Coin Bureau

Subscribe to Coin Bureau feed Coin Bureau
The Crypto Coin Authority
Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Beware: North Korean Hackers Phishing Crypto Keys

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 21:25

The North Korean hacking group, dubbed Lazarus, has been quite active in cyber criminal activity for the past few years.

Now, according to reports by a US cyber security firm, SecureWorks, the group may be plotting to use targeted email and phishing attacks on well-known people in the cryptocurrency space.

According to the report, the group is likely to send targeted emails that will be laden with malware. This malware will have credential harvesting capabilities in order to steal the passwords and private keys from the individuals.

Malware Mission

Secureworks stated in the report that they had been monitoring the activity ever since October. They said that the emails that were sent contained a malicious link which looked like it was for a job application in a cryptocurrency start-up.

However, the link would connect to a server under the control of the hacker and the victim would unknowingly download some malware onto their PC. This malware could then take control of the PC and copy the sensitive data.

SecureWorks also said that the amount of interest in cryptocurrency was at an all-time high in the reclusive regime. They are probably looking for a number of different exploits and payloads in order to spread the malware.

Lazarus Exploits

The group is well known in hacking and cyber security circles for their highly effective campaigns. They were the primary suspect in the hack on Sony Pictures back in 2014 and the recent spread of the wannacry malware.

Lazarus group was also supposedly responsible for one of the biggest bank heists in history when the group was able to infiltrate the central bank of Bangladesh. They made off with approximately $70m in loot.

Given that the North Korean regime is increasingly susceptible to international sanctions, these hacking attempts are a great way for the regime to get extra cash to fund the weapons program.

Focused on Cryptocurrencies

Given how easy it is to use Bitcoin globally, there is no wonder that the North Korean hackers are actively targeting it. We have previously covered numerous attempts by the North Koreans to hack South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges.

In fact, according to a report by a South Korean spy agency, the North Koreans were able to steal about $7m worth of Bitcoin and Ether as well as over 30,000 identity documents. South Korean exchanges are rich pickings because they are some of the most extensively traded markets in the world.

As a sign of how important cryptocurrency loot is to the regime, the state University in Pyongyang is running classes in blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

According to SecureWorks, the North Koreans have been experimenting with Bitcoin going back as far as 2013. They took a look at the IP addresses of attacker machines in previous hacks and were able to link them to network connections at that time.

Opsec is Key

If you are really worried about the North Koreans stealing your crypto, you can take comfort in the fact that most of these attacks appear to use social engineering.

Unless you keep your coins on an exchange, hackers are unlikely to grab your coins as long as you do not follow suspicious links or open emails from people you do not know.

Guard your private keys with your life and always act with suspicion.

The post Beware: North Korean Hackers Phishing Crypto Keys appeared first on Coin Bureau.

How Bitcoin Whales Can Manipulate the Price

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 17:04

Bitcoin has had one of the most monumental rallies in the past few weeks. It has also faced a great deal of adoption from retail investors.

However, despite the great amount of interest from large swathes of investors, most of the coins in open supply are controlled by a very small group of people called “whales”.

These big money traders have large positions in the coins. These positions are so large in fact, that they can effectively manipulate the Bitcoin markets to their advantage.

Moreover, it is also quite likely that these investors know each other personally and are able to communicate regularly about their positions in the market.

According to Bloomberg, there are about 1,000 people who may control at least 40% of the free float in Bitcoin.

With that in mind, how much power do these “Whales” actually hold? How have they moved markets before and how do they use their network to impact the price of Bitcoin?

Taking Profit

Whenever there is a massive run up in the price of Bitcoin, which is followed by a fall immediately after that, it is most likely that the whales were taking a profit.

This is something that happened just last week. We saw Bitcoin rally to over $19,000 in the span of a few days. Yet, after it hit those levels it fell back down to under $15,000.

This was about a 15% fall in the value which, although not unusual for Bitcoin, could have alarmed new investors. The cause of this fall was most likely the large investors who were taking a profit and selling their coins at the high levels.

While this may not have being co-ordinated or nefarious, it does demonstrate how an investor with only a few thousand coins can impact on the markets with ease.

Buying the Dips

Not only do the whales like to take profit on the positions that they have, but they also try to actively buy the dips.

In this case, they could also utilise the other market participants to their advantage. Bitcoin whales know that newer traders are quite susceptible to market panic and will sell out at the first whiff of a turn.

Hence, the whales can attempt to spook the market with a large sell order. This will create a short term dip in the price of the coin that will lead to more fickle traders closing their positions.

The result will be an avalanche of sell orders that will hit the market and keep driving the price down further. Eventually, when the price has retraced back to a level that the whale finds attractive, they will enter large buy orders and scoop up coins at a big discount.

Back in August, when the Chinese government banned Bitcoin, there was a large fall in the price of Bitcoin. It went from almost $5,000 down to $2,900 before large buy orders came through for the coins.

Many were speculating that this was as the result of whales buying into the coins.

Co-Ordinated Actions

While it is hard to pin down market manipulation in the Bitcoin markets, it cannot be ignored. Given that this group of Bitcoin investors is a small community, they could be talking with each other and planning the actions as a group effort.

However, the structure of the market is likely to change in their favour over the next few weeks. This is because of the introduction of futures on the CBOE and the CME.

Now these whales have the means to short the price of the coins. For example, the whales could enter short futures positions in their coins and then try to pump-and-dump their physical coins.

Prior to the expiration of the contracts, the whales could run up the price of Bitcoin. As more retail investors buy into the hype and try to profit from the rise, they can sell out of their coins. This means that they would exit at a profit.

However, this action could also lead to a fall in the price of the coins after this. Given that the whales have short positions in the futures, they will profit from the fall as well.

Wall Street Enters

Given the launch of Bitcoin futures, there are a whole other group of investors that retail traders should keep an eye out for. These are the large hedge funds on Wall Street that have the capital to drive Bitcoin prices considerably.

They also have access to some of the most advanced trading computers and algorithms. These are likely to pick up any discrepancy or small price movement in Bitcoin that could lead to a profit.

One may wonder whether it is indeed to safe to swim in the same pool as Whales and Wall Street sharks.

Avoid Being Lunch

The Bitcoin markets can indeed be tricky, yet the large traders are able to take advantage of newbies by relying on their loss aversion and greed.

Hence, as a Bitcoin investor or trader, it is important to keep your wits about you. Do not fall for the short term price movements and don’t react to irrational moves.

If Bitcoin appears to be moving considerably in one direction or the other and there is a shortage of important news, then you should view the moves with suspicion.

You should also take a look at how the Spot price of the coins is moving relative to the Future price as well as the amount of open interest in the future markets.

These indicators are likely to give you an indication of whether there are large forces that are driving the price of Bitcoin in the short term.

Keep Calm and “Hodl”

If, however, you do not have the time and knowledge to monitor price imbalances, market movements and other information, then you can do just as well to hold your coins and not react.

The investors called “hodlers” who held Bitcoin right from the beginning were able to make immense returns purely because they held their view over the long term and were not swayed by sentiment.

Images via Fotolia

The post How Bitcoin Whales Can Manipulate the Price appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Prosecutors Rush to Sell $8.5m of Seized Bitcoin

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 23:38

It is not only Bitcoin traders that are taking notice of the incredible rise in price, but also law enforcement agencies.

