Archive Monthly Archives: August 2018

Blockchain Job Industry Sees Sustained Uptick Despite Volatile Crypto Markets

Data indicates that the blockchain job industry has seen a sustained uptrend in Asia, while cryptocurrency-specific applications appear to wax and wane with volatile markets, CNBC reports August 31.

Recruitment firm Robert Walters told CNBC that it has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of roles related to blockchain or cryptocurrencies in Asia since 2017, noting that developers skilled in Python language programming are among the most coveted of applicants.

Data from job search engine Indeed’s main Asian markets — comprising Australia, India, Singapore and Malaysia — reportedly reinforces that interest in blockchain and other crypto roles appears to have been more consistent among job-seekers than Bitcoin (BTC)-related positions. An Indeed spokeswoman told CNBC that:

“The situation in Asia seems to mirror the U.S. in that Bitcoin [job search] trends are much more volatile (and related to price volatility) and resulting media coverage while blockchain and cryptocurrency searches have seen a more consistent upwards trajectory.”

Indeed’s data reveals that Bitcoin job interest in Asia trended lower after the coin fell off from its all-time-price highs last December, while blockchain industry interest has sustained a strong uptrend.

TenX’s Julian Hosp confirmed his start-up’s experience that “”[when] crypto is doing well…we get huge inbound from people [who] feel, ‘I need to jump on this wave. And then when … crypto go[es] down — and we saw this at the very beginning [of 2018] and we’re seeing this right now — people [think], ‘Oh no, this is a dying industry, I shouldn’t go in there.’ So it’s completely emotional.”

Established financial firms, unlike crypto and blockchain startups, tell a slightly different story. Justin Chow, Asia head of business development at Cumberland, the crypto division of proprietary trading firm DRW, told CNBC that for capital markets professionals, price decline is “not a big issue.”

CNBC notes that in China — where a stringent government stance against cryptocurrencies is counterbalanced by an enthusiastic official endorsement of blockchain technology — regulatory climate is another major factor.

Wayne Zhu, a founding partner of the NEO Foundation’s venture capital arm, told CNBC that China’s strictly regulated capital market environment is pushing finance professionals into the crypto space: “people think, ‘Where [can I] actually close deals, [where can I] actually help companies to get money, to get liquidity and the money they need to grow [my] business?'”

Earlier this summer, Cointelegraph launched a job listings platform for applicants to seek opportunities within the blockchain, fintech and crypto industries.

McAfee’s Bitcoin Wallet Drops ‘Unhackable’ Claim, Bug Bounty after Backlash

After weeks of claiming that its cryptocurrency wallet was unhackable despite being continually disproven, Bitfi has now raised its hands in the air in surrender.

In a tweeted statement, the hardware wallet maker said it will no longer use the ‘unhackable claim’ in its promotional materials.

“Effective immediately, we will be removing the “unhackable” claim from our brand which has caused a significant amount of controversy,” the tweet read. “While our intention has always been to unite the community and accelerate the adoption of digital assets worldwide, we realize that some of our actions have been counterproductive to that goal.”

Will Bounty Hunters get their Dues?

According to CNET, the Bitfi brand has taken a hit on social media and the turnaround is aimed at salvaging its reputation. Bitfi has, however, not indicated whether the bounties it had been offering to security researchers will be awarded to those who hacked its device. Notably, though the US$250,000 bounty program has been discontinued.

To its credit though, Bitfi has promised to unveil a conventional bounty program via HackerOne, a vulnerability coordination and bug bounty platform that links business organizations with cybersecurity experts.

The turnaround by Bitfi, whose executive chairman is John McAfee, came after several security researchers using the name ‘THCMKACGASSCO’ (based on their initials) were able to break into the hardware wallet. First reported by TechCrunch, the security researchers who included 15-year-old Saleem Rashid and Ryan Castellucci revealed that they were able to extract two unique values needed to steal the funds – a secret phrase which is generated by a user and a ‘salt’ value, using a ‘cold boot attack’.

