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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

Hyperledger Blockchain Consortium Reveals Hybrid 'Sawtooth Ethereum' Tech

In collaboration with Monax, Intel released Sawtooth Ethereum to allow ethereum smart contracts to be deployed on enterprise-grade Sawtooth platform.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 1:15 pm

Here's Why Bitcoin Rose More than $1000 in Two Months - Futurism


Futurism

Here's Why Bitcoin Rose More than $1000 in Two Months
Futurism
Bitcoin is the world's most popular cryptocurrency, and its value continues to reach new heights. Here are a few reasons this relatively unknown digital coin was able to make the climb from obscurity to the mainstream consciousness.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 12:21 pm

Bitcoin briefly enters correction territory - MarketWatch


MarketWatch

Bitcoin briefly enters correction territory
MarketWatch
Bitcoin Cash, the nascent alternative to bitcoin, had climbed to a recent peak of $920 on Saturday. At current prices, its market capitalization is above $11 billion, making it the third-most valuable virtual currency, behind cyberunits running on the ...
Bitcoin Finds Strength Near $4000Forbes
Bitcoin's Battle Over Segwit2x Has BegunCoinDesk
Bitcoin Price Leaves $4000 Behind as Mood Senses Destination $3400CoinTelegraph
CryptoCoinsNews -Seeking Alpha
all 69 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 12:04 pm

Op Ed: A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros

A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros

How does one design a blockchain protocol? Back in 2013, while in Athens, I set out to design a non-proof-of-work-based blockchain protocol motivated by the debt crisis in Greece, looming bank liquidity problems and the increasing discussions about the possibility of having a parallel currency. The new protocol had to be based on proof of stake to make sure that it can run even on cellphones and be secure independent of any computational power existing that is external to it.

Very soon it became clear that the problem was going to need much more than a few months’ work. Fast-forward three years to 2016: I was at the University of Edinburgh and had joined forces with IOHK whose CEO, Charles Hoskinson, was poised to solve the same problem. The protocol, “Ouroboros” as it would be eventually named, was there but the core of the security proof was still elusive when my good friend Alexander Russell visited me.

Together, we tackled the problem of proving the security of the system. Whiteboards were filled over and over again until we felt we mined a true gem: a clean combinatorial argument that enabled us to argue mathematically the security of the scheme. 

Diving Into the Mindset of a Cryptographer

Security is an elusive concept. Take a system that is able to withstand a given set of adverse operational conditions. When can we call it secure? What if it collapses in the next moment when it is subjected to a slightly different set of conditions? Or when it is given inputs different from any that have been tried before?

Security cannot be demonstrated via experiment alone since attacker ingenuity can rarely be completely enumerated within any reasonable timeframe. Cryptographic design, thus, has to somehow scale this “universal quantifier”: the system should be called secure only if it withstands all possible attacks.

In response to this fundamental problem, “provable security” emerged as a rigorous discipline within cryptography that promotes the co-development of algorithms and (so-called) proofs of security. Such proofs come in the form of theorems that, under certain assumptions and threat models that describe what the attacker can and cannot do, establish the security of cryptographic algorithms. In this fashion, modern cryptographic design pushes the “burden of proof” to the proposer of an algorithm.

In the world of academic cryptography, gone are the days when someone could propose a protocol or algorithm and proclaim it secure because it was able to withstand a handful of known attacks. Instead, modern cryptographic design requires due diligence by the designers to ensure that no attack exists within a convincing and well-defined threat model.

This approach has been a tremendously powerful and inspiring paradigm within cryptography. For instance, the notion of a secure channel has been studied for more than 40 years. This is the fundamental cryptographic primitive that allows the proverbial Alice and Bob to send messages to each other safely in the presence (and possibly active interference) of an attacker. Today’s provable security analysis, even using automated tools, has unearthed attacks against secure channel protocols like TLS that were unanticipated by the security community.

Back in 2009 though, the blockchain was a concept that was presented outside regular academic cryptographic discourse. A brief white paper and a software implementation were sufficient to fuel its initial adoption that expanded rapidly. In retrospect, this was perhaps the only way for this fringe idea to ripple the waters of scientific discourse sufficiently and force a paradigm shift (in the sense of Thomas S. Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”) in terms of how the consensus problem was to be studied henceforth.

As the shift settled though, a principled approach became direly needed. The newly discovered design space appears to be vast and the avenues of exploring it too numerous. The “burden of proof” needs to return to the designer.

Blockchain protocols need to become systematized, as they have gradually become one of the dominant themes in distributed consensus literature. The blockchain is not the problem; it is the solution. But in this case, one may wonder, what was the problem?

In 2014, jointly with Juan Garay and Nikos Leonardos, we put forth a first description of “the problem” in the form of what we called a “robust transaction ledger.” Such a ledger is implemented by a number of unauthenticated nodes and provides two properties, called persistence and liveness. Persistence mandates that nodes never disagree about the placement of transactions once they become stable, while liveness requires that all (honestly generated) transactions eventually become stable. Using this model, we provided a proof of security for the core of the Bitcoin protocol (a suitably simplified version of the protocol that we nicknamed the “bitcoin backbone”).

Given this proof, a natural question a cryptographer will ask is whether this protocol is really the best possible solution to the problem. “Best” here is typically interpreted in two ways: first, in terms of the efficiency of the solution; and second, in terms of the relevance and applicability of the threat model and the assumptions used in the security proof.

Efficiency is a particular concern for the Bitcoin blockchain. With all its virtues, the protocol is not particularly efficient in terms of processing time or resource consumption. This is exactly where “proof of stake” emerged as a possible alternative and a more efficient primitive for building blockchain protocols.

