Why is my keyboard connected to the cloud?

First cab off that rank should be input devices, because what sort of maniac thinks the advantages of a roaming cloud-based configuration outweighs the potential explosion in surface area to attack and compromise? That maniac is called Razer, and it has been connecting keyboards to its Synapse software for years.

At last week’s CES, Razer took it a step further when it announced it is adding support for users to use Alexa to control their peripherals.

“Alexa, ask Chroma to change my lighting profile to FPS mode,” Razer cheerily proclaims as an example of its upcoming functionality.

For this to work, the software that usually controls keyboard and mice settings needs to be connected to Amazon Alexa.

It’s a 2-for-1 cloud connection, because once you embrace the idea of Razer’s servers being secure, then you’ve already accepted a more risky proposition than using just Amazon.

Last month, Razer faced blowback when it launched a cryptocurrency mining application called Cortex, where users would be rewarded with its Silver funny money.

“The new app to put snoozing machines to work, solving blockchain puzzles in the background in exchange for sweet, sweet Silver,” Razer said at the time.

Enter Tavis Ormandy, security researcher for Google Project Zero and scourge of buggy software makers, who took a look at the software and was stunned.

“Holy moly, I just installed this. WHY IS CEF (chromium embedded) REMOTE DEBUGGING ENABLED AND LISTENING BY DEFAULT (!?!?!?!),” Ormandy tweeted.

“I don’t have any razer hardware to test, but they probably (like, *right now*) need to fix that.”

To Razer’s credit, the company fixed the issue within 24 hours; on the other hand, it allowed remote command execution in the first place.

Also in Razer’s favour is that it acknowledged it was responsible, which is more than can be said for Gigabyte.

On December 18, SecureAuth detailed an exchange of when it discovered that software utilities for Gigabyte and Aorus motherboards had privilege escalation vulnerabilities.

“There is ring0 memcpy-like functionality … allowing a local attacker to take complete control of the affected system,” SecureAuth said.

In trying to resolve what was clearly a serious issue, the security company could not locate a proper contact within Gigabyte, and headed over to its technical support team.

“Gigabyte is a hardware company and they are not specialized in software,” Gigabyte told SecureAuth on two different occasions in May.

In the end, SecureAuth said Gigabyte eventually responded by saying its products did not have any issues.

If a vendor with the experience and sales of Gigabyte responds by denying responsibility for its software, it doesn’t bode well for smaller players.

Gigabyte should stop distributing software as long as it keeps on throwing out the excuse that it is a hardware company.

And it is no small matter, because the utilities that the Taiwanese manufacturer puts out are built to manipulate hardware settings, and flash BIOSes.

If a bad actor was looking for a shortcut into a modern Windows system, trying to find your way in via Microsoft’s code will be time wasting when the camembert-like underbelly of a modern system is likely to be crap software from peripheral makers.

That tactic is not new, but with connectivity exploding, things are likely to get worse before it gets better, as with most things in the cyber realm. 

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for Groceries – Bitcoin News

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesKiev’s historic Bessarabsky market, an indoor marketplace located in the center of the capital city, is accepting cryptocurrencies, the public communal company that operates it announced on Facebook. Locals and visitors can now buy fresh produce with a variety of digital coins thanks to a partnership with crypto payments processor Paytomat.

Currently supported are payments in bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin core (BTC), bitcoin gold (BTG), litecoin (LTC), ethereum (ETH), nano, dash, waves, EOS, and NEM. During this initial, experimental stage customers can spend their crypto at a fruits and vegetables stand. However, a vegan street food cafe at the market is also preparing to launch crypto payments soon. Purchases are made through a QR code scan and sellers should receive the payments in fiat Ukrainian hryvnias after instant conversion.

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesThe cryptocurrency payment option will offer buyers a new experience and attract crypto enthusiasts, according to Bessarabsky market’s managing director, Nikolay Kovalchuk, quoted by the Ukrainian outlet Bykvu. He also hopes for an increase in customer loyalty that will lead to sales growth. The market, which is one of Kiev’s landmark sites, is frequented by foreign tourists as well, and for many of them crypto payments are known and convenient.

