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Microsoft, Google and Apple To Track Bitcoin (BTC) And Crypto Owners

IRS Google Apple Microsoft Bitcoin

As confusing as the American
cryptocurrency tax law might be, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not
cutting crypto holders any slack. Besides enlisting Chainanalysis, to track
Bitcoin traders, the IRS is now casting its net even wider. The IRS is now
going to use sources such as social media and open source searches to unearth
crypto trading data.

The revenue arm of the US government will also intercept data from electronic surveillance, interviews, and Grand Jury subpoenas to apprehend tax evaders.  On Twitter, Crypto Tax Girl expounds on the matter saying:

“You would think that these subpoenas would be served to crypto exchanges, but the IRS plans on serving them to Apple, Google, and Microsoft in order to search through taxpayers’ download history to see if they have ever downloaded cryptocurrency application.” 

This new information is part of the IRS’s
for its special agents in the Criminal Investigation Division.
The matters discussed in the presentation detail on how to investigate
taxpayers holding crypto reserves.

Bitcoin and Crypto Ownership with Social Activity

In a similar fashion, the IRS will also serve subpoenas to collect PayPal, credit card, and bank for anyone they have as a target. The records will be analyzed for digital assets payments and transactions. CryptoTaxGirl also adds that they will additionally, review “Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to find publicly available BTC and ETH addresses.”

The agents are also under no obligation to notify any taxpayer whose Bitcoin records are under investigation.  This, the IRS presentation says, is in a bid not to impede on the investigation. Bitcoin holders have been at the cross-hairs of the IRS since its Notice 2014-21. The notice declared that digital currencies were property and not a currency and were therefore taxable as such.

For years, some Bitcoin fans have wrongly assumed that BTC trades were safe. A crypto trader’s private details may indeed remain obscured from public scrutiny. However, digital currencies run on a blockchain, which is a public record of all transactions. Through Chainalysis, for instance, the IRS has in the past, unmasked BTC users with unreported profits. 

IRS Hunting For Unreported Capital Gains

Uncle Sam wants those Bitcoin Bull Run profits so bad, that he will do whatever means it takes to get them. Case in point is the Coinbase IRS order to hand over data of its 14,000 digital assets trading clients. The IRS did not have the power to go after every small fish on the exchange.

revenue body instead set limits to BTC holders with $20,000 and above worth of
tokens. By February 2018, the exchange had informed its nabbed 13,000 customers
that they had a summons from the IRS.

With the vigorous updates on the revenue body’s investigations on crypto holders, it is evident that the IRS will now leave no stone unturned. A bipartisan 21-member House of Representatives group is nevertheless asking the US IRS to explain its confusing crypto tax policy.

In a strongly worded letter, Tom Emmer, one of the legislators, has asked the body to guide the taxpayer and eliminate the ambiguity surrounding the laws. The group, for instance, has the government agency to address the confusion on taxation of crypto capital gains.

The post Microsoft, Google and Apple To Track Bitcoin (BTC) And Crypto Owners appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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IRS Allegedly Hopes to Make Tech Giants Release User Crypto Activity

The Internal Revenue Service hopes to require tech giants such as Google and Microsoft to silently share crypto-related activity by users: Report.

The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is allegedly considering requiring tech giants to report on crypto activity by users, according to a presentation reportedly from an IRS presentation and provided by a Twitter user on July 9.

According to the documents shared, the IRS hopes to use Grand Jury subpoenas on firms such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to check taxpayers’ download history for crypto-related applications.

Known as Crypto Tax Girl, Laura Walter, certified public accountant and crypto tax specialist, tweeted the presentation, which was allegedly for agents in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division.

Citing the document, Walter concluded that the tax authority is conducting exhaustive research into detection of criminal tax evasion cases involving crypto. As such, the IRS is considering carrying out interviews, open-source and social media searches, as well as electronic surveillance, the expert noted.

Startlingly, the 181-page document reads:

“Grand Jury Subpoena should be considered for Apple, Google, and Microsoft for the Subject’s complete application download history. Each application’s function should be explored to determine whether or not the application can transmit, or otherwise allow, transactions in bitcoin.”

As Walter emphasized, the presentation envisions that IRS agents ensure that taxpayers are not notified about the obtained information regarding their use of cryptocurrencies to prevent detrimental to the investigation. 

