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Bitcoin Around the World: Switzerland

insidebitcoins.com / Ian Jackson / Jan 27, 2015 7:09 AM EST

LONDON (InsideBitcoins) — There can be no greater display of inconspicuous wealth than the utterance of the phrase ‘Swiss bank account.’ The sentiment alone is dripping with hidden imagery of luxurious private banking suites, alpine vistas and tales of celebrities protecting their assets from estranged spouses. Your money isn’t safe in a Swiss bank account, it’s just safer.

Swiss law prohibits the bank from disclosing information about your account and any banker doing so can face up to six months in prison and a hefty fine for his troubles but they still have to cooperate with the law when it comes to criminal investigations. It is a supreme irony that users of the much-maligned bitcoin have been in possession of their own private ‘Swiss’ bank account for years now.

The skies above the Swiss capital Bern may not be filled with as many private jets as you might expect but the wealth of the country, much of it from controversial sources, is undeniably ostentatious. The Swiss GDP per capita sits at an impressive $80,000, eclipsing the US figure of $53,000, though not quite reaching the giddy heights of Scandinavia’s utopia-state Norway, which clocks in at $100,000. Still, such figures have to be adjusted for purchasing power and Switzerland is a ruinously expensive place to be; adjusted figures place its standard of living comparable to that of the United States — though with a more even distribution of wealth evident.

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MadBitcoins interviews Max from CureCoin #BitcoinMiami 2015

MadBitcoinsPublished on Jan 26, 2015

Colorado Bitcoin Trader Arrested, Could Face 5 Years in Prison

cointelegraph.com / William Suberg / 2015-01-27 11:34 AM

Bitcoin trader Burton Wagner has been arrested and may face 5 years in prison for his money transmitting activities dating back to 2012.

The US Federal Prosecution accuses Wagner of operating without a money transmitting license in a state where such operation is punishable as a misdemeanor or felony. The Feds further allege that Wagner participated in the Pirate Pass-Through scam operated by the now-infamous Bitcoin Savings & Trust.

As they say in an indictment submitted to the Federal District Court of Colorado, Wagner was “in the transport and transmission of funds that were known to the defendant to have been derived from a criminal offense and were intended to be used to promote and support unlawful activity.”

The extent of Wagner involvement in the Bitcoin Savings & Trust Ponzi scheme has yet to be ascertained, while Silicon Angle reports that there is “ample evidence” that he was “pushing” the scheme in a senior investment capacity.

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SAFELLO EXPANDS SERVICES TO DENMARK AND NORWAY

cryptoarticles.com / JP Buntinx / January 27, 2015

Swedish Bitcoin exchange Safello has expanded to neighboring countries Norway and Denmark in order to make the process of buying and selling Bitcoin more easy by using local bank transfers. Norwegian Bitcoin enthusiasts have been plagued by a lack of decent options after Norway’s largest Bitcoin exchange lost their bank accounts and was forced to shut down their operations. Safello is now targeting the power vacuum left behind in Norway, as they want to bring the Norwegian people and Bitcoin together once again.

HARD TO BREAK THE ICE IN THE UK

Penetrating local market is not easy these days, and especially not for Bitcoin-related companies. However, Safello, while being regulated by the Swedish Financial Authority, managed to secure a local bank account in the United Kingdom, which was unfortunately shut down a month later.  But rest assured, as Safello will not give up on their plans to enter the UK market in 2015.

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Bitcoin Ransomware Now Spreading via Spam Campaigns

coindesk.com / Nermin Hajdarbegovic / January 26, 2015 at 17:36 GMT

Security firms McAfee Labs and Symantec have issued warnings that a type of bitcoin-demanding ransomware, CTB-Locker, is now being propagated through spam campaigns.

The malware, the name of which stands for ‘Curve Tor Bitcoin Locker’, was first identified last year. However, the spam distribution approach appears to be a relatively new development.

McAfee published its latest advisory last week, describing CTB-Locker as a form of ransomware that encrypts files on the target computer. Anecdotal evidence suggests .jpg image files are a frequent target. The victim then has to pay a ransom to have the files decrypted.

Symantec said in a recent blog that the process of dealing with crypto malware is “particularly nasty to deal with”.

How it works

Upon installation, CTB-Locker injects malicious code into the ‘svchost.exe’ file, creating a scheduled task for moving and encrypting files.

The malware encrypts the compromised files using elliptical curve encryption, which appears to be equivalent to RSA encryption with a 3,072-bit key.

