Ask Slashdot: Time To Get Into Crypto-currency? If So, Which? 265

Qbertino writes: With the ever-looming cyberpunk future in close proximity, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time to get myself familiar with crypto currency as a means of trade. Bitcoin is all the hype, but the blockchain has flaws, in that it isn't as anonymous as one would hope for — you can track past transactions. Rumors of Bitcoin showing cracks are popping up and also there are quite a few alternatives out there. So I have some questions: Is getting into dealing with crypto currency worthwhile already? Is Bitcoin the way to go, or will it falter under wide use / become easily trackable once NSA and the likes adapt their systems to doing exactly that? What digital currency has the technical and mind-share potential to supersede bitcoin? Are there feasible cryptocurrencies that have the upsides of Bitcoin (such as a mathematical limit to their amount) but are fully anonymous in transactions? What do the economists and digi-currency nerds here have to contribute on that? What are your experiences with handling and holding cryptocurrency? And does Bitcoin own the market or is it still flexible enough for an technology upgrade?

EU Proposes End of Anonymity For Bitcoin and Prepaid Card Users ( 158

An anonymous reader writes: In June the European Commission will propose new legislation to effectively end the possibility of anonymous payment, by forcing users of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and of prepaid credit cards, to provide identity details. Additionally the EC intends to propose monitoring inter-bank transfers within Europe, a measure which had not been implemented with the launch of the EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP). Though the proposed measures are intended to heap new pressure on the financing of terrorism, a report from Interpol last week concluded that terrorist funding methods have not changed substantially in recent years, stating 'Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.'

Utility Targets Bitcoin Miners With Power Rate Hike ( 173

1sockchuck writes: A public utility in Washington state wants to raise rates for high-density power users, citing a flood of requests for electricity to power bitcoin mining operations. Chelan County has some of the cheapest power in the nation, supported by hydroelectric generation from dams along the Columbia River. That got the attention of bitcoin miners, prompting requests to provision 220 megawatts of additional power. After a one-year moratorium, the Chelan utility now wants to raise rates for high density users (more than 250kW per square foot) from 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Bitcoin businesses say the rate hike is discriminatory. But Chelan officials cite the transient nature of the bitcoin business as a risk to recovering their costs for provisioning new power capacity.

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age? ( 190

mspohr writes: This article makes a fairly persuasive argument for the utility of the blockchain. It discusses a wide variety of companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered. One interesting application is to use blockchain to maintain property records in many countries where these records are often incomplete and are easily corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally). A linked article in The Economist expands the thought and discusses changes to the blockchain to improve performance, reduce overhead and accommodate different uses. (See also this related poll.)

Ransomware Hits Three Indian Banks, Causes Millions In Damages ( 76

An anonymous reader writes: Ransomware has locked computers in three major Indian banks and one pharmaceutical company. While the ransom note asks for 1 Bitcoin, so many computers have been infected that damages racked up millions of dollars. According to an antivirus company that analyzed the ransomware, it's not even that complex, and seems the work of some amateur Russians.

Bank Consortium Successfully Tests Bitcoin Tech ( 47

An anonymous reader writes: R3CEV, a startup dedicated to bringing blockchain technology to traditional finance, yesterday ran a successful test of transactions between 11 of the world's largest financial institutions. This represents a big step forward in bringing blockchain, the foundation for Bitcoin, to traditional banking. The test, which connected the banks on a private 'distributed ledger' using Microsoft's cloud-based Azure service, allowed participants to execute sample financial transactions instantly, globally, and without a centralized third-party clearing house. Participants included Barclays, BMO Financial, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, TD Bank, UBS, and UniCredit among other leading financial groups.

Ashley Madison Blackmail Letter Revealed ( 228

An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Graham Cluley says he has been forwarded a blackmail letter, sent to a member of the controversial Ashley Madison adultery website. In the letter the blackmailer says that unless $2,000 worth of bitcoin is paid within 10 days, the recipient's wife, friends and colleagues will be informed of his misdemeanors. In a threatening twist, the letter goes on to give personal details of another victim who refused to pay the blackmailers, and how his personal life and work were targeted as a result. Cluley's advice to recipients is not to pay the blackmailers, but to tell the U.S. Postal Inspectors Service.

