Bitcoin and the crypto market is once again crashing hard

It’s not been a pretty year for anyone who owns Bitcoin, but the last 24 hours has been a period to forget as the cryptocurrency dropped below $100 billion in market cap for the first time in more than a year.

You have to go back to the end of October — the 29th to be precise — for the last time that the total circulation of Bitcoin in the market dropped below $100 billion.

It looks like this will be the first 24-hour period to hold that rate — so much for the relative price stability that many in the industry had complained about, be careful what you wish for!

The dip follows a decline that took Bitcoin’s price below the mark $6,000 for the first time this year — it has since plunged below $5,600. That, in turn, caused havoc in the altcoin market with valuations plummeting double-digit percentages nearly across nearly all of the top 100 valued tokens. Of the top ten, Cardano is down 14 percent, Litecoin 13 percent and Ethereum and EOS 12 percent. The changing prices also saw Ripple’s XRP token rise above Ethereum to become the second most valued cryptocurrency behind only Bitcoin.

As ever, the source of the malaise is tough to diagnose.

Bitcoin Cash, which is about to undergo a hard fork, looks to be the most likely cause.

Bitcoin Cash is about to undergo a hard fork that’ll result in two different chains — Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHABC) and Bitcoin Cash SV (BCHSV) — and that has caused a great deal of uncertainty in the market.

You could argue that this situation caused the value of Bitcoin to decrease, that often draws owners of altcoins who trade their tokens for the cheaper Bitcoin. That movement can negatively impact both Bitcoin and the altcoins that are traded.

Of course, there are a wide number of theories as to what is happening out there. One thing that is for sure is that the markets are bleeding pretty hard today.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

IMF says governments could set up their own cryptocurrencies

Christine Lagarde praises rebel technology as ‘safe, cheap, and potentially semi-anonymous’

Governments should consider offering their own cryptocurrencies to prevent the systems becoming havens for fraudsters and money launderers, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund said referring to the fast-growing fintech industry.

Lagarde said central banks had to work quickly to establish digital cash for burgeoning networks of private financial transactions or risk their mushrooming into trading networks that were inherently unstable.

Related: Time to regulate bitcoin, says Treasury committee report

Continue reading…

Metacert’ Cryptonite can catch phishing links in your email

Metacert, founded by Paul Walsh, originally began as a way to watch chat rooms for fake Ethereum scams. Walsh, who was an early experimenter in cryptocurrencies, grew frustrated when he saw hackers dumping fake links into chat rooms, resulting in users regularly losing cash to scammers.

Now Walsh has expanded his software to email. A new product built for email will show little green or red shields next to links, confirming that a link is what it appears to be. A fake link would appear red while a real PayPal link, say, would appear green. The plugin works with Apple’s Mail app on the iPhone and is called Cryptonite.

“The system utilizes the MetaCert Protocol infrastructure/registry,” said Walsh. “It contains 10 billion classified URLs. This is at the core of all of MetaCert’s products and services. It’s a single API that’s used to protect over 1 million crypto people on Telegram via a security bot and it’s the same API that powers the integration that turned off phishing for the crypto world in 2017. Even when links are shortened? MetaCert unfurls them until it finds the real destination site, and then checks the Protocol to see if it’s verified, unknown or classified as phishing. It does all this in less that 300ms.”

Walsh is also working on a system to scan for Fake News in the wild using a similar technology to his anti-phishing solution. The company is raising currently and is working on a utility token.

Walsh sees his first customers as enterprise and expects IT shops to implement the software to show employees which links are allowed, i.e. company or partner links, and which ones are bad.

“It’s likely we will approach this top down and bottom up, which is unusual for enterprise security solutions. But ours is an enterprise service that anyone can install on their phone in less than a minute,” he said. “SMEs isn’t typically a target market for email security companies but we believe we can address this massive market with a solution that’s not scary to setup and expensive to support. More research is required though, to see if our hypothesis is right.”

“With MetaCert’s security, training is reduced to a single sentence ‘if it doesn’t have a green shield, assume it’s not safe,” said Walsh.

Twitter, those ‘verified’ bitcoin-pushing pillocks are pissing everyone off

Elon Musk’s tweets piss me off for two reasons.

When he’s not accusing actual heroes of sex crimes or trolling the federal government, it’s what comes after that drives me batshit. The top reply to most of his tweets is some asshat impersonating him to try to trick his followers into falling for a bitcoin scam.

