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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Could Rise By 165% To $2,000 in 2017 Driven by Trump's 'Spending Binge' and Dollar Rally (cnbc.com) 251

The price of Bitcoin could hit more than $2,000 in 2017 driven by expectations that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may introduce economic stimulus policies, which could send inflation soaring and propel the dollar to record highs, a report from Saxo Bank claims. An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Bitcoin is currently trading around $754.51, according to CoinDesk data. A handle of over $2,000 would represent 165 percent appreciation. During his election campaign Trump has talked about an increase in fiscal spending. Saxo Bank's note said that this could increase the roughly $20 trillion of U.S. national debt and triple the current budget deficit from approximately $600 billion to $1.2-1.8 trillion, or some 6-10 percent of the country's current $18.6 trillion economy. As a result, the economy will grow and inflation will "sky rocket," forcing the U.S. Federal Reserve to hike interest rates at a faster pace and causing the U.S. dollar "to hit the moon." When inflation rises the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates to bring it under control. This causes the dollar to appreciate because it would be seen as an attractive currency for foreign investors.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Exchange Ordered To Give IRS Years of Data On Millions of Users (gizmodo.com) 203

Last month, instead of asking for data relating to specific individuals suspected of a crime, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanded America's largest Bitcoin service, Coinbase, to provide the identities of all of the firm's U.S. customers who made transactions over a three year period because there is a chance they are avoiding paying taxes on their bitcoin reserves. On Wednesday, a federal judge authorized a summons requiring Coinbase to provide the IRS with those records. Gizmodo reports: Covering the identities and transaction histories of millions of customers, the request is believed to be the largest single attempt to identify tax evaders using virtual currency to date. As a so-called "John Doe" summons, the document targets a particular group or class of taxpayers -- rather than individuals -- the agency has a "reasonable basis" to believe may have broken the law. According to The New York Times, the IRS argued that two cases of tax evasion involving Coinbase combined with Bitcoin's "relatively high level of anonymity" serve as that basis. "There is no allegation in this suit that Coinbase has engaged in any wrongdoing in connection with its virtual currency exchange business," said the Justice Department on Wednesday. "Rather, the IRS uses John Doe summonses to obtain information about possible violations of internal revenue laws by individuals whose identities are unknown." In a statement, Coinbase vowed to fight the summons, which the company's head counsel has previously characterized as a "every, very broad" fishing expedition.
Facebook

Locky Ransomware Uses Decoy Image Files To Ambush Facebook, LinkedIn Accounts (arstechnica.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A low-tech but cunning malware program is worrying security researchers after it started spreading rapidly in the past week through a new attack vector: by forcibly exploiting vulnerabilities in Facebook and LinkedIn. According to the Israeli security firm Check Point, security flaws in the two social networks allow a maliciously coded image file to download itself to a user's computer. Users who notice the download, and who then access the file, cause malicious code to install "Locky" ransomware onto their computers. Locky has been around since early this year, and works by encrypting victims' files and demands a payment of around half a bitcoin for the key. Previously, it had relied on a malicious macro in Word documents and spam e-mails, but Check Point says that in the past week there has been a "massive spread of the Locky ransomware via social media, particularly in its Facebook-based campaign." Users are advised not to open any file that has automatically downloaded, especially any image file with an unusual extension such as SVG, JS, or HTA -- though benign-looking images could exploit the way Windows hides file extensions by default.
Bitcoin

IRS Demands Identities of All US Coinbase Traders Over Three Year Period (vice.com) 124

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In bitcoin-related investigations, authorities will often follow the digital trail of an illegal transaction or suspicious user back to a specific account at a bitcoin trading company. From here, investigators will likely subpoena the company for records about that particular user, so they can then properly identify the person suspected of a crime. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has taken a different approach. Instead of asking for data relating to specific individuals suspected of a crime, it has demanded bitcoin trading site Coinbase to provide the identities of all of the firm's U.S. customers who made transactions over a three year period, because there is a chance they are avoiding paying taxes on their bitcoin reserves. Coinbase has a total of millions of customers. According to court filings, which were first flagged by financial blogger Zerohedge on Twitter, the IRS has launched an investigation to determine the correct amount of tax that those who use virtual currencies such as bitcoin are obligated to pay. But according to the documents, the IRS is asking for the identities of any U.S. Coinbase customer who transferred crypto-currency with the service between 2013 and 2015. "The John Does whose identities are sought by the summons are United States persons who, at any time during the period January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2015, conducted transactions in a convertible virtual currency," reads a memorandum written by Department of Justice attorneys and filed on Thursday, November 17.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Boosted by Safe-Haven Demand After Trump Victory (cnbc.com) 45

