The Criminal Underworld Is Dropping Bitcoin for Another Currency

Bitcoin is losing its luster with some of its earliest and most avid fans — criminals — giving rise to a new breed of virtual currency.

Privacy coins such as monero, designed to avoid tracking, have climbed faster over the past two months as law enforcers adopt software tools to monitor people using bitcoin. A slew of analytic firms such as Chainalysis are getting better at flagging digital hoards linked to crime or money laundering, alerting exchanges and preventing conversion into traditional cash.

The European Union’s law-enforcement agency, Europol, raised alarms three months ago, writing in a report that “other cryptocurrencies such as monero, ethereum and Zcash are gaining popularity within the digital underground.” Online extortionists, who use ransomware to lock victims’ computers until they fork over a payment, have begun demanding those currencies instead. On Dec. 18 hackers attacked up to 190,000 WordPress sites per hour to get them to produce monero, according to security company Wordfence.

For ransomware attacks, monero is now “one of the favorites, if not the favorite,” Matt Suiche, founder of Dubai-based security firm Comae Technologies, said in a phone interview.

Monero's Rally

Monero outperformed bitcoin in the final months of 2017

Source: Coinmarketcap.com

Note: Figures shows percentage change in price compared with Oct. 31

Monero quadrupled in value to $349 in the final two months of 2017, according to coinmarketcap.com, placing it among a number of upstart coins that rose faster than bitcoin, the world’s most valuable digital currency. Bitcoin roughly doubled in the same period, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Monero’s price has climbed another 7 percent so far this year, according to coinmarketcap.com.

Read more: Ripple’s surge makes it the second-biggest cryptocurrency

In monero’s case, criminals are snapping it up because bitcoin’s underlying technology can work against them. Called blockchain, the digital ledger meticulously records which addresses send and receive transactions, including the exact time and amount — great data to use as evidence. Match an address to a crime and then watch the bitcoin universe carefully, and you can see the funds disappear and reappear in other locations.

Sleuths have developed databases and techniques for digesting that information to eventually nab wrongdoers. Say, for example, a coffee shop in Berkeley is known to have a certain bitcoin address, and a wallet used by an extortionist transfers the same amount there every morning at 9 a.m. Police can stop by and make an arrest.

Started in 2014, monero is very different. It encrypts the recipient’s address on its blockchain and generates fake addresses to obscure the real sender. It also obscures the amount of the transaction.

The techniques are so potent that software that flags coins suspected of being obtained through crime now tags just about anything converted into or out of monero as high risk, according to Pawel Kuskowski, chief executive officer of Coinfirm, which helps exchanges and other companies avoid tainted money. That compares with only about 10 percent of bitcoin, he said.

“What we treat ‘high risk’ is something that’s anonymizing funds,” he said in a phone interview. “How are you going to prove that these funds are not coming from illegal sources?”

Read a QuickTake: All about bitcoin, blockchain and their crypto world

Monero is one of many privacy-focused coins, each offering different security features. Its main competitor, Zcash — which isn’t known to have a significant criminal following — can offer even better privacy protection. Instead of creating fake addresses to hide senders, it encrypts their true address. That makes it impossible to identify senders by looking for correlations in addresses used in multiple transactions to pinpoint the real one — a vulnerability for monero. Developers of the coin have made progress in reducing it, though.

Still, Princeton University researchers recently developed a tool that helps them analyze Zcash transactions at least to some extent — but they haven’t been able to crack monero. And Zcash high-security features can’t be used on disposable burner phones, a favorite of criminals eager to stay anonymous.

Developers behind monero say they simply created a coin that protects privacy. Most people use it legitimately — they just don’t want others to know whether they’re buying a coffee or a car, Riccardo Spagni, core developer at monero, said in a phone interview.

“As a community, we certainly don’t advocate for monero’s use by criminals,” Spagni said. “At the same time if you have a decentralized currency, it’s not like you can prevent someone from using it. I imagine that monero provides massive advantages for criminals over bitcoin, so they would use monero.”

‘Utility’ Too

Yet criminals are probably only a fraction of monero’s users, according to Lucas Nuzzi, a senior analyst at Digital Asset Research, which provides research to institutional investors.

“As with any disruptive technology, many of the initial use cases revolve around illicit activities,” he wrote in an email. But as everyday people grow concerned about privacy and surveillance, “there is utility in these currencies that go beyond just a means of exchange for illicit goods.”

For related news and information:
Bitcoin price graph: XBT Curncy GP
Cryptocurrency monitor: VCCY

For more on cryptocurrencies, check out the  podcast: 

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-02/criminal-underworld-is-dropping-bitcoin-for-another-currency

    Bitcoin Is Leaving Other Digital Coins in the Dust

    Uncertainty surrounding another possible split in bitcoin is weighing on the worth of the numerous other digital tokens that have actually been released this year as the rate of the most significant cryptocurrency skyrockets.

