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A Digital Assets Exchange to Guarantee Crypto Security

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Crypto Security

At one point in late 2017, the cryptocurrency market was well on its way to reach a cumulative market capitalization of $1 Trillion. Several months later, even though the market’s upward momentum has stopped almost entirely, public interest has not faded at all. Naturally, this has led to an even further influx of investor capital and interest from institutional investors around the world. However, with fraud and scams becoming commonplace and centralized exchanges succumbing to security breaches, the discussion around crypto security has also become more relevant than ever.

To that end, DAEX or Digital Assets Exchange is a startup that believes that a discrete clearing system is the best way to guarantee trade security and reliability. The company is essentially proposing that cryptocurrency trading, clearing and settlement be split and handled by separate entities, with the latter two handled by its own infrastructure based on distributed ledger technology.

In finance, clearing refers to the process by which an organization executes orders between transacting parties and ensures delivery of assets, securities or money on both ends. The procedure takes place after a trade has been matched, and before a settlement is reached. In the equity and securities industry, most trades take place between separate financial institutions or banks. Thus, third party clearing houses are generally the one to facilitate communication between the two. The sole responsibility of these organizations is to establish delivery of orders between the buying and selling parties or entities.

However, even though the concept of clearing houses is well established in the world of institutional finance, the same cannot be said for the digital currency market. That is, until now at least.

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Technologies

Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Targets Linux Systems

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cryptocurrency-mining

With the popularity of cryptocurrencies, it is no surprise that cybercriminals continue to develop and fine-tune various cryptocurrency-mining malware. Indeed, this kind of threat is one of Trend Micro’s most consistently detected malware, affecting a wide range of platforms and devices.

We recently encountered a cryptocurrency-mining malware (detected by Trend Micro as Coinminer.Linux.KORKERDS.AB) affecting Linux systems. It is notable for being bundled with a rootkit component (Rootkit.Linux.KORKERDS.AA) that hides the malicious process’ presence from monitoring tools. This makes it difficult to detect, as infected systems will only indicate performance issues. The malware is also capable of updating and upgrading itself and its configuration file.

Interestingly, the permission model in Unix and Unix-like operating systems like Linux make it tricky to run executables with privileges. We construe that this cryptocurrency-mining malware’s infection vector is a malicious, third-party/unofficial or compromised plugin (i.e., media-streaming software). Installing one entails granting it admin rights, and in the case of compromised applications, malware can run with the privileges granted to the application. It’s not an uncommon vector, as other Linux cryptocurrency-mining malware tools have also used this as an entry point.

 

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Technologies

Company IT Infrastructure Struggling to Keep up with Cryptocurrency

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Company IT

The rise of cryptocurrency means financial firms may have to replace much of their internal IT infrastructure. That was one of the messages delivered at the ScotChain18 conference in Edinburgh this week which explored the effects that the rise of Blockchain will have on commerce.

The not for profit event was hosted at RBS Gogarburn in Edinburgh on Thursday and was organised by data recruiter MBN Solutions and blockchain specialist Spiritus. Jeremy Drane of crypto systems firm Libra said: “There’s an assumption by some companies that their current infrastructure will accept crypto and blockchain.

“We have been educating customers in what are the minute differences between data structures that don’t allow your systems to work and that it is better to buy new than repurpose your old software.

“It is hard for people to accept that as new data structures come along their old systems won’t work with it.”

ScotChain18 featured a broad range of speakers from across the cyptocurrency industry. Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Leader for Fintech and RegTech Kent McKenzie explained the regulation challenges that blockchain poses governments around the world while Apolline Blandin of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance told the audience of the framework her organisation was creating to standardise the process structure of cryptocurrency.

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Blockchain

Official Hong Kong Blockchain Week launches March 4 – 8, 2019

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Hong Kong

The Official Hong Kong Blockchain Week will be launched from March 4 – 8, 2019 and be hosted by NexChange. Blockchain business and technology leaders from around the world will converge in Hong Kong.

The week will be anchored by NexChange’s Block O2O Global Blockchain Summit 2019 (March 5-6). The Hybrid Summit will be hosted by Strategic Programme Partner Hybrid Block on March 7. The Week will be supplemented by over 20 accredited events, details of which can be found at hkblockchainweek.net.

Over 120 speakers from 50+ countries will meet with more than 150 investors and in excess of 100 journalists at HKBCW.

Hong Kong is Asia’s premiere blockchain conference center for new blockchain enterprises to come and raise money, for major exchanges to establish themselves and for investors to decide where to place their bets in the blockchain future. Major corporate players will come to network, learn, and present their solutions alongside influential global NGOs.