This is particularly acute for the case when the law enforcement agency in question has seized a large stash of illicit Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin in question was part of a seizure of one of the largest opioid rings in the United states. The coins were used on the dark web in order to receive payments from buyers.

Profitable Loot

The coins were seized from a US Citizen called Aaron Shamo who was arrested in November 2016. He was charged with running one of the massive underground fentanyl distribution business.

At the time of the seizure, Bitcoin the coins were trading for about $727. This means that the haul by the law enforcement agency was worth about $500k.

However, since then we are all aware of the massive rally that Bitcoin has had over the year. Currently Bitcoin is approaching $20,000 so this would make the haul of the government worth a pretty penny at over $8.5m.

If we were to include the Bitcoin cash that has come as a result of the hardfork in August then the stash is closer to $10m in value.

Bitcoin Fire sale

The prosecutors in Utah are trying to sell the Bitcoin stash in order to make use of the proceeds. According to a spokesman for the attorney’s office, Melodie Rydalch:

For federal prosecutors in Utah, sales of seized assets like cars are routine, but bitcoin is new territory. The proceeds of the bitcoin sale will be held until the case is resolved, and then decisions will be made about where the money goes.

In criminal cases in the US, the government agency which was responsible for the seizure of the assets is entitle to the proceeds. In this case the agency in question was the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The agency was not only able to seize Bitcoin. When they raided the property in cottonwood heights, they also recovered over $1m in cash which was hidden in trash bags.

The accused is currently sitting in a Utah jail and has pled not guilty to the charges which include Money Laundering and possession of Fentanyl.

This is not the first time that a sale by law enforcement officials of illicit Bitcoin has occurred. Back in 2014, the U.S Marshal Service auctioned off 30,000 Bitcoin that were seized from the Silk Road market place.

At the time of the sale, the agents were able to make $48m from the sale which was made to the billionaire Tim Draper. However, this stash would now be worth over $540m.

Keep Calm and Hodl

With the lesson of the Silk Road coins in mind, one may wonder if it is indeed a wise decision for the prosecutors in Utah to be so eager to sell the coins. Although they may be worth quite a bit of money now, it is likely that they may continue to rise in coming weeks.

Hence, the agencies that have seized large amounts of cryptocurrencies from criminals should learn from Bitcoin holders the virtue of “Hodling”.

The post Prosecutors Rush to Sell $8.5m of Seized Bitcoin appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Cardano (ADA): Inside the Buzz Around the Newest Top 10 Crypto

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 16:16

Simply put, Cardano (ADA) aims to be a competitor to the current number two cryptocurrency by market cap, Ethereum, insofar as the Cardano team aims to be a newer and improved smart contracts platform.

That sounds interesting enough, right?

Well, the global cryptocurrency markets have thought so in recent weeks, as ADA has somewhat astonishingly vaulted into the top 10 cryptos by market cap after just launching at the beginning of October 2017.

That’s insane volume, insanely fast. So you might feel like you’re about to “miss the boat,” as it were. But there’s a lot of factors in play around Cardano from an investment standpoint, so let’s get into the nuts and bolts and let you make up your own mind.

Cardano 101

Cardano is the brain child of blockchain development group IOHK and a group of Japanese businessmen. And IOHK is headed up by Charles Hoskinson, a former Ethereum developer and current community leader for Ethereum Classic.

Hoskinson brings a certain level of prestige or infamy to Cardano, then, depending on who you ask.

The project was envisioned as a new smart contracts platform built on a Gen 3 blockchain (i.e. ETH is Gen 2, BTC is Gen 1). The mission is to create this platform from the ground up with regulatory adherence in mind.

On the technical side of things, Cardano will be the first blockchain coded up on the Haskell programming language. Bitcoin is coded up in C++ and Ethereum in Solidity, for comparison. Haskell is heavily mathematical language, offering increased precision per Hoskinson.

It’s important to keep in mind, as well, that Cardano is very much so still in development. Phase 1 of the project has been dubbed “Byron,” which is the platform’s first layer that launched back in early October.

Next, Phase 2 has been dubbed “Shelley,” and should be going live at some point toward the middle of 2018 barring any delays. Shelley will provide smart contract functionalities for the Cardano network.

So is this the Ethereum killer?

Not so fast. To be sure, Cardano looks pretty promising. But it’s got several major factors to contend with that might make its battle with ETH an uphill battle, at least in the short- and mid-term.

Indeed, Ethereum’s entrenched first-mover status as a smart contracts platform is going to be hard to beat.

Ethereum is:

  • already extremely trusted
  • already offering smart contract solutions efficiently
  • already improving at an impressive pace

Unless Cardano’s smart contract capabilities end up blowing Ethereum’s out of the water, it’s likely ADA won’t end up beating ETH any time soon.

New projects are launched everyday that claim to be the Bitcoin-killer or the Ethereum killer. But the number one and number two cryptocurrencies look locked in at the top of the cryptocurrency markets for the foreseeable future.

That could change one day, but it’s something to at least weigh when considering an investment in ADA in the short-term.

Recent performance

Speaking of short-term, Cardano’s had one helluva bold entrance into the crypto marketplace, skyrocketing into the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap in under two months.

Can’t ignore that, can we?

ADA became available just weeks ago – Image via CoinMarketCap

The market speaks for itself. People are excited about ADA’s potential. Any talk of an “Ethereum killer” seems to get peoples’ attention.

Will the price keep shooting up for now or is a retracement imminent? No one has the crystal ball to know what comes next. But this short-term excitement could forebode mid- and long-term performance.

Is it worth investing in

Here’s our obligatory disclaimer: you are the sole author of your financial portfolio. We here at CoinBureau don’t offer financial advice. We just offer insights into the world of cryptoeconomics.

With that said, it’s virtually an objective fact that a cryptocurrency that’s come out so recently will have higher price days ahead. For mid-term and longer minded traders, Cardano could be an interesting play.

The price and volume of ADA might be a bit choppy for now while the project is still so early. In the end, you’ll have to make up your own mind. But Cardano’s certainly one to keep an eye on, in the very least.

Featured Image via Steemit

The post Cardano (ADA): Inside the Buzz Around the Newest Top 10 Crypto appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Want to Learn Solidity? There is a dApp for that

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 17:29

With so much emphasis being placed on the need for solidity developers for Ethereum smart contracts, you may be wondering how you can easily and effectively learn the Solidity language.

Thankfully, there is a really helpful and fun way to learn the language. That is through the use of an interesting platform called CryptoZombies.

Released by the Loom Network, CryptoZombies helps users to learn the language through a quirky Ethereum powered zombie game.

What is it?

In a similar fashion to a number of other guided learning experiences such as codecademey, Cryptozombies takes users through the whole language from the basics through to more advanced topics.

In the first lesson on the game, the user is taken through the setup of a basic contract such as the configuration, variables, data structure, arrays and events.

Although the game is a guided coding experience, it is not for complete beginners to programming. Some understanding of another programming language is at least required in order to complete it without too much head scratching.

Although the site does not promise that you will be able to code high value and complicated smart contracts, the game is no doubt a great way for you to break into solidity programming.

Teething Problems

While the site is well laid out and the lessons are semi intuitive, there are some areas that can be improved. Some of the explanations on the site require more descriptions and there are some confusing statements.