Cointelegraph notes that the IRS has not confirmed the authenticity of the presentation’s origin.

According to the documents provided, the IRS is hoping to serve subpoenas to check data from accounts in banks and Paypal for connection with crypto transactions. Additionally, the tax authority is considering reviewing social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to find and record publicly available cryptocurrency addresses.

Concluding the thread, Crypto Tax Girl wrote:

“There is a ton of other information in there about crypto in general, tracing transactions via the blockchain, limitations of the blockchain, etc. but what you need to know is that the IRS is working HARD to identify criminal tax cases involving cryptocurrency.”

As previously reported, the IRS currently considers cryptocurrencies property. In late 2018, an advisory committee of the IRS expressed its intent to provide additional guidelines for the taxation of crypto transactions.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported on Singapore’s plan to exempt cryptocurrencies that are intended to function as a medium of exchange from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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$515 Million in Bitcoin Spent on Illicit Activity This Year

$515 million in Bitcoin has been spent on illegal activities in 2019, but this only accounts for 1% of total BTC transactions.

Recent research by Chainanalysis suggests that the amount of bitcoin (BTC) spent on illegal transactions this year could hit a record high of $1 billion, even as the ratio of illegal to legal transactions is shrinking, according to a report by Bloomberg on July 1.

As per the report, the total flat value of BTC spent on illegal activity so far this year is thought to be $515 million. The research suggests that by the end of the year, this figure will double to reach $1 billion.

However, the amount of BTC spent on illegal services as opposed to legal ones is on the decline. Chananalysis executive Hannah Curtis says that just 1% of BTC activity this year is illegal activity, which is down from 7% in 2012.

As per the report, the $515 million spent on illegal activities was used in transactions on the dark web: a small subsection of the deep web, which is in turn subsection of the internet that doesn’t appear in search engines (e.g. Google).

The largest illegal dark web marketplace for spending BTC is reportedly “Hydra.” BTC is apparently the cryptocurrency of choice on such marketplaces, and Monero (XRM) comes in second, according to the report. Oftentimes, these marketplaces are involved in the distribution of drugs and/or illegal pornography

As previously reported by Cointelegraph in April, for instance, two men behind the dark web marketplace NextDayGear pled guilty to selling steroids and controlled substances and to money laundering. The website apparently offered injectable and oral steroids, as well as Xanax, Valium and Viagra as a means to stymie unwanted side effects.

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ChainLink (LINK) Popular, Ethereum’s Scalability Could Slow Them Down

ChainLink Link

Oracles are going to revolutionize both blockchain and crypto and ChainLink is set to dominate the oracles market. They are critical connectors whose centrality in the blockchain evolution cannot be understated. The Prediction markets are, for instance, heavily reliant on smart contracts. The burgeoning industry cannot function without trusted oracles. 

These links translate and process off chain information and link into fragmented blockchains. ChainLink “provides reliable tamper-proof inputs and outputs for complex smart contracts on any blockchain.” The platform feeds blockchains with real-world events, up to date data and payments through smart contracts and APIs.

Google has repeatedly made mentions of Ethereum-based oracle project in its Google development blog. The Internet-related services and products giant has integrated its Big Query platform with ChainLink. This will assist the cloud analytics web service to integrate its information processing prowess with blockchain. 

Ethereum Scalability Troubles

Through ChainLink, Google’s BigQuery can take data off real-world data sets and ensure its integrity through the Ethereum based blockchain platform. Similarly, ChainLink names SWIFT as a partner on its parent company, smartcontract. The banking communications network is 11,000 partners strong and has been experimenting with ChainLink’s Proof-of-Concept system.

Some crypto enthusiasts, however, wonder just how any platform built off the Ethereum blockchain could scale for more extensive use cases. Is ChainLink bound to be bogged down by Ethereum’s scalability issues?

XRP Neo, for instance, tweets:

“I see a lot of mention about ChainLink and some people think this is what will be used by SWIFT for cross border payments…. It is an Ethereum token, meaning it’s not scalable enough. Secondly, in the SWIFT document recently released, they mention cross border payments taking seconds in the future. An Ethereum token takes a lot longer than seconds, a couple of minutes at least.”

