Ep197: Wikileaks CIA Hacking Tools, Bitcoin Loses Vendors, DASH Masternodes DDoS Attack

Wikileaks reveals the CIA is just as evil as you thought they were. Quantum computers are not far away at IBM. NASDAQ compares Bitcoin to gold and government-issued currency. People’s Bank of China doublespeak on Bitcoin regulations. Bitcoin transaction fees are causing the crypto to lose support and vendors. Many Bitcoin addresses have less BTC than the fees needed to move it. Darren talks about soft forks, hard forks, and sporks. DASH remains strong and the DDoS on DASH Masternodes may just be a badge of honor. China has first trade deficit in three years. Randy mentions Louis CK’s show “Horace and Pete” because it made him weep and Louis CK accepts Bitcoin.

All this and more on the Neocash Radio podcast, episode 197 — Wednesday, March 8th, 2017!

We’ve written out short overviews of the topics discussed on today’s show below! Be sure to listen in to the whole podcast to get more information, insights, and thoughts on each of them from JJ, Darren, and Randy!

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Traditional Financial Markets Cryptocurrency Markets
Gold $1,209 Bitcoin (BTC) $1,161
Silver $17.21 Ethereum (ETH) $17.01
Oil $50.19 DASH $42.50
Dow Jones 20,855 points Zcash (ZEC) $35.26
30Y UST Yield 3.151% Monero (XMR) $12.67

Wikileaks ‘Vault 7’ Release Exposes CIA’s Hacking Arsenal

Wikileaks released over 8,000 documents today which detailed the tools and tactics used by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to hack everything from your smart TV to your car. Dubbed “Year Zero,” this release is the first publication in a series called “Vault 7” and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange calls it “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

“‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

Encrypted text messaging: "Use Signal" graffiti spray-painted on a wall during a Berkeley, CA protest on Feb. 1, 2017.
Encrypted text messaging: “Use Signal” graffiti spray-painted on a wall during a Berkeley, CA protest on Feb. 1, 2017. [Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images]

There was some concern that the CIA had somehow broken encryption algorithms for encrypted messaging apps like Signal. Not so. Government spies are looking at ways to infect phones and computers in a way that intercept the message before it gets encrypted:

“The CIA/WikiLeaks story today is about getting malware onto phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption. The story isn’t about Signal or WhatsApp, but to the extent that it is, we see it as confirmation that what we’re doing is working. Ubiquitous e2e [end to end] encryption is pushing intelligence agencies from undetectable mass surveillance to expensive, high-risk, targeted attacks.” —Open Whisper Systems, via Twitter

We encourage you to read through the Vault 7 documents yourself and see how you feel about CIA malware, spying, privacy, mass surveillance, and Big Brother watching everyone.

IBM Starts Coding For Quantum Computers

IBM has set up a new division called “IBM Q” that is directed to create and sell quantum computers commercially. While actual quantum computers are likely still years away, IBM is confident enough to start writing the software for them now.

“While technologies like AI can find patterns buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be seen and the number of possibilities that you need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous ever to be processed by classical computers.”

Quantum computers pose a threat to modern encryption algorithms—and thus, cryptocurrencies—though as we reported on last week’s show, no encryption lasts forever. It needs to advance and change and evolve, just as everything else does. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin wrote a (very technical) piece on this in 2013 when he was writing for Bitcoin magazine: “Bitcoin Is Not Quantum-Safe, And How We Can Fix It When Needed.”

NASDAQ.com Compares Bitcoin to Gold

As the price of one BTC hovered above the price of one ounce of gold, NASDAQ.com took an opportunity to explain why Bitcoin was worth its weight in gold. (Pardon the pun.) The article compares Bitcoin to government-issued fiat currencies and mentions the SEC ruling due this week on whether or not they will allow the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust to begin selling a Bitcoin ETF.