    &#x 201C; Everyone constantly thinks of going to bitcoin as a conservative position, &#x 201D; stated Stan Miroshnik, president of the Element Group, which assists start-ups with preliminary coin offerings.

    While bitcoin &#x 2019; s underlying network is slated to go through a significant software application upgrade in November to increase deal speed and lower expenses, it might likewise trigger disturbances. Since it generally provides higher liquidity in times of unpredictability, financiers are playing it safe and moving funds from other digital currencies into bitcoin.

    And there is the bonus offer of extra coins being released to owners if designers divided the blockchain, the digitized journal on which the bitcoin is based. That currently occurred today with the production of bitcoin gold, which happened 3 months after bitcoin money was produced.

    As bitcoin flirts with another record high, rates of lots of tokens that startups offered to raise capital are crashing . The Bletchley Ethereum Token Index is down almost 16 percent in the last month. Around 10 percent of the cash purchased tokens has actually currently drained due to the fact that of the software application switch, inning accordance with Lucas Nuzzi , a senior expert at Digital Asset Research.

    That might suggest a disrespectful awakening for the numerous business preparing offerings. Some 75 ICOs are currently arranged for November, up from 64 last month, inning accordance with CoinSchedule.

    Some business, such as virtual-goods trader Wax , are changing the timing of ICOs due to the fact that of the software application modification. Numerous offerings raise funds through bitcoin, and financiers #x &aren 2019; t parting with those. The switch, understood in market terminology as a tough fork, might likewise cause other disturbances. Coinbase, the leading online exchange, will stop bitcoin trading for 24 hours prior to the upgrade.

    “”Forks have lots of unpredictabilities,” “stated Malcolm CasSelle, president of Wax, which pressed the start of its presale back a week to Oct. 17. “”Many exchanges #x &wear 2019; t permit funds to move. That friction indicates token sales are decreased.””

    Miners, whose computer systems support the network, are divided on whether they &#x 2019;d assistance the modification, called SegWit2x, or not. That might cause other problems, such as sluggish deal times.

    “”The markets appear to believe that the fork will go efficiently,” “stated Kyle Samani, handling partner at crypto hedge fund Multicoin Capital. “” I do not think that it will. If things go additional improperly, it might tank the entire market, or we might see a significant flight to bitcoin/ether.” “Ether is the second-largest cryptocurrency in market price after bitcoin.

    Some financiers are even doubling down on bitcoin, hoping a split will bring extra earnings. Since not all computer systems running the network will change to the brand-new software application, that will lead to development of 2 contending networks, each running its own variation of the currency. Holders of bitcoin will get both coins.

    Bitcoin money, the brand-new version of the currency when it divided for the very first time last summer season, rallied for nearly a month prior to decreasing. After a 2nd split today, bitcoin continued its increase, while holders likewise got bitcoin gold, which is presently worth about $122 . Bitcoin &#x 2019; s rate has more than doubled, to $5,956, because the time of the very first split.

    “”ICO tokens are not the hot story at the minute, however might go back to the leading edge of individuals &#x 2019; s creativities as the bitcoin fever trade relaxes and a look for yield returns in other markets,” “stated Charles Hayter, co-founder of market tracker CryptoCompare .

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-26/bitcoin-dividend-play-is-leaving-other-digital-coins-in-the-dust

      Bitcoin Pioneer Says New Coin to Work on Many Blockchains

      Jeff Garzik, among a handful of crucial designers who assisted develop the underlying software application for bitcoin that is referred to as blockchain, has actually seen its drawbacks firsthand. He chose to produce a much better digital currency.

      He &#x 2019; s calling it Metronome and states it will be the very first that can leap in between various blockchains. Coins that are utilized for applications on the Ethereum blockchain will be able to move to Ethereum Classic prior to leaping onto&#xA 0; Qtum or Rootstock, which links with the bitcoin blockchain, stated Garzik.

      The movement implies that if one blockchain passes away out as the outcome of infighting amongst designers or eased usage, metronome owners can move their holdings in other places. That should assist the coins maintain worth, and guarantee their durability, Garzik, co-founder of start-up Bloq that developed metronome, stated in a phone interview. It will be revealed Tuesday at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas.

      “”Institutional financiers ought to be really thrilled to see something like this,” “Matthew Roszak, the other co-founder of Bloq and chairman of market supporter Chamber of Digital Commerce, stated in a phone interview. “”We &#x 2019; ve developed a thousand-year cryptocurrency, something that &#x 2019; s constructed to last.””