Most practical, real-world uses of distributed networks such as Ethereum or Bitcoin have been smothered by the scalability shortcoming. There are multiple use cases such as payment networks or AI enabled applications that could disruptions. As an illustration, Ethereum can only handle around 10–15  transactions each second. In contrast, Twitter can handle tens of thousands of API calls in a day. If by 2020, there will 50 billion devices online, blockchains will need to scale easier and faster to support increased use of IoT, machine learning, and AI.

Addressing Scalability

Nevertheless, the answer to ChainLink’s
critics lies in the current developments around blockchain scalability. To
combat Ethereum’s inherent bottlenecks while retaining security, many
improvements are being considered.  Sharding,
for instance, will split up the network into independent sub-chains. The Raiden Network idea will tackle the scalability problem
processing some transactions off the Ethereum blockchain.

The other solution fronted is to turn
the Ethereum blockchain algorithm to proof of stake to increase speeds.
However, novel innovations such as ThunderCore,
which is a ChainLink partner, plan to deal with scalability. The platform that
has raised over $50 million is set to build a faster, and cheaper blockchain
platform. At its heart is the foundation for an enhanced bitcoin. 

According to its CEO Chris Wang, ThunderCore has the capability of processing 1,200 each second. It is therefore 100 times faster that Ethereum or Bitcoin. With all, that speed the blockchain will still maintain Bitcoin’s legendary decentralized trust features, yet have a high performance, scalability, and throughput. It will also be compatible with Ethereum for use by the community’s large developer family.

The post ChainLink (LINK) Popular, Ethereum’s Scalability Could Slow Them Down appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Bitcoin Price Could See $20K in Two Weeks – $100K This Year, Predicts Market Analyst

An eToro analyst believes a correction in Bitcoin prices is possible “very soon,” but nonetheless believes a price of $100,000 could happen this year.

Bitcoin (BTC) prices could match their all-time high of $20,000 within the next two weeks — and could hit $50,000 or $100,000 by the end of the year, eToro analyst Simon Peters claimed on June 26.

According to Peters, it took 7 to 14 days for BTC to reach the record figure of $20,000 when it was last at $11,800.

He cautioned that his short-term prediction is based on the assumption that bitcoin maintains its current parabolic trajectory.

Peters believes this rally is different from past surges because it hasn’t been accompanied by a spike in Google searches for “buy bitcoin” — indicating that the capital entering the market is coming from institutions and investors who had previously parked their funds in stablecoins.

On whether the surge is sustainable, Peters added:

“With the number of sell positions building in the market it’s possible we could see a correction very soon. Even if that was the case though, bitcoin continues to remain on track to close out the first half of the year on a highly positive note. We could see bitcoin reaching $50,000 or even $100,000 this year.”

The analyst went on to note that BTC’s gains are at the expense of altcoins, some of which are being “pummeled” as they languish at significant lows.

Bitcoin’s parabolic advance continued past $12,000 on June 26 — the first time the cryptocurrency has hit this figure in over a year.

Data from CoinMarketCap also suggests BTC has surpassed 60% market dominance for the first time since April 2017, with a capitalization of $226 billion.

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The Current Bitcoin (BTC) Price Rally Lacks Retail Involvement

Bitcoin BTC Google

In a June 18 tweet, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) noted the rising interest in Bitcoin Futures from institutions. The CME illustrated this phenomenon by highlighting its June 17 trading volumes. On that day, open interest in BTC futures spiked to an all-time high of 26,555 BTC or 5,311 contracts. At press time, this totaled to over $246 million.

The CME went on to say:

 “CME Bitcoin futures (BTC) shows growing signs of institutional interest. BTC open interest rose by a record 643 contracts in a single day, establishing a new all-time high of 5,311 contracts on June 17.”

Capital Pumps Behind Bitcoin (BTC) Resurgence

Alex Kruger, a trader, economist, and crypto-analyst could not agree more. He says that the current price pump has hints of systematic buying. He noted that the price action was probably being caused by a pooled strategy to purchase Bitcoin in large volumes. If it were retail driven like its former 2017 BTC bull run, the huge capital pumping the BTC market cap by huge figures in a matter of days would be absent.