The Hong Kong government has made a major push to support research and development of new technologies, including funding for blockchain. Major government departments and research centers are lining up to stand behind Blockchain Week.

From Bitcoin loyalists to those building Blockchain 2.0, 3.0, and beyond, Hong Kong will gather over 3,000+ delegates at the main event and at smaller blockchain events across Hong Kong. Deep dive education, practical workshops, networking opportunities, exhibitions and site tours will make it an action-packed week.

Hong Kong is host to crypto’s biggest exchanges, the highest concentration of investors and the most crypto-active community in Asia. Major consortia like Hyperledger have made Hong Kong home for their Asia Pacific leaders. Bitmain chose Hong Kong’s stock exchange for its upcoming listing. Major multinationals have blockchain research labs and architects situated in the heart of Asia.

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Bitcoin

Turkish Hackers Steal $80,000 Worth of Cryptocurrency

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Crypto Mining

According to Turkish media, 14 people have informed authorities about their compromised cryptocurrency wallets. The coins have been transferred to other wallets and subsequently sold for fiat. Investigators discovered the hackers had stolen “bitcoins worth 437,000 Turkish lira” (over $80,000), the Daily Sabah reported.

The cybercrime combatting division identified some of the suspects by tracking a new phone number they used to register on the trading platforms where they exchanged the cryptocurrency. The thieves moved the money through numerous accounts to cover their tracks, the Hürriyet newspaper detailed.

On Oct. 26, agents from the unit detained 11 people at different addresses in Istanbul during joint raids with Polis Özel Harekat, the special operations department of the Turkish police. Currently, 10 of the accused remain in custody. Policemen also seized 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, six laptops, three hard disks, a tablet, two driver’s licenses, and a fake identity card.

During the investigation, police officers tracked the suspects who tried to withdraw the fiat money from various banks and ATMs. Their attempts have been recorded by multiple security cameras. Investigators are also looking for more victims of the hackers.

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Altcoins

Six BCH Pools Are Mining Bitcoin Cash With Overt Asicboost Technology

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Bitcoin Cash

The Asicboost optimization has been steadily making its way into the mining industry and now the protocol is being used on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) chain. So far six mining pools are using the version-rolling Asicboost technology to mine BCH blocks. The operations currently using Asicboost on the BCH chain comprise Antpool, BTC.com, Okminer, Prohashing, Viabtc, and an unknown pool. According to the data website Asicboost.dance, since the Oct. 22 firmware release, both BTC and BCH blocks have seen a significant spike in Asicboost usage. The creator of the data website has built another portal called Cash.asicboost.dance, which measures the metrics of Asicboost used on the BCH network.

Asicboost was once controversial because some individuals assumed the technology was being used covertly. Now that mining operations are overtly using the technology, a slew of mining pools have adopted the protocol in order to improve efficiency. This is because Asicboost can speed up the mining process by a factor of approximately 20 percent by reducing the gate count on mining chips. Essentially, the protocol is also applicable to all types of ASIC chips according to the whitepaper written by Dr. Timo Hanke. Initially, the use of Asicboost had occurred solely on the BTC chain and last week there were 111 version-rolled blocked mined on the BTC network. This accounts for 11 percent of the BTC hashrate and 5.87 exahash per sec (EH/s).

Bitcoin Cash miners are slowly starting to increase usage of the protocol and last week there were 63 version-rolled Asicboost blocks mined on the BCH chain according to the Cash.asicboost.dance website. This means that on the BCH network mining pools have processed 0.23 EH/s or 6.25 percent of the overall hashrate. The pool processing the largest share of Asicboost blocks on the Bitcoin Cash network is Okminer, a mining operation that currently commands roughly 10.3 percent of the global BCH hashrate. The lead held by Okminer is followed by Bitmain’s Antpool and then the mining operation BTC.com.

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Altcoins

IOTA Announces Integration with Ledger Hardware Wallet

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Ledger
Ledger Hardware Wallet

IOTA Foundation, a non-profit foundation focused on distributed ledger technology and permissionless ecosystem development, announced today a new collaboration with Ledger, the cryptocurrency and blockchain security leader, to integrate IOTA tokens with Ledger’s secure hardware wallets for cryptocurrency.

