The Intersection of Social Media and the Blockchain

The Intersection of Social Media
and the Blockchain

  

Every major social media platform has offered users

a way to communicate with others and earn social currency, such as followers, traffic to their content, likes and retweets. Now, a new breed of social media networks has emerged – one that uses blockchain technology to build platforms enabling users to control their data and escape the censorship imposed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. In addition, these new social networks reward users with cryptocurrency.

One such new social media platform is Steemit , which runs on top of a decentralized network known as Steem. Steemit rewards users with its own cryptocurrency in addition to social currency. Much like Reddit and Facebook, Steemit uses its incentives to encourage users to post, share and react to content. When someone likes or upvotes a post, it becomes more visible on the site. Steemit rewards the original poster with Steem digital currency that can be exchanged for real cash via Bitcoin or reinvested into "Steam Power," a token that represents how much influence a person has on the Steemit platform.

So, the more Steem Power people have, the more their upvotes will count. Steem Power also allows users to earn additional Steem Power and Steem Dollars from the platform. Put simply, "Steem is a blockchain database that supports community building and social interaction with cryptocurrency rewards," according to the company. Last year, Steem issued a $1.3 million payout to Steemit users. Half was distributed in Steem Dollars, each worth about $1, and a half in Steem Power.

"Because it's based entirely on a blockchain, Steemit shows what social media can look like without censorship," said Steemit CEO Ned Scott at the time. "Everything we see on Steemit.com comes from the open source Steem blockchain, so the entire network is replicable on any front-end application." Another example of a decentralized social network based on the blockchain protocol is AKASHA, which uses the Ethereum blockchain to store user-created content.

AKASHA lets users publish, share and vote for entries, much like Medium and other modern publishing platforms. The difference, though, is that user content is published over Ethereum's decentralized network rather than on the company's servers. The votes are bundled with Ethereum microtransactions, so users can earn some Ethereum if their content is good and other users vote for it. It is "in a way, mining with your mind ." In the second and third quarters of this year, the company expects to open source the code powering AKASHA and run a community breakathon to find and fix the bugs that might have slipped by during development. The AKASHA team is aiming to launch the Ethereum main network in the fourth quarter of this year.

Blockchain startup Synereo is also creating a decentralized, next-generation social networking and content delivery platform. Recently, Synereo released Qrator, a tool that lets users monetize original content, get rewarded for sharing quality content with others and also discover the best content on the internet. Qrator is the first step toward Synereo's vision of a freer and fairer internet. The app will give users a look into the "Attention Economy" that puts creators and curators on top of the internet's "monetary food chain."

With Qrator, the company is looking to develop a cross-platform social graph, laying the groundwork for a fully-decentralized social content app based on blockchain and distributed storage technologies that will be built on the Qrator foundation later this year. Even as the world of social media is constantly evolving, blockchain technology is changing the world around us. Not just when it comes to financial transactions, but also by introducing decentralization that encourages free speech while doing away with the restrictions imposed by the social media giants.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

 

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

SEC Petition Calls for Blockchain Token Rules

A New York-based broker-dealer

has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to propose rules to cover blockchain-based assets. According to the petition, Ouisa Capital wants the SEC to weigh in on the use of crypto tokens and resolve “the lack of regulatory clarity with respect to the regulation of digital assets and blockchain technology”.

The firm went on to write:

"Ouisa encourages the SEC to engage in a meaningful discussion of how to regulate FinTech companies that are issuing digital assets that may be deemed securities and the platforms and broker-dealers that facilitate the issuance and trading of those digital assets. We believe digital assets in several contexts are securities and that existing laws provide a mechanism for regulation of the issuance and trading of digital assets."