In 2017, at the height of the Bitcoin fever, FOMO drove investors to Google. As the king of crypto broke all barriers and shot towards the $20,000 value, the retail market’s reaction was to search for more information on it. Google Trends shows that Bitcoin Google searches were number two on the worldwide news list. Pundits speculate that the price of Bitcoin is highly correlated to its Google search tends. Whenever there is an uptick in searches, something is afoot in the retail market.

In like manner, a Willy Woo study done in 2017, says that Google search trends
can be utilized to detect speculative buyer bubbles too. They can also inform
on the worst of times to buy and the best of times to sell as well. For
instance, when the Bitcoin search volume is low, it is deemed as the best time
to purchase the digital asset. A trader stands to gain a maximum financial
increase in such moments. 

The Correlation Between Retail Involvement and Google Search

When the search volume is abnormally
high, there is a probable BTC bubble, and the prices are about to pull back.
SEMrush also agrees with the correlation between BTC price and Google search
data. The SEO and online visibility platform say that Bitcoin searches were
over 1,258 percent during the 2017 Bull Run. In December 2017, for instance,
users hit the Google search button 17 times more than they did for the USD. 

The SEO platform also notes that the digital asset’s prices moved at par with its search volumes with a correlation coefficient of 95 percent. In contrast, in the current BTC Bull Run however, Bitcoin Google data searches are at 10 percent of what was in 2017. This is a significant pointer that the retail FOMO has not commenced yet. It also could imply that once the retail investor catches on, the price of Bitcoin could go higher than has ever been.

JP Morgan Chase has also made a report to the effect that BTC investing has changed thanks to an influx of institutional interest. Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, the M.D of global market strategy, says that:

 “The overstatement of trading volumes by cryptocurrency exchanges, and by implication the understatement of the importance of listed futures, suggests that market structure has likely changed considerably since the previous spike in Bitcoin prices in end-2017 with a greater influence from institutional investors,”

The post The Current Bitcoin (BTC) Price Rally Lacks Retail Involvement appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Google Searches for ‘Bitcoin’ Starting to Catch Up With $10K Euphoria

Data from Google Trends’ search analytics resource indicates that interest in ‘bitcoin’ is approaching a monthly high as of today, June 24.

Data from Google Trends’ search analytics resource indicates that internet googling of ‘bitcoin’ (BTC) is approaching a monthly high as of today, June 24.

According to the data, searches for bitcoin are continuing their ascent in the week after the unveiling of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency and blockchain-powered financial infrastructure project, Libra, even as searches for Libra itself have tapered off since June 18 — the date the white paper for the forthcoming token was published.

Google trends data for search terms ‘bitcoin’ vs. ‘libra.’ As of June 24 2019

As Cointelegraph noted yesterday, from a wider perspective, the number of Google searches for “bitcoin” remain only around 10% of what they were in 2017 — the year of the top coin’s historic bull run, which peaked at $20,000 in December of that year.

The resurgent public interest is seemingly correlated with the renewed bull market, with bitcoin is currently trading at $10,881, up almost 35% on the month, according to coin360 data.

By country, the top five nations currently googling bitcoin are Nigeria, South Africa, Austria, Switzerland and Ghana — as compared with Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Albania and Panama for Libra.

As Cointelegraph noted yesterday, the fact that Google trends data for bitcoin remains well below its former peak apparently suggests that retail FOMO has not yet become a major driver of the coin’s renewed price momentum. Instead, several parameters indicate that institutional demand for bitcoin is increasing in lockstep, and that network fundamentals are hitting all-time-highs.

While high-profile industry figures such as Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin have critiqued Libra over its lack of decentralization, researchers at top crypto exchange Binance, have proposed that the social media giant’s token could spark additional volume in the cryptocurrency space.

At press time, BTC/USD is consolidating under the $11,000 mark — up over 3% over the past 24 hours, according to Cointelegraph’s bitcoin price index.

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Grand Theft Crypto: The State of Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware and Other Nasty Techniques

In 2019, centralized exchanges and individual hodlers are losing record-breaking sums of digital money to hackers and scammers.

Much of digital assets’ appeal stems from the fact that many of them are not affiliated with or controlled by governments, central banks or transnational corporations (at least, not yet). The price paid for the independence from institutions of global capitalism, though, might sometimes be extremely high, as, in the event of cryptocurrency theft, there is no one to appeal to for recourse. Further still, the irreversible nature of blockchain transactions renders it extremely difficult to get the money back once its gone.