The Ledger Nano S hardware wallet will enable users to protect the private keys giving access to their IOTA tokens in a state-of-the-art secure chip. The Ledger hardware wallets integrate with the IOTA Trinity and Romeo Wallets and isolate user’s seeds (the key for their account) from their computer or smartphone, providing another layer of security from hackers. Users will be able to validate transactions on their Ledger hardware wallet as part of the security protocol.

“Providing the highest level of security and quality is a major focus at both Ledger and IOTA,” said Eric Larchevêque, CEO at Ledger. “The collaboration between the teams created an immediate synergy concentrated on developing a compatibility feature allowing users to access, store and manage IOTA tokens on Ledger devices. We are thrilled to welcome IOTA onto the Ledger platform.”

Ledger wallets are built with a distinctive operating system (OS) called BOLOS, which is integrated into a secure chip. The EAL5+ certified secure chip used in Ledger Hardware Wallets is the same one used for credit cards or passports. It is a tamper-resistant platform capable of securely hosting applications and data, in accordance with the rules and security requirements set by pre-authorized applications and people. Hacking a secure chip takes a formidable effort, while generic microcontrollers can be easily hacked by amateurs.

“Hardware wallets are regarded as the safest way to store cryptocurrencies. At IOTA, we made a commitment to delivering the safest and most usable standalone cryptocurrency wallet. The Trinity wallet is well on its way to fulfilling that commitment, and today we are proud to announce the next step on the journey. Ledger has earned a strong reputation for security and reliability, and this made it a natural choice for integration with Trinity. We are proud of how our community, the IOTA developers and the Ledger team have worked together to make this possible,” said David Sønstebø, co-chair and co-founder of IOTA Foundation.

IOTA is an open-source distributed ledger technology, that moves beyond Blockchain. It has been designed to be scalable with zero cost transaction fees and data integrity to power the future of the Internet of Things.

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Altcoins

Department of Financial Services Grants Virtual Currency License to Coinsource

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Crypto Exchange

New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has approved the application of Coinsource, Inc. for a virtual currency license. Coinsource owns and operates touchscreen kiosks, which allow customers to buy Bitcoin with, or sell Bitcoin for, fiat currency in the form of cash. Coinsource is the first DFS virtual currency licensee to operate Bitcoin Teller Machines (BTM).

“Today’s approval is a further step in implementing strong regulatory safeguards and effective risk-based controls while encouraging the responsible growth of financial innovation,” said Superintendent Vullo. “New York’s financial services marketplace is thriving with companies committed to complying with DFS’s regulations that ensure the security of transactions, safeguard the industry and protect consumers.”

DFS has rapidly responded to innovations by licensing technology-based money transmitters under New York’s money transmitter law; online lenders under New York’s banking law; and virtual currency exchanges under New York’s financial services law. To date, DFS has approved twelve charters or licenses for companies in the virtual currency marketplace.

Presently Coinsource operates 40 Bitcoin kiosks in New York, located in New York City, Westchester and Nassau County. The company allows customers to insert cash and buy bitcoin (and store it on their mobile wallet) or sell bitcoin for cash (by scanning their mobile wallet at the kiosk).

CEO of Coinsource Sheffield Clark said, “Coinsource is the first and only company that operates BTMs to receive a New York virtual currency license. All New Yorkers — from the people that are unbanked to the people who own the banks — can use our kiosks in their neighborhood retail locations to buy bitcoin instantly in a convenient and familiar way. Now that Coinsource is a license holder, our customers can buy and sell with confidence that Coinsource meets and exceeds the high standards set by the New York Department of Financial Services. New York represents not just a center of global innovation but also one of our largest target markets. We are extremely proud to be the only BTM operator holding a New York virtual currency license.”

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Technologies

Future Fintech Publishes Investor Presentation on GlobalKey Blockchain SharedMall

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Crypto Security

Future FinTech Group Inc., a financial technology company and integrated producer of fruit-related products, today published an investor presentation about its subsidiary GlobalKey Supply Chain Limited. The Company plans to use the presentation to discuss the business and development of its blockchain-based shared shopping mall in presentations to current and potential investors. The investor presentation is available on the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at www.ftft.top.

The investor presentation highlights the goals, strategies, features, cores, advantages, and business model of GlobalKey SharedMall.

Sharing economy + blockchain + artificial intelligence + O2O” global integration. The perfect combination of blockchain and sharing economy will create a global shared e-commerce with great energy, which would enable mutual benefits among all parties of the SharedMall. Based upon the core technologies of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce, SharedMall solves problems of the commercial application in the shared economy.

Consumers will receive the credits from the mall or/and store. The credits can be used to purchase in the mall or/and store, or can be used according to the instructions of the mall or/and store.