Once the encryption is complete, the user is informed of the attack through a pop-up ransom message.

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How Bitcoin Exchanges Should Secure Their Wallets

insidebitcoins.com / Kyle Torpey / Jan 26, 2015 8:55 AM EST

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — Due to the many hacks and thefts that have taken place in the bitcoin industry over the past few years, it makes sense for anyone holding a large amount of bitcoins to act a bit paranoid when it comes to the security of their private keys. At the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Ciphrex CTO Eric Lombrozo and Bitcoinsultants president Michael Perklin gave a presentation on proper bitcoin wallet security.

These two companies developed the vault used by Ethereum to secure the bitcoins raised during their ether crowdsale, but the lessons laid out in their talk could also apply to exchanges, bitcoin banks, and anyone else who is responsible for the security of a valuable bitcoin address. In the case of the Ethereum crowdsale, Lombrozo, Perklin, and their coworkers were responsible for securing over 31,000 bitcoins.

What are the main risks when securing bitcoins?

When beginning their talk, Lombrozo and Perklin wanted to cover some of the key risk areas for securing a valuable bitcoin wallet. The three main categories of risk were laid out as follows:

  • Natural disasters – This covers any sort of problem caused by mother nature. If a flood or fire wipes out your private keys, you can say goodbye to your stack of bitcoins.
  • Theft and inside jobs – This category covers any sort of threat of theft from outside or inside the organization securing the bitcoins. It should be noted that a case of insider theft could also be caused by coercion. The example pointed out by Perklin during the talk was a situation where one of the key holder’s daughters was kidnapped. It’s possible that the kidnapper could require that individual’s private key as ransom for their daughter’s safe return.

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MCGILL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS LEARNING BITCOIN THROUGH GUERILLA EDUCATION

cryptocoinsnews.com / Gerrard Hartley / January 27, 2015

Through a combined effort between the McGill Cryptocurrency Club and the Bitcoin Embassy, McGill University students are going to be able to receive an education on bitcoin if they’d like to receive it.

This spring, both organizations plan on handing out 30 mBTC per student to around 600 students on campus. They’re calling it an “airdrop,” even though there’s no parachuting person flying down or drones sending care packages from the sky, but the event will be a delivery of bitcoins regardless.

In a statement, the Bitcoin embassy said the MIT Bitcoin Airdrops inspired them to bring the concept to McGill University.

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P2P Connects Us Special #1 – Coinbase E1

Published on January 26th, 2015 by John Light

ISOHunt Giving Away $100,000 For Improvements To The PirateBay Source Code

cointelegraph.com / Ian DeMartino / 2015-01-26 08:40 PM

When the PirateBay went down last month, it caused shock waves to ripple through the, let’s say “alternative media acquisition” space.  It was the most popular pirating site and was famous for openly taunting DCMA requests on its website. Its fall has led to a few sites opening that claim to be the rebirth of the original site, despite not having any official connection to the original creators.

One of those sites, Oldpiratebay.org, was launched by the ever-popular ISOhunt team. It uses the The PirateBay’s source code, which they also released, so that anyone can launch their own clone of The PirateBay. That has predictably resulted in a bevy of pull requests. The ISOHunt team decided that getting some help from the community is in order.

To help move things along and fix the legal liabilities that come with running a single torrent site, ISOHunt is pledging $100,000 in Bitcoin for Mods, developers, uploaders and other members who contribute to the OpenBay project.

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XBTERMINAL’S COO ALEKS NOWAK : “I WOULD CALL 2014 THE YEAR OF THE ALTCOIN”

cryptoarticles.com / JP Buntinx / January 25, 2015

Despite his busy schedule, I managed to get a hold of our friend Aleks(ander) Nowak, COO of XBTerminal. Aleks agreed to conduct a short written interview prior to his presentation at the Bitcoin Expo 2015 later today, and you can find our discussion topics below.

JP : Hello Aleks, can you give our readers a general impression of the year 2014 for you personally and professionally?

Aleks : 2014 was an interesting year generally – we saw yet more banking scandal and generally a hard hit to all the markets including Bitcoin towards the end of the year. Adoption has been slower than we might have liked and generally the volatility of the price hasn’t helped consumers. It’s not terribly convenient for normal consumers to have a wallet loaded with something that will have changed in value while they are out.

JP : What is your take on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in 2014?

Aleks : I would call 2014 the year of the Alt-coin.  We have seen so many innovative new features and technologies appear. However what has been very apparent is that with few exceptions that most Alts were pump and dump schemes irrespective of the value of the technology which is a shame as a lot of people got burnt.