‘Babushka’ Shows How Easy It Is to Spend Crypto

The project, which has been named “Babushka” (Granny), aims to demonstrate the simplicity of using cryptocurrency in everyday life. According to Alexander Kurin, operations director at Paytomat in Ukraine, the hardest part is to convince sellers they are going to get their hryvnias after the crypto payment is processed. He told Forklog:

The main idea is a symbiosis between traditions and innovations. We chose the Bessarabsky market because it is a well-known tourist destination, and cryptocurrencies are a universal means of payment in any country.

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesPaytomat has been working to introduce cryptocurrency payments in a number of cafes, restaurants, online stores, and even clinics, schools, and beauty salons, the Ukrainian outlet notes. Businesses and merchants using its services are spread across Europe, from Ukraine and Georgia in the East to the Netherlands and Spain in the West.

The platform offers several payment solutions including POS terminal, web panel, QR code and WordPress plugin. As news.Bitcoin.com reported earlier this year, the Paytomat supports 11 cryptocurrencies and works with more than 330 restaurants and stores.

What do you think about Bessarabsky market’s initiative to introduce crypto payments in Kiev? Tell us in the comments section below.  

This article originally appeared at: https://news.bitcoin.com/kievs-bessarabsky-market-accepts-cryptocurrencies-for-groceries/.

Blockchain in Charity, Explained

Can’t you donate crypto to good causes already?

Yes – but not-for-profit organizations are always exploring new ways of attracting support from the crypto community, and demand is growing.

Charitable giving allows investors to help causes they are passionate about – and if their cryptocurrency assets rise in value, donations can be used in some countries to eliminate the capital gains taxes they would need to pay on the appreciation.

According to a report by Fidelity Charitable, 2017 was a record year for crypto donations. This organization received $69 million in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and claims this was almost 10 times higher than the year before.

Fidelity believes Bitcoin’s dramatic rise in value in 2017 played a factor in this increase. It says being able to accept crypto donations has opened the door to funds, and supporters, who may have been out of research and unable to contribute before.

Meanwhile, an anonymous donor set up the Pineapple Fund, with 5,104 BTC being given to 60 charities. They timed their donation with last year’s “crypto bubble”, meaning $55 million has gone to good causes.

Could crypto be mined for charity?

Several charities have been exploring this concept with some success.

Over 59 days at the start of 2018, UNICEF launched an initiative called Game Chaingers, which aimed to inspire young people to do something good for society.

The children’s charity appealed to people with powerful graphics cards in their PCs, such as gamers, to use their spare computing capacity to mine Ethereum.

More than 12,000 computers were aggregated during the appeal and a total of 85 ETH (roughly $36,000 at today’s rates) was raised. The funds went towards helping children affected or displaced by the Syrian civil war.

For charities, this can be a way of attracting supporters who may not have the make a financial contribution, but still want to help.

However, such schemes aren’t necessarily perfect. Mining can be energy intensive and even harmful to the environment, meaning charities walk a fine line in doing more harm than good. UNICEF stressed that its initiative didn’t result in additional electricity usage, preventing participants from racking up hefty bills.

How would you know donations are being used properly?

Scandals have hit confidence in the charity sector, but blockchain and cryptocurrency could improve accountability and transparency.

Unlike conventional charities, where progress on certain campaigns can be difficult to verify, smart contracts on blockchain can be used to ensure funds are only released to an organization once they can prove their work is having an impact. Failure to meet certain targets could even result in donations being rescinded.

This concept has been put to the test by St Mungo’s, a charity for hopeless people in London. It teamed up with a blockchain platform called Alice to launch a fundraiser which aims to raise $66,000 to help 15 long-term rough sleepers rebuild their lives.