The villains of the internet love cryptocurrencies for the same reasons. In the last few years, marked by the spike of popularity for digital money, hackers and scammers of all sorts have perfected the art of pilfering it from unwitting users, many of whom are newcomers to the space.

Roughly a year ago, Cointelegraph had already compiled a lengthy overview of many popular crypto-stealing tricks and tips on how to avoid falling prey to them. While the list remains relevant as ever, the time has come to revisit the subject to see if there are new threats to your crypto assets to beware of.

Aggregate dynamics

A recent report by cryptocurrency intelligence firm CipherTrace estimated losses from digital currency theft and scams in the first quarter of 2019 at $356 million, with additional fraud or misappropriated fund losses amounting to $851 million in the same period. Alarmingly, this Q1 total of $1.2 billion constituted 70% of the total losses to crypto crime in all of 2018, indicating intensified hacking activity in the first months of 2019.

Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Detections from 2014-2015, Courtesy of Several CTA Members

At the same time, a study conducted by a security company Positive Technologies registers a change in the structure of attacks. The share of cryptojacking — or, hidden cryptocurrency mining — in the overall volume of cyberattacks seems to be declining: Having reached a peak in early 2018, this type of criminal activity dropped to just 7% in the first quarter of 2019. The analysts noted, however, that the observed trend merely reflects the way malware previously used primarily for cryptojacking has become smarter and more versatile. If the virus recognizes that the machine it took over lacks processing power, it may divert to other modes of operation, such as clipboard jacking.

Researchers at Positive Technologies predicted an increase in the overall number of attacks in the second quarter of the year. Their report pointed out malware and social engineering as attackers’ most widely used tactics and recorded the increasing prominence of ransomware attacks. These findings are further corroborated by ransomware recovery company Coveware, whose analysis revealed a 89% increase in an average ransom from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019.

Related: Round-Up of Crypto Exchange Hacks So Far in 2019 — How Can They Be Stopped?

Although perpetrators of ransomware attacks demand payments in cryptocurrency, nearly always, this type of criminal activity is not specific to the crypto sphere, targeting companies from a wide range of industries. This type of intrusion entails infecting the victim’s device with a piece of code that denies the owner access to their system or data, and demanding payment to regain access. Since these attacks usually prey on fairly large corporate entities, we will skip over to those that seek to part individual crypto investors with their digital funds.

Malware or social engineering?

One intuitive way to classify attacks that target users’ digital assets could be to juxtapose those that seek to find weak spots in software (say, secretly infecting victim’s computer with an ingenious virus) and those aimed at exploiting errors in human judgement (fooling a person into handing over their wallet’s private key).

Yet, in fact, these two modes exist on a spectrum rather than on a binary scale. The most successful thefts entail some degree of participation on behalf of the victim — such as opening a phishing email, using public Wi-Fi to check a crypto wallet or willingly installing a shady app — and a piece of malicious code, whether it is a Trojan or a scam bot on Slack.

Breaking the variety of threats down according to the attack vector is perhaps a more meaningful strategy. It is also far from optimal, though, as many known viruses these days can alter their behavior according to circumstances, and are capable of both installing hidden miners and simply stealing keys as needed. The following topology is therefore highly contingent.

Clipboard hijacking

Because no one wants to manually type in long strings of random alphanumeric characters that are also case-sensitive, we all use the copy/paste function to indicate the addresses we send our coins to. Clipboard hijackers (aka clippers) are pieces of malware that detect an event of clipboard use to store a crypto wallet address then trigger a script that replaces the correct address with that of an attacker. As a result, often without the victim realizing what happened, the digital currency flows straight to the thief’s pocket. Using the same technique, clippers are capable of stealing passwords and keys as well.

Related: Crypto Crime Trends Evolving as Users Wise Up: Exchange Hacks, Darknet and Money Laundering

Perhaps the most sinister specimen of clipper malware uncovered so far in 2019 is the one that made it on the Google Play Store disguised as the mobile version of MetaMask, a popular client used to access decentralized applications (DApps) from a web browser — except, there is no MetaMask version for mobile. Although it was taken down soon after discovery, the very fact that the app managed to make it past Google Store’s defenses is impressive and it reminds us that even the authenticity of software found in major stores should not be taken for granted.