Donald Trump's historic victory in the U.S. presidential elections has pushed up prices for the digital currency bitcoin. As the results for the election began to trickle in, the cryptocurrency quickly began to rise at around 2 a.m. London time. From a report on CNBC: The price for bitcoin was around 3.5 percent higher at 11:00 a.m. London time Wednesday at $733.84. Since November 4, the cryptocurrency has been stuck around the $700-709 trading band. The weakening dollar may have added to the rise, but the digital currency is also higher when priced in other currencies like the Chinese yuan, sterling and the euro. Charles Hayter, CEO and founder of Crypto Compare, said that the price is rising on safe-haven demand in reaction to the uncertainty created as a result of Trump's victory.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Can Be Bought With Cash At Swiss Railway Ticket Machines (techweekeurope.co.uk) 63

In what is seen as a move that could help boost the spread of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency will be available to purchase from Swiss railway ticket machines starting next month. Reader Mickeycaskill writes: Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has more than 1,000 ticket machines and has partnered with regulated financial intermediary SweePay to distribute Bitcoin. Customers need to select mobile top up on the machines, scan the QR code on their Bitcoin digital wallet and enter the number of Swiss Francs, up to 500 CHF, in to the machine, confirm the offer of Bitcoins they receive then identify themselves using a mobile number and a security code sent to their smartphone. While the machine can pay out Bitcoin, for the time being, it will not accept payments made with the cryptocurrency. Furthermore, credit card cannot be used with the machines to buy Bitcoins, SBB is effectively providing a way to swap local currency for a digital version that can be used anywhere around the world, thereby bypassing unfavourable exchange rates"From 11 November 2016, customers will be able to obtain Bitcoin at all SBB ticket machines. Until now, there have only been limited opportunities to purchase Bitcoin in Switzerland," the company was quoted as saying.
Open Source

Blockchain Platform Developed by Banks To Be Open-Source (reuters.com) 32

A blockchain platform developed by a group that includes more than 70 of the world's biggest financial institutions is making its code publicly available, in what could become the industry standard for the nascent technology, reports Reuters. From the article: The Corda platform has been developed by a consortium brought together by New-York-based financial technology company R3. It represents the biggest shared effort among banks, insurers, fund managers and other players to work on using blockchain technology in the financial markets. Blockchain, which originated in the digital currency bitcoin, works as a web-based transaction-processing and settlement system. It creates a "golden record" of any given set of data that is automatically replicated for all parties in a secure network, eliminating any need for third-party verification. Banks reckon the technology could save them money by making their operations faster, more efficient and more transparent. They are racing to build products using the technology that will generate new revenue, with dozens of patent applications filed for blockchain-based products by Wall Street's top lenders. R3 says it hopes its platform will become the industry standard, although its intention is indeed for firms to build products on top of it.
Security

No One's Bidding on The Shadow Brokers' Stolen NSA Hacking Tools (vice.com) 51

That group auctioning the NSA's hacking tools is "very upset" no one's bidding on them. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard: "TheShadowBrokers" authored another bizarre rant expressing their annoyance at the seeming lack of interest in ponying up bitcoins to release their full set of stolen files. "Peoples is having interest in free files ... But people is no interest in #EQGRP_Auction," the mysterious hacker group complained in a ranting post on Medium, which seems to be purposely written in Borat-style broken English. "TheShadowBrokers is thinking this is information communication problem."

The message also blindly lashes out at hackers, foreign intelligence services, and basically anyone else who hasn't bid on the files... At the time of this writing, TheShadowBrokers have only received bids for a total of 1.76 bitcoins -- or about $1,082 -- far below the group's asking price of $1 million.

