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Ethereum Wallets, Mining Rigs Still Targeted by Hackers at Low Prices

Ethereum has been one of the hardest hit cryptocurrencies during this year’s bear market. Its woes are nowhere near over as mining hardware has been targeted by hackers looking to cash in before prices plummet even further.

In a recent report tech based news outlet ZDnet revealed that hackers have unleashed a large scale scanning network designed to target Ethereum wallets and mining hardware. The campaign has been running for at least a week since December 3 according to cyber security researchers.

The target specifically is port 8545 which is the standard port for the JSON-RPC interface used by Ethereum wallets and mining hardware. The API interface allows locally installed apps and services to scan for fund related and mining data.

Some less secure wallets and mining machinery leave this interface exposed publicly via the port which can then be compromised.  By default the interface does not have a password set and relies on the user configuring one. If left exposed hackers can exploit the port to access the interface and lift cryptocurrencies from the wallet.

This is not a new threat however as the Ethereum team issued a warning back in August about insecurely configured Ethereum clients. The recommendations included password protecting the interface or filtering traffic through the port using a firewall.

A number of mining rig vendors have already taken steps to mitigate the issue by removing the interface altogether or limiting usage of port 8545. There are still a lot of vulnerable Ethereum clients online however and the scans are ramping up.

According to Chinese cyber-security firm Qihoo 360 Netlab over $20 million in Ethereum at July’s exchange rate has already been stolen by one group. When crypto prices surged it was expected that scans and attacks would also be on the up.

What is surprising this time around is that there has been an uptick in scans despite the price of Ether entering what some have described as a death spiral. “Despite the price of cryptocurrency crashing into the gutter, free money is still free, even if it’s pennies a day,” Bad Packets LLC co-founder Toy Mursch told ZDnet.

Scan activity has tripled over the past week according to the cyber security firm. Further searches show that nearly 4,700 devices, mostly Geth mining equipment and Parity wallets, are currently exposing their 8545 port.

Cryptocurrency prices may be on the floor but that does not deter hackers from paying attention and seeking opportunities to grab some free loot.

The post Ethereum Wallets, Mining Rigs Still Targeted by Hackers at Low Prices appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Ether, ADA Crypto Prices Hit Lowest Levels In Over 1 Year

Two of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization are now trading at their lowest level in a year.

Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, fell to its lowest price since 2017 on Wednesday, a development shared by Cardano, the world’s ninth largest by market capitalization.

At 16:00 UTC, during the middle of Wednesday’s trading period, the cryptocurrency dropped to $211 for the first time since July 30, 2017, according to CoinDesk price data.

Ether was last seen trading at $221.88, marking roughly a 4.95 percent decline since the day’s open and a 19.83 percent decline over 24-hours.

At press time, ether is one of the biggest losers among the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization and is reporting a 7-day loss of 20.06 percent. Its individual market capitalization also fell by more than $5.8 billion within that period.

Ether has now effectively erased most of the gains seen during last year’s bull run and is down 84.2 percent from its all-time high of $1,357. According to CoinDesk price data, ether was trading at $337 exactly one year ago, leaving some to speculate on the possibility for a rebound.

The cryptocurrency is just one of a number of networks to see declining values during the Wednesday session. Well-known cryptos including XRP, EOS and bitcoin cash have all seen 24-hour losses in excess of 15-20 percent.

Cardano, the only other cryptocurrency asset in the top 10 to experience last year’s prices, has dropped 19.07 percent over a 24-hour period and was last seen changing hands at $0.085.

The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is down nearly $27 billion from its yesterday’s top of $238.7 billion and is currently sitting just above $210 billion, CoinMarketCap data shows.

Disclosure: The author holds USDT at the time of writing.

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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A Phone Call Could Impact Ethereum's Future – And It's Happening Today

Miners, investors, developers and more.

