world will favour JPM Coin over Ripple’s services. Could this mean that the much-debated asset’s days are numbered?Meanwhile, Bitcoin remains free from real competition with regards its most important qualities. JPM Coin will not provide the unbanked people of the world an easy entry into the global economy, nor does it allow individuals an escape from the poor decisions of those in control of the central banks in their nations. All told, the idea seems likely to widen the gap between those who can access the most elite banking services and the planet and those that are forced to go without. Such innovation…Anyway, here is Andreas Antonopoulos to remind you all what makes truly public blockchains great:Related Reading: JP Morgan Chase: Cryptocurrency a Threat to its Own ServicesFeatured Image from Shutterstock.
The financial markets authority of Quebec (AMF) is requesting that investors in a cryptocurrency mining company contact them. The announcement comes after Technologies Crypto Inc. was issued with a series of freezing orders in connection with existing securities regulations earlier this month.Technologies Crypto Inc. reportedly took over $300,000 from investors that were under the impression that the funds would be used for mining. Many have been left out of pocket.AMF: Cryptocurrency Mining Contracts Can Fall Under Securities RegulationAccording to a press release issued by the AMF and reported by Finance Feeds, those investors who had put money into a Quebec-based cryptocurrency mining firm are being urged to contact local financial regulators. Many of those investing into Technologies Crypto Inc. have been unable to reclaim their investment from the company.The AMF post requests that anyone who was involved in any capacity with the cryptocurrency mining firm or its two principals, David Fortin-Dominguez and Samory Proulx-Oloko, to contact Ms. Hélène Guilbault by the end of February. They can do so at telephone number 1-877-525-0337.The regulator requested that the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal (TMF) issue a series of freezing orders against the aforementioned company and individuals earlier this month. The order stated that Technologies Crypto Inc. was acting in violation of existing securities laws.Trading under the name “Make It Mine”, Technologies Crypto Inc. is thought to have taken $300,000 from investors. These backers believed that the money would be used for crypto mining. Whilst some were able to reclaim funds, others were left at a loss and attempts to contact the firm have been unsuccessful for many.The freezing orders issued thus far state that those mentioned above are prohibited from taking money from their bank accounts, getting rid of any cryptocurrency mining equipment, and partaking in any activities relating to the trade of securities.Jean-François Fortin of the AMF stated the following of the regulators’ ruling:“With this decision, the TMF ruled for the first time that an investment offer related to cryptocurrency mining may constitute an investment contract, ie a security whose public offering is regulated… We therefore invite investors who have done business with the respondents to contact the Authority promptly so that we can assist them.”Quebec’s regulators have a history of policing crypto firms violating securities legislation.Not the First Time the TMF Steps in to Protect Cryptocurrency InvestorsThe TMF has been active in the policing of cryptocurrency firms before. Perhaps its most high-profiles case is that against PlexCoin. Last year, the regulator renewed its injunction orders against all companies and individuals connected with the high-profile scam. Additionally, the TMF ordered the shutting down of websites owned by the company, as well as its Facebook pages. Related Reading: Crypto Assets Won’t Be Classified As Securities With Proposed U.S. BillFeatured Images from Shutterstock.