Additionally, Ouisa asked the SEC to create a so-called 'regulatory sandbox', through which startups and financial firms can test new products in limited settings. Unlike other major regulators like the Internal Revenue Service (which views digital currencies as kinds of intangible properties) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (which views them as commodities), the SEC has yet to weigh in with any kind of classification for a blockchain token. When contacted, the SEC declined to comment on the petition and whether it has begun the process of either developing regulations or responding to Ouisa's request. Given its past moves related to space – shooting down a pair of bitcoin exchange-traded funds while continuing to consider a third – such work wouldn't be surprising at this stage, however.

Further, recent comments from officials suggest that the agency is generally weighing the issue, invoking its aim of consumer protection at the same time. During an appearance last week at the North American Securities Administrators Association Section 19(d) Conference, SEC Commissioner Kara Stein remarked on the impact of technology on her agency's work, noting "we will need to adapt and make technology a bigger part of our mission". "Similarly, I hope we continue to examine the range of possible uses of blockchain technology while remaining mindful of vulnerabilities associated with potential cybersecurity risks and investor protection," she said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain Tech Offers Solution to WannaCry-Type Cyberattacks, Contrary to MSM Brainwashing

Blockchain Tech Offers Solution to WannaCry-Type Cyberattacks,
Contrary to MSM Brainwashing

Some mainstream media

put the blame for the latest WannaCry cyber attack on Bitcoin, thoughtlessly copy-pasting the statements that a cryptocurrency is a convenient tool for terrorists. In reality, the technologies behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies might very well become the next level security against future attacks.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks on an unprecedented scale put hundreds of thousands of computers at risk. As Bitcoin and Blockchain take the limelight again, Blockchain may offer a viable solution. NSA tools and Windows vulnerability caused the largest cyber attack in history. While Bitcoin and Blockchain can easily be singled out as a scapegoat, companies are already tackling the vulnerability of centralized systems and creating groundbreaking solutions around ID security and verification on the Blockchain.

Extortion

In the wake of WannaCry, the question of security has become more pronounced than ever. The same technology that allows Bitcoin extortion to the hacker might very well be the protection from such events happening again. After the NHS was hacked, Blockchain experts were quick to point out that secure verification on the Blockchain might have prevented the exploits.

Blockchain solutions

The Blockchain and a decentralized ledger have been praised for its security strengths since the inception of Bitcoin. Now after the WannaCry attacks, the focus on this has become even more pronounced. Sphre, the identity management firm has announced a partnership with Airbitz, which is a data security platform and Bitcoin wallet. According to the firm, Sphre’s AIR is a smart contract based platform that looks to join the secure management and monetization of digital identities.

Sphre Director, Daren Seymor tells Alexander Geralis of Cointelegraph in an

exclusive comment:

“The Airbitz wallet integration will form a key part of the Air Platform to deliver XID micropayment and send/exchange functionality.”

Future ID security

Regarding the high-profile attacks of WannaCry that have put hundreds of systems at risk, he sees that there is a need for security, now it is more evident than ever. Seymor went on to point out the need for decentralized solutions in security as opposed to

centralized ones:

“The current high-profile zero-day exploit of WannaCry shows us that the Internet is still a dangerous place for people and institutions. Centralized identity solutions such as Facebook and Google now represent ever increasing value to bad actors based on constantly evolving attack[s]… centralized solutions will become [necessary] as we continue to evolve with, and transact more of our lives via the Internet.”

AIR, which will have its crowd sale later this month, is not the only company working towards identity security and verification. South African entrepreneur and Bitcoin advocate, Vinny Lingham’s Civic is another project aiming to give users identity security.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Cloud-based blockchain for enterprises

Cloud-based blockchain for enterprises

   Cloud-based blockchain technology

to secure, share and track data across decentralized infrastructures within enterprises sounds magical. Gospel Technology claims to have this with the launch of Gospel Cloud Version 1, based on a private, permission led distributed ledger system. “We’re living in a new data culture where information is the most vital asset for a business. Constant reports of breaches, malicious hacking from external parties and the corruption of facts to disseminate “fake news” has exacerbated an atmosphere of mistrust in game-changing technologies such as cloud, AI and IoT. High profile brands with large security budgets even appear not to be immune” Ian Smith, the founder of Gospel Technology says.