That’s a summary of the diverse set of ethereum stakeholders that will be in attendance at an upcoming developer call, according to Ethereum Foundation communication officer Hudson Jameson. Set to take place at 14:00 UTC Friday, the live-streamed meeting aims to address some of the platform’s most challenging questions ahead of its system-wide upgrade planned for October.

As part of that upgrade, there are several non-contentious ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) already ready for testing, but also included are others that have stirred up controversy.

In particular, three concepts – the difficulty bomb, ether issuance and ASIC resistance – are at the heart of the debate, since each could have a lasting impact on how the blockchain operates. For instance, these code proposals could alter the regularity of ethereum upgrades, change the network’s economic policy and prevent specialized hardware from mining on the blockchain.

As such, core developers that usually attend the meetings have called for a larger set of voices, namely ether miners and investors, to be present to discuss a way forward.

“There is a strong community sentiment toward delaying the bomb, to reduce the block reward and to introduce changes to the hashing algorithm, however, it’s unclear how we proceed from here,” communications officer for ethereum software provider Parity Technologies, Afri Schoedon, told CoinDesk.

In the run up to the meeting, debate has been building on social media, with many of the platform’s stakeholders holding incompatible view points. And because the outcome will impact stakeholders in conflicting ways, Jameson has invited a number of people to the call to give their positions on the proposals.

“We have multiple miners, including nearly 50 percent of the ethereum hashing power (46 percent) either attending the call or making statements that will be read during the call,” Jameson said.

He told CoinDesk:

“Our aim was to have a variety of voices collaborate on this issue.”

Investors

Adding urgency to the current discussion is the so-called “difficulty bomb” – a piece of code locked into the platform that makes its blocks steadily less efficient to mine over time.

Because delaying the bomb also impacts issuance, there are a total of six conflicting proposals, each offering slightly varying methods for moving forward.  

Two proposals on the agenda for Friday’s meeting seek to reduce issuance — something some ether holders believe is too high. (Currently, the inflation rate is fixed at 3 ETH per block — down from 5 ETH since last October.)

While there’s a host of ethereum investors who have yet to publicly comment on the matter, several investors have taken to social media to call for a reduction in ethereum issuance, contending that the current inflation rate is an unnecessarily high tax on the holders of the cryptocurrency.

For example, some are pointing to a quote attributed to the creator of ethereum Vitalik Buterin in 2017 that states: “In the foreseeable future, the supply will not go far above 100 million,” a figure which as now been surpassed.

Others are going so far as to blame the inflation rate as the reason for ether’s market value decline, which hit a 2018 low of less than $300 earlier this month.

“Ether issuance is wildly over where it should be,” one user wrote.

Still, because it decreases the quantity of ether that miners are awarded to mine blocks, there’s a risk that too high an issuance reduction with be harmful to miners, forcing them to move their equipment onto another network.

Miners

That said, some are arguing that despite high issuance, miners that rely on general purpose hardware are already suffering.

“There is basically zero profit right now for normal GPU miners,” one user claimed on Github.

As detailed by CoinDesk, while ethereum was previously thought to be a GPU-friendly, ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency, the specialized mining chips have been available for use on the network since March. Leading advocates of GPU mining argue that efforts should be made immediately to remove the hardware from the platform.

In the past few months, the questions of ASIC resistance largely fell quiet, but questions around tweaking the difficulty bomb and underlying issuance model have caused the arguments to reactivate. And that’s because proponents argue that a reduction in issuance could push the last remaining GPU miners off the network, that are already competing against a rising hashrate.

Several stakeholders are pointing to a proposal named EIP 1057 as a method for ASIC resistance, that uses a randomizing, ASIC-resistant proof-of-work algorithm originally designed for monero to remain resilient against ASIC hardware manufacturers.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Peter Pratscher, the founder and CEO of Ethermine, an ether mining pool, said that among the company’s miners, the question of ASIC resistant eclipses all other concerns.