Here, donors can keep track about how rough sleepers are progressing, with the charities progress independently verified by a local authority.

Why do some of us struggle to trust charities?

There have been repeated stories about funds being misused by charities, and other tales of organizations being too aggressive when they are trying to get donations.

Corruption can be a big challenge for aid organizations, and funds which are sent to impoverished countries don’t always reach the intended recipients. Some charities have also been accused of lacking transparency, either by failing to disclose how much money from donations goes towards paying staff or administration, or by refusing to reveal how much money they have in reserve. The pay rewarded to top executives has also angered donors in some cases.

Blockchain allows finances to be publicly audited, ensuring charities remain accountable. Its decentralized nature also eliminates banks, allowing funds to be directly sent to those in need without a middleman.

But this isn’t to say that blockchain can solve all of the charity sector’s ills, or that this technology should be seen as a replacement for charities altogether. The campaign organized by St Mungo’s only enjoyed modest success – helping three rough sleepers – and charities play an important role in highlighting societal issues and campaigning for the public to take action on them.

Can blockchain cut admin costs for charities?

Potentially. Right now, administration and the act of fundraising itself are the two biggest costs for charities.

Through blockchain, charities can cut the transaction fees associated with accepting payments from donors and transferring money to those in need. This helps maximize the impact of the funds they have raised, especially when transactions are taking place internationally.

Instead of creating their own platforms for generating awareness and accepting donations, blockchain organizations have developed APIs which can be customized and adopted by smaller non-profits, helping them to expand their reach and spend less money on developing technical infrastructure.

Who benefits from transparency with charitable payments?

As well as donors getting peace of mind that their money is being put to good use, it could also ensure that charities are not cut off from their funds unnecessarily.

Last year, the UK’s Charity Finance Group revealed that more than 300 charities – many of them legitimate – had their funds cut off after being accused of being involved in illegal money flows.

Oftentimes, this was because they were trying to send help to people in need in nations where terrorism is rife. Their accounts were closed by banks who were afraid of attracting fines for failing to stop terrorism from being financed.

Blockchain paves the way for a clear record of money going in and out of an organization to be recorded on an immutable ledger.

How are for-profit blockchain platforms giving back?

Numerous companies have opened foundations with a goal of giving back to the community, often with an emphasis on educating people about blockchain.

For example, platforms such as Coins.ph have bolstered their social responsibility credentials by attempting to help unbancarized adults in developing economies gain access to bank accounts and other services through blockchain.

MyCryptons.com allows its users to buy and sell dozens of crypto collectibles based on public personalities, known as Cryptons, for a profit. The platform has announced that its smart contract also allows for the issuance of charitable fundraising Cryptons. Here, any proceeds from the sale of a digital collectible are donated to charity until a target is met.

The company behind it, Crypton Labs, hopes this concept would see crypto celebrities rally their followers in order to raise money for good causes.


As The Blockchain Revolution Moves Offshore, What Are The Challenges?


Blockchain has been widely touted as the most significant technology of the last 20 years, with the potential to revolutionise the financial services industry across a range of applications, from crypto-currencies to smart contracts, to fully automated clearing and settlements systems for payments.

Crucially, blockchain networks can operate securely without the need for any central administrator, and the technology can work for almost every type of transaction. The technology is particularly appealing as a possible replacement for existing processes, which are largely manual, labour-intensive and paper-based but require sensitive information to be transferred and stored in a secure manner, for example, know-your-customer (KYC) processes for identifying new clients. Its potential uses are almost limitless.

Offshore financial centres have a large stake here and are well placed to become attractive destinations for technology entrepreneurs looking for a neutral jurisdiction for their global operations. As the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the BVI and other offshore jurisdictions position themselves as financial technology (FinTech) hubs, there are certain regulatory risks and challenges that each jurisdiction must overcome as the new era of blockchain-based financial services gains traction.