The purpose

At the heart of Gospel Cloud is this private, permission led distributed ledger, containing:

  • key enterprise data (whether this is intellectual property, personal, sensitive content, healthcare records, or whatever)
  • an absolute record of trusted transactions
  • access unlocked by Gospel’s Distributed Data Logic
  • a real time user consent engine
  • rendered real-time data views of historical changes at the data content level
  • LedgerBridge, with support for SAP, Oracle, instructed filesystems, etc
  • enhanced end-to-end encryption (TLS)
  • delivery as a built platform (allegedly enterprises can be deployed it without extensive customization and/or services)
  • blockchain agnosticism; Gospel Cloud is a derivative from the Hyperledger using pluggable consensus; this can change to align with defined threat models.

 

Gospel Cloud takes the distributed consensus and immutability features of the blockchain. It implements this without the time and resource draining downside of public blockchains. In so doing it removes the replication and risk of corruption, accidental deletion, and malicious data. Distributed Data Logic drives a rethinking of consent and real-time transactional approval. It takes into account not only multi-layer authentication but elements of transactional context – including identity, location, action, time, trend and other aspects – to ensure absolute trust and authentication at the point of transaction.

Combining such a private permission led distributed ledger eliminates many of the expensive, inefficient and insecure workarounds required to share data with third parties. Gospel sees these workarounds as an unnecessary if inevitable consequence of the new digital age clashing with traditional siloed solutions. Furthermore, in the new threat dynamics of the modern digital enterprise, a privately distributed blockchain offers a level of confidence which a conventional distributed database could never hope to attain in terms of efficiency and security.

Conclusion

The ability to avoid the inefficiencies of public blockchains – while continuing to deliver immutable proof of provenance, usage history, integrity, and authenticity – makes the Gospel Cloud concept simpler than a public blockchain. Placing it in a cloud environment matches the move to reduce the cost of running your own IT.

Boiled down, Gospel Cloud’s core benefits enable enterprises to collaborate securely as users upload and share sensitive data and records. The result means enterprises can comply with the far stricter rules on treatment and protection of personal data (such as those in the looming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Delivered in a cloud the claimed utility could prove attractive, especially if performance and cost don’t become gating factors.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain technology creeps ever more into Irish banking system

Ulster Bank.

Ulster Bank is leading a new investigation into blockchain underpinning Irish payments systems, with partners including AIB, PTSB and Deloitte. Blockchain’s impact on various industries has been considerable, most notably through its foundation of bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world. However, predictions were always such that cryptocurrencies were just the start. Everything from supply chain management to the entire financial services model would be overhauled, in theory, by a ledger system like no other.

Blockchain’s broad reach

Those predictions are already proving accurate in some areas. The shipping industry, for example, is diving deep into blockchain investigations, with billions of dollars predicted to be saved in the coming years. However, it’s banking that’s the most intriguing, with Irish institutions in no mood to be left behind at the moment. A new project at various financial institutions is exploring the application of blockchain technology developed by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to improve domestic payments systems.

Called Project GreenPay, Ulster Bank is teaming up with AIB, Permanent TSB (PTSB), Deloitte and RBS to run the program. The cross-bank team has specifically concentrated on enhancements to speed, resilience and security for customers and is working on “an enhanced potential alternative platform for domestic payments”.

From lab to live

Dogpatch Labs played host to an early test of the project, with payments sent between the banks to check for performance, accuracy, and scalability. The next step is to run a pilot using live payments and explore further use cases of the technology in the international payments and foreign exchange space. “Blockchain has the potential to disrupt multiple industries for the benefit of customers, and we’re determined to investigate how we can harness this force for the financial sector,” said Ciarán Coyle, chief administrative officer with Ulster Bank.

“RBS has done a lot of work in this space with their partners through Emerald, and it was opportune for us to join with AIB, PTSB, and Deloitte to examine possible improvements for our customers. We are focused on an open collaboration like this project to help the industry make banking simpler and more secure for our customers.” There are other projects already underway in this area.