An example of this is their description of how the operators will work. They go over how operators will work in Solidity such as addition, multiplication and subtraction. When it comes to exponents, they say that you can use operators such as 10^16.

When the user enters the exponent of 10^16 however, they are greeted by an error. The user may be stuck and short of any explanation of why this has occurred. However, if the user was to navigate to an obscure box at the bottom page, they would see that exponentiation works much like Python.

In other words, if you wanted to square a number, you would ** in the place of ^. Hence, there was no need to really introduce the ^ symbol in the first place.

There are a few other similar examples throughout the game. While they are not insurmountable, they place the onus on those who are being guided to do external research to progress.

Potential Updates

While there may be one or two explanation problems with CryptoZombies, it is important to remember that it is only just released. Most software has to go through these teething problems in order to refine the product.

Currently, there is only one game that is available on the platform. There are a number of updates which could be implemented on the game over the next few months.

Zoom, who develops the game has said that new lessons will be added to the game every 1 or 2 weeks. The goal of the team is to complete the project to a level where a user can create an entire zombie game from the beginning stages to completion.

Until then, you can complete your first level on CryptoZombies and take the first step to becoming an in-demand Solidity programmer.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Want to Learn Solidity? There is a dApp for that appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Cryptocurrency Cloud Mining: Worth the (Lack of) Trouble?

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 12:51

Mining … it’s what makes the cryptocurrency ecosystem go ’round.

Many newcomers to the space learn about this astonishing, novel phenomenon and determine they’d like to get involved somehow. But scores are too daunted by the expensive hardware and demanding technical knowledge needed to go any further.

That’s where cloud mining comes in. Just like other cloud services today (e.g. think Dropbox), when you buy a contract with a cloud mining company, they’ll do the mining for you at their mining farm. You supply your wallet address, sit back, and collect over the duration of your contract.

This dynamic is naturally attractive to those of us who aren’t so tech savvy or would like to avoid having loud and hot mining hardware running in the house.

The catch?

Cloud mining’s been a bit of a sketchy industry for the past few years, insofar as scams have abounded and many have argued that it’s much less profitable than either 1) investing directly into cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether, and 2) investing in your own mining rig.

Even still, some have said they’ve come out in the green with their cloud mining contracts. So let’s give you a few insights into the field, and you can make up your own mind when all’s said and done.

Something to consider …

Cloud mining contracts are set up over certain periods of time. For instance, popular cloud mining firm Genesis Mining slots their contracts out over two years.

Genesis Mining has two year plans – Image via GM

That means once you pay for your two-year contract, you won’t be able to back out at any point. That creates a bit of a quagmire if you’re mining coins whose mining difficulty is rapidly increasing, like Ethereum’s difficulty is doing now.

Indeed, users who locked in Ethereum mining contracts this year watched as their daily payouts rapidly dwindled starting in Q2 2017.

The point is that, depending on which coins you sign up for, you have to contend with the possibility that coin’s payouts will get smaller and smaller over the course of your contract. Now, that dynamic might be evened out if coin prices continue to skyrocket, but it’s definitely something to consider now.

Is it worth it?

It depends on your subjective point of view.

Now, would you make more profits by directly investing into cryptocurrencies rather than in cloud mining? Absolutely, that’s all but guaranteed since you’d be investing directly into an asset rather than paying a middleman to render you a service.

If profits over all else is what matters to you, then cloud mining won’t be for you. You’d be better off looking into running your own rig.

But if you’re a novice that loves the idea of mining but doesn’t want to go through the trouble of dishing out time and money and space on a large rig, cloud mining could be right for you.

Cloud mining companies to consider

Two of the biggest firms in cloud mining are Genesis Mining and Hashflare. Give their sites a look if you’re interested, but remember: think very carefully before you pay for any contracts.

Research the companies, look at other user reviews — just make sure you’re comfortable before you lock yourself in to a multi-year contract.

The post Cryptocurrency Cloud Mining: Worth the (Lack of) Trouble? appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Kik Announces Move From Ethereum to Alternate Chain Citing Scalability Issues

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 08:24

Kik, the popular mobile messaging app with millions of users has announced that it will be moving away from Ethereum for its Kin token. Citing concerns that Ethereum won’t be able to scale sufficiently or quickly enough, the company CEO Ted Livingston stated in a live YouTube stream. The company plans to move its Kin token to Stellar, instead.

Kik and Kin

Launch in 2010, the Canadian Kik app has quickly become a dominant force in the mobile social media space. Especially popular with teens, Kik has quickly seen growing adoption globally and now has a unique opportunity include cryptocurrency in its offerings.

The company previously ran a program called Kik points but is now pursuing a decentralized token called Kin. The tokens will be used to pay for in-app services and purchases.

According to the Kin whitepaper, the token was designed to be an ERC-20 compliant Ethereum token.

Pulling out of Ether

In the live question and answer session that CEO Livingston did on Youtube on Wednesday, the CEO noted that Ethereum was far too slow, inefficient, and expensive to operate on. Transaction fees, in particular, were a prime complaint about the platform.

Since the Kik ICO in September, the company has been mulling the idea of pulling out of Ethereum altogether since as early as October. Coindesk quoted Kik’s blockchain engineering lead Leonid Beder as saying:

Since we first and foremost want the Kin ecosystem to scale to many participants and huge transaction volumes sooner rather than later, we realize that ethereum might not be the right solution

These contemplations on moving have finally born fruit, as the announcement from the CEO seems to have solidified the company’s decision publically.

Why Stellar?

Stellar is a blockchain project that offers “open-source, distributed payments infrastructure” that supports moving money “quickly, reliably, and for a fraction of a penny.” according to its official website.

Stellar appeared in the news recently as IBM announced a partnership with the platform to facilitate cross-border payments, alongside KlickEx.

Stellar’s native cryptocurrency, the Lumen, operates on a number of principles that are vastly different from other blockchain projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Lumens are not a mined currency, but instead, operate on what the company calls a “consensus algorithm”. This algorithm allows for transactions to confirm in seconds, instead of minutes or hours. The supply of Lumens is theoretically unlimited, with a fixed supply increase of 1% per year built into the system.

Transaction fees for the Stellar network are measured as 100 stroops (0.00001 Lumens), and the transaction fee is permanently burned (removed from circulation forever). Stellar tokens today are valued at $0.19 each. So, a transaction fee would be worth about $0.0000019. This is in comparison to Ethereum transaction fees, which are typically in excess of $0.10 USD equivalent.

Moving Forward

A large project like Kik and Kin stepping away from Ethereum and instead moving towards Stellar could signal other large projects to follow suit. Perhaps not to Stellar, but at least to send the signal that other major blockchain projects could be better suited for carrying a DAPP or token instead of Ethereum.

Featured Image via Vocativ.com

The post Kik Announces Move From Ethereum to Alternate Chain Citing Scalability Issues appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Robbed at Gunpoint for $1.8m in Ethereum

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:19

When you hold a lot of cryptocurrency in your wallets, there are quite a few concerns that you would usually have. These range from Malware to hackers and exchange problems.

However, something that you would not usually expect is to be robbed of your cryptocurrencies in the traditional way, through violence and the threat of it.

This is exaclty what happened to a man in New Jersey. The man was kidnapped by a friend of his and he was forced to hand over the password of his digital wallet.

