Coinbase To Support Ethereum ERC20 Tokens

Coinbase just announced it will be supporting the trade of ERC20 tokens.  A lot of times in the crypto world I look and shake my head and I just can’t stop with this one.  I could see if Coinbase wanted to support actual currencies like Ripple, Lumens, Monero etc… those are reasonably safe currencies to invest in.

ICOs which are essentially crowdfunding/pseudo-stocks (depending on who you ask) are extremely risk and I would say about 90% of those are fraudulent in that they collect your coins and never intended to deliver anything.  I think we can all agree at any rate that ICOs are extremely risky and HODLING may be as useful with those tokens as holding RIM stock.

Coinbase has a huge client base and is one of the easiest ways for people to get into cryptocurrency.  However, they risk bringing regulatory wrath and also dampening new investors from coming in when they get burnt on these ICO scams.

It’s recently come to my attention that some people weren’t aware that Ethereum Smart Contracts or ERC20 tokens are not vetted, supported or approved by the Ethereum team in any way.  This is  huge issue of course and why I am so against smart contracts at the moment.  Let’s get cryptocurrency as an infrastructure in terms of B2B,B2C,C2C etc… working fast, efficiently, securely and easily before biting off more than we can chew!

I am also at a loss as to how the Coinbase legal team approved this one?  Did they run it by any counsel at all?  I think if and when people lose massive amounts that Coinbase could be held liable regardless of waivers and disclaimers for losses in some of the huge ICO busts and scams to come.  Especially when there are so many other avenues and stable currencies they could have directed their customers to.

I am fearful for the investors, for Coinbase and the cryptocurrency market as a whole but should these warnings go unheeded and “things go terribly wrong” then it would be a good, fresh start for the industry.  Investors also need to do their diligence and exercise good understanding and judgement before making investment decisions.

It will be interesting to see where this leads but I would never recommend any friend or family member to invest in any Ethereum Based Token ICO and to stick with solid and real cryptocurrencies that solve the problems of today.

Binance Moves HQ to a Welcoming Country of Malta

Recently, a famous cryptocurrency exchange, Binance got into issues in Japan although it is based in Hong Kong.  Malta is a Southern European island country which is essentially located between Italy and Tunisia. It moved its HQ to Malta to an apparently very welcoming Prime Minister who said the following on Twitter:

. We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies

Although this is very encouraging it remains to be seen how much they can weather storm from external pressures.  Malta is not a strong or powerful country so if a foreign country or powerful bankers threatened Malta to comply with their wishes against cryptocurrency could they really refuse?

The announcement from Malta is good but it will take a stable and powerful country to do the same for cryptocurrency people and business to migrate there.  It may provide temporary protection or respite but what is truly needed is for a place like Hong Kong or Singapore to step up and do something similar.

At this point I think Venezuela may be the leader in this regard but the major risk with Venezuela is the political, economic and social stability.  If they can resolve those issues Venezuela could be like the Hong Kong or Singapore of Latin America in no time.

IRS / US Taxman Says Cryptocurrency Income IS Taxable

Like the old saying goes one thing is certain “taxes and death”.  The IRS definitely hasn’t disappointed even cryptocurrency owners by clearly stating cryptocurrency is taxable.

Hopefully the rules will be fair.  I feel it should only be taxable like any stock, so when there is a capital gain through resale.

The same rules of the IRS apply for tax evasion if you’re a US citizen and don’t report your crypto earnings.  One other interesting thing is how the IRS has got their hands on Coinbase data for some users.  This will certainly be used to go after users who’ve made profits.

Why Deleting Facebook Is Futile Unless…..

I’ve had this conversion with a lot of people over the years and what I’ve found is that the majority of people are complacent about privacy and security.  In a way it is good that some have woken up to what Facebook is and has been doing but this idea of some floated around that “I will trust Facebook until it gave me reason not to”.  This is a completely flawed idea in my opinion.  Facebook was never trustworthy and its TOS always gave it a right to violate your privacy, harvest your data for both government and marketing purposes etc… In fact Google, Gmail, Hotmail, Telegram, Whatsapp and the list goes on are free for a reason.  One, they make money by spying on you and they also provide a great backdoor to the NSA to spy on you (hopefully everyone now understand the PRISM spying network).