“We have reached out to our miners and from their response, it is clear that the most important point for them is to include a [proof-of-work] change to obsolescence ASICs,” Pratscher said, adding that the attitude around issuance was “somewhat ambivalent.”

Still, it’s a question that has proven to be divisive, with some users taking to Reddit to warn it is “not the answer,” and could impinge on valuable developer time in the run up to proof-of-stake.

Developers

Of all the platforms stakeholders, developers are perhaps the most difficult to pin down – especially as many avoid taking a position in polarized debates, preferring instead to focus on delivering code.

Still, among this group, there’s a general tendency to be less interested in the question of issuance — in part because there’s an attitude that the high valuation of ether reduces its usefulness within the platform.

For many ethereum developers for example, the question of ASIC resistance is also of important ideological importance, because it relates to the underlying decentralization of the network — and therefore its resilience to attack.

Others hold the inverse position, believing that by raising the cost of attacking the network — ASICs are comparatively much more expensive than GPUs — the hardware is good for security.

That said, there is a topic that remains of particular interest to the developers – the difficulty bomb.

“Delaying the bomb is the easiest part, everyone pretty much agrees we should do that,” Schoedon told CoinDesk.

And while it’s true the consensus roughly is that the bomb should be delayed, there’s some disagreement about whether to remove its code entirely or to keep it embedded in the software. Because it was installed to prepare the network for the change to proof-of-stake, some argue that it is now irrelevant given the delay in that change’s timeline for execution.

Still, others believe that it has developed an entirely new function — forcing ethereum to come together and find consensus on complicated problems, just like these.

Speaking to this, because of the difficulty bomb, core developer Nick Johnson told CoinDesk:

“People are welcome to stick with the status quo, but they have to make an affirmative decision to do so, rather than letting inertia do the work for them.”

Phone 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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Ethereum (ETH) Coin Story and What Holds the Future

The second largest blockchain network Ethereum has truly changed the crypto-verse since its debut. The new-comer [compared to Bitcoin] stepped heavily on the gas pedal of growth and many predict that it will fly past even Bitcoin – the lead by market cap.

Ethereum – Ether

The network is an open-source blockchain tech platform that supports smart contracts while being able to move its currency Ether speedy and very securely. Ethereum is designed and made of a two-layer infrastructure. The main one being of individuals-controlled private accounts, and the second of contract accounts. With its birth, it brought a new generation of cryptocurrencies in the ecosystem as since then many platforms have been introduced with various solutions or applications. Similar is Ethereum itself as it allows developers to create dApps on its network.

Ethereum was first launched via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that was held from July to August 2014.  At this point, however, the Ethereum blockchain network was more of a theory than it was a working product.  It wasn’t until a year later, on July 30th, 2015, when the first genesis block was minted and Ethereum’s rapid growth began.

It is the first to put up real competition for the well cemented Bitcoin as it differentiated itself strongly on different points. One of them being much faster and efficient transactions.

Vitalik Buterin, explained his reasoning behind creating Ethereum, saying:

“I thought [those in the Bitcoin community] weren’t approaching the problem in the right way. I thought they were going after individual applications; they were trying to kind of explicitly support each [use case] in a sort of Swiss Army knife protocol.”

What makes the network very promising is first of all its team. For a long time they are directly addressing existing issues publicly and attempting with their best to find solutions for the specific problems. Similar, during an event in Zug they talked about topics like future improvements and scaling.

The co-founder Mr. Buterin, highlighted very clearly while giving positivity to the ecosystem by saying that the public demand for blockchain solutions is very high which makes the team achieve true stability for their created network.

The comments of the team continued with the much-talked about Casper upgrade. The improvement will be initiated during 2019 to create Ethereum network 2.0 with a follow-up of 3.0 in the coming years.

This way, the platform would get hold of quantum secure systems that can keep up with the processing power of quantum computers.

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Before the 'Bomb' Hits: Why the Race Is on to Alter Ethereum's Economics

The proposals just keep piling in.