Bad Friends

According to the report, the victim was busy visiting his friend, 35 year old Louis Meza. When the victim was leaving the apartment, Mr Meza ordered him a car.

What the victim thought may have been an Uber was in reality an unknown man in a minivan. When he got into the car, the driver pulled out a gun and threatened the victim.

The driver asked the victim to hand over his private keys and password to his wallet that contained the Ethereum. The link was made clear when security cameras at the victim’s apartment were able to capture Louis removing the digital wallet.

The victim was able to escape after this and made a call to 911.

Lucky Break

Given that the victim was able to escape was indeed the lucky part of the whole story. If a criminal who has a gun is able to steal $1.8m in cryptocurrency, they would most likely have completed the deed by killing the victim.

Upon accessing the digital device, Mr Meza emptied the funds into his own wallet. However, on the next day the police arrested him and charged him with kidnapping, robbery in the first degree, computer trespass and grand larceny. They were not able to locate the accomplice.

The defendant has entered a plea deal of not guilty and is being held on a $1m bond or a $500,000 cash bail. If he is convicted however, he could face a sentence of over 2 years in prison.

Moral of the Story

Although there are usually a range of cursory lessons that are learned in the case of a security breach, in this case the advice is rather well known.

The victim should have been a bit more discerning about who his friends were and who he told about his cryptocurrency holdings. Even if you trust your friends, cryptocurrencies are held for the purposes of secrecy.

The victim should also be careful about whose cars he is getting into as any kidnap victim could have told you in the past.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Robbed at Gunpoint for $1.8m in Ethereum appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Bitcoin ETFs: The Next Traditional Bitcoin-Based Investment?

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 12:23

Bitcoin ETFs … what’s the deal?

The cryptocurrency ecosystem has been absolutely abuzz with chatter over Bitcoin futures, as powerhouse market leaders like Nasdaq and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launch these unprecedented speculative assets.

The institutions are coming to crypto – Image via CNN

One thing lost in all the present excitement? The status of currently pending Bitcoin ETFs, or “exchange traded funds.” These ETFs could be the next Bitcoin-based financial instrument to send institutional investors into a frenzy.

And while there have been multiple applications for these ETFs in recent months, none have materialized … yet.

Let’s give you a quick update on the status of these funds.

First off, what are ETFs

You’ve just barely started to wrap your head around what futures are. So how about exchange traded funds?

Per Investopedia, an ETF is a “marketable security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund.” Accordingly, a Bitcoin ETF would track BTC as a commodity similar to gold or oil. This fund could be held or traded like a regular stock holding.

To this end, these funds could help further legitimize Bitcoin toward being a mainstream, mature asset.

ETF applications declined earlier in the year

It’s been a string of set backs in recent weeks for Bitcoin ETFs.

Back in October, two firms who had applied to launch these kinds of funds — Intercontinental Exchange and Van Eck Associates — withdrew their ETF applications after the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determined these funds shouldn’t go live until after Bitcoin futures officially materialized.

Consequently, other applications, like two from Proshares Capital Management and the Winklevoss’ twins ETF COIN, still haven’t been approved by the Commission yet either.

But more applications keep coming

It’s clear, then, that the SEC is taking a wait-and-see approach. But they presumably won’t have to wait much longer since once of their main original concerns was that ETFs shouldn’t be launched until after Bitcoin futures have.

The situation is clearly shifting, of course, because the CBOE Group just launched the first Bitcoin futures only days ago now. To that end, CBOE President Chris Concannon remarked during a recent conference call that the next step is clear:

“With regulated futures of a certain asset class like a bitcoin, you do have an opportunity to introduce ETFs and over time we do envision ETFs coming to market.”

The SEC now has something to go off of with the CBOE’s Bitcoin futures, and with Nasdaq and CME Group doing the same over the coming days, the Commission will undoubtedly render some kind of official guidelines.

There’s no reason to think the agency is permanently against the idea of Bitcoin ETFs. They’re just wanting the market situation to develop further, which it’s absolutely doing right now.

That means we could be seeing such ETFs sooner rather than later now. So as ETF applications pile up on the SEC’s desks, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to project these funds hitting marketplaces at some point throughout 2018.

In the very least, the SEC seems open-minded about the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. Chances seem strong that exchange-traded funds are all but imminent.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Bitcoin ETFs: The Next Traditional Bitcoin-Based Investment? appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Parity to Ethereum Foundation: One Hard Fork, Please

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:12

Parity, the company whose multi-sig wallets were frozen due to a bug in their smart contract code which was exploited by a Github user, is now asking the Ethereum foundation for a hard fork in order to recover the lost funds. At today’s prices, the value of the locked Ether exceeds $350 million.

Back in November, user devops199 sent a ‘kill’ command to the parity multi-signature wallet contracts, which essentially froze all of the Ether inside. In a previous statement, Parity had announced that they felt confident that a recovery of the funds trapped would be possible.

At the present time, however, it appears that they have now reached the end of their attempts and are currently asking for a hard fork.

What would a hard fork do?

Back in 2016, a crypto venture capital fund of sorts called the DAO was hacked and more than $150 million worth of Ether was stolen. Following this, the Ethereum foundation underwent a highly contentious hard fork in order to undo the damage that had been done. Not all participants agreed and the result was the Ethereum chain splitting into today’s Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

Many blockchain experts such as Charles Hoskinson have claimed that doing a hard fork in this way causes far more damage than good. This is because it destroys immutability and trust. Further, Hoskinson describes this sort of loss as a necessary growing pain for blockchain assets.

Impact on either a valuation

Ethereum today has something of a problem with its token supply. At the present time, there is no limit on how many Ether tokens will come into existence. The problem with this is that it makes Ether a poor method of storing value long-term since the supply will always be increasing.

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has recently been considering methods of lowering the token supply without implementing a hard cap. For example, certain actions on the network should result in Ether being ‘burned’ or rendered unusable forever.

Ethereum Classic, on the other hand, has just released its latest monetary policy that will reduce its block reward every so often resulting in a hard cap somewhere between 210 and 230 million ETC units.

If 500,000+ units of Ether are permanently taken out of circulation, this will have a positive effect on Ether valuations as the supply has been noticeably reduced. If a hard fork occurs and these funds are then returned to circulation, it could cause Ether prices to drop.  This would at least be temporary until a new equilibrium is reached.

In the last two weeks, Ether prices have increased from an average of $430 to now a current high of $740 each. This recent price increase, however, may not necessarily be tied to the reduced supply, and instead be tied to recent activity on the bitcoin futures front. Litecoin, another Coinbase listed asset, has also seen massive upswings in price.

Will a hard fork happen?

As for whether or not the Ethereum Foundation will go through with the hard fork in order to resolve the parity wallet issue, no one knows for sure. Vitalik Buterin and other members of the foundation have yet to make an official comment as to whether or not a hard fork will happen.

If a hard fork does occur, and there is enough contention surrounding it, it is possible that we may see another split just like we did after the DAO hack. According to an informal Twitter poll held by localthereum.com, 59 percent of respondents voted that Ethereum should not hard fork in response to the Parity hack.

Critical bug found in @ParityTech multi-sig wallets. ~500K ETH lost forever.

