There have been many recent posts about the blackmail email scam, so I have written this post and will keep it stickied until the posts about the scam die down. Blackmail email scams have that name because they started as an email spam campaign, however there have also been reports of these scams being sent via SMS and physical mail. If you are reading this because you have received one of these emails and you are worried, you can stop worrying. The blackmail email scam is a spam campaign that is sent out to thousands of addresses at a time. The threats are lies and you do not have anything to worry about. In many cases, the emails will contain some sort of privileged information about you such as your name, part or all of your phone number, and your password.The emails may also look like they were sent from your own email address. The data is gathered from data breaches, and if the email looks like it came from your account that is due to email spoofing. You can use the service Have I Been Pwned? to see if you are in any publicly known data breaches. If you receive an email that contains a password that you currently use, you should immediately change that. Current recommended password guidelines say that you should use a different, complex password for every account. You can generate and save passwords using a password manager for convenience. You should also be using two factor authentication using an app like Google Authenticator instead of receiving codes through SMS. Here are some news articles about this scam. Here is a story from Brian Krebs, and here is a story from the New York Times. Below are a few examples, but if you receive an email that is similar but not the same as the examples you see, that does not matter and does not mean that the email is real. The spammers constantly switch up their templates in order to bypass spam filters, so it's normal to receive an email that hasn't yet been posted online.
Hey, some time ago your computer was infected with my private malware, RAT (Remote Administration Tool). I know at the time of infection your passwords was: xxxxxxxxxxx My malware gave me full access to all your accounts, contacts and it also was possible to spy on you over your webcam. Sometimes when I was bored I was spying on you, then once you started to SATISFYING YOURSELF! At first I didn't knew how to react as I was shocked, then I decided to record you, I checked on google and found the software: Bandicam and it did the job. After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces and this email was sent from some hacked account. I can send the video of you to all your friends, contacts and publish it on social networks and the whole web. You can stop me and only I can help you out in this situation. Pay exactly 740$ in Bitcoin (BTC). It's easy to buy Bitcoin (BTC), for example here: https://paxful.com/buy-bitcoin , https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/ , https://www.kraken.com/ , or google another exchanger. My Bitcoin (BTC) wallet is: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Yes that's how the wallet looks like, copy and paste it, it's (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE) I give you 3 days time to pay. As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read, so the time is running. After receiving the payment, I will remove the video and you can life your live in peace like before. Learn from the mistake and update your browser before browsing the web next time! I know XXXX is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1004. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1GohL1jDz8BapZhohN2Xry6AKPq6PiJrjw [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. I know xxxxxxxxxxxx is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1013. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1KzA7GYSyvXCmPpojZ4qTbZGmjjbbSfwBg [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1002. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1JXvEapcRCvywymcrYZ1rcCfLfNZKri4LP [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Hello! I'm the software engineer who hacked into your device's OS. I've been observing you for months now. The thing is, you've been infected with malware through the adult website you visited. In case you're not familiar with it, I'll explain. The Trojan infection gives me full access and control over your computer or any other device on your local. It means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on my camera and microphone, but you do not know about it. I also have access to all your contacts, social networking data and all your correspondence. Why didn't your antivirus detect any malware? A: My malware uses a driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours to keep your antivirus silent. I have made a video showing how you satisfy yourself on the left side of the screen, and on the right side you see the video you have been watching. With one click, I can send this video to all your contacts in the email and social networks. I can also publish access to all your emails and messaging apps that you use. If you want to prevent this, at that point: Transfer $400(USD) to my bitcoin wallet (if you do not know how to do it, then type in to Google: "Purchase a bitcoin"). My Bitcoin Wallet:1EGBGBptS9yKNPYYU9qUEoPNLptee8CEq9 After getting the payment, I will destroy the video and you won't hear from me again. I will provide you 50 hours (more than two days) to pay. I have a notice that you read this email and the timer started you opened it. Don't attempt to answer me. It doesn't make any sense (the sender's address is generated by random). Filing a complaint somewhere doesn't make sense, because this email cannot be tracked, and neither can my bitcoin address. I don't make mistakes. If I find that you shared this message with someone else, the video will be distributed immediately. Good luck with that. And here are some common keywords used in the email so that this thread can be found by people Googling the email: "Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, .br, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material""Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material, ιs yοur ραssρhrαse, after seeing the video of you jerking off, τhιηκ οf ιτ αs α dοηατιοη, split-screen video, 𝐄𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐩 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐚𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞, 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭"
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments. It all started with the release of the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following videos for a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins created and they are issued in a predictable fashion, you can view the inflation schedule here. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown can be found here.
Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read the source code yourself here.
Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoins reside has the authority to move them.
Low fee scaling - On chain transaction fees depend on network demand and how much priority you wish to assign to the transaction. Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view current fees here and mempool activity here. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
Portable - Bitcoins are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can even be transported by simply memorizing a string of words for wallet recovery (while cool this method is generally not recommended due to potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for new users due to ease of use and additional security).
