Startup Raises $35 Million in 30 Seconds With Crypto-Currency Offering

 

    

 

In the world of crypto-currencies—the most famous of which is bitcoin—

the hottest trend is what's called an "initial coin offering," in which companies sell crypto-currency tokens to their supporters as a method of crowdfunding. How hot is it? On Wednesday, a startup called Brave launched a coin offering to fund a new web browser and raised the equivalent of $35 million in about 30 seconds, according to CoinDesk. Brave is the brainchild of Brendan Eich, the co-founder of the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the original Mozilla browser. Eich's new web browser is designed so that users can make micropayments to web publishers they like using crypto-currency, based on how many articles they read.

"We are pleased with the sale, and we're looking forward to disrupting digital advertising and building a user-centric platform for supporting the Web," Eich told CoinDesk. The Brave browser's payment system uses what are called Basic Attention Tokens, whose value is based on the crypto-currency known as Ethereum, a popular alternative to bitcoin. Eich has said his company plans to release the code behind the tokens as open source so that anyone can build publishing systems or services that use them for payment.

Although the use of crypto-currencies puts a new spin on it, the history of micropayments for content is littered with failures, including a litany of strange-sounding digital would-be payment systems such as Beenz and Flooz. That said, however, some appear to be extremely interested in Brave's tokens. The coin offering was so popular that some would-be investors complained they had no chance to even make a bid. A single investor bought almost $5 million worth in a single trade, CoinDesk said.

Only about 130 people were able to buy tokens in the offering, and five buyers got close to half of all the available supply, according to a Bitcoin exchange that analyzed the sale. Initial coin offerings are seen by some as an alternative to traditional share offerings. Instead of equity, backers get tokens that can be converted into units of a crypto-currency like bitcoin or Ethereum. Crypto-currencies generate value through a process called "mining," which involves the computation of complex mathematical formulas. Regulators have said they are looking into initial coin offerings to see if they should be treated the same as equity offerings, but for now they are largely unregulated.

Investor Balaji Srinivasan said in a recent essay that he believes crypto-currency tokens could eventually generate more money for the technology industry than all of the Internet-related equity offerings that have taken place to date. He called the token economy "a Kickstarter on steroids," referring to the popular crowdfunding platform. Kik, a Canadian company that makes a popular messaging app, said recently that it would launch its own crypto-currency called Kin with an initial coin offering within the next few months. Like the tokens that Brave sold, Kik's currency will be based on Ethereum.

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Amid Bitcoin Trading Resurgence,
Chinese Miners Shut Down Without Warning

    

A strange phenomenon is unfolding in China

as Bitcoin miners mysteriously close down or relocate their operations. Mines in the country’s Sichuan province were “reluctant” to discuss the reasons for withdrawal, major news resource People.cn reports. Bitcoin has recently continued its expanding price as Chinese exchanges get the green light to allow Bitcoin withdrawals. As traders delight in the new possibilities for sanctioned exchange use, however, a lack of corresponding regulation for miners is causing problems.

“A local official said the closure of the Bajiaoxi Mining Company aims at cracking down on illegal cash operations and on controlling systemic risks,” People reports, while no party was directly cited giving an explanation for the upset. Sichuan’s hydroelectric power is among the world’s cheapest, but the departure of miners is set to cost one power station $147,000 per month in lost billing. At a time when Bitcoin fees are higher than ever, the effect on miners themselves is also significant. “The southwestern region has abundant hydropower resources,” an “insider” source told fellow publication YiCai Global. “So electricity costs about half the price during the wet season. It’s hard to imagine why any mine would want to relocate now.”

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What if the bitcoin bubble bursts?

Is the latest frenzy like tulip-mania, a gold rush or the dotcom boom?

MARKETS frequently froth and bubble, but the boom in bitcoin, a digital currency, is extraordinary. Although its price is down from an all-time high of $2,420 on May 24th, it has more than doubled in just two months. Anyone clever or lucky enough to have bought $1,000 of bitcoins in July 2010, when the price stood at $0.05, would now have a stash worth $46m. Other cryptocurrencies have soared, too, giving them a collective market value of about $80bn.

   

Ascents this steep are rarely sustainable.