At least five transactions came from a prankster who was trying to Rickroll the group with bitcoin addresses containing the words "Never Gonna Give You Up."
IBM

Banks Adopting Blockchain 'Dramatically Faster' Than Expected (reuters.com) 62

Banks and other financial institutions are adopting blockchain technology "dramatically faster" than initially expected, with 15 percent of top global banks intending to roll out full-scale, commercial blockchain products in 2017, IBM said on Wednesday. Reuters reports: The technology company said 65 percent of banks expected to have blockchain projects in production in three years' time, with larger banks -- those with more than 100,000 employees -- leading the charge. IBM, whose findings were based on a survey of 200 banks, said the areas most commonly identified by lenders as ripe for blockchain-based innovation were clearing and settlement, wholesale payments, equity and debt issuance and reference data. Blockchain, which originates from digital currency bitcoin, works as an electronic transaction-processing and record-keeping system that allows all parties to track information through a secure network, with no need for third-party verification.
Cloud

Microsoft Partners With Bank of America On Blockchain Trade Finance (securityweek.com) 43

wiredmikey quotes a report from SecurityWeek: Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said they are working together to make financial transactions more efficient with blockchain technology -- the foundation of bitcoin digital currency. Blockchains are considered tamper-proof registers in which entries are time-stamped and linked to previous "blocks" in a data chain. As expected, the technology that drives the shadowy bitcoin cryptocurrency is drawing interest from the established banking industry, which sees a potential to revolutionize the sector. The companies said they will build and test frameworks for blockchain-powered exchanges between businesses and their customers and banks. Microsoft plans to use its Azure cloud service platform to enable blockchain transactions between a major corporate treasury and a financial institution. "Blockchains serve as public ledgers considered easy to audit and verify. They are also automated, speeding up transactions and limiting potential for error or revision," the report adds. The companies said that by using blockchain technology, they can digitalize and automate trade finance processes, which are traditionally highly manual, time-consuming and costly.
Bitcoin

Japanese To Pay Utility Bills Using Bitcoin (thestack.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Japanese citizens will soon be able to pay their utility bills using bitcoin. The facility is being provided by Coincheck Denki, a new service offered by the Japanese bitcoin company, which will be available to users in November. Coincheck outlined the new plan on its website. Also called 'Coincheck Electricity,' it will allow users to pay their electricity bills directly from their Coincheck bitcoin wallet. It also offers a discount plan for heavy users of electricity, with 4-6% of the total bill discounted for heavy users of electricity who pay in bitcoin. Coincheck's parent company, Reju Press, initially partnered with Mitsuwa Inc., to create the bitcoin payment system. Coincheck now works with Mitsuwa subsidiary E-Net Inc., and has formed a partnership with Marubeni Power Retail Corporation, which operates power plants in 17 locations in central Japan. Marubeni has offices in 66 countries worldwide, although no plans have been announced to take the bitcoin payment option outside of Japan. While the initial bitcoin payment rollout is for electricity bills, Coincheck plans to expand its offerings to bitcoin payment for 'life infrastructure,' to include payment of gas, water and mobile phone bills. It may even partner with landlords to allow customers of Coincheck to pay rent using bitcoin. The bitcoin payment plan will be rolled out in Chubu, Kanto (including Tokyo) and Kansai regions to start, with additional areas to be added sequentially. The company hopes to offer bitcoin payment options to one million electric customers within the first year.
Bitcoin

Federal Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Money In Case Tied To JPMorgan Hack (reuters.com) 87

Roughly two months ago, a Miami-Dade judge ruled that bitcoin does not actually qualify as money. Now, it appears that bitcoin does indeed qualify as money, according to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan. "Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term," Nathan wrote. "Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment." Reuters provides some backstory in its report: Bitcoin qualifies as money, a federal judge ruled on Monday, in a decision linked to a criminal case over hacking attacks against JPMorgan Chase and Co and other companies. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to his alleged operation of Coin.mx, which prosecutors have called an unlicensed bitcoin exchange. Murgio had argued that bitcoin did not qualify as "funds" under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses. But the judge, like her colleague Jed Rakoff in an unrelated 2014 case, said the virtual currency met that definition. Authorities have said Coin.mx was owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli man who, along with two others, was charged with running a sprawling computer hacking and fraud scheme targeting a dozen companies, including JPMorgan, and exposing personal data of more than 100 million people. That alleged scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars of profit through pumping up stock prices, online casinos, money laundering and other illegal activity, prosecutors have said.
The Courts