      That &#x 2019; s an issue for lots of digital currencies. Infighting amongst designers and different fans, and the sluggish speed of improvements on the bitcoin blockchain have actually assisted to restrict usage. Both bitcoin and its primary competitor, ethereum, have actually divided into numerous variations.

      More divides might be coming– partially, thanks to Garzik, who is a advocate of and a designer for an upgrade to the bitcoin network called SegWit2x, which uses one method to accelerate deals. That split might occur in November.

      Read more on the brand-new model of bitcoin, called bitcoin gold

      New blockchains are likewise being released on a monthly basis, developing unpredictability for financiers and resulting in wild swings in numerous cryptocurrencies &#x 2019; rates. While bitcoin &#x 2019; s cost has actually increased almost sixfold this year, a split-off variation, bitcoin money, is down 23 percent given that its creation in July, inning accordance with CoinMarketCap.

      While looking for to side-step a few of these difficulties, metronome will have a few of its own. It &#x 2019; s beginning with absolutely no users, compared to 35 million active bitcoin users a month. There are more than 1,100 tokens and currencies contending for users, inning accordance with CoinMarketCap. The token will initially be released on ethereum, and assistance for ethereum other and timeless blockchains is anticipated within months.

      Metronome &#x 2019; s coins will be produced and supported by self-governing dispersed software application that isn &#x 2019; t managed by anybody, and can &#x 2019; t be altered. This software application will auction off metronome, starting in December, and keep and utilize the profits to improve the currency &#x 2019; s rate. The remainder of the task will be open sourced, so anybody will have the ability to construct applications with metronome in mind.

      Bloq will offer designer tools for business users. The business and others that assisted promote the cryptocurrency and develop will keep 2 million metronome coins, from a preliminary chest of 10 million to be auctioned off in December. Every 24 hours, 2,880 brand-new coins will be contributed to the supply.

      Read more on the speed of preliminary coin offerings

      Metronome avoids an issue that &#x 2019; s typical for customers that wish to leap from one blockchain– state, bitcoin– to another. They need to go to an online exchange, and offer their bitcoins and purchase another cryptocurrency. That consists of exchange costs, plus the danger of losing on any gratitude of the currency they discard. With metronome, they #x &won 2019; t need to do either.

      Metronome owners will have the ability to get a digital invoice for eliminating their coins from one blockchain. They can send out the invoice to another blockchain, to include metronome there.

      The brand-new cryptocurrency will make it simple for individuals to register for repeating membership payments, and let many payments to be sent out in one batch, Garzik stated.

      “”If I had a fresh start of paper this is exactly what I would create,” “Garzik stated. If others will concur, it stays to be seen.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-24/bitcoin-pioneer-says-new-coin-to-work-on-multiple-blockchains

        How To Use Bitcoin Digital Wallet Software

        For those who are still unfamiliar with the concept of Bitcoin, the concept behind having a digital currency wallet might be equally confusing. This article will help explain what a Bitcoin is, why it has become so popular so fast, and how to get the most out of using your Bitcoin digital wallet. Bitcoin itself is something called a “cryptocurrency,” which means that it is 100% digital and is protected and maintained by a very advanced set of military grade public key algorithms that require solving complex mathematical equations.

        A Currency Powered By An Algorithm

        The computer network that solves these equations is peer-to-peer in nature, meaning that it is a collection of interconnected computers from all over the world. There is a very large file that some digital wallets will require you to download called the block chain, which is the sum total of every Bitcoin transaction that has ever occurred. One of the implications of the block chain as part of the Bitcoin algorithm is that every single transaction is recorded permanently as a matter of public record, meaning that Bitcoin is not actually anonymous and can be used to identify the people behind certain transactions.

        Purchasing And Paying In Bitcoins

        If you want to own or purchase bitcoins then the first step that you need to take is download the free digital wallet software to either your computer or your smart phone. Many people choose to make use of the smart phone version of the digital wallet because it allows them to carry their bitcoins with them as well as make purchases in person by paying with bitcoins. The way that you can pay using bitcoins in person instead of just on the internet is that the merchant can use their smart phone to generate an invoice that has a QR code, which is a square shaped black and white box that you can capture with your smart phone to complete the transaction.

        Protect And Secure Your Digital Wallet

        Because the new Bitcoin cryptocurrency is completely digital, it is important to be extremely cautious when it comes to protecting your digital wallet to make sure that your money is not compromised in any way. It is very important to keep your private password safe so that you never forget it and so nobody else has access to it, and it is also a bad idea to ever post your Bitcoin address on the internet. By learning more about Bitcoin and how to use the digital wallet software you can decide whether you want to convert some of your money into Bitcoins in order to take advantage of the new decentralized cryptocurrency.

        Discover the money making secrets of Bitcoin power users by clicking on Bitcoin Secrets.

        This article may be reprinted with a link to http://Bitcoin-Secrets.com/