More often than not, the word “bitcoin” now comes attached to the word “bubble”. But the question of what has driven up the price is important. Is this just a speculative mania, or is it evidence that bitcoin is taking on a more substantial role as a medium of exchange or a store of value? Put another way, is bitcoin like a tulip, gold or the dollar—or is it something else entirely?

Start with the case that this is nothing more than a virtual tulipmania, a speculative hysteria in which a rising price encourages ever more buyers, no matter what the asset is. Bitcoin’s recent trajectory certainly seems manic. Retail investors have piled in. Many already familiar with bitcoin investing have moved on to bet on alternatives, such as Ethereum, and “initial coin offerings” (ICOs), in which firms issue digital tokens of their own.

It looks like a scammers’ paradise, yet unlike tulips, bitcoins have real uses. They now buy everything from pizzas to computers. So if a tulip isn’t the right analogue, how about gold? Bitcoins certainly seem to bear more than a passing resemblance. Goldbugs mistrust governments and their money-printing tendencies; so too do bitcoinesseurs: no central bank is in charge of bitcoin. But a store of value should not bounce around as much as this one does: bitcoin swung from more than $1,100 in late 2013 to less than $200 a year later, before climbing, in fits and starts, to its current dizzying heights.

Rather than being just a form of digital gold, bitcoin aspires to loftier goals: to be a means of exchange like the euro, yen or the dollar. Regulators are starting to take bitcoin seriously. Some of the price surge can be explained by Japan’s decision to treat bitcoin more like any other currency. Yet the bitcoin system is operating at its limits and its developers cannot agree on how to increase the number of exchanges the system is able to handle. As a result, a transaction now costs nearly $4 in fees on average and takes many tedious hours to confirm. For convenience, a dollar bill beats it hands down.

Not so dotty

If bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies are unlike anything else, what are they? The best comparison may be with the internet and the dotcom boom it created in the late 1990s. Like the internet, cryptocurrencies both embody innovation and give rise to more of it. They are experiments in themselves of how to maintain a public database (the “blockchain”) without anybody in particular, a bank, say, being in charge. Georgia, for instance, is using the technology to secure government records (see article). And blockchains are platforms for further experiments. Take Ethereum, for example. It allows all kinds of projects, from video games to online markets, to raise funds by issuing tokens—essentially private money that can be traded and used within these projects. Although such ICOs need to be handled with care, they could also generate intriguing inventions. Fans hope that they will give rise to decentralised upstarts taking aim at today’s oligopolistic technology giants, such as Amazon and Facebook.

This may seem like a dangerous way to generate innovation. Investors could lose their shirts; a crash in one asset class could spread to others, creating wobbles in the financial system. But in the case of cryptocurrencies such risks seem limited. It is hard to argue that those buying cryptocurrencies are unaware of the risks. And since they are still a fairly self-contained system, contagion is unlikely.

If there is such a thing as a healthy bubble, this is it. To be sure, regulators should watch out that cryptocurrencies do not become even more of a conduit for criminal activity, such as drug dealing. But they should think twice before coming down hard, particularly on ICOs. Being too spiky would not just prick a bubble, but also prevent a lot of the useful innovation that is likely to come about at the same time. This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Virtual vertigo"

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Walmart Wants to Track Delivery Drones With Blockchain Tech

  

Retail giant Walmart is seeking to patent a system

that uses blockchain technology to track packages delivered by unmanned drones. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the application, innocuously titled "Unmanned Aerial Delivery to Secure Location", on 25th May, and while that title may not give away much of Walmart's plans, the application itself reveals further details. As outlined, the retailer is looking at blockchain tech as a way to track shipments that involve flying drones.

The patent application explains:

"In some embodiments, the delivery box may also include a delivery encryption system comprising a blockchain for package tracking and authentication. Package tracking by blockchain may include elements including but not limited to location, supply chain transition, authentication of the courier and customer, ambient temperature of the container, temperature of the product if available, acceptable thresholds for ambient temperature of the product, package contents placed in the container system (products & goods), or a combination thereof."

It's a notable release from the global retailer, which has revealed some of its work with blockchain in the past. For example, last October, Walmart announced that it was working with IBM to develop a supply chain solution focused on China’s pork market, the largest in the world.