So, is it possible to use proof of stake to provably implement a robust transaction ledger? By 2016, with our Bitcoin backbone work already presented, this was a well-defined question; and the answer came with Ouroboros: our proof-of-stake-based blockchain protocol.

Ouroboros

The unique characteristic of Ouroboros is that the protocol was developed in tandem with a proof of security that aims to communicate in a succinct way that the proposed blockchain protocol satisfies the properties of a robust transaction ledger. Central to the proof is a combinatorial analysis of a class of strings that admit a certain discrete structure that maps to a blockchain fork. We called “forkable” those strings that admit a non-trivial such structure, and our proof shows that their density becomes minutely small as the length of the string grows.

With this argument, we showed how there is an opportunity for the nodes running the protocol to converge to a unique history. The protocol then dictates how to take advantage of this opportunity by running a cryptographic protocol that enables the nodes to produce a random seed, which, in turn, is used to sample the next sequence of parties to become active. As a result, the protocol facilitates the next convergence step to take place; in this way, it can continue ad infinitum following a cyclical process that was also the inspiration for its name. Ouroboros is the Greek word for the snake that eats its tail, an ancient Greek symbol for re-creation.

Having the protocol and its proof in hand gave us the unique opportunity for peer review, i.e., asking fellow cryptographers to evaluate the construction and its associated security proof as part of the formal submission process to a major cryptology conference.

Peer reviewing at the top cryptology venues is a painstakingly rigorous process that goes on for months. Papers are first reviewed independently by at least three experts, and afterward a discussion for each paper rages on as the three reviewers, as well as other members of the scientific committee, get involved and try to converge on the intellectual merits of each submission.

As a result of successfully passing this rigorous peer review process, Ouroboros was accepted and included in the program of Crypto 2017, the 37th annual cryptology conference. Crypto is one of the flagship conferences of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) and is one of the most exciting places for a cryptographer to be, as the program always contains research on the cutting edge of the discipline.

Furthermore, Ouroboros will be the settlement layer of the Cardano blockchain to be rolled out by IOHK in 2017, making it one of the swiftest technology transfer cases from a basic research publication to a system to be used by many thousands in just one year.

While all this may seem like a happy conclusion to the quest for a proof-of-stake blockchain, we are far from being done. On the contrary, we are still, as a community, at the very beginning of this expedition that will delve deep into blockchain design space. There are still too many open questions to solve, and new systems will be built on the foundations of the research that our community is laying out today.

The views expressed in this op ed are those of its author, Aggelos Kiayias , and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Media.

Ouroboros image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


The post Op Ed: A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 11:35 am

Ripple's XRP Price Climbs 40% on Surge in Korean Trading

The price of XRP, the cryptocurrency of the Ripple network, rose more than 40% today.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 11:29 am

Congressional Group Pushes for Blockchain Security Standards

Members of Congress are advancing research into blockchain security standards, according to a new podcast.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 10:45 am

The IRS Has Been Using Bitcoin Tracking Software Since 2015

The IRS has been using software tools to track the movements of bitcoin for the past several years.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 10:09 am

The IRS Has Special Software to Find Bitcoin Tax Cheats - Fortune


Fortune

The IRS Has Special Software to Find Bitcoin Tax Cheats
Fortune
One benefit of using bitcoin is the digital currency can be anonymous—its owners can move money around the world without revealing who they are. Well, in theory at least. In reality, bitcoin is less secret than people think. The latest reminder of ...
The IRS Has Been Using Bitcoin Tracking Software Since 2015CoinDesk

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 8:03 am

The Newest Version of the Opendime Bitcoin Wallet Is Out

Coinkite is about to start shipping the third iteration of its Opendime bitcoin hardware wallet, the startup announced today.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 7:59 am

Bitcoin price drops below $4000 after wave of record highs - but what next? - Telegraph.co.uk


Telegraph.co.uk

Bitcoin price drops below $4000 after wave of record highs - but what next?
Telegraph.co.uk
It dropped sharply again in August 2016 after hackers stole bitcoin worth £29 million from digital currency exchange Bitfinex. However, other analysts believe the price of bitcoin will stabilize around the $4,000 for the next few months, according to ...

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 7:33 am

Blockchain ID Startup ShoCard Raises $4 Million in New Funding

ShoCard has announced a new venture funding round, news that coincides with its launch of a new enterprise-focused identity product.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 6:59 am

Boldstart Founder Launches Hyperledger Fabric's First Blockchain Accelerator

The enterprise-facing Hyperledger Fabric blockchain now has its own accelerator, one backed by a notable venture investor.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 6:30 am

Walmart, Kroger & Nestle Team with IBM Blockchain to Fight Food Poisoning

A new consortium being spearheaded by IBM is seeking to use blockchain to improve global food safety – and cut costs for suppliers.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 5:59 am

Advertise with Anonymous Ads

Each Bitcoin Could Be Worth $619047 in 10 Years: Forbes Contributor - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Each Bitcoin Could Be Worth $619047 in 10 Years: Forbes Contributor
CoinTelegraph
We have witnessed a number of spectacular crashes in the equity markets over the past century. One of these is the historical NASDAQ crash of 2000-2002, following the dot com bubble. The index fell a stunning 78 percent during this two year period and ...