According to the security researchers, this left the funds stored inside vulnerable to theft. What made this possible was the fact that the values were stored in the memory of the hardware wallet longer than the manufacturer had claimed.

Soft Measures

Following the exploit, Bitfi has now indicated that it will be hiring an ‘experienced’ security manager to confirm the vulnerabilities which the security researchers identified. Some commenters, however, felt that that was not enough and suggested that a product recall was necessary.

If you guys are serious the first thing you need to do is recall the current hardware – it’s inherently insecure.#RecallBitfi https://t.co/sprlb2Q2z1

— David Wachtfogel (@dwfogel) August 30, 2018

Reportedly, however, Bitfi has no such plans.

“Whatever issues we discover will be patched for all customers via our push updates,” Bitfi said in an email to CNET.

In its tweeted statement, Bitfi repeatedly promised to make a public announcement which will acknowledge and address the issues that have been raised by the security researchers and offer ‘specific action items on our future product roadmap’ next week. Indeed next week will be very crucial for the future of Bitfi – in the single tweet ‘next week’ was mentioned thrice.

Featured Image from Flickr/NullSession.

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South Korean Province to Issue Own Coin as Gov’t Says Crypto Should Be ‘Accepted’

The government of a South Korean province will issue its own blockchain-based digital currency in a move to replace a state loyalty scheme, local media first reported Monday, August 27.

Officials in Gyeongsangbuk-do will partner with blockchain startup Orbs to create Gyeongbuk Coin, which it will roll out to consumers in lieu of the existing “Hometown Love Gift Cards.”

Gyeongsangbuk-do includes South Korea’s fourth-largest city, Daegu, with Gyeongbuk Coin set to see merchant acceptance across the region.

“There are still many problems to be solved by notifying merchants of the way they use coins, creating separate programs, and issuing coins,” The News Asia quotes Sunghyun Chung, head of the science and technology policy department of Gyeongsangbuk-do as saying.

Cryptocurrencies, however, are a core technology to be accepted.”

As Cointelegraph continues to report, South Korean legislators are moving ever closer to wider integration of cryptocurrency nationwide.

Current parliament debate focuses on, among other topics, legalizing ICOs and creating a Malta-style “Blockchain Island.”

A team of officials had previously visited Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, during which they appeared to gain insight into how to deploy blockchain technology.

“I think we can utilize the information we borrowed from Zug City to make blockchain-based Gyeongbuk provincial government ID cards for employees,” a further local official stated.

According to the media, the provincial government plans to release 100 billion won ($90 million) worth of Gyeongbuk Coin per year.

Neo Price Bleeds 40% to End August as Worst-Performing Big Crypto

NEO’s dismal performance in August has likely strengthened the already strong bear grip on its market.

Down 39.6 percent month-on-month in August, it is the biggest loser among the top 25 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap and analysis by CoinDesk. 

Throughout the month, the world’s 14th largest cryptocurrency has moved in tandem with the broader market, which took a beating in August due to SEC’s rejection of multiple bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Notably, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies was printing more than $100 billion loss just two weeks into the month as the metric sank below $200 billion for the first time in over eight months. At the same time, NEO was reporting monthly lows below $14.50. 

However, the broader market made a considerable rebound in the final two weeks of August, regaining nearly $40 billion of the lost value in total market capitalization.

Still, the rally towards August’s end was not enough for many cryptocurrencies to salvage the considerable losses endured in the weeks prior, including the likes of bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH), the markets largest assets, reporting double-digit monthly losses.

NEO also recovered 35 percent from the lows seen on Aug. 14 but is still a standout performer in the losers column. 

Monthly Loser

NEO

Monthly performance: -39.62 percent


All-time high: $162.11


Closing price on August 31: $31.73


Current market price: $19.16


Rank as per market capitalization: 15

NEO came stumbling into August thanks to a less than impressive performance in July when its price declined more than 40 percent month to month. The resulting short-term oversold conditions, however, did little to put a bid under the cryptocurrency. 

