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Gaming Firm Wants to Pay Players to Mine Cryptocurrency

When the crypto chips are down companies often seek alternative methods of generating income. Gaming equipment giant Razer wants to pay gamers to mine crypto using their graphics cards.

The new crypto rewards program is called ‘Razer SoftMiner’, and it enables users to put their GPUs to work mining “Silver” which according to the firm is not actually a cryptocurrency. The catch for the miners is that they don’t get to keep what they mine but will get rewarded in the way of discounts or offers from the company. In a Tweet the firm stated;

“Have a gaming rig on idle at home? Here’s a new way to score Razer Silver: launch Razer SoftMiner on your PC and start racking up Silver—one step closer to the reward you want, for doing nothing at all.”

It does come with the caveat that running the software “uses a substantial amount of your GPU power,” according to PC Gamer. The FAQ goes on to explain;

“We work with crypto mining technology to harness your computer’s GPU. In turn, we award you with Silver, giving you access to Razer’s ecosystem and suite of rewards.”

In other words the San Francisco based company will be keeping the crypto that users mine and offering them other tokens to trade for ‘rewards’. It has not specified which cryptocurrency will be mined but it will have to be one that can be done using graphics cards and not higher powered hardware. There does not seem to be an advantage for users that can simply install their own software to mine crypto which they can at least keep themselves.

Razer has added that mining speed will be affected by the specifications of the GPU and obviously the amount of idle time that can be dedicated to it. “If you have the proper setup, you can earn approximately 500 Razer Silver or more within a day!,” it added without specifying the value of this ‘silver’.

Someone had crunched the numbers and came out with a value of around $0.44 per day mining at full power, or $0.0009 per token. Another pinch is that the silver mined expires after a year so it must be redeemed before then which prevents amassing a whole lot of it.

Considering the cost of electricity and the wear and tear on the hardware this does not sound very lucrative at all. A win for Razor it seems, especially if it can accumulate enough crypto at low prices and then sell the stash when the markets recover.

The post Gaming Firm Wants to Pay Players to Mine Cryptocurrency appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Former Beverage Company Turned Bitcoin Miner Eyes Customer Loyalty Market

Cryptocurrency–The tale of Long Blockchain Corp. continues to grow in and outside of the crypto space.

Originally branded as Long Island Iced Tea, the former beverage company made an abrupt turn in early January when it was announced that the company would be pursuing Bitcoin mining operations. Preceding the shift in focus to crypto mining, the company rebranded from the aforementioned drink title to Long Blockchain Corp, which brought about a tailwind in the stock price as shares rose 500 percent. Critics of Long Blockchain Corp. have accused the company of capitalizing on the blockchain craze, particularly as it reached a pinnacle in late December/early January, similar to the investing-with-abandon approach that plagued the dot-com era.

Now the company has returned to the headlines, announcing that it will be changing gears once again to tackle the market of customer loyalty. In part due to the the falling price of Bitcoin and declining profitability in crypto mining, LBCC has made the pivot away from the short-lived venture into cryptocurrency. In February, the company received a delist notice from Nasdaq related to the companies low market capitalization, with an appeal that took place in March. Beginning April 12, LBCC was formally removed from the stock exchange, leading some to question the original shift into the crypto mining industry. In addition, the company was one of several to spark a remark from SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in January, when he commented on the sudden phenomenon of companies adding blockchain to their title and reaping capital rewards despite little additional input.

In addition to the current CEO of Long Blockchain Corp. stepping down, the company has outlined a plan to run the loyalty operation through a subsidiary named Stran Loyalty Group. Freshly minted CEO Andy Shape spoke in the press release on the evolving market of customer relations, and how they intend to combine technology with loyalty programs to provide innovation to the industry,

“Consumer brands and corporations realize that loyal customers not only purchase more goods but that they also purchase more often. Creating stronger loyalty with customers who are engaged in loyalty programs through advancements in technology is the key to future growth and massive scalability.”

The company has not fully denounced itself from cryptocurrency, keying in on a previously mentioned design of “distributed ledger technology” as a way to gain advantage over competitors,

“The Company’s goal is to use the initial loyalty business as a catalyst to implement disruptive technology solutions, including distributed ledger technology, into the loyalty industry while realizing immediate revenue and credibility from traditional loyalty contracts,”

In addition, the press release appears to leave room for a potential exit and/or pivot to a different venture, again, by stating that the company cannot guarantee profitability through their current endeavor,

“There can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in developing such technology, or in profitably commercializing it, if developed.”

While Long Blockchain Corp. failed to make a significant impact on the world of Bitcoin or cryptocurrency mining, it may serve as an example for other companies looking to pivot into the space of cryptocurrency.

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Crypto Mining CEO Said to Disappear With $35 Million In Funds

The chief executive of a cryptocurrency mining startup has reportedly disappeared with $35 million in client investments, Newsweek reported Monday.

