Users of ‘Btc-e’ cryptocurrency exchange reporting spike in email phishing attempts

Users of 'Btc-e' cryptocurrency exchange reporting spike in email phishing attempts

   Bitcoin exchange 'Btc-e' was previously targeted by hackers in 2014iStock

Users of a popular cryptocurrency exchange called Btc-e are reporting a significant spike in email phishing attempts, a potential harbinger of a fresh spam or malware campaign being launched in an attempt to defraud the bitcoin community. The reports emerged this week (2 May) on the bitcoin sections of Reddit and Twitter, with many recipients posting images of the spam that appears to currently be in circulation.

The attacker is luring victims by asking them to "review attached Btc-e codes" and claiming they only have a matter of hours to redeem them. The emails contain a password and a Microsoft Word document. Sender names vary, with some to date including Pierce Cynthia and Parsons Dillon. One Reddit user wrote: "In the word document it claims to be an encrypted document (really just an image). To decrypt it you have to enter the code from the email. Once you do that it downloads a program that encrypts your whole computer."

Another claimed: "I got the same thing. Seems like btc-e.com has had a breach of their account details. [The attacker] had my email and username, passwords may have been taken too but likely hashed so it may be worth changing your password just to be on the safe side." According to one Twitter user with name "GasGeverij" – a self-described penetration tester – the slew of fraudulent emails may be part of a "well-organised spam campaign leveraging [the] new Office vulnerability bypassing Gmail and Yahoo filters". This is in reference to recent reports from cybersecurity firms McAfee and FireEye, which discovered a bug in Word that hackers could exploit by using attached documents to spread malware and exploit kits. Before a patch was released it put "millions of users" at risk.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain firm nChain appoints Jon Matonis as Vice President of Corporate Strategy

Blockchain firm nChain appoints Jon Matonis as Vice President of Corporate Strategy

  

Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Jon Matonis has joined blockchain company nChain

as the new Vice President of Corporate Strategy. Matonis will be supporting nChain's business growth by developing commercial relationships, and evaluating opportunities for strategic investments and acquisitions, the release said. In this position, he will also continue providing thought leadership on blockchain technology. Recognized as a leading bitcoin researcher, Matonis is a non-executive board director for various companies in the digital currency space.

“Jon was immediately attractive to nChain. During his notable career, he has consistently led the integration of financial services and cryptography,” Arthur Davis, Director of nChain Holdings Limited, commented. “Jon's philosophy for the Bitcoin protocol and the network is fully in line with nChain's vision of on-chain scalability with decentralization, advanced native scripting for the construction of smart contracts, and a dedicated move away from monolithic software. We are excited to have Jon's deep industry experience on our team, and look forward to working with him to achieve our vision for the Bitcoin blockchain.”

Being the founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation, Matonis served as the industry's first nonprofit trade association. He also held senior roles with the Sumitomo Bank, VISA International, VeriSign, and Hushmail. Matonis created first and leading general price index for bitcoin ‘the Bitcoin Price Index (BPI)’ and enlisted seven regional chapter offices to the Bitcoin Foundation from countries such as France, Germany, and Bangladesh. “The resources and funding in place at nChain provide a unique opportunity to reshape the existing landscape of Bitcoin protocol influencers. I am excited to work with nChain to support the growth of the blockchain ecosystem for everyone's benefit,” Matonis said, accepting the new management position at nChain.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Venture capital 3.0: The initial coin offering explained

Venture capital 3.0:
The initial coin offering explained

Initial coin offerings are cutting out the venture capital middlemen to finance blockchain-powered software   

The venture capital community thrives on disruption.

So what happens when the tables are turned and the medicine bottle has their name on it? There's a new kid riding onto the financing block – riding roughshod across an unregulated landscape. Welcome to the world of the initial coin offering (ICO). An ICO is a hybrid: part crowdfunding, part software token, part speculation. In simple terms, an ICO is often described, somewhat inaccurately, as an IPO for cryptocurrencies.

How it works

– A tech start-up team creates an ICO using a blockchain-enabled software platform, usually open sourced.

– The platform is powered by cryptography-based software tokens – called cryptocurrencies.

– The team produces a white paper to describe its idea in greater technical depth for the cryptocurrency community to review, often supported by a prototype.

– The team then crowdfunds the building of its platform by offering the early usage of the software token – often at a discount – with these tokens usually paid for in bitcoins.

– Two Australian blockchain-powered platforms, Incent and Chronosbank, have raised more than $1 million and $7 million respectively in this way in the past six months – no venture capital firm required.

Crowdfunding vs ICO

While initial coin offerings may sound similar to a Kickstarter campaign, they do have a speculative twist. Once an ICO is completed, the stronger platforms and cryptocurrencies begin to develop material value that can be traded. Globally, there are more than 40 cryptocurrency exchanges, Poloniex.com being the largest exchange in the US. Their role is to establish a secondary market where major cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for bitcoins in an open marketplace, in a similar way to foreign exchange markets.