Prices continued theor descent from a starting price of $28.87 on Aug. 1 to its monthly low of $14.38 set on Aug. 14, at the time representing a 50.16 percent two-week depreciation.  

The cryptocurrency made a bit of a comeback during the last two weeks of August, climbing 33 percent from its monthly low to a final price of just over $19 on Aug. 31. All in all, NEO printed a 39.62 percent loss during the month of August.

Monthly Chart

The above chart paints the picture of a cryptocurrency stuck in limbo.

A rebound from the key support of $14, though encouraging, is not enough to for the bulls to make a strong comeback. Only a break above $30 (former support-turned-resistance) would indicate a bottom has been made. 

However, it could be a tough task, as the 5-week and 10-week moving averages (MAs) reside above current prices, indicating the path of least resistance is still to the downside. Further, with six of the last seven months flashing red, it is clear that bears are in control.

Still, the monthly candle does offer some hope for bulls due to its lengthy bottom wick, which indicates there was considerable buying after price touched the $14 support. 

A monthly close above current resistance at $34.00 would return the longer term trend to bullish favor and set the scope for a rally to $50 – the location of prior support and 5-month moving average. On the other hand, a close below current support of $14 would confirm the bearish strength and likely send prices to the prior support of $7.70.

Disclosure: The author holds BTC, AST, REQ, OMG, FUEL, 1st and AMP at the time of writing.

NEO image via Shutterstock

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Japanese Police to Fund Crypto Criminal Tracking Tool

NEWS



Aug 31, 2018 at 12:00 UTC
 |  Updated 
Aug 31, 2018 at 12:03 UTC

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) is to fund development of new software to help track individuals behind illicit crypto transactions.

According to a news report from NHK on Thursday, the NPA will budget 35 million yen ($315,000) for 2019 to fund creation of the product – outsourcing technological development of the software to the private sector.

The NPA said the software will track the flow of blockchain transactions flagged as suspicious and “visualize and locate” the individuals sending or receiving the cryptocurrency.

The effort apparently comes in response to the increasing number of suspected criminal cases in Japan that involve cryptocurrency. Given the anonymity of blockchain transactions, police forces in the country are facing difficulties when conducting further investigations.

Early this year, the NPA disclosed it had received 669 reports of suspected money laundering from Japanese crypto exchanges in just eight months of 2017, as reported by CoinDesk.

Further, according to an annual reported revealed by the agency in March, hackers stole at least $6.2 million-worth of cryptocurrencies from Japanese users’ exchange and wallet accounts in 2017.

The cryptocurrency industry in Japan also took a hit in January after the Coincheck exchange reported a $520 million hack, which prompted calls from regulators to implement better crypto anti-money laundering and security measures.

Japan police car image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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$2.4 Million: Japanese Giant Rakuten is Acquiring a Bitcoin Exchange

Japanese e-commerce retail giant Rakuten has announced its foray into the cryptocurrency sector with its acquisition of crypto exchange ‘Everybody’s Bitcoin’ in a ¥265 million ($2.4 million) deal.

In an announcement on Friday, the company revealed details of its 100% share acquisition of Tokyo-based crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin through its subsidiary Rakuten Card. The share transfer agreement was concluded today, ahead of the stock acquisition that concludes the deal on October 1.

Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online retail giant, said it expected cryptocurrency payments in e-commerce as well as offline retail and peer-to-peer payments to “grow in the future” and had been planning to enter the sector as a conglomerate.

It added:

“In order to provide cryptocurrency payment methods smoothly, we believe it is necessary for us to provide a cryptocurrency exchange function, and have been considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry as the Rakuten Group.”

Notably, Rakuten further revealed that a growing number of customers using its securities services, particularly in foreign exchange, “have been calling for the provision of a cryptocurrency exchange.” The company underlined the demand as another factor for its entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry.

As reported by CCN in 2015, Rakuten was among the earliest major global e-commerce marketplaces to implement bitcoin payments.

