The sky-rocketing value of some cryptocurrencies in 2017 apparently prompted hackers to move away from tried and tested ransomware as a source of extortion and direct their attention towards crypto-jacking. Hacking incidents known as ‘crypto-jacking’ jumped 8,500 percent over the year, according to IT security firm Symantec.
Crypto-jacking involves hackers secretly commandeering a computer device to mine cryptocurrency that can then be sold on. According to Symantec, gains for cryptocurrencies like ethereum, ripple and bitcoin emboldened cyber-criminals to find alternate sources of revenue.
“With a low barrier of entry – only requiring a couple of lines of code to operate – cyber criminals are using coinminers to steal computer processing power and cloud CPU usage from consumers and enterprises to mine cryptocurrency,” Symantec’s 2018 internet security report reads.
The security company warns that corporate networks are in danger of shutdown because of the trend which can slow down devices, overheat batteries, and in some cases render computers unusable. Elsewhere in the world of cyber security, Symantec reported a 46 percent increase in ransomware variants, with China becoming the country of origin for 21 percent of attacks using Internet of Things devices.
Last year also saw ransomware demands decrease in value following oversaturation of the malicious software, which blocks access to a device until a ransom is paid. “The ransomware ‘market’ made a correction with fewer ransomware families and lower ransom demands – signalling ransomware has become a commodity,” the security report reads. “Last year, the average ransom demand dropped to $522, less than half the average of the year prior.”
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Google searches and bitcoin wallet growth continue to slow in 2018, which is all you need to know about the near term direction of the asset. But while Google’s move may slow future adoption rates, plenty of other banned items (drugs, hacking software, counterfeit goods, etc.) still manage to flourish. An imperfect set of comps, to be sure, but still relevant to the discussion.
There are only 4 things Google doesn’t allow you to advertise on its search engine platform:
Dangerous products or services, like recreational drugs, weapons, ammunition, explosives and fireworks, and tobacco products.
Anything that enables dishonest behavior, such as hacking software, services to artificially inflate web or ad traffic, fake documents or academic cheating.
Inappropriate content, like hate speech or ads that use profane language
As of June of this year, you can add one more: anything about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The prohibition is actually quite broad: “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).” Frankly it is hard to blame Google, or Facebook (which put a similar ban into place recently), for the move given the level of fraud and deception in the space. The phrase “Goat rodeo” comes to mind except goats are, at least, cute.
Bitcoin’s price has been hit on the news, and for good reason: its value correlates well with the growth in the number of wallets that store the crypto online. Less advertising for bitcoin-related services may slow new wallet growth, which has already declined from its peak last year. A few numbers:
According to the Vienna-based exchange, all transactions over €10,000 ($12,300) processed in the European Union should be subject to anti-money laundering regulation. Tougher financial rules might stunt the emerging market for virtual cash.
“Regulation provides us with more legitimacy. We’ve wanted to be regulated, but so far have been told that we cannot be,” Eric Demuth, the co-chief executive officer of one of Europe’s most popular cryptocurrency trading platforms, told Bloomberg.
The recent boom in digital currencies triggered a bitter struggle in the legal framework, which is currently seen as deficient for controlling the growing crypto market. Financial regulators across the world are in favor of proper rules for the industry to put it on firmer ground and lend it credibility.
The value of a bitcoin token and an ounce of gold should move closer as the US Fed lifts interest rates, says Bloomberg Intelligence expert Mike McGlone. “Just 11 months ago, gold and bitcoin were the same price, now they’re on the road to convergence,” he said.
Bitcoin rose nine percent to $9,868 at 12:13 GMT on Monday, according to the industry website Coinmarketcap.com. Gold dropped slightly to $1,317 per ounce.
Earlier this year, Austria’s finance ministry said it was considering the trading rules for gold and derivatives as a basis for the regulation of virtual currencies. The step is reportedly aimed at terminating illegal activities, such as money laundering.
Bitpanda has reportedly been extending its links with government institutions, despite warnings issued by country’s central bank. The firm trades bitcoin vouchers through the state-run postal service. The exchange also said it had signed research contracts with the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Technical University of Vienna.