Varied approaches

While start-ups are seen as the driver of much of the innovation within the financial industry, some of the more traditional models are doing their utmost to keep ahead of the curve. Barclays recently revealed that it has opened a new fintech innovation lab in London, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Called Rise, the center will be a collaborative space for Barclays to work with start-ups, developers and some of its other corporate clients on projects to “help to create the future of financial services”. Blockchain will be a major focus. Belfast has also made attempts to build a hub of blockchain businesses, again with financial services as the target. However, this Ulster Bank project, given the collaboration with multiple major financial institutions, could prove the most interesting development of the lot.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

UK Security Researcher Pulls Handbrake on Global Ransomware Menace

UK Security Researcher Pulls Handbrake on Global Ransomware Menace

UK Security Researcher Pulls Handbrake on Global Ransomware Menace

A U.K.-based cyber researcher known as MalwareTech stopped the WannaCry ransomware that gained control of thousands of computers worldwide, forcing victims to pay $300 in bitcoin to restore their files.

WannaCry was able to exploit a Windows vulnerability leaked in April and use a hacking tool believed to be stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA).

The ransomware spread across 75,000 PCs, including 48 hospitals in the U.K.
 

Accidental Fix

MalwareTech discovered an unregistered domain name in WannaCry and purchased it for $10.69. Armed with the tool, the researcher pointed the domain to a sinkhole (a server that finds and analyzes malware traffic). The domain turned out to be a kill switch that enables someone to gain control of the ransomware.

The domain was intended to be unregistered, the MalwareTech noted. By registering it, subsequent actions were prevented.

The domain is a “sandbox” feature where security tools test code in a secluded environment on a PC. The address where MalwareTech registered his or her domain was pinged to all infected PCs, not just the sandboxed PCs.

The domain was meant as an “anti-sandbox” measure they didn’t think through sufficiently, MalwareTech said.

Cisco Talos and other security firms confirmed the malware attack ended thanks to MalwareTech’s actions. Computers already infected, however, could still be at risk.

 

Shadow Brokers Behind The Hack?

Talos said the malware was leaked by the Shadow Brokers, a hacking group believed to have dumped NSA hacking tools.

Talos said the hackers will try to install WannaCry by means of a backdoor called DoublePulsar leaked by Shadow Brokers. If the backdoor was not embedded on a target Windows PC, it would try to exploit a flaw in the Microsoft OS Server Message Block, which is a network file sharing protocol.

Victims have been told not to pay the $300 ransom.

Microsoft and anti-virus providers have introduced WannaCry detections.

Microsoft issued an advisory that it is releasing a patch for Windows XPs that are out of support and its recommending companies disable the SMBv1 protocol.

Up-to-date Windows machines are safe from the ransomware.

Rob Wainwright, head of Europol, Europe’s chief law enforcement official, told the media he is concerned the numbers of victims could grow when people turn on their machines Monday morning.

A researcher at Proofpoint, Darien Huss, first discovered MalwareTech’s sinkhole was stopping the spread of the malware.

Huss agreed that the actors involved are amateurs based on the kill switch deployment. He said it is likely another attack will be coming soon.

 Nearly $53k in bitcoin ransoms paid with WannaCry

Other Ransomware Versions Can Pose Risks

MalwareTech noted on Twitter that Version 1 was stoppable but Version 2 will likely remove the flaw.

The researcher claimed on Twitter to be providing the National Cyber Security Centre in the U.K. data to notify infected companies.

On Monday, MalwareTech advised people via Twitter they are at risk if they turn on a system without the MS 17-010 patch and TCP port 445 open.

MalwareTech, who did not reveal their gender, did not wish to be celebrated as a hero for stemming the spread of the malware. MalWareTech noted on Twitter that he or she wanted anonymity in order not to have to deal with journalists.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

By Lester Coleman

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member