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
Here is a listing of local ATMs. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage. Note: Bitcoins are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Preev is a useful site that that shows how much various denominations of bitcoin are worth in different currencies. Alternatively you can just Google "1 bitcoin in (your local currency)".
Securing your bitcoins
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoins OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoins for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended. Alternatively there are many software wallet options to choose from here depending on your use case.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email! 2FA requires a second confirmation code to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. Don't trust, verify. Also as they say in our community "Not your keys, not your coins".
Where can I spend bitcoins?
Check out spendabit or bitcoin directory for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card. Some other useful site are listed below.
Mining bitcoins can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read more here. Still have mining questions? The crew at /BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out. If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node using this setup guide. If you would prefer to keep it simple there are several good options. You can view the global node distribution here.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoins by being paid to do a job.
You can also earn bitcoins by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoins for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoins.
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis
1,000 per bitcoin
used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases
1,000,000 per bitcoin
colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)
100,000,000 per bitcoin
smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki. Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit. Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval. Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
TL;DR: Wakey wakey, give a crap about freedom, or accept the consequences. Another Sunday afternoon, another news item about Monero being delisted from a centralized exchange, this time in Australia. Last year it was OKEx and others. Just a few days ago it was Coinspot. It is sort of an open secret that Coinbase is not listing Monero due to external pressures. Today we're hit with news that Kraken will be ceasing Monero trading for AU residents. And you will also recall that Japan and South Korea have made similar moves. It's a near impossibility with me, especially when powered by caffeine, which is most definitely the case today, but I will try to make this brief, sweet and to the point. These are not isolated incidents. There is an International Organization™ in particular orchestrating, behind the scenes, the policies and requirements that financial institutions (crypto exchanges have since joined that category for this purpose) must follow, or else. Here is what bothers me about this. Have you been consulted about this? Anyone you know? Heard of it in the news? Yeah, me neither. You have to know where to look to find some information on what they would like to see happening (we'll get to that in a moment), and often you have to read PDFs with dozens of pages to find the good stuff too. I will leave that as an exercise to the reader. Suffice to say, I have been digging a bit deeper myself, and what I found shocked me. FATF wants nothing less than the complete elimination of anonymity and privacy in financial affairs, even going so far as to consider BANNING peer to peer transactions so that people are forced to interact with each other through exchanges, where data collection is more reliable and certain, effectively obliterating one of the major selling points of cryptocurrency (p2p-ness) with complete disregard for the millions of people who are already onboard with the vision. No privacy and no anonymity, imagine that. Many of you probably already use plastic cards for everything, day in day out, and don't think too much about this stuff. But the fact that an international organization that you have little to zero democratic control over is planning to get rid of class of financial tools that 99.99999% of people don't even realize exists yet should give you pause for concern. The tools I speak of are, of course, digital cash-like cryptocurrencies like Monero. I would like you to PAUSE, daydream a bit, visualize and imagine, what a world without zero financial privacy/anonymity would look like. Consider, this has certainly not been the case in human history, ever -- yes, even today. Today most of you still have cash as a choice. But what happens when that goes out of the window, and the only options are CBDCs, CorporateCoins, and transparent cryptocurrency ? Needless to say, both in the case of CorporateCoins and CBDCs, there will be little to none privacy/anonymity, and even if there was (in the case of CorporateCoin), the state would obviously bully its way into it and force them to do otherwise (without being asked to do so, of course). So, imagine that world. Every donation you make. Every $50 transfer to a friend or family member. Every item you buy. Every service you purchase. Every money you send to help a friend you. All of it stored, forever, to be accessed later at will for whatever reasons. Would you make the same choices, knowing that your entire financial life is entirely exposed to powerful organizations of which you likely know very little about and almost certainly can hardly ever influence at all? Does that seem like a good recipe for a free society?
The people at the top either don't care about the consequences of what they're imposing worldwide, or they don't understand. Sounds highly concerning to me either way - It comes down to either bullying or ignorance. Would you ever have truly heart-to-heart conversations if you knew your worst enemy was potentially watching and recording everything? Could you make passionate love knowing hundreds of strangers are analyzing your every move? Can you be spontaneous knowing you are being recorded? What if you did not have a choice in those matters ?! What if someone has already decided for you, your friends, your family, your neighbors, your country, that you are all potential criminals and the thing to do is to keep records on everyone, just in case ? Newsflash: It already happened. It's been happening for awhile, and it seems to be picking up pace; the technology that was going to liberate us, slowly enslaving us instead -- because the general public largely does not understand the issues at hand, while the elite certainly does, and boy oh boy, are they thrilled with the technological advancements that help them cement their power. What do I mean by cement? Imagine trying to kick-start civil rights in a place where every social map is known, everything a person is interested in is known, every transaction they make is known, every website they have visited is known, every time they step on the street, an AI-powered camera automatically identifies them and tracks their movement. You would be unable to organize. To exchange value. To discuss behind curtains, so to speak. You would not have any privacy, and you would not have any anonymity. Could you be free under these circumstances?