At the time, the retailer indicated that it was looking to apply the tech to other supply chains. And while it provided no hint that it was looking at blockchain as an underlying mechanism for aerial drones, Walmart told CoinDesk that it wanted to leverage blockchain to facilitate "fresher and faster deliveries". The application also details how the tech could be used to establish identity within the package system. "Authentication and access may be restricted to specific blockchain keys to access the contents of a parcel's payload, and may include specific times and locations," the authors write. "Access to the contents may be determined at the scheduling and purchase of a delivery or products."

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Governments may be big backers of
the blockchain

An anti-establishment technology faces an ironic turn of fortune

  

Nondescript building housing rows of humming computer servers

IN THE hills overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital sits nondescript building housing rows of humming computer servers. The data centre, operated by the BitFury Group, a technology company, was built to “mine” (cryptographically generate) bitcoin, the digital currency. But now it also uses the technology underlying Bitcoin, called the “blockchain”, to help secure Georgian government records. Experts are eyeing the experiment for proof of whether blockchain technology could alter the infrastructure of government everywhere. While the blockchain originally sought a foothold in financial services, and digital currencies attracted early attention from investors, now interest in using the technology in the public sector is growing. Brian Forde, a blockchain expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that governments will drive its adoption—an ironic twist for something that began as a libertarian counter model to centralized authority. Backers say it can be used for land registries, identity-management systems, health-care records and even elections.

The blockchain and similarly distributed ledgers are databases that are not maintained by a single entity, such as a bank or government agency, but collectively by a number of their users. All changes are encrypted in such a way that they cannot be altered or deleted without leaving a record of the data’s earlier state. In theory, all sorts of information, from birth records to business transactions, can be baked into a blockchain, creating permanent and secure records which cannot be tampered with, for instance by corrupt officials. Fans argue that, if properly implemented, distributed ledgers can bring improvements in transparency, efficiency, and trust. Naysayers respond that wider adoption may reveal security flaws. It is certainly early days for the blockchain: some compare it to the internet in the early 1990s, so growing pains are sure to follow. And blockchains can always be only part of the solution: no technology can turn crooked leaders straight and keep them, for instance, from feeding in spurious data.

Creating robust standards will also take time. And integrating databases across vast and complex bureaucracies will need huge investment. Yet governments do not seem fazed. According to a recent IBM survey of government leaders (conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, our sister company), nine in ten government organizations say they plan to invest in blockchain technology to help manage financial transactions, assets, contracts and regulatory compliance by next year. Valery Vavilov, BitFury’s head, says blockchains are not merely a business opportunity, but a way to change how governments serve their citizens. Born in Latvia, Mr. Vavilov watched as his parents “lost everything” after the Soviet Union collapsed. He then spent his early professional life writing software for the new Latvian government. He came to believe that blockchains could become the “foundation to build a trusted, transparent and auditable system”.

Elsewhere, Sweden is testing a blockchain-based land registry and Dubai wants distributed ledgers to power its entire government by 2020. The most active early adopters, however, have been former Soviet republics. Estonia, recognized as a pioneer in e-government, has long used blockchain-like technologies to secure health records and undergird its shared government database system, X-Road. Being a young country has its advantages. “It can be much easier to build a digital society if there are no legacy systems and you can start from scratch,” says Kaspar Korjus, head of Estonia’s e-residency program.

With BitFury’s help, Georgia’s National Agency of Public Registry has recently moved its land registry onto the blockchain. Some 160,000 registrations have already been processed. Thea Tsulukiani, the country’s Minister of Justice, believes that the blockchain will mean Georgian citizens can “sleep quietly” when it comes to property rights. The main barrier to an introduction, officials say, has not been technical, but educational. Even Ms. Tsulukiani did not know what the blockchain was when her deputies first proposed to use the technology. “We want to move slowly in terms of explaining to society, and quickly in terms of implementation,” she says.

BitFury has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Ukraine, which wants to become “one of the world’s leading blockchain nations”. The country’s e-governance agency sees the technology as a way to address “historic distrust of government,” says Aleksey Vyskub, its deputy's head. The agency has plans for all kinds of blockchain-based registries, including of land and businesses. As with most reforms in Ukraine, efforts to launch these projects have faced resistance from the entrenched bureaucracy. Yet, explains Mr. Vyskub, the technology’s novelty and complexity have provided some cover: “Most officials don’t understand what we’re doing, so they don’t sense the threat.”