'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents (unpatent.co) 115

"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports: "Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on Unpatent.co argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it." Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."
The Almighty Buck

These Are the Six Crypto-Currencies Approved By Apple (softpedia.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes Softpedia: Anthony Di Iorio, founder of Jaxx, a crypto-currency wallet, claims that an Apple representative revealed to him the six crypto-currencies allowed on the App Store, during a private phone conversation... Di Iorio had this conversation with the Apple employee after the company removed his Jaxx iOS app from the store. The Apple employee told Di Iorio that they had to remove his app because it featured support for Dash, another blockchain technology, touted as an alternative to Bitcoin.

During the conversation, Di Iorio asked what crypto-currencies Apple approves of, so he'd know what to remove from Jaxx's iOS version and get his app back on the App Store. Di Iorio says that Apple is comfortable approving apps on its App Store that handle only six crypto-currencies: Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, the DAO and Ripple. Reaction to Apple's list of approved crypto-currencies wasn't positive, at least on Twitter. Most users criticized Apple's decision to limit the list to only six, which they considered might thwart the evolution of other, lesser-known crypto-currencies.

Vitalik Buterin, who helped create Ethereum with Di lorio, tweeted "For the record: despite being a beneficiary of this instance of (private) regulatory protectionism, I oppose it."
Piracy

Judge Allows Kim Dotcom To Livestream Court Hearing (mashable.com) 72

Kim Dotcom has been granted the right to livestream his extradition appeal on YouTube. The appeal hearing began Monday, but will be livestreamed tomorrow because "the cameraman needs to set this up professionally and implement the judge's live streaming rules." tweets Kim Dotcom. Mashable reports: "The United States, which wants Dotcom extradited from New Zealand, is against the request. Dotcom says a livestream is the only way to ensure a fair hearing. The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Dotcom and other Megaupload co-founders in hopes of taking them to court in America on charges of money-laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement. The charges stem from the operation of file-sharing website Megaupload, founded by Dotcom in 2005 and once the 13th most popular website on the internet. Users could upload movies, music and other content to the site and share with others, a practice the U.S. considers copyright infringement. The website reportedly made around $175 million before the FBI took it down in 2012. The U.S. says Megaupload cost copyright holders around $500 million, though Dotcom says it's not his fault users chose to upload the shared copyrighted material. Dotcom was arrested in 2012 after police raided his home, but was released on bail. A judge ruled in favor of his extradition to the U.S. in 2015, though Dotcom said at the time the judge was not interested in a fair hearing." Dotcom plans to revive Megaupload on January 20, 2017, urging people to "buy bitcoin while cheap," since he claims the launch will send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value. Every file transfer taking place over Megaupload "will be linked to a tiny Bitcoin micro transaction," Dotcom posted on Twitter.
Bitcoin

Kim Dotcom Will Revive Megaupload, Linking File Transfers To Bitcoin Microtransactions (fortune.com) 76

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes an article from Fortune: The controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said last month that he was preparing to relaunch Megaupload, the file-sharing site that U.S. and New Zealand authorities dramatically shut down in 2012, with bitcoins being involved in some way... This system will be called Bitcache, and Dotcom claimed its launch would send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value.

The launch of Megaupload 2.0 will take place on January 20, 2017, he said, urging people to "buy bitcoin while cheap, like right now, trust me..." Crucially, Dotcom said the Bitcache system would overcome bitcoin's scaling problems. "It eliminates all blockchain limitations," he claimed.