Risks and Challenges

Financial and banking stability alongside consumer protection are the key objectives for all regulatory authorities, but, to date, many offshore authorities have issued little in the way of regulatory guidance or control principles around blockchain. Some of the main challenges facing offshore centres are:

1) Responsibility

Blockchain technology is, by its nature, a shared system, which leads to questions about which activities should be regulated, how activities should be regulated and by whom they should be regulated. As a result, organisations that make use of it will have to pay careful attention to allocating responsibilities appropriately given the absence of a central point of authority.

There are also implications where organisations engage third party service providers. Sufficient oversight of the providers’ activities will be required to fulfil regulatory obligations.

These concerns can be allayed in part by using a ‘permissioned ledger’ and putting in place a governance structure among participants to deliver proper notification to customers through an agreed mechanism. The blockchain platform could also agree a set of rules and policies to be followed by all participants and then share these with customers and regulators.

2) Security Resilience 

The strength of the security afforded by a particular form of encryption is continually under challenge. Blockchain networks will need to establish mechanisms to ensure that appropriate levels of encryption are maintained and that these include responsibilities for the safe custody of encryption keys.

Blockchain technology does, however, bring unrivalled security benefits. Hacking attacks that commonly impact large centralised intermediaries are almost impossible on the blockchain. If someone wanted to hack into a particular block, a hacker would not only need to hack into that specific block, but all of the preceding blocks going back the entire history of that chain, and they would need to do it on every ledger in the network, simultaneously.

3)   Data Protection

One of the major benefits of blockchain technology is its immutability, meaning that data stored on the chain cannot be altered or deleted. This could also create a problem, because in theory there could be no ‘right to be forgotten’ in the context of blockchain. However, personal data can be kept off blockchain ledgers altogether by replacing the data with an encrypted reference to the data a ‘hash’. These hashes or digital fingerprints prove that data did exist at a certain date, without the data itself appearing on the chain.

Encryption controls, limiting the accessibility of personal data hashed in the blockchain, is a viable solution for data protection compliance. While encrypted personal data may still qualify as ‘personal data’ under new data protection laws, as long as the holder of the data possesses the encryption key and those keys are only  made available in circumstances dictated by the individual data subject, then it is difficult to see the objection from a data protection perspective.

4)    AML Compliance

Blockchain’s ability to replace paper trails with easily auditable digital trails offers many possibilities in the reduction of financial crime. Anti-money laundering (AML) regulations generally require organisations to keep easily accessible records of customer identities and transactions. To be effective, a blockchain solution would require network adoption by a number of organisations. However, this represents one of the biggest challenges to implementing a blockchain solution in the AML space, as regulated entities are often reluctant to outsource or share their AML responsibilities with third parties, even other regulated entities. How and whether blockchain solutions will change this approach remains to be seen. The potential global economic benefits from added efficiencies inherent in blockchain-based AML solutions would be immeasurable, but at this stage it is unclear to what extent international AML standards will be adapted to embrace the opportunity for change.

A Leading Offshore Role

Given the challenges above, one way for offshore financial centres to take a leading role in the fast moving FinTech sector would be to demonstrate success with an initial, modestly aimed blockchain proposal, perhaps between a number of local banks, in a regulatory “sandbox” or similar structure under the supervision of the regulator. This would provide an opportunity to gain experience and learn from a close evaluation of blockchain technology as a business tool and secure an offshore advantage in what is an increasingly competitive field.

Appleby has a global team of lawyers with experience in this area, monitoring developments not only in the jurisdictions in which we operate, but more widely. This is a global industry and one that is here to stay. If you have any questions regarding the above, or are interested in hearing more about how we can assist, please contact a member of the Technology and Innovation Team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

This article originally appeared at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?article_id=723382.

First True Mobile-Only Mining Solution ICO

Phoneum is set to shake up the Cryptocurrency industry with the launch of their ICO today, Monday, July 30, 2018. Phoneum is a BVI registered software application company that aims to bring cryptocurrency mining to anyone that owns a smart mobile device.