“Rakuten Group decided to acquire everybody’s bitcoin shares so that it can realize the early registration as a cryptocurrency exchange and develop cryptocurrency services to customers by combining the know-how of everybody’s bitcoin as a cryptocurrency exchange, and the know-how of Rakuten Group as a provider of various financial services,” the company said today.

The acquisition represents a turnaround of fortunes for Everybody’s Bitcoin. Launched in March 2017, the unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange that slapped by a business improvement order following an on-site inspection by the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s financial regulator, in April this year.

Everybody’s Bitcoin is “working to implement improvements” and plans to “register officially” with the FSA, Rakuten added.

The FSA increased its scrutiny into the sector following an infamous $530 million theft of cryptocurrency from Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck in January. Coincheck was acquired in a ¥3.6 billion ($33.5 million) deal by Japanese online brokerage Monex within three months of the theft.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Japanese E-Commerce Major Rakuten to Acquire Local Crypto Exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, which has a market capitalization of over $12.5 billion, has revealed a 265 million yen ($2.4 million) deal to acquire domestic crypto exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin, in an announcement published August 31.

The deal, which will reportedly be settled by October 1, has been made via Rakuten’s subsidiary, Rakuten Card Co. Ltd. It is based on a stock purchase agreement between the latter and Everybody’s Bitcoin parent company Traders Investment.

Today’s announcement indicates that Everybody’s Bitcoin reported a net loss of around $444,200 in the fiscal year ending March 30, 2018.

Rakuten says it has been “considering entry into the cryptocurrency exchange industry” as it believes “the role of cryptocurrency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in P2P payments will grow in the future.”

The firm has further said that the acquisition comes in response to demands from a growing number of customers, in particular foreign exchange customers of its securities subsidiary, who have been calling for the provision of a cryptocurrency exchange service.

The deal has been unveiled just four months after local authorities issued a business improvement order against Everybody’s Bitcoin following on an on-site inspection by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).

The inspection had reportedly revealed deficiencies in the exchange’s management control systems, and ordered the exchange to implement an action plan to control money laundering and funding of terrorism and to commit to a range of other system risk, business and book management improvements. Rakuten says the acquisition will assist the exchange to satisfy the regulator’s requirements for obtaining an official operating license.

Earlier this year, Rakuten announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency as part of a new blockchain-based loyalty program. As early as 2016, the company had acquired the intellectual property assets of Bitcoin payment processor BitNet, as well as opening its Rakuten Blockchain Lab to explore applications for blockchain in e-commerce and fintech.

PwC Accelerator to Train 1000 Staff in Blockchain Over 2 Years

U.K.-based multinational professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will bolster its employees’ blockchain knowledge through a dedicated program next year, Digiday reported Thursday, August 30.

Part of a coordinated push to enhance digital awareness, the company will put 1000 staff through its Digital Accelerators program, which will run for two years from January.

Participants will forego a portion of their regular workload and instead focus heavily on digital innovation including blockchain.

Sarah McEneaney, digital talent leader at PwC and head of Digital Accelerators, told Digiday that client demand and competition formed major motivations behind the scheme.

“It just seems table stakes at this point that people should have more technology skills. It’s needed for us to remain competitive and to be responsive for what our clients are also going through,” she said.

“…Our clients are looking for us to do things more digitally and control the cost of what we’re doing.”

The announcement comes the same week PwC released research which highlighted the hurdles to blockchain adoption becoming more mainstream.

Many corporate entities, it said, feared regulatory uncertainty and a paradoxical lack of trust in the technology.

“Blockchain by its very definition should engender trust. But in reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn,” dedicated blockchain leader Steve Davies commented.

Worldwide, both private and state entities are fostering blockchain knowledge. As Cointelegraph reported, the South Korean government will sponsor a new installment of its youth training program next month in an attempt to match young talent with jobs in emerging sectors.

Japan’s Messaging Giant LINE Launches Its Own Cryptocurrency

Japanese social messaging giant LINE has launched its own cryptocurrency and in-house blockchain, according to an announcement released today, August 31.