Le Minh Tam, head of Vietnam-based Sky Mining, has been missing since July 26, according to the report. The startup, which claimed it would rent crypto miners to investors for between $100 and $5,000, received funds from roughly 5,000 individuals prior to Tam’s disappearance last week. Each miner would promise a 300 percent return over a year, with investors keeping the machines for at least 15 and up to as many as 18 months.

However, when one group of investors went to pick up their miners last Friday, they found that the firm’s mining facility and office were empty, and that the mining machines had already been taken away. Tam later reportedly claimed he sold them to cover financial losses, and that his disappearance was aimed at protecting his life.

He sent a similar message on Sunday, claiming that he would return, but Sky Mining deputy chairman Le Minh Hieu claimed the CEO had stolen the funds and relocated to the U.S.

Some investors have already filed lawsuits against the firm, though it is unclear if they will receive their funds back.

Vietnamese news outlet VnExpress reported that Tam controlled every aspect of the company, overseeing all mining operations and controlling all the funds.

Hieu said he tried to set up a temporary board to run the company in Tam’s absence, but death threats against him and his family forced him to shut it down.

Thief image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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MalwareBytes Report Says CryptoJacking Cases Are “Plateauing”

Malwarebytes, a premier cyber security firm, recently released a report highlighting the “cybercrime tactics” of this past quarter. The report mentioned that the presence of cryptominers (cryptojacking) has become quite apparent, as it “dominates the threat landscape.”

Before we delve into the data, first, a bit of information about cryptojacking.

What Is CryptoJacking?

For those who are unaware, cryptojacking is a specific type of cybercrime that sees malicious hackers take control of a victim’s piece of technology, forcing the device to mine cryptocurrencies for the hacker’s personal gain. Cryptojacking malware, although generating only a few cents per device affected, can easily sweep across thousands, if not millions of computers, netting the hackers a nice reward.

The method of attack is usually through an infected website, file or piece of media that will install a script into the background of the victim’s device. Although some might not notice that their computer power gets siphoned off by an attacker, others may begin to notice higher electric bills, and a slow-down to the device they are using.

Cryptojacking Detections See Large Decrease In Q2 2018

According to the aforementioned Malwarebytes report, cryptojacking is still a hot topic within cybersecurity circles but detections of this method of cybercrime are starting to trend downwards. The report noted:

Cryptomining detections are slowly declining; however, as one of the top two detections for both businesses and consumers, they still dominate the threat landscape… The trend in detections closely mirrors the ebb and flow of cryptocurrency market prices, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero.

CryptoJacking Profits Are Down Due To Declining Cryptocurrency Prices

The report cited one primary reason why a decrease in cases has occurred, the reason being that cryptocurrency prices have begun to decrease, resulting in a subsequent profit drop-off for miners. The document posted by the cybersecurity firm stated:

Ultimately, many criminals aren’t getting the return on investment (ROI) from cryptomining they were expecting. The cryptojacking craze will likely stabilize as it follows market trends in cryptocurrency.

The collective value of all cryptocurrencies has declined by over 65% since the start of 2018, but network hashrates continued to rise, resulting in a substantial drop in profits. In fact, some farms have begun to shut-off their machines in anticipation of losing large sums of money with their mining operation.

It has become apparent that the money just isn’t there for a majority of cryptojacking operators, resulting in a move from this cybercrime to another.

Android Cases On The Rise, While Desktop/Laptop Cases Decline

Despite seeing an overall decline in cryptojacking detections, especially on desktop and laptop devices, Malwarebytes pointed out that detections of Android cryptominers were up 244% in comparison to 2018’s first quarter.

It is likely that the anti-malware/anti-virus capabilities on Android devices are often lacking, resulting in attackers utilizing this flaw in security.

The report noted:

In fact, in May, the number of Android miner detections dropped by 16 percent from the previous month. However, despite these inconsistencies, Q2 still managed to come in with 244 percent more miner detections than Q1. The Android landscape is likely where we’ll see an overall increase in the use of miners.

Malwarebytes closed off the cryptomining segment expecting for the cryptojacking “hum” to slow as we move into Q3 of 2018, writing:

Until changes in the cryptocurrency market cause a spike or swift downturn, expect to see cryptomining hum along at its current slower pace into Q3.

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New York State Entices Crypto Miners to Negotiate Cheap Power

Cryptocurrency Mining–Despite the overwhelmingly negative image of crypto mining related electricity costs, from the impact they have on the environment to the rising rates of neighborhood power bills, the state of New York has approved a bid to increase the population of miners through cheaper electricity.