10 People Arrested In the Netherlands For Bitcoin Laundering ( 44

New submitter Incadenza writes: 10 people were arrested in the Netherlands today according to the Public Prosecution Service (In Dutch). The arrests were said to be part of an international investigation, including requests from the USA, Morocco, Australia and Lithuania. Apparently the investigators followed the trace from 'Bitcoin-cashers' (who convert the Bitcoin profits to old money) back to Bitcoin transactions on the Dark Web. How successful this was is yet to be seen, since all the main suspects are said to be 'cashers', not traders.

Cryptsy Bitcoin Trader Robbed, Blames Backdoor In the Code of a Wallet ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: Cryptsy, a website for trading Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other smaller crypto-currencies, announced a security incident, accusing the developer of Lucky7Coin of stealing 13,000 Bitcoin and 300,000 Litecoin, which at today's rate stands more than $5.7 million / €5.2 million. Cryptsy says "the developer of Lucky7Coin had placed an IRC backdoor into the code of [a] wallet, which allowed it to act as a sort of a Trojan, or command and control unit." Coincidentally this also explains why two days after the attack was carried out, exactly 300,000 Litecoin were dumped on the BTC-e exchange, driving Litecoin price down from $9.5 to $2.

Big Trouble for Bitcoin ( 256

TheCoop1984 writes: A blog post by ex-Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn has highlighted dysfunctional management right at the top of Bitcoin development. He says it is clear Bitcoin is on the verge of collapse, and lays out several compelling reasons why. Quoting: "What was meant to be a new, decentralized form of money that lacked 'systemically important institutions' and 'too big to fail' has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there’s no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system." Is the end of Bitcoin on the horizon?

"DDoS-For-Bitcoin" Blackmailers Arrested ( 27

An anonymous reader writes: The DDoSing outfit that spawned the trend of "DDoS-for-Bitcoin" has been arrested by Europol in Bosnia Herzegovina last month. DD4BC first appeared in September 2015, when Akamai blew the lid on their activities. Since then almost any script kiddie that can launch DDoS attacks has followed their business model by blackmailing companies for Bitcoin.

Core Bitcoin Devs Leave Project, Create New Currency Called Decred ( 122

An anonymous reader writes: Core developers in the Bitcoin project have left and started a new currency called Decred. Developers are citing a lack of transparency and a conflict of interests between the group that funds the actual Bitcoin software development, and the decisions taken inside the project. Jacob Yocom-Piatt, CEO at Company 0, who has funded development of Bitcoin since early 2013: "This is in part due to a lack of mechanisms and pathways for funding development work directly from the community, and as a result Bitcoin development is funded by external entities that create conflicts of interest between the developers and the representative power of the community that uses Bitcoin."

How a Young IRS Agent Identified the Man Behind Silk Road ( 163

circletimessquare writes: Dread Pirate Roberts, who ran Silk Road, was identified as Ross Ulbricht by one agent googling, off work hours, in just two weekends in 2013. Many agents had been working on the case for a year or more, and since agent Gary Alford was new to the case, not FBI, and not technologically sophisticated, no one took him seriously for months. He escalated the discovery and became such a pest about it, one agent told him to drop it. From the New York Times article: "In these technical investigations, people think they are too good to do the stupid old-school stuff. But I'm like, 'Well, that stuff still works.'" Mr. Alford's preferred tool was Google. He used the advanced search option to look for material posted within specific date ranges. That brought him, during the last weekend of May 2013, to a chat room posting made just before Silk Road had gone online, in early 2011, by someone with the screen name "altoid." "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet?" altoid asked. "It's kind of like an anonymous" The early date of the posting suggested that altoid might have inside knowledge about Silk Road. During the first weekend of June 2013, Mr. Alford went through everything altoid had written, the online equivalent of sifting through trash cans near the scene of a crime. Mr. Alford eventually turned up a message that altoid had apparently deleted — but that had been preserved in the response of another user. In that post, altoid asked for some programming help and gave his email address:
The Almighty Buck

IBM and Linux Foundation To Create Blockchain For Major Financial Institutions ( 99