Chuck Reynolds
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Critical Social Strategy Mistakes to Avoid

Businesses fail at social media marketing for so many reasons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strategy

  

Research shows that there are currently more than 2.8 billion social media users,

and a whopping 83 percent of Americans use social media. Based on this, it is an easily established fact that social media is a force to reckon with. Despite increasing social media adoption, available data shows that a good percentage of businesses are not getting results from their social media efforts: According to research from Simply Measured, the percentage of businesses “struggling to measure the return on investment” of their social media marketing efforts is as high as 60 percent. Businesses fail at social media marketing for so many reasons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strategy. Below are six really critical social strategy mistakes you should avoid:

Assuming your social media marketing operates in a vacuum

The No. 1 mistake most businesses make with their social media marketing strategies is that of assuming that their social media marketing operates in a vacuum. Many of these businesses believe that simply investing huge amounts in social media marketing, or going viral, will solve their business woes. Usually, it won’t. More often than not, your social media marketing efforts are aimed at achieving a certain goal. Even if this goal is not a direct goal, such as increasing sales, the fact remains that you’re probably not on social media just to be on social media.

To make social media marketing work for you, your strategy must incorporate the big picture. If your goal is to boost sales and conversions, how do your social media efforts tie into your sales and conversion efforts? It is essential to consider this factor when working on your social strategy.

Overextending yourself and your budget on social media

Picture two businesses: Business A spends about $2,000 monthly on social media content and is able to create 200 pieces of content and distribute them to 10 different social media sites. Business B spends just $500 monthly on social media content and is able to create 800 pieces of content and distribute them to 10 different social media sites. Which of these businesses will get the most ROI? I think we can safely assume that it is business B.

While so many factors influence social media ROI, at the end of the day, social media budget doesn’t play as much of a role as many people assume it does. So what mistake is business A making that business B is avoiding? That of overextension. Simply put, business B has mastered the art of maximizing its budget. This is possible in several ways:

  • Repurposing content:
    Whereas business A keeps creating original content, business B repurposes the same piece of content into one-dozen different formats. Costs of production go down while the quantity of content goes up.
  • Content syndication:
    Business B is able to have the same piece of content distributed across multiple different channels, while business A focuses on having original content on every social channel.

Not realizing the importance of the mere-exposure effect

It is a well-established fact that more exposure to something increases our liking for it, regardless of how good it actually is. Psychologists have coined the term “familiarity principle” or “the mere-exposure effect” to describe this phenomenon. Interestingly, BuzzSumo’s recent research that analyzed more than 100 million pieces of content came to support the mere-exposure effect. The study found that sharing old pieces of content over and over again on social media can boost conversions by up to 686 percent.

Not being well prepared on the back end

Every business using social media needs to be familiar with Tina Henson’s story. With her startup taking up, Henson realized that there was an opportunity to generate some viral traffic and boost sales by tapping into the holiday season buzz. So she created a marketing campaign and things went bigger than she anticipated. She suddenly got a lot of attention, and visitors to her site suddenly increased by 40 times what she got on an average day. Unfortunately, she wasn’t prepared. Her site crashed, and she lost several thousand people who came to her site during her campaign.

Henson’s isn’t an isolated incident. Many businesses make preparations to key into a social media buzz, only to end up losing out. While your site might not even crash, being slow by one second could significantly decrease your conversions. There are so many reliable and inexpensive web-hosting options, so make sure your site is prepared.

Only targeting your offers to your followers

If, as a brand, your social media strategy mainly involves simply targeting your offers to your followers, you’re missing out on a lot of sales and conversions. According to research from Edison Research, only 33 percent of Americans have ever followed a brand on social media. It also doesn’t help that most social media sites significantly reduce your reach to followers. If you’re only targeting your offers to your social media followers, then you’re missing out a big deal. Instead, explore targeted advertising options, consider reaching out to influencers and brands that share a similar audience and encourage them to share your offers and regularly tap into trends to promote your brand.