The company, which opened a London office in February, is reportedly expected to surpass €1 billion ($1.23 billion) in turnover in 2018. Most of its €600 million ($737.5 million) in transactions were processed in Vienna in the fourth quarter of 2017.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section
Arizona — Last year, the state of Arizona went after the federal government’s attack on gold and silver by eliminating the capital gains taxes on precious metals. This paved the way to deal a massive blow to the Federal Reserve and end their monopoly on money. While the precious metals move was certainly noteworthy, the legislation passed this month by the Arizona Senate is nothing short of revolutionary as it officially recognizes cryptocurrencies as money by allowing residents to pay their taxes in it.
Arizona Senate Bill 1091, titled Income tax payments; bitcoin, was introduced to the Senate on January 10 and after going through several committees, on Feb. 8, 2018, it passed. It will now make its way to the House.
According to the bill’s text, it specifically names bitcoin and litecoin, as well as “any other cryptocurrency” recognized by the department as official forms of payment.
A TAXPAYER MAY PAY THEIR INCOME TAX LIABILITY USING A PAYMENT GATEWAY, SUCH AS BITCOIN, LITECOIN OR ANY OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCY RECOGNIZED BY THE DEPARTMENT, USING ELECTRONIC PEER-TO-PEER SYSTEMS.
After the state accepts the cryptocurrency, it will then convert them to US dollars, according to the legislation.
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CONVERT CRYPTOCURRENCY PAYMENTS TO UNITED STATES DOLLARS AT THE PREVAILING RATE AFTER RECEIPT AND SHALL CREDIT THE TAXPAYER’S ACCOUNT WITH THE CONVERTED DOLLAR AMOUNT ACTUALLY RECEIVED LESS ANY FEES OR COSTS INCURRED BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR CONVERSION.
The bill now moves on to Arizona’s House of Representatives.
If the bill passes in the house, it will become adopted and Arizona would become the first state in the U.S. to accept cryptocurrency tax payments beginning from and after December 31, 2019, as stated in the bill’s text.
Referring to the tax bill, Arizona State Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger, told Fox News:
“It’s one of a litany of bills that we’re running that is sending a signal to everyone in the United States, and possibly throughout the world, that Arizona is going to be the place to be for blockchain and digital currency technology in the future.”
“The ease of use, being able to do it in the middle of the night, being able to do it at home while you’re watching TV,” Rep. Weninger said. “I think in a few years this isn’t even going to be a question.”
One state could allow you to pay your taxes in bitcoin💰
Arizona bill among others that could lead the way in how
governments view digital ‘currency’
— Charlie Lapastora (@charlielap) February 7, 2018
Jack Bitlis, who owns Tag Employer Services also spoke to FOX News, noting that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are the future. Bitlis stands by his word too as his payroll company allows employees to receive their paychecks through bitcoin and to invest part of their 401(k) into bitcoin.
“We’re living in just a hugely interesting time and, really, we just want to be a part of it,” Biltis said. “We just know that we could be, as Arizona’s chosen to be, at the forefront of this time and encourage these new technologies. That’s just an exciting place to be.”
Naturally, there are some less than optimistic lawmakers in Arizona who are applying Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) on the legislation, saying bitcoin could crash.
“If we had a bill that allowed people to pay their taxes in bitcoin directly, that puts the volatility burden on all other taxpayers because it would mean that that money goes to the state and then the state has to take the responsibility of how to exchange it,” Arizona State Senate Minority Leader Steve Farley said.
Speaking like a true shill of the Federal Reserve, and ignoring the fuvolatilityility of the US dollar, Farley followed up his FUD by saying, “these are American dollars. They’re good enough for me. They should be good enough for anybody else who pays taxes in this country.”
Countering Farley’s negativity and unfounded fear, however, Biltis noted, “It’s always a little scary and thrilling at the beginning, it was with anything (including) the Internet…The world is going to look so different in 20 years and the people that are going to be truly successful are the people that embrace it now and are on the leading edge of that curve.”