“Building the GlobalKey Blockchain SharedMall is a significant step of the Company. When the blockchain technology applies to the e-commerce platform, it could reconstruct the business mode of the shopping mall, promote the development of shared economy and consumer investment and improve the user experience through practical applications. We plan to start a trial run in December this year and officially launch the ShareMall APP in January 2019,” says Yongke Xue, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Future FinTech.

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Altcoins

UK Government Blocks Royal Mint’s Digital Gold

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Blockchain Venture Summit

Britain’s Royal Mint has frozen plans to launch a digital gold token after a partnership with U.S. exchange group CME failed and the government vetoed a plan to have the tokens trade on a cryptocurrency exchange, three sources told Reuters.

The demise of the potentially ground-breaking project, named Royal Mint Gold (RMG), highlights the wariness of governments to become involved in the largely unregulated world of cyptocurrencies, which exploded into the public eye last year with the stellar rise of bitcoin.

As other mints and fintech startups race to set up similar products, it could squander the chances of Britain’s Mint leading the field to build gold into a multi-billion dollar digital asset class. It also reflects a cooling of enthusiasm toward digital assets at the CME, three sources said.

The project would have been the first time a government of a developed economy had become directly involved with a crypto currency exchange, analysts and traders said.

The 1,100-year old Mint announced its plan to issue tokens worth up to $1 billion on a blockchain-based trading platform run by CME in 2016, saying they would give investors an easy way to buy and trade physical gold held in its vaults.

Royal Mint Gold was to launch in the autumn of 2017, but CME decided at the last minute to pull out, leaving the Mint without a trading venue, sources said.

“CME’s management changed, and they walked away, didn’t want to get involved,” one of the sources said.

When a blindsided Mint sought to save the project by partnering with a cryptocurrency exchange, Britain’s finance ministry in early 2018 refused to permit it, seeing the union as too big a gamble with the reputation of the government and the Mint, the sources added. The Mint is 100 percent owned by the government.

Asked for comment, the Mint said its digital gold had been due to launch in spring this year.

“Sadly, due to market conditions this did not prove possible at this time, but we will revisit this if and when market conditions are right,” it said.

A Treasury spokesman referred Reuters’ questions to the Mint. CME said it was “continuing to assess client demand with our partner and have nothing new to report at this time.”

Governments are wary of cryptocurrencies, and few international standards have emerged to tame extreme price volatility, regular thefts from exchanges and the risk that digital currencies could be used to launder money or finance terrorism.

In Britain cryptocurrency exchanges remain unregulated. Its finance ministry, central bank and financial watchdog are looking at whether rules are needed for cryptocurrencies and the use of blockchain technology in finance.

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Technologies

Call of Duty Players Suspected of Stealing More Than $3 Million in Cryptocurrency

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Call of Duty

A group of “Call of Duty” players — including a man from Dolton and another from Bloomington — is suspected of stealing more than $3 million in cryptocurrency in a computer-hacking scheme, according to a court filing unsealed in Chicago.

The Bloomington man told the FBI he met members of the ring online while playing “Call of Duty,” the popular online video game in which players in different places can compete in simulated warfare and communicate with each other. He said they forced him to participate, according to an application for a warrant to search the Dolton man’s home this summer.

The Bloomington man told authorities that hackers intimidated him into participating by “SWATting” him — a term for calling police with a false report that a violent crime is occurring at someone’s home, prompting a response from a SWAT team.

Members of the theft ring gave him names, phone numbers and other information to allow him to take over cell phones of their victims. He admitted helping take over the phones of more than 100 people, according to the FBI affidavit. Once the group took over a phone, they could hack into a victim’s cryptocurrency account, according to the affidavit.

On Dec. 12, 2016, Augur, a San Francisco company that created a digital currency called the Reputation Token, reported to the FBI that the firm’s employees and investors were being targeted for theft of their cryptocurrency, the FBI affidavit says. Augur is an online platform that lets people create “prediction markets” where they bet cryptocurrency, such as Reputation, on something’s most likely outcome — anything from a sporting event to a possible political assassination.

The Chicago Sun-Times isn’t naming the suspects identified in the affidavit because they don’t appear to have been charged with any crimes.

The group is suspected of stealing at least $3.3 million in various cryptocurrency, including about $805,000 in Reputation Tokens, according to the FBI. The suspects allegedly moved stolen tokens through cryptocurrency networks, such as Ether or Bitcoin, to their own digital wallets.

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