An anonymous reader writes: Following initial news of the project in March, IBM, under the supervision of the Linux Foundation and in partnership with several major tech interests including Fujitsu, has announced today that it will lead development of a new blockchain — a financial transaction ledger fashioned after the Bitcoin model. Provisionally called Open Ledger, the new initiative is aimed specifically at financial transactions, and though it will be open source in terms of development, but 'semi-private' in operation. Those with an interest in the project are said to include JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the Bank of England. IBM VP Jerry Cuomo, who has discussed the project with Fortune and Wired, commented "The current blockchain is a great design pattern...Now, how do we make that real for business? What are the key attributes needed to make that happen? That's what this organization is about."
Data Storage

Low Redundancy Data Centers? Providers Adapt As Tenants Seek Options ( 57

1sockchuck writes: Data center providers are offering space with less power infrastructure than traditional mission-critical facilities, citing demand from customers looking to forego extra UPS and generators in return for more affordable pricing. The demand for "variable resiliency" space reflects a growing emphasis on controlling data center costs, along with a focus on application-level requirements like HPC and bitcoin mining. Data center experts differed on whether this trend toward flexible design was a niche, or a long-term trend. "In the next 12 months,data center operators will be challenged to deliver power to support both an HPC environment as well as traditional storage all under one roof," said Tate Cantrell, CTO at Iceland's Verne Global. "HPC will continue the trend to low resiliency options." But some requirements don't change. "Even when they say they're OK with lower reliability, they still want uptime," noted one executive.

Alleged Bitcoin Creator Raided By Australian Authorities ( 181

wbr1 writes: As reported yesterday, Wired and Gizmodo think Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto is actually Australian businessman Craig Wright

Now, Craig Wright has been raided by Australian police. Curiously, a statement from the Australian federal police said that the raids were not related to the recent Bitcoin revelation. "The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin." Supposedly not related, but interesting nonetheless.

Reuters adds,"At Wright's rented home, a modest brick house in the leafy middle class suburb of Gordon, three police workers wearing white gloves could be seen searching the garage, which contained gym equipment. A man who identified himself as the owner of the house, Garry Hayres, told Reuters that Wright and his family had lived there for a year, and were due to move out on Dec. 22 to move to Britain. Hayres said that Wright had a 'substantial computer system set-up' and had attached a 'three-phase' power system to the back of the house for extra power."


Wired Thinks It Knows Who Satoshi Nakamoto Is ( 291

An anonymous reader writes: In a lengthy exposé, Wired lays out its case that Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto is actually Australian businessman Craig Wright. As evidence, Wired cites leaked communications and posts on Wright's blog from 2008 and 2009 establishing a connection between him and the launch of Bitcoin. Wright is also known to have amassed a significant Bitcoin fortune early on. Wired tried to contact Wright and got some perplexing responses, and they admit that it could all be a (long and extremely elaborate) hoax. But hours after publishing, Gizmodo followed up with the results of their own investigation, which came to the conclusion that Satoshi is a pseudonym for two men: Wright and Dave Kleiman, a computer forensics expert who died in 2013. After questioning (read: harassment) from both publications, Wright seems to have withdrawn from public comment. Regardless, both articles are quite detailed, and it will be interesting to see if the leaked documents turn out to be accurate.

Cybercriminals Learning To Filter Out Undercover Cops ( 63

An anonymous reader writes: Credit card numbers are constantly being stolen, but the people who take them don't usually use them. Instead, they sell them to others who will. Many cards are traded at online forums and markets. Law enforcement investigators know this, and they use these forums to gather intelligence on breaches. But Brian Krebs writes that one of the biggest markets, Rescator, has implemented methods to screen out suspected law enforcement agents. Krebs says of a law enforcement source of his: "The criminals running the fraud shop seized his carding store account and bitcoin balance after the pig alert flashed on my source's screen — effectively stealing hundreds of taxpayer dollars directly from the authorities. .. I found his case fascinating and yet another example of the growing sophistication of large-scale cybercrime operations."

Greek Banks Under Cyberattack, Face Ransom Demands ( 42

An anonymous reader writes: Hackers have targeted three Greek banks for a third time in five days, demanding a ransom from each lender of 20,000 bitcoin (€7m), according to Greek police and the country's central bank. A group calling itself the Armada Collective demanded the bitcoin ransom after staging its first attacks last Thursday, and then threatened a full collapse of the unnamed banks' websites if they refused to pay up. These initial attacks took the form of a distributed denial of service — flooding the banks' websites with requests so that they crashed under the strain. On Thursday, they succeeded in disrupting electronic transactions at all three banks for a short period, but customer information was protected, a police official said.

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