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 5:33 am

Mark Cuban Backs Former Coinbase Employee's $20 Million Token Fund

Investor Mark Cuban is backing a new token fund that's seeking to raise up to $20 million from institutional investors.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 5:18 am

Believe the Hype: Here's the Actual Next Big Thing in Tech - Fortune


Fortune

Believe the Hype: Here's the Actual Next Big Thing in Tech
Fortune
Blockchain is the sophisticated accounting architecture that underpins Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency at the center of an investing mania of late. (As the Sept. 1, 2017 issue was going to press, the price of a single Bitcoin was around $4,200, up ...
Bitcoin, Blockchain Splits And What It Means For BusinessForbes

all 13 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 4:30 am

Asus Debuts Specialized Motherboard for Cryptocurrency Miners

Asus is to release a new product aimed at cryptocurrency miners – a motherboard that can be packed with 19 GPUs.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 3:32 am

Bitcoin's Battle Over Segwit2x Has Begun

Is a new version of bitcoin's software a way to please all over the scaling issue, or a hostile takeover by commerce? The community is divided.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 3:01 am

Bitcoin is Not Bubble Says John McAfee in Interview with RT - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin is Not Bubble Says John McAfee in Interview with RT
CoinTelegraph
“It is not a speculative investment even though it is being used as such by other people. As Bitcoin network grows the value of Bitcoin grows. As people move into Bitcoin for payments and receipts they stop using US Dollars, Euros and Chinese Yuan ...
Bitcoin Will Continue to Rise and its Not a Bubble – John McAfee CommentsEthereum World News (blog)

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 1:13 am

Bitcoin Prices Dip Below $4000 to Hit 7-Day Low - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Prices Dip Below $4000 to Hit 7-Day Low
CoinDesk
Following a period of record highs, average prices across global exchanges declined at the start of trading on August 22, having already dipped more than $150 already from the day's open. At press time, bitcoin was trading at $3,894, its lowest total ...

and more »

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 8:00 pm

Bitcoin Prices Dip Below $4,000 to Hit 7-Day Low

The bitcoin price is back below $4,000, falling below a notable milestone after roughly a week of trading above the mark.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 7:55 pm

$10.4 Million: In-Game Item Exchange DMarket Raises New Funds in ICO

Virtual goods marketplace DMarket has raised more than $10 million in an ICO.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 2:59 pm

AMD Releases Beta Graphics Driver for Better Cryptocurrency Mining

AMD miner

A few days ago, AMD released the “Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute” driver. According to the release notes on the tech giant’s website, the software optimizes the performance for “Blockchain Compute Workloads,” thereby boosting the efficiency of cryptocurrency mining rigs that are using a GPU for mining (eg., Ethereum mining rigs).

Currently, the graphics driver can be downloaded from AMD’s official website. The beta software supports desktop GPUs from AMD Radeon HD 7700, and it can be installed on 64-bit Windows 7 (Service Pack 1 or higher required) and 64-bit Windows 10 systems. AMD highlighted in the release notes that the graphics driver is not intended to boost users’ gaming performance. The company added that since this is a beta software, it will not be “supported with further updates, upgrades or bug fixes.”

AMD’s new beta driver is designed to fix an issue related to the DAG (directed acyclic graph) size. As the number of blocks in the Ethereum blockchain increases (taking roughly 14 seconds to generate a block), so does Ethereum’s epoch (a 100-hour window). For every epoch, or 30,000 blocks, a DAG is generated. As the DAG size grows, the memory requirements for mining Ethereum increase. Since the memory footprint of the workload is increasing, it will, at a certain time, overflow from the graphics card’s memory and will be stored in the main system memory. The main system memory is much slower than accessing the GPU’s VRAM. If a mining rig is slower to access the memory, it will result in performance penalties concerning the miners’ hashrate.

AMD’s new beta driver appears to have fixed the DAG issue. According to TechPowerUp, there is only a minimal difference between mining different DAG sizes with the beta software. Compared to the old driver, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB (1546 MHz/945 MHz) experienced an 81 percent increase in the hashrate mining DAG 199.

The Reddit community has also confirmed that AMD’s new update is resulting in greater hashrates for their GPUs.

“My RX Vega went from 31 to 37Mh/s mining ETH only. Very nice improvement,” wrote a user named “Hot-Diggity-Daffodil.”

“Just got these new drivers installed on one of my 6 gpu rigs. MSI RX 580 8GBs confirmed back up to 29.5 from 27.5. Installing on other rigs now. Using BBT modded ROMs,” another user called “TheHansGruber” wrote in the /r/EtherMining subreddit.

AMD’s beta driver will boost the performance of Ethereum mining rigs for a while. However, if Ethereum evolves from proof of work to proof of stake, with a first step toward this model expected on November 1, GPUs will be less needed over time. At the instance of proof of stake, the mining is based on coin ownership rather than hash power.

The post AMD Releases Beta Graphics Driver for Better Cryptocurrency Mining appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 1:08 pm

Bitcoin Cash Wins Mining Power as Price Falls Back Below $600

The bitcoin cash blockchain is becoming more competitive against the bitcoin chain from which it forked – and that's having interesting impacts.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:15 pm

Bitcoin cash is crashing - Business Insider


Business Insider

Bitcoin cash is crashing
Business Insider
Bitcoin cash is crashing on Monday, trading down nearly 20% at $579 a coin after soaring to a record high of $942 during an impressive weekend rally. In the process, bitcoin cash reclaimed the spot as the third-largest cryptocurrency, according to ...
Ethereum jumps 10% amid worries about bitcoin in a wild day for digital currenciesCNBC
Bitcoin Cash Wins Mining Power as Price Falls Back Below $600CoinDesk
Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash slip; ethereum's currency climbs 8%MarketWatch
Investopedia -CoinTelegraph -T3 -Coin Market Cap
all 134 news articles »

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 11:41 am

Take Two: Bitcoin Miner BTCS Announces New Merger Deal

BTCS, the publicly traded bitcoin miner, is moving toward a new merger, SEC filings reveal.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 11:34 am