Cryptojacking, also known as hidden mining, is the covert exploitation of other users’ devices to mine cryptocurrency. Usually, a targeted computer gets infected by a Trojan that installs a miner. Victims do not get stripped of their crypto assets directly, yet the losses they sustain may be quite unpleasant, from footing enormous electricity bills to having an overloaded computer break down.

The number of detected attacks of this type exhibits a curious pattern of strong correlation with crypto prices. As the aforementioned reports suggested, the overall share of cryptojacking attacks appears to be declining this year — however, the ingenuity of their perpetrators is only growing. Some hidden mining operations may reach extraordinary scale, too: As Cointelegraph recently reported, a campaign using cryptojacking malware to mine the privacy-focused cryptocurrency turtlecoin (TRTL) was found to have infected more than 50,000 servers worldwide.

Just a few days ago, two browser extensions that secretly sponged their users’ central processing units (CPUs) to mine privacy-focused cryptocurrency monero were discovered on the official Google Chrome store. Previously, such malware was found to be hiding in legitimate Adobe Flash updates and convincingly posing as Windows installation packages.

Infection Chain

Researchers from cybersecurity firm Trend Micro have uncovered a fascinating tactic employed by cryptocurrency hackers to smuggle monero miners onto Oracle enterprise servers. In order to obfuscate the malicious code, the program hides it in certificate files. This way, they go unnoticed by antivirus software that automatically treats certificate files as reliable.

Website clones

Having originated in the remote corners of the darknet, where online stores selling illicit substances have long been “cloned” by scammers seeking to trick drug users into transferring bitcoin to their accounts, the technique is well and alive as of June 2019. The latest example is the case of the crypto trading website Cryptohopper, whose malicious copy facilitated in the infection of the computers of unwitting crypto traders who visited it. The victims had both mining and clipboard hijacking Trojans installed, resulting in an aggregate loss of almost $260,000.

Cryptocurrency trading platforms and exchanges appear to be the area of crypto sphere most vulnerable to hacking attacks, as they present shortcuts to swaths of centrally stored digital assets. Sky Guo, CEO and co-founder of Cypherium, told Cointelegraph that this has to change in order for the industry to be able to cope with rising security threats:

“Security threats happen on the level of the software, the infrastructure. But our industry needs to realize that there are dangers attached to presenting something as ‘decentralized’ in order to cash in on the security advances of blockchain tech. Projects like Facebook’s Libra and some other major projects already leading in our industry still have central points of failure by virtue of their highly permissioned network structures, and they need to be more transparent about the security implications of such systems.”

Related: What Is Libra? Breaking Down Facebook’s New Digital Currency

Social engineering as a separate trend

The term “social engineering” refers to a broad scope of malicious activities whereby wrongdoers use human interactions to accomplish their goals. These attacks usually rely on less sophisticated technical solutions, seeking to exploit the victims’ lack of attention, literacy or understanding of the context in order to obtain sensitive information or extort digital assets. As more people without much technical sophistication flock into the crypto space, simple schemes that didn’t stand a chance with old-school crypto buffs might suddenly become efficient.

Matthew Finestone, the director of business development at Loopring, an open-source protocol for building decentralized exchanges, observed to Cointelegraph:

“I really see attacks drawing on human inattention becoming more prevalent. It’s dangerous because newcomers to the space aren’t aware of these threats, and they often fail to realize that there is no recourse after cryptocurrency is sent, unlike traditional financial systems that can bail you out in worst case scenarios. Being careful, and learning from resources such as your article are a good starting point.”

Finestone also recalled his recent experiences with two rather simplistic social engineering schemes: one that came with an aggressive threat to release some harmful or embarrassing information if a crypto ransom was not sent to them shortly and another pretending to come from a friend or colleague asking for some coins. He concluded that both, like the majority of social engineering schemes, could be easily combated with vigilance and a healthy dose of common sense.