Playing the quantity game

It is essential to realize that social media isn’t simply a numbers game. While numbers indeed do matter, it isn’t only about numbers—channel-audience fit and engagement are more important metrics to pay attention to. If you run a services business that targets professionals, for example, LinkedIn will yield more results compared to Twitter. Focus on being on the right social channels and put in more effort into creating engaged, loyal followers than in boosting your follower count.

Chuck Reynolds
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Inbound Marketing.

 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Setting Up A Strategic Partnership

One of the key challenges any novice business development professional faces is how to forge lasting partnerships that provide mutual value.If executed well, strategic partnerships can have a great impact on a business, helping it grow exponentially with overall lower risk. Likewise, a strategic partnership that fails can have catastrophic effects that your company may never recover from.So how can you build a strong, lasting relationship with a business partner to make sure your partnership will thrive? Below, 15 members of Forbes Business Development Council list some of the most common mistakes a rookie biz dev pro can make when selling a strategic partnership.
 

   

Read this before you pitch a partner on a Long-Term Relationship.

Over-Promising Just To Get The Deal

One of the most common mistakes is over-promising or saying “yes” just to get the deal. Keeping your word is one of the most important pieces of building a professional reputation, especially in business development. If you expect people to take you seriously, you must keep your word. People you meet end up in all types of positions. You may even change companies. They will never forget your character. – Amy Cooper,  VortexLegal

Failing To Forge Win-Win Relationships

In my experience, successful long-term strategic partnerships are ones where win-win relationships (i.e. fair deals) are formed early on. As tempting as it may be to negotiate a one-sided agreement (even when you might have the leverage to do so), I would strongly advise against this if your expectation is that the relationship lasts over time. Balanced relationships tend to be much more important than legal contracts. – Jeff  Herbst, Nvidia

Lacking Transparency And Honesty

One mistake that business development professionals make in forming a strategic partnership is a lack of transparency and honesty about the revenue expectations, the cultural similarities and differences, and the simultaneous lack of vetting and checking references. – Barbara Read, Lifescript

Over-Trusting Your Partner

When setting new strategic business partnerships, too many novice business development professionals trust their partners too much and do not build the necessary protection for their intellectual property into their contracts. While you should partner with people you trust, sound legal advice on how to protect your company and its IP is critical to a successful relationship. – Joe Dooley, Ascendum

Not Cultivating Relationships After Initial Agreement

The biggest mistake is not cultivating and growing the relationship after the initial agreement has been "signed." In many instances, the business development professional does not work to get something out of the relationship, which results in something that looks good on paper or a website, but in reality, does not contribute to the revenue or growth of the company. – Mike Michalakis, Shindig

Not Understanding How You Can Help

The biggest mistake business development professionals make when creating strategic partnerships is not having a clear understanding of how they can help the company they are approaching. The best method is to understand the value you can provide to the potential partner whilst having a clear understanding of what you need help with from their end. The key is to move slow and methodically. – Dane Matheson, Sourcebits

Ignoring The Future Impact Of A Deal

The mistake I often see junior biz dev people make is when they don't review the deal for its future impact. In the very narrow case of a deal impacting a future acquisition, questions such as, "Is the deal term transferable?" or "Does the deal set up a legal roadblock for a future acquirer?" are not usually top of mind for folks who have not "gone through the ringer." – Nitin Gupta, Sticky, Inc.

Forgetting A Relationship Is Built Over Time

One mistake novice business development people make is to think that a deal is over. Most of the time, in business and in life, you can revisit or change an existing relationship with thinking outside of the box, defining a new strategic approach, and good old-fashioned finesse. Always remember you advance a relationship in time, even if currently your potential partner is not interested. – Jack Wagner, Zedo Inc

Lacking Clarity And Flexibility

The No. 1 issue is the lack of clarity about what each party's objectives are and what each of them is committed to contributing. The other issue is flexibility to make the relationship work. Just like in human relationships, business partner relationships have their ups and downs, and maintaining a commitment and flexibility is crucial, rather than just watching the bottom line. – Hanna Zubko, IntellectEU

Building A Partnership Just For The Sake Of It

Getting a partnership in place for the sake of having a partnership rather than building an efficient and productive business relationship that will generate revenue thanks to this partnership. Build it if there's an actual business case. – Idan Maron, Applicaster

Not Thinking About The Benefits For Your Partner

Successful business development folks think about how to build long-term, mutually beneficial partner relationships. It's easy to sit around and discuss how various partnerships will benefit your own organization. What's not always obvious, but is a key ingredient for a successful partnership, is to have a compelling answer to the question, "How does this benefit our partner?" –  Matt Daniel,  WayBetter, Inc.