ICO Scammers Steal $500k in Phony Enigma Project Pre-Sale Launch

As much as $500,000 in ether has been stolen from supporters of the Enigma blockchain project following a security compromise.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 9:40 am

Credit Suisse Eyes 2018 Launch for Blockchain Loans Platform

A group of banks led by Credit Suisse is eyeing the launch of a blockchain platform for syndicated loans, according to reports.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 8:30 am

Bitcoin Analysts Compete for the Highest Price Forecast - Bloomberg - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin Analysts Compete for the Highest Price Forecast - Bloomberg
Bloomberg
Aurelien Menant, founder and chief executive officer at Gatecoin, discusses the soaring price of bitcoin, regulations for the cryptocurrency and the possibility of it ...

and more »

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 7:48 am

Swift's Cross-Border Blockchain Trial Is Moving Into Its Next Phase

Swift has completed development work on its first blockchain proof-of-concept, and six global banks are about to put it through its paces.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 6:00 am

A Bitcoin Social Media Storm Hit BitPay This Week: Here's Why

Everyone’s Mad at BitPay. Here’s Why.

The Bitcoin community is not taking kindly to BitPay this week. Influential developers are accusing the major payment processor of fraud, Bitcoin users on social media are calling for boycots, bitcoin.org is removing recommendations of the company’s products, and NBitcoin developer Nicolas Dorier has launched an initiative to fork some of BitPay’s projects altogether.

Here’s why.

Bitcore

The controversial issue has to do with Bitcore.

Bitcore is a type of Bitcoin node developed by BitPay. It is specifically designed to offer a development platform, on top of which it is easy to build all kinds of Bitcoin applications. Anyone can use this open-source tool; some of the better-known applications that utilize it include video-streaming service Streamium, Trezor’s web interface and BitPay’s own Copay wallet.

Within the next a couple of days, most likely on August 23, the long-awaited Bitcoin protocol upgrade Segregated Witness (SegWit) will activate. Seemingly in response to this upgrade, BitPay published a blog post titled What Bitcore Users Need to Know to Be Ready for SegWit Activation

But not everyone is happy with the contents of this blog post…

The “Major Risk” That Is (or Isn’t) SegWit

The first problem is not the most important problem, but it is worth mentioning, regardless. It concerns the topic of the blog post itself: Segregated Witness.

In the blog post, BitPay states:

Nodes which fail to upgrade to support SegWit will face major security risks, including the risk of double-spend transaction fraud.

This appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Segregated Witness is specifically designed to be backwards compatible. Regular nodes that do not upgrade remain part of the Bitcoin network. And importantly, since SegWit was activated by a unanimous hash-power majority, all miners should be enforcing the new rules. As such, transactions that are invalid according the new rules should never be accepted in any Bitcoin blocks at all. Even non-upgraded nodes should never see these invalid transactions confirm.

It is true that — like every other soft fork before SegWit — there are some increased risks for non-upgraded nodes. And in an additional blog post, BitPay does provide more details and nuance regarding the situation.

But the somewhat alarmist tone of the first blog post seems a bit unnecessary. Therefore, to many it appears to have had the specific goal of pushing users toward a software upgrade for very different reasons.

Which brings us to the next point…

The “Upgrade” That Is (or Isn’t) Bitcoin

While BitPay’s alarmist tone seemed like an unnecessary means, it’s the end that really ticked so many people off.

As per the “New York Agreement,” a significant group of Bitcoin companies, mining pools and individuals plans to adopt an incompatible set of protocol rules by November. Dubbed “SegWit2x,” and implemented in the BTC1 software developed by former Bitcoin Core contributor Jeff Garzik, this project would “hard fork” an increase of Bitcoin’s block weight limit, allowing for blocks of up to eight megabytes. (Whether this should technically be called a hard fork or an altcoin is debatable, but never mind that for now.)

The problem is that, while a significant group of Bitcoin companies — including, indeed, BitPay — signed on to the New York Agreement, this agreement currently does not have industry-wide consensus. Most notably, Bitcoin’s development community has almost unanimously rejected the proposal. There is also a long list of companies that never signed onto the initiative in the first place; in fact, some of them are actively opposed to it. And more informal metrics, like social media sentiment, opinion polls and network node count generally also show limited support for SegWit2x.

As such, it is likely that SegWit2x would split off to create a new blockchain and currency, not unlike what Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) did. Unlike Bcash, however, SegWit2x currently has no intention of picking a new name, nor does it plan to implement safety precautions like replay protection. (Replay protection would prevent the “same” coin from accidentally being spent on both chains.) For all intents and purposes, the companies behind SegWit2x appear to be set to claim this coin is the “real” Bitcoin, while the coin that follows the current Bitcoin protocol won’t be.

This approach is controversial. Many Bitcoin users that do not support the hard fork may prefer to keep using Bitcoin as is, without worrying about added (replay) risks or other inconveniences caused by SegWit2x. And if two different coins claim the name “Bitcoin,” it could lead to much confusion, for obvious reasons.

Regardless, in BitPay’s blog post, which speaks of an “upgrade” for Bitcore users in preparation for SegWit, the payment processor actually directs readers to download the BTC1 software; that is, the software that embeds the SegWit2x protocol, rather than the current Bitcoin protocol. It therefore appeared that the company was really trying to get Bitcore users to switch to a whole new coin, which BitPay will consider “Bitcoin.” And the payment processor initially did so without so much as warning Bitcore users that following these instructions would make them incompatible with the current Bitcoin protocol by November.

Herein lies the concern: BitPay must have known that this advice is controversial. Failing to mention the risks or consequences made the blog post seem deceptive.