There were times where some would debate about the length and depth of spying by major free services but this is no longer in debate.  If you are using these freebie services and just delete Facebook alone you haven’t done enough.

Here are some steps to secure yourself and your privacy:

Delete Everything!

Seriously stop using these free chat and e-mail services and tell your friends and family that you won’t communicate via those mediums.

Secure Your E-mail

Use your very own, owned e-mail server with encryption including GnuPG to encrypt e-mails in both transit and storage.  There are providers who can get you a VPS or full Dedicated Server for this purpose.  You will probably find that your e-mail stops going missing, is fast and more reliable to boot!

Stop Using US Based Massive Cloud Servers

This could be in the form of an Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba VPS instance but you can expect that those services will not be keeping your data private and most likely have been obliged to allow backdoor access to your server and data.

Another type of user would again be those who “store data in the Microsoft, Google or Apple Cloud”.  Stop using those services if you value your privacy.

Secure Your Chat

Everyone likes instant chat but did you ever wonder why all the traditional chat services like ICQ and MSN Messenger shutdown?  My belief is that being forced to chat on your phone makes it easier to both identify and track you but also to spy on you.  Once again top offenders are Telegram, Whatsapp and any similar ones.

To secure your chat you should run your own encrypted chat server.

These are just a few common sense things you can do to make it much more difficult to have your rights and privacy violated.  Personal and intimate moments shouldn’t be uploaded to the Cloud for corporate and government agencies to peruse!]

In general try to think in a security minded way perhaps as you would your house.  Would you feel secure at home if you knew your living quarters was shared with multiple people or that it was being spied on constantly.   Think about steps you would take to protect your house or property from intruders and spies.  Your digital house works the same way, so be sure to keep the keys and access in your control and not that of a third party which can’t be trusted.

Donald Trump USA Bans Nicolas Maduro’s Petro Coin

The USA’s President Trump has officially banned the Petro Coin.  This is actually encouraging and not unexpected.  To me it speaks volumes that it can work but is working, otherwise there would be no point in banning it.  Apparently it will also be possible to exchange Petro for the Russian Ruble.  As I suspected I feel strongly that the initial funding largely consisted of China, Russia and Iran and that more support will be ongoing once the coin is launched.

As an investor I am a bit frustrated with this ICO (as I am with most these days) because it took way too long to find information about it and individual investors have been locked out.  They really do risk alienating the audience they were targeting as I am getting frustrated and losing interest fast.  However, the prospects for this first state backed coin remain high and will either boom or bust I predict.  And there will probably be a lot more booming considering what is at stake and the support that Venezuela has.

If the US thought the Petro Coin would be worthless and had no hope of succeeding it’s unlikely they would ban it.  Regardless of what we may personally feel, this is a strategic tactic by the US to stop the first country to try to evade sanctions placed on it.  It will be another precedent if Petro succeeds and other sanctioned countries can freely trade in this similar way or ecosystem created by Venezuela.

Ironically Venezuela is helping to keep the cryptocurrency dream alive which is becoming your own bank and that no one has the right to freeze, take or prevent the spending of your money.

We Need A Better Coin Now!

Cryptocurrency today as of the time of this writing is in a bit of a flux and identity crisis.  Part of this is due to a well directed campaign in the news via government and banking entities.  However, I will always give credit where it is due and many of the flaws that have been pointed out by these entities are completely true.  In fact, from a business, security and IT standpoint I find that most cryptocurrencies are almost impossible to use.  There are coins that individually address “some of the issues” but I have never seen a coin or team that “just seems to get it”.

Whether it’s how an ICO is run, basic functionality, security, privacy, getting out information it seems apparent to me that the vast majority of teams and coins do not sufficient combined IT and Business Knowledge to make things work.