These “get rich quick” scams are fairly simple. A hacker hijacks a verified Twitter account using stolen or leaked passwords. Then, the hacker swaps the account’s name, bio and photo — almost always to mirror Elon Musk — and drops a reply with “here’s where to send your bitcoin,” or something similar.

The end result appears as though Musk is responding to his own tweet, and nudging hapless bitcoin owners to drop their coins into the scammer’s coffers.

One of the latest “victims” was @FarahMenswear. The clothing retailer — with some 15,500 followers — was hacked this morning to promote a “bitcoin giveaway.” In the short time the scam began, the bitcoin address already had more than 100 transactions and over 5.84 bitcoins — that’s $37,000 in just a few hours’ work. Many Twitter users said that the scammers “promoted” the tweet — amplifying the scam to reach many more people.

On one hand, this scam is depressingly easy to pull off that even I could’ve done it. Depressing on the other, because that’s half a year’s wages for the average reporter.

Still, that $37,000 is a drop in the ocean to some of the other successful scam artists out there. One scammer last week, this time using @PantheonBooks, made $180,000 in a single day by tricking people into turning over their bitcoin and promising great returns.

Another day, another Elon Musk-themed bitcoin scam. (Image: screenshot)

Why is the scam so easy?

Granted, it’s clever. But it’s a widespread problem that can be largely attributed to Twitter’s nonchalant, “laissez-faire” approach to account security.

The common thread to all of these cryptocurrency scams involve hijacking accounts. Often, hackers use credential stuffing — that’s using the same passwords stolen from other breaches on other sites and services — to break into Twitter accounts. In nearly all successful cases, the hacked Twitter accounts aren’t protected with two-factor authentication. Brand accounts shared by multiple social media users almost never use two-factor, because it’s hard to share access tokens.

For its part, a Twitter spokesperson said it’s improved how it handles cryptocurrency scams and has seen a significant reduction in the amount of users who see scammy tweets. The company also said that scammers are constantly changing their methods and Twitter is trying to stay one step ahead. In many cases, these scams are nuked from the site before they’re even reported.

And, Twitter said it regularly reminds account owners to switch on stronger security settings, like two-factor authentication.

Well, enough’s enough, Twitter. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So maybe it’s about time you bring the water a little closer.

Until something better comes along, Twitter should make two-factor authentication mandatory for verified accounts, especially high-profile accounts — like politicians. It’s no more of an inconvenience than switching on two-factor for your email inbox or other social networking account. The settings are already there — it even rolled out the more secure app-based authentication a year ago to give users the option of switching from the less-secure text message system.

If the only other option is to stop Elon Musk from tweeting…

Pure Bit, a South Korean exchange, pulls a $2.8 million exit scam

Another day, another exit scam. This time it comes to us from South Korea, where an exchange, Pure Bit, has completely shut down after raising $2.8 million in Ethereum from investors.

The exchange, which promised to deliver something call Pure Coin, was live yesterday and today is completely shut down after posting “Sorry” and “Thanks” to their communications channels.

According to a Reddit thread, the team was anonymous and that the process of building and pumping exchange tokens is a “popular trend in Korea.”

“They have gotten rid of every evidence,” wrote one reader. “Website hosted by fake name / out of Korea host / messenger / contacts were all fake too. Now their only hope is to keep on track with that ether and hope for the best.”

There is no proof yet that the team has pulled a full exit scam — there are examples of founders pretending to scam their investors to “teach them a lesson” — but given the abrupt movement of 13,000 ETH out of the collection wallet we can assume that the story ends here.

Even their chat room, hosted on their own site, is shut down.

It should be noted that South Korea has banned ICOs, giving scammers the perfect cover for absolute anonymity.

Guardian Circle upgrades with a decentralized alert network

Chris Hays and Mark Jeffrey wanted to create a way for everyone to be able to tell their loved ones if they were in trouble. Their first product, GuardianCircle did just that, netting a mention in a few years ago. Now the same team is truly decentralizing alerts with a new token called, obviously, Guardium.

The plan is to create an ad hoc network of helpers and first responders. “Guardium and Guardian Circle togther open the emergency response grid to vetted citizens, private response and compatible devices for the very first time,” write the founders. “Providing an economic framework on our global distributed emergency response network; Guardium brings first responders to the 4 billion people on the planet without government sponsored emergency response.”