A group of online criminals from Turkey have been detained by local authorities on suspicion of hacking a domestic cryptocurrency company. Those behind the security breach are thought to have used the popular video game PUBG to communicate prior to the attack.The Turkish company has had around $2.47 million taken from it in the hack. Some of this figure has been recovered in raids following the arrest of those connected with the incident.Raids Across Turkey Recover Just $256,000 of Missing $2.47M in CryptocurrencyDigital currencies held in large amounts by a single entity have long been a target for online criminals. According to local news publication DailySabah, the latest example of a company falling victim to such an attack is that of an Istanbul-based cryptocurrency firm. The source did not disclose the nature of the company affected but many similar, previous examples have been digital currency trading platforms.The publication states that a total of 24 people have been detained following a nationwide search across eight of Turkey’s provinces. These individuals were arrested on the suspicion of their involvement in the $2.47 million digital heist.Authorities were originally alerted to the hack by the company itself. In the initial report, it stated that a large amount of Bitcoin, Ether, and XRP was taken. The Istanbul Cybercrime Branch Office later confirmed that two of the firm’s wallets can been compromised to the tune of 13 million lira – around $2.47 million. These funds were sent from company wallets to those controlled by the hackers. A joint operation was then launched across the provinces of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Afyonkarahisar, Bursa, Edirne, Bolu and Antalya, leading to the arrests.During these raids, 54,000 lira in cash and 1.3 million lira worth of cryptocurrency was discovered. These funds were reportedly seized and returned to the company’s coffers.Turkish police detained 24 individuals in connection with the hack.What distinguishes this case from the many that have gone before it is the method of communication the group are believed to have used. The police state that the suspects had been communicating using the popular battle royale-style video game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – simply shortened to just PUBG.Two have of those detained have been released by the prosecutor’s office. Of the remaining 22, six were arrested and 16 released on condition of judicial control following a hearing at the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan.Despite the High Numbers of Company Hacks, Bitcoin Remains ImpenetrableIt is true that there have been many examples of digital currency exchanges and other firms having their security compromised, resulting in the loss of cryptocurrency. Many commentators from outside the digital asset community have used this fact to try to cast shade on Bitcoin and other cryptos.However, over the years, there has not been a single example of the code underlying Bitcoin being exploited, leading to users losing funds. Each of the cases reported previously involves the compromise of a centralised company with a far greater attack surface than any individual user observing correct security procedures. As is often reminded by the earliest proponents of cryptocurrency, the safest way to protect Bitcoin and other digital assets is to take responsibility for securing your own finances. Related Reading: Controversial Crypto Exchange QuadrigaCX Linked in Binary Options ScamFeatured Image from Shutterstock.
The popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has launched a new feature for its stand-alone digital asset wallet. The software will offer users the ability to back up their private keys using either Google Drive or iCloud.The idea is to give users of the Coinbase Wallet a safety net in the event that they lose access to the device upon which the software is installed or happen to misplace their private keys somehow. However, some in the cryptocurrency community have highlighted that the saving of private keys on cloud storage services could expose users’ funds to additional threats.Cloud Storage of Keys Comes to Coinbase’s “User-Controlled” WalletSan Francisco-based Coinbase is one of the few exchanges to launch its own wallet software, helping promote the kind of monetary sovereignty Trace Mayer’s “Proof-of-Keys” event championed on the 10th anniversary of the Bitcoin network going live. Users of the Coinbase Wallet are the sole holders of their private keys. As such, they potentially enjoy a much higher degree of security than those choosing to leave money on centralised exchanges, which are prone to hacks and other security breaches.The latest feature launched for the Coinbase Wallet is a built in option to back up the user’s private keys to either Google Drive or iCloud. This is supposed to provide them an additional way to access their cryptocurrency holdings should they lose access to the wallet for some reason.According to a Coinbase blog post, copies of the private keys stored to the cloud will be encrypted and require the wallet’s password to access:“Your backup is encrypted with AES-256-GCM encryption and accessible only by the Coinbase Wallet mobile app. The backup can only be decrypted using your password.”The post goes on to state that Coinbase will not have access to users’ passwords or funds at any point when using the wallet. They also state that the cloud service provider will not have access to either since the keys can on only be decrypted with the user-set password.Coinbase says that it still encourages users of its wallet software to backup their private keys manually. The post also reminds users of the importance of using two-factor authentication as an additional security precaution.Optimisation for Convenience Always Costs Some SecurityNot everyone is impressed with the latest update for the Coinbase Wallet. Podcaster and long-time Bitcoin proponent @WhalePanda Tweeted the following:At the @coinbase team meeting: “What’s the dumbest thing we could come up with now that we’ve gone full shitcoin?”https://t.co/8JaLv8W7j4— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) February 12, 2019In the comments to the above Tweet, other community members voiced their concerns about the update. One called it a “hackers dream”.Others were more understanding of Coinbase’s stated motives in their responses but still called it a dangerous idea generally:To be fair, it’s an encrypted backup. Unfortunately most people don’t bother making their passwords secure, and relying on there being no bugs with the encryption implementation just adds one more thing to worry about.— ⚡Random Name (@username0ne) February 12, 2019Others still argued that such user-friendly functions on digital currency wallets are necessary if Bitcoin and others are to see the sort of widespread adoption many in the space are hoping for:If you want mass adoption, you have two options. Banks hold Bitcoin, so people can spend it with their Credit Cards or you simplify Wallets as far as possible, key backups are the most critical part.— skiddi3 (@skiddi3_) February 12, 2019Whilst it is certainly true that users of the Coinbase wallet opting to back up their keys to the cloud are creating an additional attack vector against themselves, for some the convenience will be worth the slight reduction of security. No cryptocurrency storage method is truly impenetrable and different types of users require different levels of security. Some are willing to sacrifice a little (or even a lot) for greater convenience. Providing they are aware of the additional risks, they should be free to make their own decisions. Related Reading: New Coinbase Venture Lets You Earn Free Crypto, BAT Surges 30%Featured Image from Shutterstock.