This is a revolutionary change to the current marketplace where the cost to mine is prohibitive for all but a few.

In the past week, Phoneum announced a partnership with LATOKEN, which allows clients of LATOKEN to participate in the ICO directly from their platform. In addition, LATOKEN will be the first exchange to list PHM once the ICO ends.

Ivan Likov, founder and lead developer commented: “This is the culmination of many years in development. We have self-funded the project to this point. We wanted to prove that it was possible to truly mine on a mobile device, without damaging the phone. Since January of this year, we have been testing with thousands of users on both Android and iOS platforms and have not had a single report of damage to a smart device.”

Phoneum has created a new, accessible mining model that leverages an untapped market. At last count, there are over 2.1 billion smart devices, in effect mini-computers, currently in circulation. Leveraging smart phones allows for unprecedented reach of cryptocurrency mining to those who have no specialized technical knowledge or equipment and/or to those who reside in underserved areas or regions with limited/higher electricity costs.

Phoneum will deliver a simplified user experience and platform enabling all users – regardless of technical aptitude – to fully participate in the new cryptocurrency economy, earning or purchasing.

Phoneum is a decentralized cryptocurrency (PHM) and product that is revolutionary with its customized blockchain and algorithm for consensus, optimized for mobile devices. The revolutionary Phoneum application and product focuses on ease-of-use and speed of transaction to be able to deliver on Phoneum’s mission to drive mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies and mining them.

Highlights include:

  • Fast and secure mobile-only P2P network of transactions for Phoneum users (no intermediary chain) with a built-in QR scanner
  • Free app (Android and Apple) with built in Phoneum miner and crypto wallet that is automatically created for the user
  • Users have the option to earn PHM versus buy – a lower cost of entry  Free peer-to-peer transactions for users and fractional merchant transaction fees to spur business adoption, thereby supporting consumer adoption
  • Platform for apps and games to be developed with cross-market asset tracking, allowing digital assets to be transferred or traded from one game or app to another.

PHM will be launched initially as an ERC20 token with a maximum supply of 20,000,000,000. The ICO allocation will be 2,462,500,000 PHM tokens available to the public on July 30, 2018 and running through September 30, 2018.

There will be four stages with discounts varying per stage. Registration is now open for early entry, but tokens will only be available for sale beginning July 30, 2018. A KYC will be required to claim tokens upon completion of the ICO.

Citizens from the following countries are unable to participate due to regulatory concerns: Canada, China, United States

Influencers and bounty participants will gain a 5% PHM bonus on all direct referrals from members assigned referral codes.

For more information or to register, please visit: https://www.phoneum.io/ 


A Patent-Based Bull Run

A Patent-Based Bull Run

There has been something of a boom of late in cryptocurrency related patent applications filed by Big Money players. Wells Fargo, for example, applied for a patent on a system in which any type of ‘data element’ can be located, protected, and accessed by means of its tokenization.

Meanwhile, Bank of America now has 45 blockchain patents pending, adding the latest to that queue in recent days.

Those with romantic visions for a blockchain revolution may have (at best) mixed feelings about what they may see as its corporate co-optation, and the fencing in of a commons at that. Still, the boom in filings may mean good things for the prices of the more venerable currencies in the field. Bitcoins are now in the neighborhood of $7,500. That isn’t a pricey neighborhood if your mind is still focused on the December 2017 numbers, but it is a significant improvement over late June.


This article originally appeared at: http://mainbloq.io/a-patent-based-bull-run/.

4,500-Year-Old Board Game ‘Go’ Gets Blockchain Revamp

Lee Sedol, the world’s top player of 4,500-year-old Chinese board game Go, is working on a blockchain version of his beloved game in association with The Blockchain Inc.

Sedol, was the fifth-youngest South Korean to become a professional Go player, at the age of 12, and he is widely considered to be the world’s most skilled player.