Should Ethereum fork again?#ethereum

— localethereum.com (@localethereum) November 7, 2017

Finally, as Ethereum is a much more mature platform then it was in the days of the DAO, it is quite possible that they will not hard fork. It is also possible that they will come up with an alternative solution to the problem. Perhaps one that can satisfy Parity and also the community at large.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Parity to Ethereum Foundation: One Hard Fork, Please appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Bitfinex Suffers from “Massive” DDOS Attacks

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 23:22

It has been quite a tough past few weeks for Bitfinex. The exchange has suffered a lot of negative press around its involvement with Tether. This came on the heels of Bitfinex officially exiting the US market because of the termination of their banking licences.

There were also complaints by a number of clients who suffered losses as a result of a flash crash on a number of alt coins.

Now, it seems as if they are also facing the heat from online attackers. On the 12th of December, Bitfinex was hit by a large Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

This attack was so large that it took down most of the services on Bitfinex. This, of course, did not happen at the best time as traders were trying to take advantage of large price swings.

They Even hit the API

What is no doubt clear is how large the attack actually was. In a tweet issued by Bitfinex to update on the attack, they claimed that the attack had also taken down their Application Programming Interface (API).

We are currently under heavy DDOS. API is also down. We are working on further mitigation.

— Bitfinex (@bitfinex) December 12, 2017

Apart from seding a large number of requests on the platform, the attackers were also able to immobolize the exchange by creating hundreds of thousands of “fake accounts” which clogged up the system for new clients.

In order to lessen the effect of these, Bitfinex had to temporarily disable new account creation capability.

Bitfinex has been suffering from a range of DDOS attacks this month already. Just last week on the 7th of December, they released the following tweet that covered the extent of the attacks that occured over the week.

Bitfinex has been under significant denial-of-service attack for the past several days. The attack has recently worsened. Please monitor https://t.co/u3pYCWdhHY for ongoing updates.

— Bitfinex (@bitfinex) December 7, 2017

Who is to Blame?

While many may think that cyber criminals may be the perpetrators behind this attack, this is less than likely. Given that the attack was attempting to bring down Bitfinex’s trading platform, it could have been perpetrated by a competitor.

Bitfinex is known as one of the largest online cryptocurrency trading platforms. It would therefore make sense for competitors who wanted to bring down the Exchange.

There are also some who will claim that it may be a result of nefarious actions by those in the company. There were similar accusations that were raised when Bitfinex suffered a $71m hack last year. This was the hack that of course caused the issues with Tether.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Bitfinex Suffers from “Massive” DDOS Attacks appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Could Ebay be Considering Crypto?

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 16:44

Ebay is the biggest online auction place in the world. They have reach in numerous different markets and are usually one of the companies that are most interested in new technology.

It was for this reason that the online giant purchased PayPal a number of years ago. Therefore, as the owner of one of the largest payment processors, is it true that Ebay is considering cryptocurrency payments?

This may be the case according to senior vice president, Scott Cutler.

“Considering” it

Cutler had the interview with Yahoo finance by stating that Ebay is

seriously considering it as these cryptocurrencies become more of a mainstream payment instrument, but we’re not quite there yet

He also mentioned that he is aware of the amount of cryptocurrency mining hardware that makes the round on the auction site. What this shows is that the auction site would already have a great deal of interest in cryptocurrency payments.

Benefits of Crypto Payments

There are currently not that many online retailers that accept cryptocurrency payments. This is probably as a result of certain stigmas that are invariably attached to Bitcoin.

However, for those that have accepted the coin, business has been quite strong. For example, overstock which is a large internet retailer has had a massive rally in its share price on the back of its acceptance of cryptocurrencies.

Although there is nothing official from Ebay on the possible acceptance of cryptocurrencies, the mere fact that someone senior in Ebay has shown an interest to the introduction is positive.

As online retail is a hyper competitive space, there is no wonder that a number of these companies are actively considering the integration of cryptocurrency payments. For example, companies such as Amazon have even registered cryptocurrency related domain names.

Still a Way to Go

Although demand for cryptocurrency as an investment is soaring, there is still much more growth for the crypto payments online. Part of this is also down to the increasing fees and slow transaction times on the main cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

This has not stopped some companies from testing cryptocurrency payments. For example, last week the mobile payments solution, Square, gave its users the ability to buy and hold cryptocurrencies. This was released with not much fanfare to only a limited number of users though.

The hope is that in the New Year as the Bitcoin scaling solutions play out and more users start investing in cryptocurrencies, large online retailers may follow and jump all in.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Could Ebay be Considering Crypto? appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Ripple (XRP) Rockets Upwards After Series of Bullish Developments

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:51

Some hate Ripple (XRP), some love it.

But there’s no denying the Ripple project has been at the center of some great adoption developments as of late. The team’s been keeping their heads down, consolidating collaborations, and essentially doing all the right things from a business perspective .

Also noteworthy? Ripple’s monstrous upward price surge over the past few days. Particularly over the past few hours, as the cryptocurrency seemingly went parabolic for a wild stretch there.

So what gives? We’ll walk you through the contours of the rally.

One week ago …

Ever since this summer, Ripple’s price has been more or less stagnant. That happens a lot in the cryptocurrency space; just consider how Ethereum (ETH) was sideways at $300 for what seemed like months.

Flash forward to around one week ago, and XRP was still hovering around the 0.22 cents USD mark:

Zoom! – Image via CoinMarketCap

Then, starting on December 12th, buy volume started to explode. And as buyers tried to FOMO (“fear on missing out”) in, the XRP price began rapidly sliding upwards. It shot up to to .51 cents, up over 100 percent from one week ago:

The price is settling near its acute peak – Image via CoinMarketCap

The origin of the majority of this volume? South Korea. Check out these stats:

  • $1.59 billion in XRP/KRW volume at Bithumb over past 24 hours at press time
  • $326 million in XRP/KRW volume at coinone over past 24 hours

The next highest non-South Korean exchange on the top acute volume drivers?

  • $309 million XRP/BTC volume on Bittrex

To this end, it’s not even close. South Koreans are buying up Ripple in droves, which is causing the price to drift higher and higher. Let’s touch on that in a second.

Reasons for the Ripple price spike

Touching on the point of South Korea, there’s been a great deal of FUD (“fear, uncertainty, doubt”) spreading through the cryptocurrency space in light of rumors spreading that South Korean regulators were about to crackdown on crypto use in the nation.

The opposite’s happened, as these same regulators have now given the green light to domestic cryptocurrency exchanges for the compromise of these exchanges needing to follow 6 new rules that are reasonable and aimed around investor security and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws.

This developed undoubtedly assuaged a ton of South Korean crypto investors, and they’re probably getting off the sidelines and pouring back into the markets accordingly. Big winners over the past few days like Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin are all surely benefiting from this boost.

Beyond that, this bull run is very is seeming very deserved, as the Ripple team has been on their game in recent weeks. Their feats include:

  • 37 banks just declared they’ll be testing out XRP
  • Locked up 55 billion XRP into an escrow for supply predictability
  • Gained +$50 million in Series B funding
  • India’s biggest exchange Zebpay just added Ripple
  • Actualized a partnership with American Express

The combined effect of these optimistic developments have investors feeling good about Ripple going forward. If the project can continue to accrue positive milestones like these, then Ripple’s in the top 5 cryptocurrencies by market cap for the foreseeable future.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Ripple (XRP) Rockets Upwards After Series of Bullish Developments appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Great Place for News for Cryptocurrency Traders? Social Media Sites

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:10

Because the cryptocurrency space is still so premature, the mainstream media has bigger fish to fry as far as covering a range of industries that already demand their full attention. That means a lot of breaking cryptocurrency news is delivered person-to-person on social media, which is exciting and gives traders an “on the ground” kind of feeling.