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Despite decline, bitcoin fans keep the faith

bostonglobe.com / Hiawatha Bray / JANUARY 26, 2015

At this time last year, it seemed the world was falling in love with bitcoin, the alternative digital currency generated by a global computer network. Since then, the value of bitcoins has collapsed, falling 13 percent in just two weeks. Some of the digital prospectors who create the currency are shutting down operations.

But bitcoin loyalists remain as confident as ever in the future of digital money. Even a prominent bitcoin skeptic said the underlying technology will have uses far beyond finance.

“There are some breakthroughs in technology that are going to endure whether bitcoin survives or not,” said David Yermack, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Despite the currency’s travails, major investors continue to pour real money into bitcoin businesses. CoinDesk, an online publication that tracks the digital currency markets, estimates that investment in bitcoin startups reached $335 million in 2014.

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Exploring the Bitcoin Lifestyle on Our Six-Week Holiday Road Trip

cointelegraph.com / Catherine Bleish / 2015-01-25 05:10 PM

This past Thanksgiving, our family put the Bitcoin-travel economy to the test. We spent three weeks living on bitcoin only, as we explored ten states in our family minivan.

With our two toddlers and small dog, we stood in awe of the Grand Canyon, played in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, and cruised down the flashy Vegas Strip. We took a death-defying drive through the snowy Rockies and enjoyed Thanksgiving with family in my hometown of Kansas City.

This was not our first experience traveling cross-country on cryptocurrency. Last June, our family took a bitcoin road trip from Texas to New Hampshire and back. We tried every bitcoin travel service we could find; some worked flawlessly; others provided us with a great headache.

Many things have changed in the six months between our trips. More restaurants now accept bitcoin, Airbitz launched their new bitcoin-directory and wallet, and our favorite bitcoin-gas card company seems to have gone defunct!

Food

When you travel with the intention of only spending bitcoin, you try new restaurants off the beaten path. We used the Airbitz phone application, which includes an interactive bitcoin directory and map with a built-in bitcoin wallet. The app uses your phone’s GPS to automatically calculate your distance from bitcoin-friendly businesses.

Both my husband John and I agree that we had our favorite meal at City Tacos in San Diego. The authentic tacos were fresh and savory. John says they reminded him of the street tacos he had in Mexico City when he lived there for a summer in 2008.

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MadBitcoins interviews Tiffany from Casheer #BitcoinMiami 2015

MadBitcoinsPublished on Jan 26, 2015

MadBitcoins interviews Jason King, Seans Outpost #BitcoinMiami 2015

MadBitcoinsPublished on Jan 26, 2015

Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution

Whether bitcoin survives or not, the technology underlying it is here to stay. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

wsj.com / MICHAEL J. CASEY and PAUL VIGNA / Jan. 23, 2015 12:44 p.m. ET

About a half-billion dollars worth of it vanished from an online exchange in Tokyo. A prosecutor in Manhattan arrested the 24-year-old vice chairman of its most prominent trading body on drug-related charges of money laundering. Its founder’s identity remains a mystery, and last year, it shed two-thirds of its value, losing an additional 44% in just the first two weeks of January. In his year-end letter to investors, Warren Buffett’s advice about it was emphatic: “Stay away.”

The digital currency known as bitcoin is only six years old, and many of its critics are already declaring it dead. But such dire predictions miss a far more important point: Whether bitcoin survives or not, the technology underlying it is here to stay. In fact, that technology will become ever more influential as developers create newer, better versions and clones.

No digital currency will soon dislodge the dollar, but bitcoin is much more than a currency. It is a radically new, decentralized system for managing the way societies exchange value. It is, quite simply, one of the most powerful innovations in finance in 500 years.

If applied widely to the inner workings of our global economy, this model could slash trillions in financial fees; computerize much of the work done by payment processors, government property-title offices, lawyers and accountants; and create opportunities for billions of people who don’t currently have bank accounts. Great value will be created, but many jobs also will be rendered obsolete.

Bitcoin has some indisputable flaws, at least in its current iteration. Its price fluctuates too wildly. (Who wants the cost of their groceries to vary by 10% from week to week?) Its anonymity has made it a haven for drug dealers. “Wallets” (as the individual software applications that manage bitcoin holdings are known) have proven vulnerable to cyberattack and pillaging, including the wallets of big exchanges such as Tokyo’s Mt. Gox and Slovenia’s Bitstamp.