According to cryptocurrency acceptance monitoring resource CoinMap, the number of venues across the globe accepting Bitcoin (BTC) is up over 702% since December 2013. Areas with the most dramatic surge in businesses offering to exchange their goods and services for the number one digital asset by market capitalisation are those which were already showing stronger hints of Bitcoin usage over five years ago.Perhaps the most notable part of the world seeing a dramatic rise in venues accepting Bitcoin is the northern part of South America. Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador are leading the continent in this regard.Global Acceptance of Bitcoin is Spreading FastThe CEO of digital asset management firm CoinShares highlighted the dramatic surge in the number of venues accepting BTC as a method of payment earlier today. Ryan Radloff Tweeted:1/ 2013 vs. 2018 venues accepting #Bitcoin pic.twitter.com/BjpraiY9qJ— Ryan Radloff ⚡️ (@RyanRadloff) February 12, 2019In the above graphic, Radloff uses data provided by CoinMap to highlight the rising number of venues accepting Bitcoin over a five year period – December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2018. It shows the total of Bitcoin-friendly businesses world wide in 2013 versus the figure at the close of 2018. The numbers are 1,789 and 14,113 respectively. However, since then more than 200 additional venues have started accepting BTC, taking the total percentage increase from December 31 2013 to today to an impressive 702.35%.The areas displaying hottest on the heat-map of acceptance today are those that were already embracing Bitcoin at the end of 2013. These include much of central Europe, the UK, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the US.Interestingly, the heat-map shows South America in 2013 as being largely not accepting of Bitcoin. However, fastforward just over five years and you see an entirely different picture.Almost the entire north of the continent is coloured in the darkest red on the most recent heat-map – indicating some of the highest levels of acceptance on the planet. Previously, there had been small hubs of Bitcoin usage that were primarily centred around the capital cities of Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. Now, the likes of Colombia, Ecuador, and of course, Venezuela are predominately showing strong Bitcoin acceptance amongst local merchants.There are still vast areas of the planet that cryptocurrency seems to have not touched yet, however. Much Africa, the Middle East, and large areas of China show very few hot spots on either map. This presents a huge opportunity for the entrepreneurs of the region – particularly given that these areas are also those containing the largest numbers of unbanked citizens.For many of cryptocurrency’s original proponents, the people living in many of the parts of the world with least BTC acceptance are those that would benefit most from a currency completely removed from the potentially authoritarian governments of the world:Bitcoin Acceptance is Not the Same Thing as Bitcoin AdoptionSuch a dramatic surge in the number of venues accepting Bitcoin is certainly encouraging for those of us with a vested interest in BTC adoption. However, it is important to not get too excited by the figures shown by CoinMap.The simple reason for this is that they give no real indication as to the actual usage of Bitcoin. Just how many BTC transactions each of the companies shown across the planet by CoinMap have accepted in total remains a mystery. Related Reading: Are Bitcoin ATMs Driving Adoption, Criminality, or Consumerism?Featured Image from Shutterstock.