At press time, a total of six ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) have emerged, each hoping to alter the project’s code ahead of an upcoming software update (scheduled for October).

Driving the debate is ethereum’s so-called “difficulty bomb,” a piece of code locked into the $45 billion platform that makes it so a steadily increasing amount of computing power is needed to mine its blocks and unlock its rewards. As designed, the code would eventually push the blockchain into an “ice age,” where no further blocks can be formed – that is, if left untouched.

Originally added to ease a transition in which ethereum would change how participants on its blockchain come to agreement – migrating from bitcoin’s pioneering proof-of-work algorithm to an alternative called proof-of-stake – the difficulty bomb is set to reactivate in early 2019.

With no proof-of-stake migration in sight, steps must now be taken to delay the bomb — as well as reconfigure how ether rewards are released so as to ensure incentives are aligned to properly secure the blockchain.

But delaying the bomb brings its own problems.

For one, it will make blocks easier for miners to find, meaning ether rewards (currently at 3 ETH) must be decreased along with the delay to ensure that the cryptocurrency is produced at the same rate.

However, because ethereum lacks a formal agreement on its rewards model — unlike bitcoin, whose code caps its creation at 21 million units — there are differing perspectives on how much supply should be reduced, with many calling for a further reduction (and some for an increase) of the quantity of ether that is distributed to miners.

Further, having such a debate in a decentralized network brings added obstacles.

Users, for example, could vote according to how many coins they own — a popular signaling method, but one that has been criticized as too informal a metric. But miners (the individuals dedicating computing power to the software) aren’t guaranteed to support a vote.

It’s worth noting that debates concerning ethereum’s undefined issuance model, as well as the difficulty bomb, have emerged several times throughout ethereum’s three-year history.

As detailed by CoinDesk, it’s a difficult topic because when it comes to monetary policy, miners and investors are pitted against each other, each calling for the opposite outcome in many cases.

As Lane Rettig, an ethereum developer, told CoinDesk:

“The postponement of the bomb isn’t particularly controversial, but the issuance is controversial. But for that reason the whole thing is controversial, you can’t have one without the other.”

Together or separate?

Speaking in a core developer meeting Friday, the communication officer for ethereum, Hudson Jameson suggested a solution could come from separating the two mechanisms.

In a sense, he wants to settle each debate in isolation, tackling one problem before the other.

“I think decoupling them would help us create priorities, where we have one thing which is an economic and technical change and the other which is a pure technical change that isn’t as controversial a thing,” Jameson said.

Several developers pushed back against this, though, stating that the two issues are intrinsically bound together and necessitate a combined solution.

Still, several EIPs target the question separately — impacting either the bomb or the reward schedule – while others bind them together.

Currently set to activate in 2019, two proposals seek to remove the difficulty bomb completely: EIP 1240, which simply removes the bomb, and EIP 1276, which seeks to remove bomb and alter ethereum’s reward structure, lowering the current issuance of 3 ETH per block to 2 ETH.

Two proposals want to delay the bomb: EIP 1234 and EIP 1227, though each takes a different approach to raising and lowering the issuance total.

A further two proposals simply target the issuance rate: EIP 858 does not impact the difficulty bomb but reduces the reward to 1 ETH, and EIP 1276 wants to change the reward to 2 ETH.

Paying for security

Complicating the discussion is the differing views on how much ethereum users should pay for security (in effect that’s how developers see blockchain rewards to begin with).

That’s because, while the inflation rate of ether ensures its resistance against attacks — preventing the ability of malicious hash power to overwhelm the network — it’s essentially a tax that comes from ETH holders directly, as inflation slowly decreases the value of their ETH over time.

Plans to limit the overall issuance with the upcoming consensus switch to proof-of-stake, an upgrade called Casper, have been under discussion for several years, however, that plan is now in question given the consensus switch is still several years away.

“If you rewind way back two or three years ago when this difficulty bomb was first installed, the plan was we will be on Casper by now, by 2018. If that had happened then the bomb would never have been an issue,” Rettig told CoinDesk.