Every file transfer taking place over Megaupload "will be linked to a tiny Bitcoin micro transaction," Dotcom posted on Twitter. His extradition trial begins Monday, and he's asking the court to allow live-streaming of the trial "because of global interest in my case." Meanwhile, the FBI apparently let the registration lapse on the Megaupload domain, which they seized in 2012, and Ars Technica reports that the site is now full of porn ads.
Bitcoin

'SingularDTV' Will Use Ethereum For DRM On A Sci-Fi TV Show (rocknerd.co.uk) 78

It's "an epic sci-fi adventure about the human race's journey into a theoretical technological Singularity." Or is it an "entertainment industry boondoggle...part DRM snake oil marketing, part pseudo-Bitcoin scam and part sincere Singularitarian weirdness?" Long-term Slashdot reader David Gerard writes: SingularDTV is an exciting new blockchain-based entertainment industry startup. Their plan is to adapt the DRM that made $121.54 for Imogen Heap, make their own completely pre-mined altcoin and use that to somehow sell two million views of a sci-fi TV show about the Singularity. Using CODE, which is explicitly modeled on The DAO ... which spectacularly imploded days after its launch. There's a white paper [PDF], but here's an analysis of why these schemes are a terrible idea for musicians.
'Singular' will be a one-hour adventure/drama "that explores the impact technology will have on the future of our planet and how it will shape the evolution of our human race," set in the years 2021 to 2045, "as an unprecedented technological revolution sweeps over the world..."
Security

New Linux Trojan Is A DDoS Tool, a Bitcoin Miner, and Web Ransomware (softpedia.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: A trojan that targeted Drupal sites on Linux servers last May that was incredibly simplistic and laughable in its attempt to install (and fail) web ransomware on compromised websites, has now received a major update and has become a top threat on the malware scene. That trojan, named Rex, has evolved in only three months into an all-around threat that can: (1) compromise servers and devices running platforms like Drupal, WordPress, Magento, Jetspeed, Exarid, AirOS; (2) install cryptocurrency mining in the background; (3) send spam; (4) use a complex P2P structure to manage its botnet; and (5) install a DDoS agent which crooks use to launch DDoS attacks.

Worse is that they use their DDoS capabilities to extort companies. The crooks send emails to server owners announcing them of 15-minute DDoS tests, as a forewarning of future attacks unless they pay a ransom. To scare victims, they pose as a known hacking group named Armada Collective. Other groups have used the same tactic, posing as Armada Collective, and extorting companies, according to CloudFlare.

Bitcoin

DDoSCoin: New Crypto-Currency Rewards Users For Participating In DDoS Attacks (softpedia.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "In the most innovative, weirdest, and stupidest idea of the month, two researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Michigan have created a crypto-currency that rewards people for participating in DDoS attacks," reports Softpedia. "Called DDoSCoin, this digital currency rewards a person (the miner) for using their computer as part of a DDoS attack. Just like Bitcoin, DDoSCoin uses cryptographic data to provide a proof-of-work. In DDoSCoin's case, this proof-of-work is extracted from the TLS connection a miner establishes with the website they're supposed to attack." This means that DDoSCoin can be used only with DDoS attacks on TLS-enabled websites. Participating in DDoS attacks gives miners DDoSCoin, which can then be converted in Bitcoin or fiat currency. Furthermore, anyone can request a DDoS attack via the PAY_TO_DDOS transaction. The research paper that proposes DDoSCoin is only a theoretical exercise, and a DDoSCoin crypto-currency does not currently exist in the real world. For now.
Crime

Kansas Couple Sues IP Mapping Firm For Turning Their Life Into a 'Digital Hell' (arstechnica.com) 175

Ever since James and Theresa Arnold moved into their rented 623-acre farm in Butler County, Kansas, in March 2011, they have seen "countless" law enforcement officials and individuals turning up at their farm day and night looking for links to alleged theft and other supposed crime. We covered this story on Slashdot a few months ago. All of these people are arriving because of a rounding error on a GPS location, which wrongly points people to their farm. ArsTechnica adds:In their lawsuit filed against MaxMind, the IP mapping firm, the Arnolds allege: "The following events appeared to originate at the residence and brought trespassers and/or law enforcement to the plaintiffs' home at all hours of the night and day: stolen cars, fraud related to tax returns and bitcoin, stolen credit cards, suicide calls, private investigators, stolen social media accounts, fund raising events, and numerous other events." James Arnold has even been "reported as holding girls at the residence for the purpose of making pornographic films."

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