People’s Bank of China Explores Strict Regulation of Bitcoin Exchanges

Zhou Xuedong is the director of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC) Business Administration unit and he suggests that the PBoC undertake an observation period for Bitcoin exchanges. At the same time he is also talking about establishing a bottom line for exchanges to follow or be blacklisted.

As we reported several weeks ago, several of the largest Chinese Bitcoin exchanges have temporarily halted BTC withdrawals while the PBoC goes digging around in their customers’ data.

Bitcoin Vendors Stress as Transaction Fees Grow

Popular graphic design & marketing services website Fiverr no longer accepts Bitcoin. While they accepted Bitcoin for payments, they didn’t allow vendors to take payouts in Bitcoin, which was unfortunate. Payment processor BitPay announced that they’ve been forced to raise their minimum invoice amount:

“The Bitcoin network is currently experiencing a period of rapid growth. This is an exciting time to be in Bitcoin, and we’re seeing all-time highs in bitcoin transactions processed through BitPay. However, we are also seeing rising miner fees for transactions across the bitcoin network. That’s why (effective tomorrow) we’re raising the BitPay minimum invoice amount from $0.04 to $1.”

Related Reddit discussion: “For 55.2% of Bitcoin addresses, fees are now bigger than the amount of Bitcoin they have. Where will YOU be when YOUR savings are wiped out by fees?”



AntPool BTC mining pool begins supporting Bitcoin Unlimited

The world’s largest Bitcoin mining pool—AntPool—began mining some blocks while signaling support for Bitcoin Unlimited. AntPool currently represents between 12-13% of the Bitcoin network’s total global hashrate, and while only some servers have signaled that they are supporting Bitcoin Unlimited, this could be a tipping point that will hopefully bring the BTC block size scaling debate to an end.

Bitcoin Unlimited: on-chain scaling -- Roger Ver interview -- Neocash Radio podcastRelated listening: We’ve also got a special bonus interview with Roger Ver that we recently posted! Listen in as Bitcoin Angel Investor and Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver talks with us about how the current Bitcoin block size limit is throttling the Bitcoin network, and how Bitcoin Unlimited could be poised to increase the block size and allow the Bitcoin network to scale.

DDoS attack on DASH masternode network

The DASH Masternode Network has been under DDoS attack over the past several days. The attacker has caused higher CPU and bandwidth usage for most of the roughly 3,900 DASH masternodes. Approximately 100 DASH Masternodes have been taken offline by the DDoS attack, which developers believe were likely hosted on a cheap (~$1/month) VPS. All masternode owners whose nodes were affected are encouraged to move to “better hardware or upgrade their hosting plan” to ensure that their DASH masternode doesn’t fall out of the payment queue.

Blockchain hard forks & soft forks: Bitcoin & Ethereum“On Forks & Hard Forks: Eschew Obfuscation & Watch Your Language”

Did you read Darren’s bonus blog post this Monday?

Cryptocurrency folks talk a lot about hard forks & soft forks, but what are they? How do they affect blockchains? And why don’t we give them a better name? Darren and Randy also chat briefly about so-called “Sporks”—multi-phased forks on the DASH network.

China sees first monthly trade deficit in three years

China has reported its first monthly trade deficit in three years, after imports surged and a slowdown during the Lunar New Year holidays hit output.

Watch Louis C.K.’s “Horace & Pete” — Pay with Bitcoin

Watch Louis CK's show "Horace & Pete" -- pay using BitcoinJust a quick shout-out from Randy, who recently binge-watched Louis CK’s 10-episode web series Horace and Pete. (He rather unexpectedly cried during eight out of 10 episodes.) It was an incredible piece of art, with very deep characters, excellent writing and acting. Louis CK self-funded the project and posted it to his website last year, with no prior marketing. Louis CK accepts Bitcoin on his website, though Horace and Pete can also now be watched on Hulu.

Horace and Pete is not for all ages, as it deals with some incredibly complex and mature topics. Highly recommended viewing.

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