Similarly, the supply schedule has yet to be formalized.

Retting said: “Even with Casper, the issuance schedule, the rewards, the inflation, all that has never been worked out. It has never been finalized, this is called the parameterization of Casper and it’s still very much a work in progress.”

Concerns from everywhere

To complicate matters further, there are developers on complete opposite sides of the difficulty bomb debate.

For instance, several developers argue that the difficulty bomb should remain permanently – even though it was only originally planned to last until Casper took effect.

“It lessens the default effect of inaction being the most attractive option,” ethereum core developer Nick Johnson said in the meeting.

Yet, Augur developer Mical Zoltu’s proposal (EIP 1240) suggests the complete opposite – the removal of the difficulty bomb altogether. Discussing the proposal on a related forum, Zoltu argued that developers should fight against so-called “planned obsolescence”  – or when software is programmed to become obsolete after a certain time – of the ethereum chain.

“As a consumer, I have been bitten many times by planned obsolescence and now it is a business strategy that I actively try to avoid,” Zoltu wrote.

The contention surrounding the difficulty bomb and ETH issuance has also led a group of miners to also speak up about their concerns.

Miners using GPUs, a class of mining hardware that risks being made obsolete due to the emergence of ASICs, are calling for developers to use this opportunity to change ethereum’s underlying mining algorithm. According to GPU miners, in the absence of Casper, such a change would restore the blockchain to a more decentralized state.

As Casper developer Danny Ryan said in the developer meeting Friday:

“They need to be talked about at the same time. A lot of people in the community want them to be talked about at the same time.”

Burnt gears 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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Wanchain's Bridge to the Ethereum Blockchain Is Now Open

Amber Baldet, former JPMorgan blockchain program lead (and current CEO of Clovyr), has expressed her doubts about the proliferation of blockchain protocols: “Each of these blockchains speaks a different language,” she said in April.

Getting different blockchains to talk to one another has become a pressing issue, as more and more protocols pop up – eos, tezos, neo, cardano, not to mention the two incumbent giants, bitcoin and ethereum.

The growing interoperability problem may be meeting its match, however.

On Monday, the Beijing- and Austin-based startup Wanchain announced the live release of its protocol’s version 2.0, which allows for decentralized transactions between its blockchain and ethereum using a form of atomic swap.

With this announcement, wanchain has become one of the first protocols to demonstrate the viability of cross-chain transactions. The project has made linking blockchains its core focus, with the aim of enabling use cases like multi-asset ICOs and better decentralized exchanges – the latter of which has been the goal of a growing number of startups.

Wanchain raised 121,500 ether – worth around $37 million at the time – during its ERC-20 token sale in 2017. In January, it executed a token migration from ethereum to its own blockchain.

For now, Wanchain’s solution only allows ether (the native currency of the ethereum network) to be transferred to wanchain and back, but in time, the statement continued, wanchain will “allow for seamless integration with almost any blockchain in existence.”

“This is a very exciting time for Wanchain in our vision to reshape the world of digital assets and finance,” the company’s founder and CEO Jack Lu said in a statement.

How it works

Teaching blockchain protocols to speak each others’ languages is a daunting technical challenge, Lu contends, because “different blockchains have different consensus algorithms.”

That’s only the first challenge, however. Bitcoin represented such a milestone because it was the first decentralized solution to solve the “double-spend” problem: in a nutshell, since data is infinitely replicable, what’s to stop someone from spending the bitcoin in their account, then spending it again?

Lu told CoinDesk:

“On a single chain, it’s already very challenging to solve the problem of double-spending. And if you’re trying to solve the problem of double-spending cross-chain, it’s even harder.”

In Wanchain’s solution, a group of specialized nodes called “storemen” use a technique called secure multiparty computation to lock a certain amount of ether on the ethereum blockchain – preventing it from being spent, but without destroying it (by sending it to an address without a known private key, for example).