As a result, most cryptocurrencies have a market value that can be traded in line with the demand and supply of the cryptocurrency powering the new software platform being developed.Cryptocurrencies on the exchanges are subject to the same dynamics as equities and forex – where the core fundamentals of the cryptocurrency drive the underlying demand and the day-to-day trading actions determine its price. The total value of the global cryptocurrency markets is currently more than $US38 billion ($50 billion), with bitcoins representing the majority of that.

Powering smart contracts

Cryptocurrency's first major crowdsale was that of Ethereum in late 2014. The Ethereum software platform enables "smart contracts" to run. For example, money could be programmed to be automatically transferred once a container ship hits a certain longitude and latitude to confirm it is in Australian waters. Anyone who runs a smart contract on the Ethereum platform pays a small cryptocurrency fee to run that contract. Ethereum's initial crowdsale raised about $US18 million, although its current market capitalisation as reflected by the Ethereum price on the crytpocurrency exchanges is more than $US4 billion – a 2000 per cent increase in less than three years.

The Wild West

There are also many cryptocurrencies that have failed to perform, with the likes of AnarchistsPrime and Mustang coin languishing with market caps below $US4000. Also, because the cryptocurrency space is unregulated, it has the cavalier, Wild-West attitude reminiscent of the early days of the internet. It is not for the faint-hearted, with scammers preying on the naive and greedy. The regulators are lurking, with space slowly exhibiting almost self-regulated change – seeking to avoid the regulatory traps that could be waiting further down the track.

One step ahead of regulation

Cryptocurrencies can appear to look and act in a similar way to equities, by having a secondary marketplace and an expectation of growth. So instead of being labeled as ICOs, many developer teams are now beginning to re-label their crowdsales as "token sales", emphasizing cryptocurrency representing an intrinsic part of the software platform itself, rather than just a speculative investment. Often a prototype is built prior to the token sale to reaffirm this new label.

Initial coin offerings are a growing form of venture finance that could have major implications for the way entrepreneurs approach a venture capital. It is an area of high risk, both financial and regulatory, that is not for the faint-hearted or uninformed but does offer a significant financing alternative for entrepreneurs to explore. Tim Lea is chief executive of Verecitum.io, a blockchain platform that incentivizesrs from the film and television industry discover and report pirated examples of each other's work. They will be paid in Vents, a cryptocurrency Mr Lea will launch with a $US5 million initial coin offering in the second half of 2017.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin soars Above $1,400

Bitcoin soars above $1400

Bitcoin Soars Above $1400

The price of bitcoin has bulldozed its way to a new historic all-time high on the Bitstamp Price Index (BPI) as the trading value of the cryptocurrency scaled beyond $1,400.

Bitcoin prices are now trading at previously uncharted levels as the value of the cryptocurrency reached a high of $1,425 on Bitstamp on Monday. The previous high of $1,350 registered on March 10 amid heightened traders’ interest in the lead-up to the SEC decision about a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Since the turn of 2017, bitcoin’s value has now risen by over 42%.

The latest surge in prices is a part of a continuing bullish trend that began in last quarter of 2016. The value of the world’s most prominent cryptocurrency struck a significant milestone on January 1 when prices struck $1,000. Within days, bitcoin made history and reached gold parity. That early momentum has stuck through what has been a dramatic four months since the turn of the year.

The crackdown led by the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, remains the single largest negative driver in prices throughout January and February. Prices fell as low as $750 on January 12th, before recovering.

In March, the anticipation of the SEC’s decision toward a bitcoin ETF drove prices to hit an all-time BPI high of $1,350. The federal agency’s rejection sent prices tumbling below $1,000 in a sharp fall to a low of $891 before bouncing back to begin a bullish price trend in April.

April began with bitcoin gaining recognition as a legal method of payment in Japan. The legislation has led to retailers making notable moves toward accepting the cryptocurrency. As many as 260,000 Japanese storefronts will be enabled to accept bitcoin as payment by this summer. Emerging markets such as Russia and India have significantly changed their previously hardline stance with bitcoin, with authorities now talking about regulating (and acknowledging) the cryptocurrency. The last week of April also saw the SEC announce its decision to review its rejection of the bitcoin ETF application filed by the Winklevoss brothers. News of the review, it appears, has helped bitcoin’s bull run step up a gear. A week later, bitcoin is now trading at historic highs.

A protocol upgrade with Litecoin is among a number of factors that have contributed to the wider cryptocurrency market also making marked gains. Ethereum, the second most prominent cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, struck a new all-time high today and is now valued at $7 billion in overall market capitalization.

 

Global average prices struck a high a historic high of $1,433.81, according to data from BitcoinAverage.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur
 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member