On Thursday, state regulators approved a motion that would create a new rate structure specifically for cryptocurrency miners looking to negotiate a better deal on electricity. Massena, a town in Upstate New York, will allow its municipal utility to review contracts on an individual and isolated basis for miners, thereby protecting other residents from an increase in rates from grid usage. This comes on the heels of an earlier decision related to crypto mining electricity costs, when the State cleared 36 municipalities in March to increase rates for individuals and firms mining cryptocurrency.

At the time of the filing, the New York Municipal Power Agency reported that some mining firms were responsible for 33% of grid usage, despite doing little to invest or promote the local economy. In addition to Quebec, China and Iceland, cryptocurrency miners have flocked to locations like New York for their hydro-rich electricity resources, thereby cutting costs to make the process of mining even more profitable. However, as Bloomberg reports, the draw to low-cost areas has locals up in arms over the drain on their grids–which can lead to increased rates across the board in addition to higher utility loads. In the interim, governments such as the state of New York have been forced to address the issue of crypto mining, which operates as a for-profit business despite the fact that most mining individuals and firms fail to qualify for the same benefits of traditional brick and border outlets consuming a disproportionate amount of municipal resources.

New York State Department of Public Service Chair John Rhodes commented on the drain that some miners put on local resources, while confirming that the state was interested in pursuing a mutual relationship with miners,

“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in Upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”

While Quebec, a similarly hydro-rich area for electricity, has sought to repel the flood of crypto-miners by instituting a three-fold increase in rates specific to cryptocurrency, New York has seen the benefit in sharing its abundant natural resource. Compared to other areas of the country, where the national averages for residential electricity hover at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, Massena is able to afford customers 3.9 cents per kw-h, in part due to the efficiency of hydroelectric dams.

As Bitcoin, and all of cryptocurrency prices begin to flounder, miners will be forced to find more profitable areas for their electricity-consuming business in an effort to lower costs and make up for the difference in declining value. Just yesterday Joseph Carson, the chief security scientist at Thycotic, cited the rising cost of crypto mining as being the primary cause for the inevitable death of Bitcoin, before making a prediction that BTC would fall to $43.

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Torrent Site Pirate Bay Spells Out Monero Mining Software Use

Torrent website The Pirate Bay is doubling down on its plan to use visitors’ processing power to mine crypto.

In a disclaimer recently added to the bottom of its homepage, the website said that “by entering TPB you agree to [monero] being mined using your CPU. If you don’t agree please leave now or install an adBlocker.”

That message comes months after the site’s administrators wrote in a September blog post that they were testing a monero Javascript miner in an effort to, as they put it, “get rid of all the ads.”

It was a controversial effort launched by an equally controversial website, which has drawn the ire of numerous national governments for its role in facilitating file-sharing online. Despite framing the test as limited in nature, many visitors cried foul as much of their computing power was harnessed for mining XMR. Bleeping Computer reported last October that Pirate Bay had brought back the feature.

The torrent site’s new approach represents a kind of so-called “cryptojacking” that is voluntary in nature. Indeed, other organizations, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have turned to the Coinhive open-source software as a source of revenue (though in that case, the revenues are destined for philanthropic causes).

Other instances of “cryptojacking” have been far more malicious in nature, including a wide-ranging attack this spring which targeted websites running the Drupal content management system.

Image via Shutterstock

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Mobiles Next? Kaspersky Warns on Rapid Spread of Malicious Crypto Miners

Malicious actors are moving from ransomware to crypto-jacking, a leading cybersecurity firm reported Thursday.

Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cybersecurity company, said in a new report that ransomware attacks – where a malicious file locks a computer until a ransom is paid – have declined by nearly half as the perpetrators instead move to deploy crypto-mining malware instead. This is largely because crypto mining is now more profitable than ransomware, according to the report.

In a press release, Kaspersky explained that it compared data from April 2016–March 2017 with data from April 2017–March 2018. It found that ransomware that encrypts users’ computers declined by nearly 44.6 percent from 2017 to 2018. In that same time period, crypto-mining malware rose by 44.5 percent.

Moreover, at the number of illicit mining instances jumped from 1.87 million in 2016 to roughly 2.7 million at the end of 2017, the company reported.

Kaspersky said that it expects these numbers to continue growing, particularly with the advance of mobile miners.

The report states:

“It is highly likely that the additional growth of mining will come at the expense of mobile miners. For now, they are growing, but at a very steady pace. However, once criminals find a technological solution that makes the profits from mining on mobile devices equivalent to those from mining on PCs, mobile mining will quickly become equal.”

The report expressed particular concern for residents of China and India, which own roughly one third of all smartphones worldwide.

“While ransomware has provided a potentially large but one-off income for its cybercriminals, miners will provide a lower, but longer lasting one. Last year we asked what tips the scales for cybercriminals? Today, this is no longer a question. Miners will keep spreading across the globe, attracting more people.”

Crypto mining image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Quebec Is Weighing A Plan to Sell 500 Megawatts to Crypto Miners

Quebec’s public power utility has submitted plans to the provincial government that could clear the way for Hydro-Quebec to set up a new framework through which to work with cryptocurrency miners.