That ether then becomes available on wanchain as the “mapping token,” WETH. If the user wants to transfer the value back to ethereum, the WETH is burned, and the original ether is unlocked using a threshold scheme, in which a certain number of the storemen nodes must provide fragments of a secret key.

That way, no single node can double-spend the ether while the corresponding WETH still exists.

Wanchain is not alone in this market, though. Nuco’s aion project started its work with ethereum as well, releasing a “testnet” version of its ether token bridge in June, plus a handful of other projects and startups have been working on creating links between disparate blockchains – for instance, dogecoin and ethereum.

Yet there seems to be interest around collaborative efforts as they relate to this particular use case. Wanchain and Aion, for instance, joined Icon, another project aimed at cross-chain communication, to form the Blockchain Interoperability Alliance in November, in an effort to prevent a confusing array of competing standards.

Public, private and fiat

Yet, wanchain’s mission doesn’t stop just at interoperability.

The project also aspires to be a blockchain for initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well.

With the release of wanchain 2.0, it is now possible to conduct an ICO on Wanchain that accepts both its WAN tokens and ether.

Soon the list of compatible assets will expand to encompass some ERC-20 tokens. Bitcoin compatibility is slated for the end of this year. Each token it can accept in a crowdsale natively improves the use case for a potential buyer, who doesn’t have to bother with exchanging what they have.

In fact, Wanchain is incubating six ICO projects now.

Besides fundraising, the company has described potential use cases including decentralized exchanges, the seamless transfer of medical records, and credit and lending services.

Eventually, Lu told CoinDesk in a recent interview, “we want to connect with not only the public chains, but also private chains, as well as fiat currency.”

Since Wanchain’s cross-chain communication is a “generic solution,” he said, it would be able to link to central bank-issued crypto assets the same as any other blockchain. He is “confident” that blockchain-based fiat currencies will appear in the near future, adding:

“And then the fiat currency can flow into the crypto economy.”

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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Ethereum (ETH) Remains as One of the Best Long-Term Investment Choices

For the past years since the crypto-verse has gained a catapulting momentum, people are setting Ethereum under their radar of investment heavily. That is of no surprise as it overcame Litecoin and various coins, famous in that time, in a short period.

Even that the profit was mountain sized, it does guarantee a long-term solidity of gain. But, when it comes to Ethereum – speculations, predictions and expectations are of the highest in mid and long term. As always, whenever the talk is about financial investments especially trading, it should be done safely and never over-doing it.

Ethereum Competitor

Without a doubt the race would be no fun with no real competitor. Known as the original, Bitcoin is seen as the catalyst of the crypto-story. Many recognize the whole cryptocurrency verse by just the name Bitcoin. Which is why the first thing that comes to mind is the comparison of Ethereum to Bitcoin.

In general, Ethereum is in-miles away better in tech development as a platform compared to Bitcoin. Ethereum blockchain network offers developers a welcoming infrastructure to expand their ideas and create their own digital currencies. This was the introduction of a new generation of cryptocurrencies attempting to offer more than the previous once did.

That is not even close to all. Ethereum’s aura of attraction continues to glow strong as it teams up with leading corporations like Intel or Microsoft. Many giants are testing the platform for their better.

The team behind the very potential Ethereum blockchain has released the Vyper language. Until now it is receiving very welcoming comments and feedback on social media and such.

Vyper compiles to EVM – Ethereum’s Virtual Machine bytecode very similar to Solidity. However, makes the whole process easier and user friendly.

When the highest level of security is asked for – Vyper will come in hand. For instance, Smart Contracts holding patient health metadata.

“…will deliberately forbid things or make things harder if it deems fit to do so for the goal of increasing security.”

The most compelling evidence for Ethereum’s bright future is their adoption by FinTech which targets the implementation of smart contracts into financing processes. They have publicly showcased their strong interest into developing innovative ways to transforms economic interactions with the help of Ethereum.

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