The seller of a $5.5 million property in Carbonear, Canada, is willing to accept payment in any one of 28 fiat currencies or three cryptocurrencies. Those cryptos welcomed for payment of the Stone Jug are the top three by market capitalisation – Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and XRP.As you probably guessed from its seven-figure price tag, the Stone Jug is a pretty luxurious property. Spanning three floors, the building has previously hosted performances by traditional Irish and Newfoundland musicians, as well as various other local entertainers.Could the Stone Jug be the First Property to be Bought with XRP?According to an advertisement on property listing website Propy, the Stone Jug in Carbonear, Newfoundland is up for sale for $5.5 million. The grandiose nineteenth-century building can be exchanged for Bitcoin, Ether, or XRP. Current owner, Bruce Branan, will also accept payment in 28 fiat currencies. Along with the likes of the Canadian dollar, US dollar, and euro, the list includes much smaller currencies such as Philippine piso, Czech koruna, and Thai baht.The property being offered for cryptocurrency has been constructed with one-metre thick stone walls that are intricately carved. Each of the three floors is furnished using reclaimed wood imported from China. Branan has reportedly spent more than $5 million in renovating and restoring the space whilst owning it.The ground floor in the Stone Jug seats over 75 guests. The area is equipped with “an open concept kitchen” and an 85 foot bar. Currently, this serves visitors up a rustic menu of wild game and the bar has a vast selection of liquors on offer. The second floor can host a further 85 guests. Finally, the highest floor of the property is a theatre and conference room, equipped for 110 guests.Previous events held in the space include weddings, conferences, and theatrical and musical performances. Those responsible for comprising the eclectic bill of acts gracing the floors of the Stone Jug frequently show a strong appreciation of local Irish folk music, as is evidenced below:Sunday Jam Session at the Stone Jug pic.twitter.com/rOUB6aBqoD— Stone Jug (@stonejug1860) February 5, 2019The Stone Jug Could Become an XRP First, But Bitcoin’s Been There Before…Although the advertisement of the Stone Jug is the first example of a property being offered in exchange for XRP that we are aware of, it is certainly not the first time a real-estate seller has been prepared to accept cryptocurrency.All manner of properties have hit the market in recent years, some incredibly extravagant and some not so. Previously at NewsBTC, we have covered the Russian luxury property developer’s mansion in the Moscow suburbs. The Kalinka Group wanted a massive $8 million for the property that is equipped with an open-air Jacuzzi and a snow room. In September 2017, at the time of the report, the asking price was close to 2,000 BTC.Right at the opposite end of the spectrum is the terraced house in Grimsby, UK. A much more modest offering, Sean Atkinson wanted just 18 BTC in October 2017 for the two bedroom home. The freelance yoga teacher stated at the time that he believed the currency would appreciate in value in the future, hence his decision to accept BTC for the sale of his house. Related Reading: First Ethereum Based Real Estate Deal Completed in the U.S.Featured Image from Shutterstock.
Research indicates that large cryptocurrency exchanges are increasingly being targeted by scammers using doctored photographs to trick two-factor authentication reset procedures. The attack once again highlights the importance of securing one’s own private keys and not entrusting security to a third party exchange.There is a market on dark web forums for doctored images and the rates to buy them are remarkably cheap. However, given that many large exchanges require multiple verification methods to reset a two-factor authentication, it remains to be seen just how effective the scam will be.Cryptocurrency Exchanges are Still Not Safe Storage OptionsThose cryptocurrency users choosing to leave their digital assets on centralised exchanges have a lot to be fearful of already. There is the ever-present risk of the site itself falling victim to a security comprise. Then there is the whole QuadrigaCX debacle, which appears to have been caused by either negligence on part of the now-deceased CEO or perhaps something more sinister altogether.Add to these issues the risk of phishing attacks and potential mismanagement of company finances à la Mt. Gox and it is easy to see why almost every thought leader in the space advocates learning to secure your own digital assets.The latest reported scam being used to defraud people out of their cryptocurrency holdings involves attempting to trick an exchange’s staff using altered photographs. The idea is to convince the exchange that a request to reset the often-mandatory two-factor authentication security process required to gain access to accounts is a legitimate one and is coming from the owner of the account.Attempts to hack cryptocurrency exchange users’ account are getting more devious. However, this seems to lack the finesse of others.Research by Hold Security and reported by Bank Info Security, states that there is a wealth of information relating to data fraud techniques on dark web hacking forums. Amongst these covert pages is around 10,000 doctored photographs, used for various verification techniques.According to Alex Holden, the Chief Information Security Officer at Hold Security, an altered photograph will cost scammers around $50. Bank Info Security published an example of such a picture. It featured an anonymous individual holding up a passport and a note with the date and the words: “Reset 2FA”.Those orchestrating the attack against cryptocurrency exchange users will submit a request to change the device used to obtain two-factor authentication codes. They will then provide a photograph that has been doctored to show information about the targeted user.Since some exchanges do not require a customer to submit photographic identification when they sign up, Holden states that the doctored photographs will have had some success.