There are just so many issues with a lot of the top coins that could kill them, let me name a few in no particular order.

Speed – 99% of cryptocurrencies are extremely slow taking minutes, hours or several days to complete a transaction!

Expensive – A lot of times you can spend a small fortune just sending a small amount of coin to someone (you could spend $100 to send $5 of coins with some Ethereum tokens for example)!

Security – Most coins are by default completely insecure.  Any coin that has a public ledger is insecure and has 0 privacy.  This allows for replay attacks and all kinds of nasty things.  It also means your activities are easily tracked and traced.  Imagine if your competitors can see exactly who is paying and who you are paying including the full amounts?  It would put your business at a huge disadvantage.  Having “public, permissionless blockchain” such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin etc..  will mean the coins can never be secure when the whole public is involved.

Hardforks – Most coins are easily counterfeited, hard or softforked where basically anyone can copy an entire coin and just rename it and call it their own, while confusing and devaluing the original coin holders.  This should never be able to happen just for the reason of sanity, continuity and integrity.  There have already been scams like the BTG Scam and replay attacks.

PoW/Mining – It is absolutely crazy that mining still exists, as cool as it originally was, mining is now a hindrance in many ways to the cryptocurrency community.  Not only is it wasteful in terms of energy resources, it is unsustainable in both environmental, monetary and functional terms.  Returns are so slow with most major coins that it is almost not worth it unless your power is cheap or free.

To top it off why on earth should we let transactions be controlled by “miners finding the next block”.  It doesn’t secure the network anymore and that is because coins like Bitcoin were created before ASICs and assumed “no one would party would hold more than 10% hashing power”.  Of course single pools in China have way more than 10% power and so do some mining farms possibly.  This means that pools and large farms could work together to defraud people by sending false transactions and confirming it among themselves.  By the time the scam is realized the parties who initiated the scam would already have escaped with the money.

Mining also leads to centralization, the very thing that cryptocurrency was meant to avoid.  This inevitable because as difficulty increases, only large corporate or government players with deep pockets can continue.

The same applies with running full nodes, large organizations will be the one running them.

Usability – Most coins are unusable because they are slow and insecure but to make it worse there’s more.  The current coins are not easily integrated in a secure way.  You shouldn’t have to run a full Litecoin, Bitcoin or Ethereum node on a huge mega server with tons of RAM and HDD just to create receiving addresses and receive payments.  This not only inefficient, it is insecure because the same computer that generates the receiving addresses is usually the one that holds the wallet/funds.

To top it off you can send to a wrong or non-existent address and lose your money forever with virtually all currencies.  Blockchain is just a big database, couldn’t some query be done to make sure the address actually exists?!  On top of that there is no feedback, send by e-mail or notifications by e-mail you always need to keep your wallet open to notice.  It would be much easier if these different functions are kept separate.  However this is a problem too because most cryptocurrencies are admittedly not secure if you don’t sync the entire chain.  And that’s another issue, syncing is a huge issue with coins like Ethereum it is extremely slow and takes a ridiculous amount of CPU cycles.  Imagine paying someone from Craigslist in person  and one of you says “hold on mate sorry I have to wait for my wallet to sync for hours or days!”.

 

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg finally apologies for the 3rd party data breach

Mark Zuckerberg has been noticeably absent since the scandal broke.  It personally doesn’t surprise me because Facebook has never been safe, secure or private regardless of your privacy settings.  Your data is legally there to be traversed by third parties for marketing purposes and for governmental agencies to surveil and analyze you.  This is essentially all in the TOS and for a company based in the US they are legally obligated to co-operate with entities such as the NSA, FBI, CIA for whatever they need, even if it would normally be a violation of the law.

To add insult to injury, Mark Zuckerberg actually didn’t apologize in his initial response to the privacy issues.