The Hash Power That Supports (or Doesn’t Support) SegWit2x

Finally, after BitPay faced initial blowback for its blog post for reasons described, it included an addendum. In it, the payment processor writes:

[O]ur instructions follow this version of Bitcoin because over 95% of Bitcoin miners have adopted Segwit2x.

While this addendum provides a little bit more clarity, it is once again a bit of a questionable statement.

Perhaps most importantly: If BTC1 indeed hard forks in November, BitPay right now has no way of knowing how much hash power will really be mining on the SegWit2x chain.

While it is true that mining pools currently representing a supermajority of hash power signed on to the New York Agreement, mining pools usually don’t have full control over the hash power that is pointed toward their pools. Much of this hash power actually belongs to individual miners (“hashers”), who could switch to a new pool with the click of a few buttons. (For example, when another mining pool, Ghash.io, reached over 50 percent of total hash power on the network a couple of years ago, hashers were also urged to move to different pools.)

Furthermore, even if a specific mining pool does control its hash power, nothing in the New York Agreement says these pools should mine on the SegWit2x chain exclusively. Since miners typically dedicate their hash power to maximize profit, it is very possible that this hash power will be attributed to different chains according to the value of the coins on these chains. (This is what usually happens between altcoins. Similarly, just over the past couple of weeks, some signatories to the New York Agreement have already begun directing some hash power to the Bcash chain.)

In its addendum, BitPay appears to be ignoring these dynamics. Once again, this has an air of deceptiveness.

In BitPay’s Defense…

All that said, it should be noted that the risks are still limited, even if users follow BitPay’s instructions.

This is because BitPay is not (currently) suggesting that users run BTC1 software to send and receive transactions. Rather, BitPay is advising users to connect their Bitcore nodes to a BTC1 node as a “border node.” This means that the BTC1 node will essentially act as a network filter to reject all transactions invalid under the new SegWit rules.

Until the hard fork in November, using BTC1 as a border node shouldn’t do any harm whatsoever. BTC1 is compatible with the Bitcoin network until that point in time, and indeed enforces the new SegWit rules.

If no further action is taken, the BTC1 border node would switch to the SegWit2x blockchain by November. But even then, the current Bitcore nodes that are used to send and receive transactions will not make that switch. As such, BTC1 nodes would only let SegWit2x transactions through, which would then, in turn, be rejected by Bitcore nodes. This incompatibility between the two nodes actually means that no blocks would come through at all.

As such, no one would send or accept (confirmed) payments in a different coin than they mean to. In a worst case scenario, the whole setup essentially shuts down.

While the blog post appears deceptive in some ways, BitPay’s advice shouldn't, in itself, cause a of loss funds.

Shortly before publication of this article, BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said in statement to Bitcoin Magazine:

This was unfortunately not the way I had intended this conversation to begin. I will have more to say on this topic in the near future, and feel I owe it to the community to say something. Unfortunately, it may take a little while for that communication to happen as I have other matters demanding my attention at the moment.

The post A Bitcoin Social Media Storm Hit BitPay This Week: Here's Why appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 August 2017 | 9:13 am

HiddenWallet and Samourai Wallet Join Forces to Make Bitcoin Private With ZeroLink

HiddenWallet and Samourai Wallet Join Forces to Make Bitcoin Private With ZeroLink

Ádám “nopara73” Ficsór, HiddenWallet developer and TumbleBit contributor, and “TDevD,” the pseudonymous Samourai wallet developer, are joining forces on a new privacy project: ZeroLink. ZeroLink is set to realize a trustless mixing scheme first proposed by Bitcoin Core contributor Gregory Maxwell years ago — but one that hasn’t been realized thus far.

According Ficsór, the ZeroLink framework, which utilizes a scheme known as “Chaumian CoinJoin,” is actually more straightforward than many of the alternatives that have been proposed.

“Back in 2013, there was this sort of obsession with decentralization. ‘Everything that can be decentralized will be decentralized’ was the slogan,” the developer recalls. “By now we realize that decentralization is actually not always that useful. As long as a mixer cannot steal funds or link transactions, that’s enough.”

CoinJoin

Each Bitcoin transaction essentially sends bitcoins from one or several Bitcoin addresses (really: “inputs”) to one or several Bitcoin addresses (really: “outputs”). That’s how bitcoins “move” over the blockchain.

The problem, from a privacy perspective, is that the blockchain is completely public, which means that anyone can see which addresses are paying which addresses. If these addresses can be linked to real-world identities, it can reveal a lot about who transacted with whom, and perhaps for what.

CoinJoin, the well-known coin-mixing scheme first proposed by Maxwell in 2013, is a potential solution to this problem. A CoinJoin transaction is basically a combination of several transactions merged into one big transaction. In other words, it includes inputs from several different users, and the bitcoins move to outputs controlled by several different users. As such, it’s not clear which bitcoins moved where. All users effectively paid all users.

While that’s great, the next problem is that whomever or whatever combines the different transactions into one CoinJoin transaction can be a central point of failure from a privacy perspective. That person (or that server, or whatever it is) still knows which bitcoins moved where. So if that individual is either corrupt or corruptible, the problem isn’t really solved.

“For CoinJoin to live up to its promise, even the entity that creates the transaction must not learn which addresses are paying which addresses,” Ficsór noted.

ZeroLink

ZeroLink provides a privacy framework for wallets that can be used for different mixing schemes. And it defines its own mixing technique as well: an implementation of CoinJoin referred to as “Chaumian CoinJoin.”

With Chaumian CoinJoin, users both send and receive equal amounts of bitcoin from a CoinJoin transaction, so everyone receives each other's coins. This obfuscates the trails for all of these coins.