Failing To See Each Partner’s Value

They fail to see the benefits that each offers the other. If a partner can not clearly define to the other the value they will contribute, then the partnership will be a waste of time. On the other hand, if a value can be found and common customers can be identified, then the partnership can expand opportunities that make the sum of the parts greater than the whole. – Adam Feiner, FirstFuel

Misrepresenting Your Organization’s Capabilities

Not being transparent about expectations and internal limitations is a big mistake. Misrepresenting your organization's capabilities is a classic recipe for failure down the road. – Kabir Mathur, Kiip

Having Only One Point Of Contact In An Organization

One mistake that can lead to failed relationships is not having multiple contacts within a partner organization. Whether it's during the early phases of structuring the partnership, or in the later stages of an established deal, having your one contact leave the organization can be a disaster if you don't have other channels to explore. – Jonathan Yagel,  Spire Labs

Focusing Too Much On PR, Too Little On Strategy

I often see people focus too much on the PR or launch and too little on ensuring the companies are aligned with a strategy that creates value for both companies in the longer term. – Scott Porter, Box

Chuck Reynolds
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Massive cryptocurrency botnet used leaked NSA exploits weeks before WCry

Campaign that flew under the radar used hacked
computers to mine
Monero currency.

  

On Friday, ransomware called WannaCry used leaked hacking tools

stolen from the National Security Agency to attack an estimated 200,000 computers in 150 countries. On Monday, researchers said the same weapons-grade attack kit was used in a much-earlier and possibly larger-scale hack that made infected computers part of a botnet that mined cryptocurrency. Like WannaCry, this earlier, previously unknown attack used an exploit codenamed EternalBlue and a backdoor called DoublePulsar, both of which were NSA-developed hacking tools leaked in mid-April by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers. But instead of installing ransomware, the campaign pushed cryptocurrency mining software known as Adylkuzz. WannaCry, which gets its name from a password hard-coded into the exploit, is also known as WCry.

Kafeine, a well-known researcher at security firm Proofpoint, said the attack started no later than May 2 and may have begun as early as April 24. He said the campaign was surprisingly effective at compromising Internet-connected computers that have yet to install updates Microsoft released in early March to patch the critical vulnerabilities in the Windows implementation of the Server Message Block protocol. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, Kafeine wrote:

In the course of researching the WannaCry campaign, we exposed a lab machine vulnerable to the EternalBlue attack. While we expected to see WannaCry, the lab machine was actually infected with an unexpected and less noisy guest: the cryptocurrency miner Adylkuzz. We repeated the operation several times with the same result: within 20 minutes of exposing a vulnerable machine to the open web, it was enrolled in an Adylkuzz mining botnet.

Upon successful exploitation via EternalBlue, machines are infected with DoublePulsar. The DoublePulsar backdoor then downloads and runs Adylkuzz from another host. Once running, Adylkuzz will first stop any potential instances of itself already running and block SMB communication to avoid further infection. It then determines the public IP address of the victim and download[s] the mining instructions, cryptominer, and cleanup tools.It appears that at any given time there are multiple Adylkuzz command and control (C&C) servers hosting the cryptominer binaries and mining instructions.

Symptoms of the attack include a loss of access to networked resources and system sluggishness. Kafeine said that some people who thought their systems were infected in the WannaCry outbreak were in fact hit by the Adylkuzz attack. The researcher went on to say this overlooked attack may have limited the spread of WannaCry by shutting down SMB networking to prevent the compromised machines from falling into the hands of competing botnets. Proofpoint researchers have identified more than 20 hosts set up to scan the Internet and infect vulnerable machines they find. The researchers are aware of more than a dozen active Adylkuzz control servers. The botnet then mined Monero, a cryptocurrency that bills itself as being fully anonymous, as opposed to Bitcoin, in which all transactions are traceable.