“Some companies have no ability to assert what their client looks like… It’s not like hackers publish success rates,” Holden says. “But because we know that [hackers who] we are monitoring are actually making money off of it, I’d say yeah.”Largest Exchanges are Not Worried About Threat from Doctored PhotographsOf course, a lot of cryptocurrency exchanges do require new users to verify their identity with a government-issued document before trading on the platform. For this reason, many of the largest exchanges are not concerned about their users’ security – at least not from this attack. However, most were less-than-willing to talk about examples seen of scammers using fake photographs in such a manner.A representative from Coinbase commented on the fact that the San Francisco-based exchange uses multiple levels of ID verification to reset account passwords and two-factor authentication. Similarly, Kraken stated that each ID verification picture must display a custom message and those users with the highest tier accounts will have already submitted photographic identification upon signing up for the upgrade.Binance, meanwhile, reported that it had indeed seen examples of attempts to beat two-factor authentication using doctored photographs: “Unfortunately, we’re no stranger to these types of malicious attempts to gain access.”However, a representative from the trading venue giant did go on to talk about its security procedures. The exchange requires users submit a set of photographs for resetting two-factor authentication, along with a “face verification” step using a webcam:“Given the measures we currently have in place, I don’t believe this threat is something for Binance to be particularly worried about at the present time.”Thanks to the heightened security at these massive cryptocurrency trading venues, it seems unlikely that many attempts to reset two-factor authentication will be successful. Even at smaller exchanges, users almost always need to send request emails from the address used at the time of registering for an account. From the crudeness of the attack detailed, the security precautions taken by both the targeted venue and individual user would need to be incredibly lax indeed for it to be successful. Related Reading: MyEtherWallet Users Targeted with Phishing Email ScamFeatured Image from Shutterstock.
After largely trading sideways (discounting a break to the downside on January 10) for all of 2019, the total market capitalisation for the entire crypto market has shot up abruptly. Of the top 100 coins, only two are not in the green for the last 24-hours of trading.The biggest winners of the day include Litecoin. The project that is due to undergo a block reward halving this year has posted 30 percent gains since this time yesterday.Crypto Markets Post Rare Green DayThe crypto markets are once again on the move. Unlike many previous shifts over the 13 months of bear market, prices are actually rising. Excluding two coins, the entire top 100 digital currencies by market capitalisation posted gains for the previous 24-hour period.The market capitalisation of all cryptocurrencies combined shot up by more than 9.15% since the clock passed midnight today. This represents more than 10 billion being added to the market in just over 20 hours.The only two digital currencies not showing green figures today were DAI and USD Coin. Since these two coins have been designed for prices to remain stable, their negligible losses of 1.41 percent and 0.3 percent respectively have not shifted either too far from their target price of US$1.All other tokens have posted green figures for the day. The gains ranged from less than one percent to over an impressive 32 percent. The top performer of the day was the native digital currency of the ARK network – a project attempting to link different blockchains together.What’s Going on With Litecoin?The most notable coin posting massive gains over the last 24-hours was Litecoin (LTC). The well-established digital asset surged just shy of 30 percent. This standout performance from the top 10 coins is believed to be associated with the block reward halving event taking place this August. As has been observed in Bitcoin previously, the restriction of supply hitting markets exacerbates whatever buying pressure there is. This causes prices to increase faster since there are fewer coins for speculators to buy.Popular Twitter analyst Moon Overlord drew attention to Litecoin’s gains, highlighting a surge in trading volume too:Liftoff for $LTC, that volume though…👀 pic.twitter.com/capvg6bkOB— Moon Overlord (@MoonOverlord) February 8, 2019Moon Overlord has Tweeted a lot about the August halving of Litecoin and that of Bitcoin (due in 2020). The analyst believes that we are indeed seeing the start of extra buying pressure from those hoping to take advantage of the shifting market fundamentals:The #Litecoin halving is quickly approachingLTC bottomed approximately 200 days before it’s halving in 2015We are almost exactly 200 days away from the next $LTC halvingLTC peaked 2+ years after it’s halving, If it follows a similar path this time the peak will be in 2021 pic.twitter.com/UbsQdEmhnN— Moon Overlord (@MoonOverlord) January 29, 2019This might well account for the gains experienced over the last 24-hours by Litecoin. However, it does little to justify the increased optimism across the markets of every top 100 cryptocurrency. Could Bitcoin et al. have bottomed out after the colossal losses experienced since the highs over a year ago? Could the long-awaited finally bull market be here?It is, of course, much too early to draw such conclusions. However, it’s certainly nice to see green figures across the board for a change. Related Reading: Bitcoin Halving Will Make it Less Inflationary and Far More ValuableFeatured Image from Shutterstock.