In fact, these universal principles apply to any type of potential attack aimed at your digital money. While a few of them are incredibly sophisticated, the majority count on the victim’s disregard of telltale signs apparent to the naked eye. It is always a good idea to double-check wallet addresses when performing transactions and to scrutinize the spelling of trading-related domains you visit. Making sure that your antivirus software is up to date is another useful habit that could save you some bitter regrets over digital money lost forever.

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From Exploitation to Collaboration: Nasdaq-Listed Firm’s Vision for the Future of Advertising

A Nasdaq-listed company says it is offering a blockchain-enabled alternative to “centralized authorities that perpetuate ad fraud, waste and abuse.”

A Nasdaq-listed company says it is creating a blockchain-enabled platform designed to decentralize data and empower consumers — all while giving brands an alternative to Facebook and Google in the quest to reach the public.

Phunware says it is leveraging 10 years of mobile technology experience to enable brands to deliver relevant content to a highly targeted audience, increasing engagement and resulting in a more memorable experience. Customers who share their data with a brand or build loyalty by engaging in profitable behavior, receive incentives, the team adds. Businesses can also begin to benefit from the technology by “supercharging” their current mobile apps with Phunware software add-ons, helping to reduce the cost of embracing a new approach to advertising and marketing.

At the beating heart of the company’s cloud platform for mobile is its Knowledge Graph. This graph database leverages machine learning to curate information that is gathered from a broad range of datasets, such as those acquired from smartphones and tablets that have Phunware software installed. From here, brands can unlock new features and data — safe in the knowledge that it is accurate, auditable and verifiable.

According to Phunware, its solution is designed to not only reimagine how brands engage consumers, but also to address the issue of ad fraud — a problem that the World Federation of Advertisers predicts could cost firms $50 billion a year by 2025.

Phunware represents ‘a better way’ and the alternative to centralized authorities that perpetuate ad fraud, waste and abuse,” the company says. “The era of data collection through surveillance and exploitation is coming to an end. Phunware is ushering in a new era of data collection through collaboration and compensation.”

One important element of the company’s quest to save businesses money is by focusing on relevance — and eliminating what it regards as a flawed model in which brands end up paying internet giants even when their promotions reach someone who would never have any intention of purchasing their product.

Mobile first

As emphasis continues to shift to smartphones and wearables, Phunware says it wants to get a head start by building the infrastructure it needs for a new age of digital transformation into a mobile-first world now. The company compares its ambitions to those of Amazon, which built huge distribution centers early on and left other retailers struggling to catch up — and says its goal is to build a decentralized network to distribute data so that brands can better “identify, engage, manage, monetize and retain consumers forever.”

Phunware is available here

This is achieved by offering businesses deeper audience insight than they could ever hope to achieve through search engines and social networks. Brands can convert would-be shoppers into paying customers by delivering context-aware notifications and content that fully reflects the characteristics and habits of their target audience. Phunware is also a leading provider of indoor positioning technology, so branded content that is displayed to consumers can be personalized by weaving in this intelligence in more engaging ways, including based on location.

Phunware believes that such one-to-one interactions have never been possible on a global scale before — let alone in real time. The company’s latest statistics suggest that its Multiscreen-as-a-Service platform (or MaaS, for short) managed to reach an estimated 1 billion unique devices per month in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

A blockchain system with purpose

Phunware was one of only 10 companies selected by IBM for its new IBM Blockchain Accelerator. Part of the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, the accelerator is designed to provide enterprise companies with access to the assets, knowledge and support they need to build sustainable blockchain businesses and enterprise-grade blockchain networks.

Phunware says it offers a dual token economy in which one digital asset, PhunCoin, is a compliant security token that enables consumers to “monetize their digital identity,” while Phun is a utility token that enables consumers to “monetize digital activity” as they engage with brands by completing surveys, viewing branded content and participating in marketing campaigns.

Randall Crowder, chief operating officer of the United States-based company, said:

“We are excited to introduce Phun as a new utility token to not only support our ecosystem’s commercial launch worldwide, but also to position Phun for future exchange listings and enable the international community to get more actively involved as we drive towards mainstream adoption beyond our domestic borders.”

Phunware’s blockchain-enabled data exchange and mobile loyalty ecosystem was launched this week, all with a view toward enabling consumers to take control of their digital identity, “be compensated” for engaging with brands and wrestle power back from “untrustworthy intermediaries.”

Learn more about Phunware

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.