Monday's report came the same day that a security researcher who works for Google found digital fingerprints tying a version of WCry from February to Lazarus Group, a hacking operation with links to North Korea. In a report published last month, Kaspersky Lab researchers said Bluenoroff, a Lazarus Group offshoot responsible for financial profit, installed cryptocurrency-mining software on computers it hacked to generate Monero coins. "The software so intensely consumed system resources that the system became unresponsive and froze," Kaspersky Lab researchers wrote.

Assembling a botnet the size of the one that managed WannaCry and keeping it under wraps for two to three weeks is a major coup. Monday's revelation raises the possibility that other botnets have been built on the shoulders of the NSA but have yet to be identified.

Promoted Comments

  • Everyone infected with Adylkuzz can regard himself as highly fortunate.
    Because Adylkuzz closed the infection route to prevent reinfection as a side effect it also closed the infection route against WCry. And compared to a deadly WCry infection the Adylkuzz infection is just a mere cold.
    Without the prior Adylkuzz bot, the impact of WCry would have been even worse.
    119 posts | registered 10/28/2008
  • We got a 64 core Linux server (with Xeon Phi processor) hacked on April 15 to mine Monero coins. The hack went through a cups (< 2.03) bug, unpatched in the latest patched CentOS 7.3 distro, allowing to install without any remote login a vmware image. Then a user "support" was created, using the monero binary over the 64 cores (they missed to use 256 possible threads actually) over the Easter week end, and communicating with chinese ip addresses. Every 5 min the crontab file was ensuring the hack would restart in case of interruption.

    The server has been reinstalled with a more recent Linux distro and no printer service.Using a botnet to mine cryptocurrency is also especially ill-conceived in the first place since the average CPU/GPU configuration is not particularly powerful… In fact, the majority of computers are likely to use iGPUs, so even across so many computers, the mining output of such a botnet is actually not that productive compared to dedicated GPU mining operations.

    Monero is known for being much more friendly to CPU miners due to the use of a different Proof-of-work algorithm that is AES heavy and uses a 2MB scratch. This makes it optimal for mid-high end desktop PCs that have multiple cores with large cache sizes. To date, there are no known ASICs for monero, and most GPUs only get about 10x over decent CPUs. Scale that to a large botnet, and you could collect double-digit chunks of the hash rate.

    Chuck Reynolds
    Contributor
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Start investing in bitcoin and earn up to 45% ROI Monthly

  

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3). Senior trader – 5btc.

All options come with a membership processing fee of 0.05 BTC. At the “Trader” level you invest 1 to 4.99 BTC. Once you have everything in order and your funds in the account, you are guaranteed to receive 0.4% ROI. Now with the “Trader” account, you are granted the 0.4% ROI for 12 months instead of 8 months you get with the “Apprentice”.

Next, you can sign up for “Senior Trader” with an investment of 5 BTC. Now you can invest more if you want, but the minimum is 5 BTC in order to be in this category. In the “Senior Trader” compensation plan you are guaranteed 0.45% ROI daily for one full year.

The only thing you need to be aware of when signing up to join the compensation plan is the 25% maintenance fee on ROI that is mandatory to be paid every four months. If you want to refer people, you earn some bonuses. It is not compulsory to refer people at all: To earn through the company’s referral program. The referral program goes down eight levels deep, you can be sure to earn a little extra cash while still collecting your daily ROI. How much you make all depends on what plan you signed up for.

If you are an “Apprentice” you will earn 10% for those you recruit on level one. You will then earn 3% for those in level two and 2% for those you recruit who are placed on level four. Once you get that ranking you can fill up all eight levels. Apprentice only allows you to go down to level four, while Trader only allows you to go down as far as level 6. Other compensations are also available

Gift items such as Rolex watches, Car Awards, Traveling and international training opportunities. You make your money work for you and also enjoy time freedom in grand lifestyle.TradeCoinClub The Worlds First Licensed Top 10 Auto-Trading Cryptocurrency Platform. Join us in pre-launch to be a pioneer. Contact me asap to join.

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

Citi Launches Blockchain-
Based Payments Service with Nasdaq for Private Equity

    

A major U.S. bank and financial exchange have married two blockchain-based systems

to enable clients who are raising funds or swapping private shares through Nasdaq to take advantage of payment services provided by Citi. The Citi-Nasdaq partnership is one of the first examples of an enterprise blockchain system to enter production. Citi says the project went live on Monday in an announcement at the annual Consensus conference in New York City. Over the past year, many banks and financial institutions have completed proofs of concept for projects that rely on blockchain or distributed ledger technology. But so far, few of those projects have graduated into functioning systems.