In practice, ZeroLink users will require two types of wallets: a pre-mix wallet and a post-mix wallet. As the names suggest, the first type holds coins that are to be mixed, while the latter is where the mixed coins end up.

Users then connect their pre-mix wallets to the ZeroLink tumbler and provide an input (“from” address) and an output (“to” address), which they both control. But importantly, the outputs are disguised (“blinded”) using a mathematical trick. So while the tumbler knows where all bitcoins are sent from, it does not yet know where bitcoins are sent to.

At the heart of the trick, the tumbler then cryptographically signs all blinded outputs, using a type of cryptographic signature introduced by David Chaum: a “blind signature.” This allows data to be cryptographically signed even if it is disguised. And importantly, these signatures can be checked against the original, unblinded data as well to see if the blinded data and the unblinded data match.

Next, all users connect to the tumbler again, but this time through some type of anonymity network, like Tor. They will then provide the tumbler with the unblinded versions of the outputs. Using the cryptographic signatures it just created, the tumbler can check that all revealed outputs match all blinded outputs. If they do match, the tumbler knows that all the outputs it received are legitimate, and thus were provided by the same users that also provided the inputs to send funds.

The tumbler then adds the revealed outputs to the CoinJoin transaction. And it sends this transaction back to all users, for these users to sign with their Bitcoin private keys. Doing so validates the transaction. (The users should of course double check that the amounts and their outputs check out, to be sure they receive as much as they send.)

Finally, the tumbler broadcasts the CoinJoin transaction to be included in a Bitcoin block. As a result, all users end up with different bitcoins than they started with: all bitcoins were mixed, and the blockchain trails broken.

While all this is actually relatively straightforward compared to some alternative schemes, and to a large extent already suggested by Maxwell back in 2013, the process has never been realized. This is probably because it was long thought to be too vulnerable to attacks, Ficsór thinks.

“When Maxwell first published the proposal, Bitcoin transaction fees were practically non-existent. Because of this, it would be relatively easy and cheap to launch denial of service attacks against a CoinJoin mixing system. An attacker can just keep providing valid inputs, but refuse to sign when he should. That invalidates the whole transaction, and wastes everyone’s time.”

Interestingly, this attack vector is now to some extent resolved simply because it would be too expensive to keep it going. In order to maintain the attack in a way that it’s not easily countered, an attacker must provide new inputs for each round, meaning he must be able to keep moving bitcoins to new addresses to do so. “Assuming $1 transaction fees, that could cost up to $1,000 a day,” Ficsór pointed out. “In this particular context, high fees are a blessing in disguise.”

Development

Ficsór is currently about to help wrap up the development of another highly anticipated privacy tool, TumbleBit, for Stratis’s Breeze Wallet. This is expected to take another three months.

After that, he plans to focus on realizing ZeroLink, while TDevD may even start working on the framework sooner. Concretely, three new codebases need to be developed: the pre-mix wallet, the tumbler and the post-mix wallet.

“The tumbler needs to be developed from scratch. But it should be relatively easy to add the pre-mix wallets to any existing open source wallet. The same is true for the post-mix wallet implementations, though for privacy reasons not all wallets are a good fit,” Ficsór said.

His own HiddenWallet as well as Samourai Wallet are “fully committed” to implementing and deploying ZeroLink into production, Ficsór said, while Breeze Wallet may be interested as well.

Optimistically, an initial implementation of ZeroLink could be live before the end of this year.

For more information on ZeroLink, see Ficsór's blog post on the project (which also includes a donation address) or ZeroLink’s specification.

The post HiddenWallet and Samourai Wallet Join Forces to Make Bitcoin Private With ZeroLink appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 18 August 2017 | 11:23 am

Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain

Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain

On August 9, IBM announced the firm’s cooperation with Sony Global Education — a subsidiary of Sony, providing global educational services — with the objective to develop a learning platform for students implementing blockchain technology.

According to IBM, the blockchain-based educational platform would allow school administrators to manage and consolidate the educational data of students at multiple schools in addition to recording and referring their “learning history and digital academic transcripts with more certainty.” The platform will use the IBM Blockchain, which is based on the IBM Cloud, to establish “transparency and accountability of scholastic achievements between students and schools,” allowing both professors and students to track the latter’s learning progress.

The tech giant pointed out that it is often difficult for employers to verify student records of potential hires. According to IBM, there are multiple reasons for this issue, including students taking online courses and attending universities abroad. Such “non-traditional methods” can create confusion for the employers; however, IBM believes implementing blockchain technology will resolve the issue. The learning platform will give both the teachers and the students a digital, trusted record showing their accomplishments, which can be — thanks to the nature of blockchain technology — easily verified by future employers or educational institutions.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to impact systems in a wide variety of industries, and the educational sphere is no exception when educational data is securely stored on the blockchain and shared among permissioned users. We are pleased that we have worked together with IBM to build a new system which can help effect real change in the education sector,” Masaaki Isozu, President of Sony Global Education, said in a statement.

The system’s work is simple: student data will be recorded by the platform and shared with “need-to-know parties,” including future employers and school administrators. Since the learning platform will be using the IBM Blockchain, every piece of data can be verified by the parties.

Schools, colleges and universities can also share the data to help teachers identify and implement unique teaching methods for each student based on the information on the blockchain. The learning platform will also collect all related information and place it in a single repository, which will allow the reliable sharing of digital transcripts. Students will be able to create certain networks on the blockchain, which can’t be altered or changed by any party.

In addition, the platform will help specific vendors target offerings based on verified needs. Representatives from IBM Japan confirmed to Bitcoin Magazine that these vendors include private preparatory schools and cram schools (institutions specialized in training students to reach certain goals). The only data provided to the vendors are the study results of the students. The students or their parents will maintain access control for the students’ study results.