The fact of the matter is that the crypto ecosystem is extremely news-driven at present. Consider how the price of OmiseGo (OMG) acutely surged on December 11th after Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin hailed the project as bearing his favorite token model. Traders spread the comment like wildfire on social media, and people let the FOMO (“fear on missing out”) rip accordingly.

Right now my favorite token model is OMG-style staking tokens. Reasons:

* Not a medium-of-exchange token
* Clear valuation model (expected discounted future tx fees minus node operation cost)
* Requires running node to get returns, not passive income (so more legally defensible)

— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) December 12, 2017

This is just one example out of thousands. To be a cryptocurrency trader is to be someone that pours through crypto-based social media fairly regularly for news and insights.

We’ll point you in the direction of where the most productive chatter is taking place.

Twitter

Twitter’s a natural place to start, then, right?

Credited with giving life to the Arab Spring years ago, Twitter has become a titanic societal tool in its own right over the last several years. And when it comes to cryptocurrencies, this tool is being used to spread breaking developments fast and far just the same.

In this sense, Twitter’s a bit like an AP News or Reuters, in that it constantly provides news “bulletins” (i.e. tweets) that other media outlets pick up on and write stories on. Twitter breaks a ton of news in crypto because it kind of decentralizes reporters: its users report from all over the world, 24/7. Literally!

The difference is that there are shills, trolls, and extremely misinformed people on Twitter unlike the consummate staffs of AP News or Reuters. But that just means you’ll have to be meticulous and scrutinizing in how you evaluate tweets.

Follow some major accounts. Watch the debates. Search among the “Latest” tweets. Twitter is a mainstay for traders.

 

Reddit

Reddit has users that aggregate news on “sub-reddits.”

If there’s a particular crypto project that you’re a big fan of and want to stay up to date on, then you should go follow that project’s associated subreddit immediately. There, you’ll find a concentrated and constant stream of informative developments and critical conversations.

There are heavyweights like r/Bitcoin and r/btc. There’s r/ethtrader and r/Ethereum. Virtually every cryptocoin project has a subreddit, so go subscribe to a few and stay informed!

 

Facebook

As you can imagine, Facebook has loads of crypto-based trading groups where traders can come to share and discuss news.

There won’t be any info in these groups you can’t find on Reddit and Twitter, but it’s a good place to engage in conversations and pick other traders brains. Can’t hurt!

Telegram

Telegram is a phone-based chat service that caters toward users who want to have private crypto trader chatrooms.

Every major crypto project has a Telegram chat that you can join. And there are seemingly a limitless number of informal private chats that you should be able to join to stay current on all the news.

These Telegram chats are a great place for debate and news tips, so keep your eyes peeled,

 

Steemit

Steemit is sort of like Reddit, but users get paid in the cryptocurrency STEEM for posting strong content. As such, there’s lots of news-driven postings and analysis on the site.

It’s definitely a neat platform that’s worth checking out. But you’ll want to turn to other social media sites first to get your “hard” crypto news.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Great Place for News for Cryptocurrency Traders? Social Media Sites appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Golem – The Ethereum Powered Supercomputer for Everyone

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 07:39

Odds are pretty good that you’ve heard about the Golem project over the last year or so since it’s ICO completed.

But what is it?

What is the Golem project attempting to do? Read on and find out more about this exciting Ethereum powered project that’s gearing up to launch early next year.

A global supercomputer that anyone can use

This is the situation: there are many organizations and individuals that occasionally or intermittently need huge amounts of computing power.

For example, there are people that need to render large amounts of computer graphics data. There are organizations that are involved in machine learning and AI testing.

There are even groups of people that want to rent computing power in order to mine cryptocurrency. In all of these cases, there have only been two solutions up until now.

These include buying massive supercomputers at incredibly high and ever-increasing prices or renting computing power at high rates from centralized providers that run a psuedo monopoly. The Golem Network plans to change all of that using the power of Ethereum.

How it works is computing power providers lend their unused computing power to the Golem Network. The network uses these resources to process request from those who want to rent the services of the network.

Large tasks are automatically split up by the network and sent to hundreds or thousands of computing nodes for processing. The payment for this computational power renting is paid through Golem tokens.

Similar to mining cryptocurrency, those who are providing computer resources are reimbursed for their participation on the network.

Project status and delays

The status of the Golem Network is still somewhat unknown. While the company has been in active communication with the community, they have still refused to provide a concrete release date for when the first main net release of the platform will go live.

Originally, the first main release was supposed to go live a few months ago. That release, called Brass Golem, would have supported CPU based graphics rendering. The release was delayed, however, as the developers felt that it was not yet ready.

During the time between the intended release and today, Golem token value has shifted somewhat, hitting lows of $0.18 and then more recently to highs of around $0.35. The increase in price happened at almost the same time as the overall bump in Ether prices to the $450 range.

The future of the platform

The goal of the project is to eventually offer a highly adaptable API that will allow for almost any common computing use to be run on the network. Software developers will eventually be able to adapt their software to connect to the Golem Network natively.

After the first main net release comes out, and additional use cases go from theory to reality, it is highly likely that demand for the tokens will increase swiftly.

This, in turn, should lead to an overall uptick in prices for the token. That, however, is yet to be seen as we still don’t know exactly when the network will eventually go live with its first CPU rendering use case.

Featured Image via Golem

The post Golem – The Ethereum Powered Supercomputer for Everyone appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Excitement Stirs As First Bitcoin Futures Go Live In Chicago

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:12

The biggest buzzword in the cryptocurrency space right now is “Bitcoin futures.”

In general, futures are financial instruments that let investors “bet” on the performance of assets in traditional stock market environments.

The big development, then, is that the very first Bitcoin futures contracts just went live on Chicago CBOE futures exchange. This is a milestone for all cryptocurrencies, to be sure, and it pushes Bitcoin that much closer to being a mainstream asset class.

So how did the first day of BTC futures trading go? We’ve got the scoop.

Bitcoin excitement causes CBOE website crash

As Bitcoin futures first began to be traded on Sunday evening, it didn’t take long for the exchange to get a taste of the hyper-interest that’s at play in the crypto space.

That’s because within minutes of the launch, the CBOE website crashed for many due to an overload of traffic.

Trading wasn’t disrupted by the outage, and support staff were able to get the site back up and running quickly. But the episode is reminiscent of Coinbase’s recent outage woes from hyper-growth. The CBOE Group, Inc. can expect more where that came from in the days ahead.

Contracts specs at present

The way futures are set up are over certain periods of time. So the current Bitcoin futures contracts being offered on the CBOE futures exchange expire in January 2018.

These contracts opened at $15,000 USD level. In the ensuing hours, they slid up over 25 percent to upwards of $17,500.

And while these contracts still have a long way to go before becoming heavyweights, many pundits were still surprised over how popular they were after launching on Sunday. Nearly 3,000 BTC futures contracts were transacted after trading began.