The plan, if approved, would create a selection process by which Hydro-Quebec will parcel out 500 megawatts worth of power to crypto miners. In a statement last week, the utility said its pitch to the Régie de l’énergie that, if approved, would allow miners to submit bids that Hydro-Quebec would consider based on their ability to create jobs and economic benefits to Quebec.

Hydro-Quebec suggested that it is seeking a speedy solution to the issue – the subject of a moratorium on new approvals issued earlier this month, citing an “unprecedented” level of demand.

The utility also wants to put a cap on the amount of power that crypto-miners can draw during the year, in an effort to free up power for other customers. That concern has been at the heart of many of the disputes seen in North America between crypto miners, local governments and residents.

Hydro-Quebec wrote:

“The economic analysis will favor customers who will be ready to operate their facilities as quickly as possible. In addition, Hydro-Québec could request that these customers decrease their electricity use, for a maximum of 300 hours per year, to allow it to ensure the delivery of electricity to all of its customers, particularly during the winter peak period.”

Hydro-Quebec indicated earlier this year that it would not be able to support all of the demand it has seen, according to a document published in March.

Hydroelectricity power station image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Apple Warns iPhone Users Not to Mine Cryptos

Smartphones have evolved way beyond their original concepts and are now used for all manner of computing tasks, including mining cryptocurrencies. It appears though that Apple is not happy with users of their devices undertaking this practice.

The tech giant has recently updated its developer guidelines to ban mining cryptos according to CNBC. The new rules introduce more app restrictions, targeting those that drain battery life, generate excessive heat, or stress system resources. According to the company website; “Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining,”

The likelihood of being able to actually mine a Bitcoin on an iPhone is very slim since the hardware required to crunch the numbers is way beyond what can be squeezed into a smartphone. However the move could restrict any future applications that may be able to mine other less intensive cryptocurrencies.

Apple’s anti-crypto stance goes way back to 2014 when it removed Coinbase and other crypto related apps from its App Store. According to the updated policy;

3.1.5 (b) Cryptocurrencies:

(i) Wallets: Apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization.

(ii) Mining: Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).

(iii) Exchanges: Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself.

(iv) Initial Coin Offerings: Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.

(v) Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.

Many apps for iOS claim to allow users to mine cryptos as part of a pool or cloud mining group. However it is likely that these too will be disappearing from the pages of Apple’s online stores, along with any of those displaying crypto advertising.

Apple has always held a vice-like grip of control over its hardware and the software that runs on it. By dictating to customers what they can and cannot do with their own devices leads to the obvious question of whose iPhone is it anyway.

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Bitmain Gets Go-Ahead for US Bitcoin Mining Operation

China’s crypto mining giant, Bitmain, is one step closer to establishing mining facilities in Washington state.

The Port of Walla Walla – Walla Walla county’s economic development agency – unanimously approved a land lease and purchase option that would allow Bitmain to build its new crypto mining facility. The company’s Ant Creek subsidiary will be able to lease 10 acres with an option to purchase after one year. However, an initial option for an additional 30 acre purchase was removed from the agreement.

Ant Creek still has to agree to the terms to complete the deal, local newspaper the Union Bulletin reported. If it does, it will pay approximately $4,700 per month in rent.

Bitmain has yet to publicly acknowledge the company as a subsidiary, but publicly available company registration information lists Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu as Ant Creek’s sole governing person, as previously reported.

According to the Union Bulletin, Jeff Stearns, the company’s director, described Ant Creek during the hearing as both a blockchain company and an artificial intelligence company headed by two different CEOs. Likewise, without specifying Bitmain, he reportedly characterized the company as the largest global manufacturer of crypto mining equipment.

Walla Walla residents voiced concerns over the amount of energy the company would extract from the community, which has some of the cheapest electricity rates in North America.

“It extracts electricity and creates wealth for the owner with no trickle down,” said local resident Robb Lincoln, according to the Union Bulletin.

The hearing was reportedly tense, and one resident was escorted out of the hearing during the public comment period.

Another community member criticized cryptocurrency more generally.

“It’s not used in legitimate business,” Peder Fretheim told the Port commissioners. “It’s used for two things: transactions you want to hide from the law and speculation.”

Crypto mining companies have been quick to flock to regions with energy surpluses and inexpensive rates, but they are increasingly being met with resistance from locals.

Elsewhere in Washington state, officials announced a moratorium on new crypto mining operations in order to consider their effect on the community’s power grid. The Mason County officials followed Washington’s Chelan County in instituting temporary freezes on new mining operations.

Likewise, the government of the Canadian province of Quebec recently instructed utility firm Hydro-Quebec to halt its consideration of service applications from mining companies due to overwhelming demand.

Bitcoin mining image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.