Google’s Artificial Intelligence AlphaGo Ended Up Beating The World Champion

Back in 2016, Sedol went head-to-head with Google’s AI, the AlphaGo. The machine was able to beat both Sedol, and French Go player Fan Hui, five months prior. Go is characterized as a highly complex game, making chess look like children’s play.

Now, two years after his defeat, Sedol has announced he will be releasing a blockchain-based version of Go. The project is being called “GoBlock” and it will be developed in collaboration with The Blockchain Inc., a Korean blockchain company.

The Blockchain Inc. was founded to help users navigate the cryptocurrency world. The company manages CoinUs, a website which intends to release a wallet and a portable device that will allow offline digital asset storage.

 Ethereum is powering the most popular blockchain-based games.

Once GoBlock goes live, Go e-Sports players based out of China, Japan, and South Korea will be able to compete in a global professional league. However, Sedol has bigger plans for the project, other than just hosting an online professional league.

The Go champion spoke about creating a rewards system from which everyone can benefit — from players to league supporters, viewers, and advertisers. If you’re an amateur — or even a beginner — you can celebrate, as the platform will include amateur leagues and provide training for beginners. The company also hopes to market records of Go matches.

“I was drawn to the blockchain technology due to decentralization and transparency features. If blockchain technology and the token economy are applied to Go game, it will be able to expand the game’s ecosystem and bring about unforeseen changes to the game’s ecosystem,” said Sedol.

After CryptoKitties, It Seems Games are Gathering Around Ethereum

GoBlock will be built on the Ethereum network and will base its platform on blockchain protocols. As part of the reward system and overall management of the platform, tokens will be issued, reportedly to support match records, leagues, and game players.

It seems the blockchain has finally reached the gaming industry. Just last month, CNN reported the kickstart of CryptoZombies’ crowdfunding campaign for Zombie Battleground, a game also built on Ethereum. The company launched a 60-day campaign asking for $250,000 — there are 30 days left and they’ve raised approximately $270,000.


Crypto in Africa: Blockchain transforms farming, Kenya moves closer to regulation

By Dennis Wafula July 13, 2018

Accepting blockchain and its technologies has not been an easy task in Africa. However, the technology is slowly making headway in the continent. In particular, the farming industry has seen significant growth in the recent months due to blockchain technology.

The Olam Farming Information System (OFIS) has helped many farmers maximize farm products in Africa, Asia, and South America. OFIS is an organization that helps farmers get information that will help them manage and make proper use of the available land. It also supplied farmers with ingredients they need for farming. The organization uses blockchain technology to collect information and also make correct recommendations on which products to use. In addition to getting farming information, farmers make payments and receive money through cryptocurrencies.

Kenya moves closer to cryptocurrency regulation

Kenya has been in the vanguard of testing blockchain and its related technologies. The country has had numerous startups, crypto conventions and even has a Bitcoin ATM installed in Nairobi. The continuous increase in cryptocurrency activities has caused the government to take action. During a parliamentary seating, the Kenyan Parliament ordered Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich to investigate whether the crypto industry in the country needs to be regulated or not. The Kenyan Parliament gave Rotich two weeks to conduct the research.

Members of the Finance and National Planning Committee reportedly asked Rotich why the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya “allowed people to venture into the unregulated cryptocurrency space without being licensed to operate and taxed,” according to Business Daily Africa.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe embraces blockchain tech

After months of fighting cryptocurrency adoption in Zimbabwe, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) might soon be embracing these technologies. While speaking in Alpha Media Holdings’ Banks and Banking breakfast, RBZ Gov. John Mangudya said the country was ready to embrace blockchain technology.

He added that it is time the country took part in blockchain and what it has to offer. He further added that Zimbabwe as a country wants to join other countries across the globe in the blockchain market.

Mangudya stated that there is a lot of research and education that needs to be done before the country can fully embrace this technology. He believes that understanding the technology will help the country make proper decisions in the future. It is not yet clear when the Zimbabwean government will start making decisions to embrace blockchain and its technologies. However, this is good news to many cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiasts in the country.