“Blockchain [technology] offers a new approach to how the lifetime history of data related to a person, place or thing is shared and managed. In effect, data tracked on a blockchain becomes a single source of truth. We are delighted to have supported Sony Corporation and Sony Global Education to build up a new blockchain-based platform for innovations in education,” said Yoshiki Minowa, Vice President and partner of Cognitive Process Transformation, Global Business Services, IBM Japan.

The platform will be powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation.

The post Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 2:29 pm

Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf

Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf

Presearch, a software development startup specializing in information search engines, is challenging Google on its own turf with a double-barreled approach, using both blockchain technology and AI.

Presearch’s search engine, already in use internally since 2013, is launching in beta this September. Blockchain technology and AI will be supplemented with curation by subject matter experts.

Founder and project lead Colin Pape, who previously launched the e-commerce site ShopCity.com, said:

“While Google is generally thought of as a neutral entity for search, the company answers to Wall Street and operates very secretively.

“They’ve become known for promoting themselves at the expense of alternatives and appropriating others’ information, blaming it on ‘the algorithm.’ The reality is that they manipulate results and justify changes as being best for the user.”

Pape wants to provide a community-driven, decentralized, open and transparent alternative to Google, in contrast to what he calls the “manipulated algorithm-driven methods standard among today’s industry giants.”

Pape told Bitcoin Magazine:

“Presearch will use a combination of human curation by subject matter experts who are rewarded with tokens, and machine learning technology and APIs from other search providers (particularly for long-tail searches).”

Pape told us they will be using the Ethereum Blockchain ERC20 standard to start but may build their own blockchain technology at some point down the road.

Openness, Accountability and Community Participation

The company’s white paper emphasizes that never in the history of the world has so much information been concentrated in so few hands. It also points out that Google makes $100 billion in annual revenue from search engine searches.

Presearch estimates that 77 percent of global desktop searches and 96 percent of mobile searches, more than 5 billion queries per day, go to Google.

The white paper states that Google has built up an unprecedented degree of trust with users with “their simple interfaces, lightning-fast response times and utter reliability, combined with what appear to be amazingly accurate results.”

A Search Engine Wikipedia

Presearch believes that a decentralized, community-based decision-making process ensures everyone’s interests are considered. By rewarding members for using, promoting and contributing to the Presearch platform, the company wants to create a scalable “Wikipedia for search” to allow members to curate the best content for each inquiry.

The Presearch community can also vote on and fund new development projects, continually upgrading the platform.

Pape added: “With Presearch, I wanted to flip that business model on its head and put power over information back into the hands of all internet users.”

Search is the gateway to the web. The world deserves an alternative search engine that is open, transparent, and that involves the community in product development, consensus and quality control.

Funding

Presearch’s curation and overall development of the platform is incentivized with the Presearch Token (PST).

Presearch has run three separate crowd sales for $1 million, $1.5 million and $3 million in token revenue. There are three more sales to go that are targeted to generate more than $30 million in total revenue.

The startup is headquartered in Midland, north of Toronto, Canada. A “distributed” team is located in Silicon Valley, Boulder, Colorado and the Atlanta area, and the company is planning to expand internationally.

Advisors to Presearch include internet innovator, Rich Skrenta, who sold his search engine Blekko to IBM Watson; open-source search innovator Trey Grainger, SVP of Engineering at Lucidworks; and technology lawyer Addison Cameron-Huff, whose experience includes working with Ethereum’s founding team.

Bitcoin Magazine contacted Google for comment but has not yet received a response.

The post Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 11:44 am

Blockchain and Bitstamp Customers Can Now Use Ether

Bitstamp and Blockchain add ether

Ethereum fans got a bit of a boost today from two different companies in the crypto space. UK-based cryptocurrency firm Blockchain and Luxembourg-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp have each added ether to their platforms for the first time.

Blockchain says its customers can simply toggle between bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) to manage and transact funds quickly and easily. Additionally, Blockchain has also integrated ShapeShift’s API so trading bitcoin to ether and vice versa can happen all from one place.

In an earlier, separate announcement to its customers, Bitstamp said it will allow full trading functionalities of ether today. Ether deposits and withdrawals opened at 9 am (UTC) and began to allow full trading functionalities at 1 pm (UTC).

Nejc Kodrič, CEO of Bitstamp, said: "We've been encouraged by ether's potential and the demand shown for its inclusion among our trading pairs.”

Ether now joins USD, EUR, bitcoin, litecoin and Ripple among the coins for which Bitstamp allows deposits and withdrawals. In July the company announced a strategic partnership with Swissquote, the Swiss leader in online banking. Swissquote launched BTC/EUR and BTC/USD trading on its platform, with Bitstamp providing full-stack services for their two new BTC trading pairs.

Kodrič added: ”Since starting out in 2011, Bitstamp's mission has been to be the safest and most reliable digital currency exchange on the market. Our careful approach has created a market reputation for prudence which has served us well as we continue to expand and give our customers the trading options they desire."

Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain, said in a statement that the popularity of Ethereum has grown and so has the desire from Blockchain customers to have the option to manage multiple digital assets within their Blockchain wallets. Smith said: “We are thrilled to introduce this new functionality to our community and will continue to find ways to make interacting with digital assets even easier.”

One of the earliest bitcoin companies, Blockchain was founded in 2011 and provides a non-custodial consumer wallet for digital assets, with over 16 million wallets created across 140 countries. The company has focused on creating products that make storing, transacting and hedging digital currency a frictionless experience.

Smith was recently quoted saying: “I predict that by 2037 a complete global computer fabric will make interacting with goods, services and people easier than ever. Citizens of the world will be more closely connected through technology, communication and networks."