Since the product already works, the team is taking on the token sale as a new challenge.

“We’re serial entrepreneurs — both of us have been venture-backed in the past by names like Softbank and Intel, and we’ve been senior execs in companies backed by Sequoia and Elon Musk. Transitioning to the token-sale backed universe has been an interesting study in contrasts,” said Hays. “There are a number of ‘panic button apps’ — but without exception, all of them have forgotten ‘the second half of the problem’ — organizing the response. Getting people who do not know one another into instant communication and location sharing during an emergency — the importance of that cannot be overstated.”

The founders found that their idea wasn’t fundable in the valley. After all, what VC wants to help people when they can invest in Snapchat? Instead, Hays and Jeffrey are aiming bigger.

“We’re rebooting the world’s safety grid,” said Hays. “We’re creating a new global public utility. And we want it to service everyone, everywhere on earth. Although it is a very big vision, and it is a capitalist, multibillion dollar ecosystem that we’re chasing — it’s still a very different vision, and not the one venture capitalists are looking for.”

The token works to create a flash mob of help. Guard tokens pay first responders and dispatchers and “cities, campuses, and resorts stake $GUARD to access Alerts created within their geofenced borders,” allowing local folks to help immediately. They’ve sold half of their hard cap of $10 million thus far.

While tokens are always an iffy investment, this team has produced product and, more important, it’s clear they’ll never raise venture. A token, no matter how it’s used in the future, seems like a solid solution.

Bloqboard lets you lend others your hard-earned crypto

Vitaly Bahachuk wants you to share your crypto. His company lets you lend cryptocurrency peer-to-peer via smart contract, ensuring you can send your buds some red hot Ether and, in theory, they have to pay you back. Further, it allows for some other clever tricks to be played with ERC20 tokens including performing some of the techniques used by equity traders.

Co-founded by Alex Bazhanau and Bahachuk, Bloqboard is live now and the lending system is powered by decentralized lending protocols. They’ve recently raised $1.2 million from Polychain Capital to set up shop after a summer of building use cases for the lending space.

“Bloqboard has quietly launched last month in beta testing to a limited number of users with limited functionality. Approximately $150,000 in loans have been borrowed via Bloqboard. Bloqboard has not undertaken any marketing activities yet and continues its beta testing,” said Bahachuk.

The real goal is short selling, allowing users to borrow tokens, sell high, and then repurchase them when the price falls. Only three exchanges allow this functionality right now.

Coinbase provided reliable access to trade cryptocurrency and created a brand,” said Bahachuk. “We aim to create a brand in all things token lending. With much talk about tokenization of real assets, we believe that some real world assets will become tokenized. Tokenized assets work well as a stable collateral, so businesses and institutions can borrow stable coins against such assets.”

The app is out of beta and ready for business. Now all you have to do is buy some sweet tokens.

Hong Kong says it may regulate crypto exchanges

Hong Kong may become the next country to regulate crypto exchanges after its securities regulator announced that it is exploring ways to apply quality control and protect consumers from the volatility and uncertainties of digital currencies.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it is “setting out a conceptual framework” that could be used to regulate crypto exchanges since they currently operate outside of current regulation, which is focused on traditional investment.

“Some of the world’s largest virtual asset trading platforms have been seen operating in Hong Kong but they fall outside the regulatory remit of the SFC and any other regulators. Owing to the serious investor protection issues identified and having regard to international developments, the SFC considers it necessary to explore in earnest whether and if so, how it could regulate virtual asset trading platforms under its existing powers,” the SFC wrote.

The commission has said it intends to work with the industry itself to define what regulation should look like.

The SFC did hedge its move, however, by saying that there is no guarantee that it will introduce licenses at the end of its research period. In particular, it voiced concern as to whether exchanges “would satisfy the expected anti-money laundering standards, given that anonymity is the core feature of blockchain.”

There’s also no immediate sign that Hong Kong will be requiring exchanges to be licensed.

“Those exchanges that want to be regulated by us will be set apart from those that don’t,” SFC CEO Ashley Alder told a conference according to a report from Reuters.

Japan is best known in crypto circles for its introduction of exchange licensing. Some in the industry have criticized the Japanese regulations as being too tight. Those voices include Binance, the world’s largest trading of cryptocurrencies, which abandoned plans to seek regulation in Japan because it placed limits on which tokens can be offered to users, its CEO Changpeng Zhao previously told TechCrunch.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.