As for now, we are crossing our fingers that this bill passes the house and paves the way for a crypto-revolution.
After that, we just need to figure out how to stop the state from taking our tax dollars in the first place.
The company reported that around 17 million nano coins belonging to investors had been stolen through unauthorised transactions. Trading above $11 a token at the time, the stolen amount totaled about $200 million. It is ranked as the number 24 cryptocurrency by value, according to Coinmarketcap.
“We extend our sincerest apologies to our customers and to all those involved in the illegal transfer of Nano on our platform,” BitGrail wrote.
“Today a charge about those fraudulent activities has been submitted to the competent authorities and now is under police investigation.”
The announcement was greeted with suspicion fueled by the company’s recent moves. In January BitGrail halted all withdrawals and deposits of nano, as well as the lisk and cryptoforecast tokens. The exchange said it would introduce obligatory identity verification and anti-money laundering protocols for its clients, in spite of claiming that it doesn’t work with governments or banks. Some users accused the exchange of planning a so-called “exit scam”, prompting the price of nano to drop 20 percent at the time.
This is not the first major heist from cryptocurrency exchanges in recent years:
COINCHECK: Last month the Japanese crypto exchange saw over $500 million stolen in NEM cryptocurrency.
BITFINEX: The Hong Kong exchange claimed about $72 million worth of bitcoin was stolen in 2016
MT. GOX: The Tokyo-based exchange filed for bankruptcy in 2014 after claiming hackers stole nearly half a billion US dollars’ worth of bitcoin.
CRYPTSY: Last July, a US federal judge ordered the defunct exchange to pay $8.2 million to customers after it failed to respond to a class-action lawsuit. The court ruled that 11,325 bitcoin were stolen in 2014 and the thief was not found.
Reuters cites other notable heists including Bter which lost 7,170 bitcoins in 2015; BitMarket.eu (18,788 bitcoins lost in 2012); Bitfloor (24,000 bitcoins lost in 2012) and Bitcoinica, which lost a total of 102,101 bitcoins in three hacks during 2012.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section
A few months ago, as I was having a conversation with another crypto advocate, these words escaped my lips: “I hate to say it, but maybe we need a price crash.” As I said them, I had a slightly sick feeling of “Be careful what you wish for.”
Now, the price has crashed. But in spite of all the pain that has caused, it was probably necessary. Why? Because it chased away the scammers and the people who were only in cryptos for a fast buck. “Bitcoin will get you a Lambo” was a pretty damned juvenile idea, after all. It was certainly nothing worth building upon.
So, whether we’ve enjoyed it or not, the fire has raged, the forest has been pretty well cleansed, and those who remain can build without ridiculous distractions.
A few days ago I reran the numbers on the market cap of world currency (about $200 trillion) and all cryptocurrencies (about $400 billion). So, crypto = 0.2% of government currencies… meaning that fiat currencies are worth 500 times what cryptos are worth. And that makes the choice in front of us nice and clear:
If you think cryptocurrencies aren’t worth one five-hundredth of fiat, sell now and go back to your Life Before Bitcoin.
If you think cryptos are worth more than one five-hundredth of fiat, get back to work.
We have a full crypto economy to build, and the worst obstacles have just been removed. Let’s get busy.
* * * * *
A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:
I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.
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January 11th, 2018
Binance (Cryptogon Affiliate Link)
The worldâ€™s biggest cryptocurrency exchange keeps getting bigger.
Hong Kong-based Binance.com is adding â€œa couple of millionâ€� registered users every week, with 240,000 people signing up in just an hour on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Zhao Changpeng said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Demand is so high that the company is limiting new customers, he said, though Binance may fully reopen in the coming weeks.
â€œWe did not expect this kind of growth to be honest,â€� Zhao said from Tokyo on Thursday.
Binance was the worldâ€™s most active crypto exchange over the past 24 hours, according to Coinmarketcap.com, hosting $6 billion worth of digital currency trades. The most popular asset was Tron, which accounted for 11 percent of volume.
Zhao said his average customer was male and aged 25-35, though Binance is â€œbeginning to get a lot of interest from institutional investors.â€�
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