LINE has revealed that the genesis block of its new mainnent, LINK chain, was generated August 23. The company describes the mainnet as a “service-oriented” blockchain network that will enable decentralized apps (dApps) to be directly applied to LINE’s messaging platform.

The company plans to issue a total of 1 billion LINK tokens to users of its platform, saying it will keep 20 percent — or 200 million tokens — as a company reserve. The tokens will be used as payment means for a range of LINE services.

According to the announcement, the new tokens are being issued by a Singapore-based subsidiary called LINE Tech Plus PTE that LINE established earlier this spring.

In lieu of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), the new tokens will be distributed through a rewards system that compensates users with LINK whenever they use certain services within the LINE ecosystem. As an example, the company states that LINK will be awarded to incentivize use of LINE’s soon-to-launch dApp services. LINE’s token economy white paper indicates that its first two dApps will launch by September, with over 10 to be released by the first quarter of 2019.

As well as receiving tokens as incentives, international users will be able to trade LINK on LINE’s recently launched BITBOX cryptocurrency exchange for trading as of September. The announcement notes that as BITBOX has not yet received an official operating license from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), domestic users will not initially be able to use BITBOX as a means to trade and acquire the tokens.

As Cointelegraph has reported, LINE announced the creation of a $10 million blockchain venture fund earlier this month, aiming to boost the development and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Crypto Mining Attacks Up Nearly 1000% in First Half of 2018

Detected instances of cryptojacking – the unauthorized commandeering of computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies – went up nearly 1000% in the first six months of 2018. This is one of the insights presented in the Trend Micro midyear roundup report titled “Unseen Threats, Imminent Losses”.

“Noticeable Shift”

Released on August 28, the report states that methods employed by hackers to extract value from device owners have shifted from ubiquitous, highly visible malware attacks to the relatively silent but no less devastating deployment of cryptojacking.

A quote from Trend Micro summary of the report reads:

“Throughout the next few months, we also saw a noticeable shift away from highly visible ransomware to a more discreet detection: cryptocurrency mining. These damaging threats — from the miners that quietly leech power from victims’ devices to the serious vulnerabilities that leave machines open to covert attacks — split limited security resources and divide the focus of IT administrators.”

In June, CCN reported that Kaspersky Labs expressed a similar opinion, stating that cybercriminals are slowly moving away from ransomware toward cryptojacking.

According to the Trend Micro report, detection of unauthorised cryptocurrency mining more than doubled from the second half of 2017, which was not completely unexpected given that the 2017 annual report predicted a marked uptick in future cryptojacking incidents.

Even more interestingly according to the report, Trend Micro’s researchers also detected a growing number of cryptojacking malware families, which would seem to indicate that the already keen interest of cybercriminals in cryptojacking is growing.

1H 2018 Cryptojacking Statistics

According to the report, the first 6 months of this year saw Trend Micro’s security systems record a 141% increase in cryptojacking detection. In the same period, 47 new cryptocurrency miner malware families were detected, and the tactics of cybercriminals kept changing and evolving constantly.

In January, malvertising was detected in Google’s DoubleClick program and in February, advertisements were injected by the Droidclub botnet into websites. In March, cybercriminals favoured the Adware downloader ICLoader and in April, web miner script was found on AOL’s ad platform.

Earlier, CCN reported that one in three UK businesses were hit by cryptojacking in July 2018. Monero remains the cryptocurrency of choice for cryptojackers, illustrated by another report which showed that over 200,000 ISP-grade routers were have been affected by a Monero cryptomining attack.

unwanted crypto mining on a computer or a network can have a host of negative effects including slowing down performance, wearing down hardware and increasing power consumption greatly. In the context of an enterprise environment which is reliant on several networked devices, this problem is exponentially magnified.

Security researchers have urged network administrators to protect themselves from cryptojacking by constantly monitoring power usage and looking out for suspicious or unauthorised activity.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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