Nasdaq launched a blockchain-based platform called Linq in 2015 designed for private equity, but the system lacks the ability to process payments—it is mainly used to record ownership of shares. Investors or issuers had to leave the system and initiate a wire transfer to pay for shares once they were traded on Linq. With Monday’s announcement, Nasdaq integrated Linq with Citi’s WorldLink Payment Services through a new offering that Citi c CitiConnect for Blockchain. The offering allows Nasdaq to transfer a payment request from Linq to Citi as soon as a share is bought or sold. The bank then automatically processes that request through WorldLink, which Citi clients primarily use to make payments that require foreign currency exchange.

To make the integration work, Citi and Nasdaq developers had to create several new features, including a way for Linq to automatically retrieve an exchange rate request from Citi in a customer’s local currency, share that rate with the customer, allow the customer to accept the rate, and share the customer’s wiring instructions with Citi. (Individual investors need not hold a Citi bank account in order to participate.)

At first, the Citi-Nasdaq collaboration will focus on structured liquidity programs. The popularity of these programs has grown in step with a broader trend: Increasingly, U.S. companies are staying private for longer. As a result, early investors and employees who hold equity in a company must also wait longer to access the cash that their shares represent. Structured liquidity programs allow a group of early investors or employees to sell their shares for cash to new investors long before the company goes public.

Within Linq, a record of those shares will be preserved on a distributed ledger to which only the parties involved in the trade have access. Similarly, through CitiConnect for Blockchain, a record of payment is also added to the same ledger as soon as it is processed. On both sides of the system, this creates a “golden record” of the transaction and payment that either party can refer back to in case of disputes. The Citi and Nasdaq systems are built on a unified code base called Chain Core provided by Chain, a company that specializes in applying blockchain technology to financial services. Chain Core includes application program interfaces and software development kits to allow customers to adapt it for their own purposes. Nasdaq and Citi Venture have both invested in Chain.

“Nasdaq Linq, which we built on top of Chain Core, is completely different from the CitiConnect for Blockchain product,” says Adam Ludwig, CEO of Chain. “Both connect to a Chain Core underneath, those Chain Cores talk to each other on a shared ledger, they form a network, but they have their own separate IP.”  Chain, Citi, and Nasdaq began working on the project in April of 2016. Private equity has become a popular focus area for those interested in finance and blockchain technology because it has a low volume of trades. Fund managers and entrepreneurs may spend weeks or months completing a single deal.

Some blockchains have shown a limited ability to scale, which raises concerns about the technology’s ability to handle much larger volumes of transactions within seconds. To stress test Chain’s technology, Nasdaq required the company to run an entire day’s worth of trades from the public exchange through their system—which Ludwin says consists of more transactions than the Bitcoin blockchain handles in a year. “Nasdaq knew there’s no way you bring this type of infrastructure to run the public equities business first,” Ludwin says. “You don’t start there. You start in an area where you have more control over the end-to-end process.”

For decades, Nasdaq has provided a central clearinghouse for investors to trade shares of public companies through the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Nasdaq’s Private Market, launched just four years ago, was Nasdaq’s attempt to allow private funds and companies to exchange options and shares with investors and employees. With its 2015 debut, Linq provided private parties operating in Nasdaq’s Private Market with the ability to issue or receive a digital record of ownership linked to a blockchain. For a private company, these digital records could theoretically replace paper stock certificates. With the new payment service integration, a company or fund manager could potentially raise a round of investments entirely through Linq.

Since its launch, it’s not clear how many of Nasdaq’s clients have opted to use Linq. Neither Nasdaq nor Citi were willing to share projections for the volume of trades they expect to pass from Nasdaq to CitiConnect for Blockchain in the project’s first year. At the height of activity, there could be hundreds to thousands of transactions flowing through Linq, according to someone familiar with the platform who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about it publicly. Nelson Griggs of Nasdaq said during the announcement on Monday at Consensus that a small transaction on the broader Nasdaq Private Market would hold a value of $50 million, and a large one would consist of hundreds of millions of dollars.

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