Deeper issues have recently revealed right to the top of the British Government and the Royal Family, including MoD ties to SCL (the company which is regarded as one and the same as CA).  They had contracts with NATO, UK Tory Party, and even the US State Department.  There is a General Tolhurst who is an aide to the Queen who is also on the board of SCL.  Even closer is a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth the II, Ivar Mountbatten.

The reason I mention all of this is because it sounds more like a co-operation between elite business and government than an accidental data breach or hacking done on behalf of a private company.

This could be why Mark Zuckerberg has been so quiet about it, after all those who are familiar with IT security and espionage cannot believe this is just a group of hackers.  With the breach being so significant and wide scale, why didn’t Facebook notice this sooner?  It seems like they either noticed it or were fully aware, but only took action after someone revealed it to the public.

I am certain more revelations will come out and they will probably be no less shocking than what we know.

NEM Gives Up Chase for $500M USD in Stolen Coins

For no apparent reason NEM has given up the chase for these coins.  In all fairness I don’t think it was ever their issue, the stolen coins were the fault of the Coincheck Exchange’s security and not due to any flaw in the NEM client or network side.  Of course naturally they were interested but one bold prediction is that “hackers would not be able to launder the coins due to lack of liquidity”.  I am not sure if the NEM developers really believed that or if they thought heat on the exchanges would dissuade or slow the thieves down.  I suspect they exchanged the NEM for other coins and then sold them back again clean through multiple exchanges.

I would say this isn’t bad for cryptocurrency because bank heists occur each day and nothing stops one from spending or exchanging the money in real life.  It’s really no different than the initial fears of “e-commerce sites were hacked” just as real life stores have theft and holdups everyday.  It is just a matter of mitigation whether physical or virtual.

But with that aside NEM clearly said they were ending the chase and wouldn’t say much more due to the “sensitivity of the investigation”.  This is something I find a little strange, is it that they did find something but the authorities have forbidden them from disclosing it?

Was this an inside job on the part of Coincheck in Japan or was it something else explosive that they found?  Could it have been a rival currency, bankers or government behind the hack?  Anything is possible and speculation will rightfully run abound until more details emerge.

Pablo Escobar’s Brother Trafficks an ICO and new Bitcoin Fork!

Pablo Esobar’s brother makes some very bold claims surrounding his new cryptocurrency launch.

https://www.ccn.com/pablo-escobar-brother-diet-bitcoin/

One of those claims is that Bitcoin was created by the CIA, however this may be contradicted by the fact he also claims he met a Satoshi Nakamoto of Japan.  As proof he shows a Passport bearing the same name:

satoshi-passport

Of course it is possible someone from Japan could be working for the CIA, most people don’t believe a single person created Bitcoin.  So I do think there is credence to believing a large organization such as the CIA or other resourceful and skilled group created Bitcoin (so I call this one plausible).

Some critics have said his website for his coin Diet Bitcoin was nearly copied from the original bitcoin.org and that so are the specs.  I’m going to be fair in that I don’t see how Diet Bitcoin is any worse than other Bitcoin forks such as Bitcoin Gold.  As many know I am against hardforks as I see them as counterfeiting, being confusing and just simply wrong but it also illustrates weaknesses in any currency which can be copied in such a manner (where I believe forks should be impossible to keep the network secure and ensure integrity).

 

 

Edward Snowden Says Bitcoin’s Downfall Is Public Ledger

I couldn’t have said it better myself although I have said as much about all cryptocurrencies which have a public ledger.   Edward Snowden made the comment at the Blockstack event in Berlin, Germany.   They are completely insecure and unsuitable for personal or business use in the long-term due to a lack of privacy.   There are other issues that Edward touched on such as extremely slow transaction times and many more I’ve talked about in other posts.

Snowden also predicted that a coin which fixes these various issues could be the one to replace Bitcoin.  While I fully agree privacy and security in Bitcoin and most other coins are an issue, aside from that most currencies are slow, inefficient, difficult to use and simply don’t work properly to send or receive payments.  This will all eventually be fixed but so far what I find is that some currencies fix one problem while ignoring the rest.