Even though the core program that runs bitcoin has resisted six years of hacking attempts, the successful attacks on associated businesses have created the impression that bitcoin isn’t a safe way to store money. Until these perceptions are overcome or bitcoin is replaced by a superior digital currency, the public will remain suspicious of the concept, and regulators will be tempted to quash it.

Like any young technology, bitcoin is a work in progress, but its groundbreaking core software program is constantly being improved. It is open-source and copyright-free, and thus accessible to anyone who wants to peer inside it, copy it, suggest improvements or create applications for it.

Inspired by this potential, “probably 10,000 of the best developers in the world are working on bitcoin,” estimates Chris Dixon, a partner at the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. This volunteer army has developed military-grade encryption to make bitcoin wallets more secure and insurable and also new trading tools to help stabilize the price. The faults of digital currency are being resolved.

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Bitcoin gets first regulated US exchange

cnbc.com / Matt Clinch / January 26, 2015

The price of the digital currency bitcoin rose sharply on Monday with news that the U.S. is set to have its first regulated exchange.

San Francisco-based Coinbase offers storage services for bitcoin users, and the company is set to open a new exchange on Monday morning. Called Lunar, it will have regulatory approval in half of the states in the U.S., according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, including New York and California.

The company last week announced a major new round of funding and has now raised $106 million. The New York Stock Exchange andSpanish bank BBVA are just some of the company’s high-profile backers, along with USAA bank, the investment arm of Japanese telecom NTT DoCoMo, and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit.

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Searching for a Cryptocurrency Security Standard

coindesk.com / Danny Bradbury / January 25, 2015 at 11:15 GMT

Bitstamp’s recent hacking woes suggest that security in the bitcoin world seems to be getting worse, rather than better. Whether it’s down to external attacks, or internal irregularities as alleged at Mt Gox, it’s clear that something has to change.

When bitcoin wallet Blockchain experienced its ownsecurity problems in December, decentralised cryptography expert Emin Gün Sirer noted that the standard security practices among technology companies would not stand up in the bitcoin world.

Too much was at stake, he said. Social media companies may hold pictures of your pets, but your bitcoin account holds something more valuable. It seems reasonable that the cryptocurrency world should be held to a higher level of account than, say, Twitter (although a hacked Twitter account can still have pretty devastating results).

“We certainly need better security practices, as we have seen from the constant stream of spectacular failures of bitcoin exchanges,” he told CoinDesk more recently. “These services have been failing at the rate of one major failure every two months, leaving many distraught people in their paths.”

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BITCOIN PRICE IS SKYROCKETING – BACK TO OLD GLORIOUS DAYS?

cryptocoinsnews.com / David Parker / January 26, 2015 at 9:40 am CET

The bitcoin price has skyrocketed this weekend, starting from the low 220s and ending up on the high 290s! There might be a correlation with news this time as Coinbase just announced that they will become a licensed Bitcoin exchange in more than 20 US states (which is good news!).

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New Year Bitcoin Sees Immediate Bull Rush

coinssource.com / Jacob Reagan / January 26, 2015

Once again proving the ever dizzying space of the crypto world, Bitcoin has managed to climb a staggering 50% in just a week to $300, with the vast majority of these gains happening during the second half of Sunday, January 25th.

The soaring price is likely riding a rocket fueled by speculative excitement in the face of announcements such as Coinbase opening the first U.S.-licensed exchange and the recently announced Gemini, an ETF platform which will be given a detailed briefing on January 26th at the Inside ETF Conference in Hollywood, Florida.

Potential Remorse?

Bitcoin moving into a space that’s government-backed, licensed and approved may create uncertainty for people who harken back to its decentralized roots and use as a community token which faced no taxes, regulations or other government interferences.

Yet many other cryptos are still unregulated and even have trading platforms, such as Asset Exchanges on Counterparty, Mastercoin, Nxt, and BitShares, or the Monetary System from Nxt.

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THE MAGIC OF WOOFS – DOGECOIN & ITS SUCCESS SO FAR

cryptoarticles.com / serge schouterden / January 25, 2015

The first time we heard about Dogecoin we thought: “ Just another alt coin?” However it became rapidly clear that that was not the case. Where other alt coins would try some pump and dump schemes ( not all of them but a lot), Dogecoin took a brand and made it their own.

When members of the digital currency community see a coin with the famous dog on it everyone knows its Dogecoin. Now how does Doge succeed in comparison with other alt coins that had “more potential and promised a lot more” on paper?

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