The CBOE exchange in action – Image via oren.ru

And it’s also worth noting that the CBOE exchange instituted trading halts when price volatility was too extreme. Indeed, trading was paused twice: first after a 10 percent price gain and then after a 20 percent price gain.

Overall? Went as well as it could’ve

Many users in the space were nervous in the build up to Bitcoin futures. Some wondered if these futures might actually work to suppress, not foster, the bitcoin price.

The good news for now, then, is that everything’s gone pretty much according to plan. Bitcoin and the stock markets are doing just fine. The sky hasn’t fallen yet and these futures seem pretty promising going forward.

Veterans of futures trading agreed. Per Craig Erlam, a market analyst at London’s Oanda firm:

“It was smooth, and bitcoin traders don’t seem to be put off by futures. There was a fear that short selling would have an adverse impact on price, but we haven’t seen that yet.”

Erlam’s colleague at Oanda, Stephen Innes, said that there’s room for improvement yet:

“We’re in the early stages here, and there’s not enough professional liquidity from the big market makers who can provide depth and hold in the movements. It’s going to be a learning curve.”

Now, the interesting thing to keep an eye on is how the situation develops as exchanges like the Nasdaq and CME Group, Inc. continue to launch their own Bitcoin futures products in the coming weeks.

Featured Image via Fotolia

The post Excitement Stirs As First Bitcoin Futures Go Live In Chicago appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Andreas Antonopoulos on the Impact of CME Futures

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:29

There are many uncertainties when it comes to the impact that Futures will have on the price of Bitcoin.

There are a range of opinions that people have. Some are of the view that it could give large institutional investors the chance to short the price extensively which could cause it to crash.

There are others who think that the impact will be very positive as demand from institutional money for Bitcon will soar given the legitimacy of the CME name.

However, one of the most well-known names in the sector, Andreas Antonopoulos came forward with his own professional opinion of the likely impact.

CME Oversight Position

When asked the question by one of the audience members, Andreas mentioned that he had previously taken a position on the oversight board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The CME is one of the exchanges that will be listing the Bitcoin futures on the 18th of December.

Andreas said that the role he would have is an advisor over the exchanges that will be used to pull the pricing data. This was indeed quite an important as having the correct reference point of the price is vital for the contract.

In this case, Andreas said that there would need to be two Bitcoin reference rates in order to properly construct the contracts. One would be the Bitcoin Real Time Index which is the spot price that is updated every 30 seconds.

The other is the something called the “Point Price” or moving average price. This is measured every day at 2pm CT. This point price is that price of Bitcoin at the end of the day.

Both of these prices are used in the legal framework of the futures contracts. They will also be used to address any disputes that there may be between the two parties.

Technicalities of CME Futures

Andreas went on to explain the criteria that the CME would use in order to determine whether an exchange is eligible for pricing.

The exchange needs to publish the data constantly in order for the CME to trust the pricing. Secondly, it also has to have some trading fees in place. If there are none, then the markets are susceptible to automated trading that can inflate levels.

The Futures contracts are also cash settled. This means that there will be no physical delivery of any Bitcoin. Hence, there will need to be a corresponding long position for every short position that is on the exchange. Both the long / short positions have to be capitalized in USD against the CME to ensure proper collateralization.

There will also be “circuit breakers” or hardcoded stops in the exchange’s system that will halt the trading if the price of Bitcoin moves by more than 7% during the day.

We have previously covered the technicalities of the Bitcoin CME contracts and how the circuit breakers will work.

Who will Participate

Andreas also ventured some guesses as to who would be using the contracts to short Bitcoin. Given the risky nature of Bitcoin, it is unlikely that financial institutions such as hedge funds will be shorting them

However, mining businesses may be active participants. This would be done in order to hedge the risk that they face from the Bitcoin price / cash flow perspective.

The cashflow problems for the miner is the electricity costs that they may have to pay for the upcoming quarter. If the price of Bitcoin is greatly below expectations, this could throw the miner’s financial calculations out of whack.

In his example, Andreas predicted that Miner’s were likely to take out about 10% of their position in Bitcoin. If the price of Bitcoin then rallied, they could benefit from the price increase on their physical coins even though they lost in their futures position.

There may also be other options for miners through the use of Bitcoin options. At companies such as LedgerX, these miners could then benefit from the all the upside and take a full hedge on their entire Bitcoin exposure.

Most Likely Impact

The most likely impact from the introduction of the futures is that there will be a massive increase in the volume of Bitcoin that is traded.

Apart from the recognition that comes from having a Bitcoin future on the CME, it will allow large institutional investors to effectively hedge positions from volatility.

The end result could be a large decrease in the volatility and hence more adoption which will feed a positive feedback loop.

Featured Image via Antonopoulos.com

The post Andreas Antonopoulos on the Impact of CME Futures appeared first on Coin Bureau.

NiceHash Devastated in Hack Worth Roughly ~$70 Million in Bitcoin

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 13:33

NiceHash is a popular cryptocurrency-mining marketplace. Or at least it was. Now, the company’s future has been thrown into turmoil after experiencing a devastating hack that has many in the crypto community reeling.

So how could this happen? What comes next?

And, perhaps most importantly, are the attackers going to be able to get away with their nefariously-gained trove with no consequences?

We’ll debrief you on the major details.

Breach occurs on Wednesday, Dec. 9th

Early in the morning on December 9th, users tried to visit the NiceHash marketplace only to find that the site was down from an apparent outage.

Sites crash from time to time, so no one in the community raised the alarm just yet. And people were further unconcerned thanks to the initial perception that the outage was related to NiceHash’s API maintenance efforts a few days prior.

Anxiety skyrocketed, however, after it was discovered that ~4700 bitcoins were being withdrawn from BTC addresses directly controlled by NiceHash while the marketplace was still down.

Yet while users began to freak out, NiceHash remained initially silent.

Speculation begins to mount as rage swirls

The in the absence of official confirmation as to what was occurring, some hoped for the best, but many suspected in their heart of hearts that a breach was ongoing.

One narrative that gained traction in the early hours of the episode was that NiceHash might have just been moving company funds into a secure cold wallet while they resolved the outage.

Other, less-trusting users speculated that NiceHash’s Chief Technical Officer Matjaz Skorjanc could be behind the attack. Skorjanc was jailed seven years ago after unleashing a devastating botnet upon 12 million computers.

In that light, would’ve presumably had the requisite skill to pull off this current attack. But to be clear: neither Skorjanc nor anyone else has been directly tied to this attack yet while investigations into the incident are still premature.

NiceHash confirms attack

The moment affected users had been dreading finally arrived. In the early evening hours of that same day, NiceHash released an official statement declaring that an attack had in fact occurred:

“Unfortunately, there has been a security breach involving NiceHash website. We are currently investigating the nature of the incident and, as a result, we are stopping all operations for the next 24 hours […] Importantly, our payment system was compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen. We are working to verify the precise number of BTC taken.”

At press time, the estimated number of stolen bitcoins is upwards of 4,655.25.

NiceHash’s main response for now? Change your password – Image via MONEY

Presently, these bitcoins are worth around ~$68 million USD, making this NiceHash breach the fourth most severe hack in the cryptocurrency ecosystem’s early lifespan.

Attackers could have trouble with stolen coins, though

Short of reimbursing affected users out-of-pocket, the mining firm doesn’t have any clear prospects for returning the compromised coins.