Second in market cap, ether has seen its price soar as much as tenfold since the end of April, while its number of transactions quadrupled. Ether has since settled at about $300 at the time of publication.

The post Blockchain and Bitstamp Customers Can Now Use Ether appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 10:48 am

Crypto Exchange Shapeshift Acquires KeepKey Hardware Wallets

ShapeShift Acquires KeepKey

Today, Shapeshift.io announced its acquisition of hardware wallet manufacturer KeepKey. According to the cryptocurrency exchange, by pairing the KeepKey hardware wallet with ShapeShift, users will be allowed to safely store their coins on a secure physical device while trading their assets directly over the ShapeShift API, which can be reached from KeepKey’s interface.

“Security is of critical importance when it comes to holding and trading digital assets. One of our priorities has always been to make the exchange experience as safe and easy for users as possible, and our pairing with KeepKey enables us to provide an unmatched customer experience. Users can hold their coins on the hardware device and exchange them on demand within the wallet, without even visiting a website. When you pair the KeepKey hardware wallet with ShapeShift’s exchange, the experience is magical,” Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift, said.

KeepKey already had integrated ShapeShift’s API a year ago, allowing it to supporting the most popular cryptocurrencies. The firm’s objective is to support all leading digital assets providing the users with the “most secure storage wallet available.”

“This partnership will not only guarantee the future success of the KeepKey brand and product line, but joining the ShapeShift team will enable us to focus on continuing to work on developing better technology and security for crypto-holders,“ said Ken Hodler, Chief Technology Officer at KeepKey.

ShapeShift confirmed that the company will preserve KeepKey’s brand and product line. Furthermore, the acquisition of KeepKey will allows ShapeShift to “provide increased capital for inventory and security expertise.”

“Amid heightened interest in the concept of digital currencies, a simple, user-friendly cold storage wallet with native exchange functionality is one key to wider adoption,” said Voorhees.

The combination of ShapeShift and KeepKey reflects both companies’ commitment to security and privacy. ShapeShift does not collect any personal information on its users. Furthermore, customer funds are not collected on the company accounts and users maintain control of their keys at all times.

The KeepKey drive is physical hardware device that protects users’ funds from “hackers and thieves.” It uses wallet software located on the user’s computer. The device takes over the management of private key generation and storage along with the signing of transactions. The hardware has a built-in random number generator for private keys, which works in combination with the “randomness” provided by the user’s computer. After the private key is generated, the user is given a twelve-word recovery sentence, which can be used to recover the device without compromising its private keys.

The post Crypto Exchange Shapeshift Acquires KeepKey Hardware Wallets appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 August 2017 | 10:12 am

Bank of Canada Report: Imagining a “Bitcoin Standard” Financial System

Bank of Canada Bitcoin Standard

In a 37-page long research paper, Warren E. Weber, research consultant at Bank of Canada who is also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina, speculated about a financial system where bitcoin would be the standard currency (referred as the “Bitcoin standard”) instead of fiat currencies.

In the study, Weber explored the similarity between the Bitcoin standard and the gold standard. The research consultant chose to compare bitcoin to gold since the two have many similarities. The two most prominent resemblances include the lack of control of central banks or monetary authorities and the limit in the supply: Bitcoin’s algorithm only allows the circulation of 21 million BTC while gold can be found in finite quantities on the planet. If the Bitcoin standard becomes real, there will be three distinct media of exchanges, just as there was under the gold standard. Bitcoin will serve as the main currency while there will be fiduciary currencies issued by countries’ central banks, and fiduciary currencies (banknotes or deposits) issued by commercial banks.

Issuing fiduciary currencies will be one of the very few abilities central banks can do as part of a monetary policy where banks will act as lenders of last resort. Bitcoin’s “virtually costless arbitrage” on an international scope will deprive the central banks of their ability to impose interest rate policies to affect their domestic economies, Weber detailed.

Should Bitcoin serve as the standard medium of exchange, there would be a moderate increase in deflation; however, according to Weber, once a certain level is reached, the rate of deflation will be minimal. Price levels will become highly or perfectly correlated under Bitcoin’s dominance in various countries, just as they did for those countries that adopted the gold standard. Despite the fact that the cryptocurrency would become the standard, Weber believes that economic crises could still happen since “they can occur under any fractional reserve financial system.”

According to Weber, the Bitcoin standard will benefit the economy in two ways. Due to the “known, deterministic rate” at which new BTC is created, people would be able to predict the price level of the cryptocurrency more easily. The second benefit would be that investment resources which are currently devoted to hedging against fluctuations in the currency exchange rates would free up and could be used in “more productive ways.”

On the other hand, Weber thinks that the Bitcoin standard will never come into existence since there will be heavy opposition by central banks and governments. If the Bitcoin standard becomes real, neither the governments nor the central banks will be able to implement interest rates to affect their economies, neither could they generate seigniorage revenues obtained from their ability to “almost costlessly create money,” the Bank of Canada research consultant explained. Since the governments don’t want to lose these powers, they will do anything to prevent Bitcoin from becoming the standard medium of exchange.

Weber is also skeptical about the longevity of the Bitcoin standard. According to him, the financial system is advancing so rapidly that there would likely be another (crypto)currency that can provide the same or greater benefits as Bitcoin, possibly at lower costs. Furthermore, if a financial crisis occurs, an opposition is likely to emerge that would seek to replace the “old” financial system, rather like the way that Bitcoin is challenging today’s status quo.

The post Bank of Canada Report: Imagining a “Bitcoin Standard” Financial System appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 August 2017 | 8:51 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $ 3,000

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

August 22, 2017 -
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