There may be a small silver lining in the whole catastrophic episode, though, as it’s possibe these stolen bitcoins will be blacklisted by the community, making them potentially worthless going forward.

Per a new MONEY report, NiceHash has reported the apparent hacker’s BTC address to the industry’s cryptocurrency exchanges so that the funds might be blocked from being cashed out going forward.

In this sense, the attacker might have to get creative to enjoy their “spoils.”

The post NiceHash Devastated in Hack Worth Roughly ~$70 Million in Bitcoin appeared first on Coin Bureau.

South Korea Bitcoin Trading Ban: Just Rumors, Or Something More?

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 13:10

Ever since China banned Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency exchanges a few weeks ago, crypto investors the world over have been a bit paranoid.

We’re all wondering: could the next black-swan regulatory ban drop at any moment? And if so, in what nation?

Naturally, from an investment perspective, we can all stomach bans in smaller nations that have little bitcoin buying volume. Say Portugal, for instance. The more worrisome fear is that a nation of great consequence for global BTC volume like South Korea could drop the banhammer, as it were.

And that would definitely be a devastating blow for the crypto market, as South Korea is driving a titanic, outsized proportion of the global BTC buying volume in recent weeks (which has, in turn, helped to drive the price up).

So whispers have been accruing, and FUD (“fear, uncertainty, doubt”) spreads. Could South Korea be next?

Today, then, we’ll give you the lowdown on just how worried (or not worried) you should be.

South Korean regulators launch new regulatory task force

Just days ago, a lot of chatter was set off when South Korea administrators declared the creation of a “virtual currency countermeasure task force.”

The word “coutnermeasure” didn’t exactly inspire confidence in South Korean investors, as you can imagine.

But it turns out that the task force is more protective than anything, at least according to the “fine print.” Per South Korea’s Finance Minister:

“We will make regulations for the protection of investors rather than making virtual currency exchange regulations.”

So now cause for losing our minds just yet.

Trading on Bitcoin futures now banned in the nation

Another relevant development came as South Korean regulators just announced that bitcoin futures will not be allowed to be legally traded or issued in the nation.

Even still, that’s not even directly related to an actual “Bitcoin ban,” as BTC futures are a different, and more traditional, beast altogether.

And even less alarming is the fact that the futures ban seems all but temporary. The nation’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) issued the ban “worrying about … if it gets out of control as they haven’t taken a position on cryptocurrency.”

In other words, while the FSC is still making up their mind on cryptocurrencies in general, they want domestic traders to hold off on the more traditional investment option of Bitcoin futures, a wave of which are being issued in the coming weeks through Nasdaq and the CME Group.

S. Korean govt. moves forward on crypto taxation

Also getting South Korean crypto investors attention is the news that the country’s National Tax Service (NTS) is beginning to take steps to implement an income tax on cryptocurrencies.

While such notable regulation always gets investors’ attention, in this case this regulation is good, in that it shows Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as being brought into the regulatory “daylight.”

Per the NTS:

“We will pursue taxation on virtual currencies such as bitcoin. Since virtual currency is a kind of property such as real estate or securities, it should be taxed according to the principle that ‘there is a tax on income.'”

Nation reversing ICO ban?

The latest breaking news out of South Korea is that officials there are coming close to reversing the domestic ICO ban that had been instituted just weeks ago.

Notably, though, Korean regulators are looking at potentially only allowing professional investors to facilitate ICOs in the nation going forward:

“Bitcoin is complicated in its technology and investment method. So considering its risk and technology expertise, it is right for professional investors to do an ICO, not regular citizens who are not informed of its technology and complicity.”

We’ll have to see how that dynamic plays out.

Overall: things aren’t dire in South Korea right now

In crypto you never know what’s coming next, but it looks like rumors have been flying in South Korea mainly because so many regulatory developments have been happening. People have a hard time keeping up or understanding, and then rumors start to spread.

For now, it seems clear there’s no overarching crypto ban imminent in South Korea.

If anything, regulators there are just trying to get a proactive handle on the domestic crypto ecosystem so that they can bring it into the fold like other kinds of assets.

It looks like South Korea is trying to keep up with crypto, not be left behind – Image via Cnet

The “scariest” measure they’re taking is trying to get an in-road into knowing which users are using what exchanges and how. In other words, they’re trying to de-anonymize Bitcoin trading just like regulators in the U.K. are doing now, too.

That’s not a ban, of course. That’s just the tax man wanting his cut.

The post South Korea Bitcoin Trading Ban: Just Rumors, Or Something More? appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Bitcoin Madness: What’s Driving the Wild Price Swings?

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:21

Bitcoin prices have gone completely off the rails in the last two months. Climbing from a respectable $5,000 to an almost unimaginable $19,000 for the briefest of moments before resting at its current $16,000 or so. What is behind these rapid, neck breaking price swings that are keeping Bitcoin traders up all night? Read on as we go through a few possible factors that may be influencing the swings.

The positive feedback loop

In a piece that appeared on CNN Money at the end of November, the author described what he called a positive feedback loop. This is how it works. The price of Bitcoin goes up. This causes more interest in Bitcoin, and attracts more new investors to it. This causes the price to go up. The increase in price causes more interest in Bitcoin, and so on.

The effect of this process on Bitcoin prices is simply that higher prices inspire even higher prices. However, as we saw in the panic that occurred in the middle of 2017. Prices dropped due to panic selling, which caused more panic selling, and further price drops. Basically speaking, hype, or lack thereof, can have a huge influence on Bitcoin prices.

Exchanges in Asia

Several news outlets have been reporting that massive trade volumes and demand are coming out of Japan and South Korea. The government of South Korea is so nervous about Bitcoin that it even started issuing warnings that it may encourage youth to commit crimes and steal in order to get more Bitcoin.

Fear mongering aside, what is driving the citizens of these two nations into a Bitcoin frenzy? South Korea and Japan are very well known for their tech-centric, forward thinking populace. Their growing acceptance could just be a byproduct of this mindset. Some news outlets have claimed that the desire, at least in South Korea’s case, is tied to fears of the North Korean Kim regime, but this seems to be conjecture at best.

The big boys come out to play

Another very important factor in this latest round of price madness is that of the big banks and investment companies that are now taking Bitcoin seriously. In recent days, CME has announced the impending listing of Bitcoin futures, NASDAQ has followed suit, and JP Morgan has changed their stance and is now claiming that Bitcoin could be better than gold.

The effect of big banks joining in the fray is two-fold. The first is obvious. Big banks actions tend to be watched closely. If they are seen getting into something that is somewhat unorthodox by traditional definitions, investors at large will take notice. The result is growing interest and hype.

The second effect will be based on what the banks actually do. In order for these listings to occur, in many cases the banks will buy up large amounts of Bitcoin. These potentially huge, multi-million or even billion dollar movements could have wide spread effects on the Bitcoin market which is comparatively small.

So is it positive feedback looped hype, rapid adoption in Asia, the influence of banking titans, or perhaps all of these things that is moving Bitcoin upwards at sickening speeds? No matter what the cause may be, its clear that Bitcoin has still not yet found its stable price point, and may not yet find it for years to come.

The post Bitcoin Madness: What’s Driving the Wild Price Swings? appeared first on Coin Bureau.

Pages