It's been a long road towards more freedom, but nowdays it is disappearing fast. Stopping to consider the implications is a most pressing issue. They want Monero(-like tools) GONE because Monero ACTUALLY would change the paradigm. By the time they are done with their "recommendations" (which really mean: comply, or else...), mark my words, there will be a name behind every Bitcoin address in some centralized database, query-able by partners in deciding who can and cannot use the system. Merchants will be forced to perform chain analysis and by law they will be compelled to reject/refund/report transactions coming from "anonymous clusters" (addresses that are not known to have an identity tied to them). This is what the normalization of the lack of privacy has brought us. The possibility was there, and they took it. Of course they did. I repeat, it is no accident that it's not Dogecoin and Nano, Bitcoin or Litecoin being delisted. The star of the show (for better or for worse) is Monero, and that is because it works. It lets you transact anonymously and privately, like cash - why the hell should FATF know that you sent $500 to your mother last week? in fact, why the hell should they know your entire financial history?! When cash goes (and we can be fairly certain that it will be gone; would already be gone if this sort of authoritarian mindset had its way), Monero or tools like Monero, will become the only way to make any transaction outside the eyes of the state. It's not because you have anything (nefarious) to hide. It's not because you're a criminal. Rather, it's because to accept anything else is to bow to tyranny. It's your choice to make - are you meekly going to accept that in perhaps less than a decade there will be zero privacy and anonymity in financial matters, or are you going to fight back? Will you organize, campaign, email, discuss, spread awareness? Will you spend precious summer Sunday afternoons writing for strangers on the Internet trying to help a few more see the major shit-show we're headed into? Or will you be a good boy and do what you're told? Tomorrow, by the way - if left unchallenged - it won't just be financial privacy that disappears. One of the most prominent examples in the introductory part of this post (Australia) has already made quite clear that they don't like the fact that people can hide things from them (encryption). In other words, either they know about it (and archive it forever), or you better let them know. After all, a threat - any threat! - could be lurking somewhere in that encrypted data. And you have nothing to hide anyway, yes? This is a cryptocurrency sub though so let's not steer too far from that. It is important to remember that ultimately the issue is the same though - totalitarian control over everyone's life; mass-surveillance, and the ability to rewind and see someone's entire life exposed for the benefit of the state. Their actions are letting you know what really works and what really threatens the status quo. That is useful information. If you care at all about the freedom and privacy of your future self, your friends and family, children present or future, I think you would do well to think long and hard about these issues. Because the direction assumed by the most prominent regulators seems to be headed in a uniform direction - that is no surprise, seeing as how they meet with each other. You have to ask yourself though, is this for your benefit, your safety? Or is it to keep the statuo quo? How would the world be different if human beings - regardless of color, nationality, age, sexual orientation, political beliefs- with an Internet connection could freely exchange value privately and anonymously (the way we can still communicate private and anonymously in most places today - though not so in authoritarian places like China, AND THAT IS NOT A COINCIDENCE)? It would be instant, like an instant message. It would cost very little. Well, I have news for you: It's already possible, and a growing number of people are realizing this. This tool is called Monero. It exists today, and the cat is out of the bag. The technology will only get better, and more interesting tools may even come along later. In fact, barring mass persecution of open-source developers, that is very likely what is going to happen, as ultrasmart people everywhere congregate in virtual spaces to discuss better ways to do stuff. If we keep losing our right to be left alone until suspected of a crime, life will increasingly come to resemble what the regulator types are - consciously or unconsciously - creating: a Panopticon society. If you don't speak up, then the decision has already been made - and you're probably going to live to regret being complicit in it. Freedom or Tyranny. It's your choice to make. p.s: Yes, totally failed at making this short. I guess it's just not my thing.
Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Flatten the Curve. #49. Let's Dig into Jade Helm. AI. The Surveillance State. Internet of Things. FISA. Pentagon Preparing for Mass Civil Breakdown. What is Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio? Stay Aware and Get Ahead of the Curve.
Flatten the Curve. Part 48. Source Here It's getting crazier day by day now, so are you following the Boy Scout motto? On this topic, Baden-Powell says: Remember your motto, "Be Prepared." Be prepared for accidents by learning beforehand what you ought to do in the different kinds that are likely to occur. Be prepared to do that thing the moment the accident does occur. In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote that to Be Prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.” Why should you be prepared? Because TPTB have been preparing, that’s why.
June 12, 2014: The Guardian • Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarised to develop 'operational tools' to target peaceful activists and protest movements Source Here
Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. It seemed ludicrous back in 2014, didn't it? Inconceivable. Sure some preppers believed it, but they're always getting ready and nothing happened. Doomsday was always right around the corner, and then the next corner, and on and on. Televangelists have probably accused more politicians of being the antichrist than the number of politicians went to Epstein's Island. But why would they be preparing for mass civil breakdown? Could it be the same reason as why the miltary is preparing for war, droughts and famines brought about by environmental collapse?
February 20, 2020: History Network • Here’s Why These Six Ancient Civilizations Mysteriously Collapsed. From the Maya to Greenland’s Vikings, check out six civilizations that seemingly disappeared without a trace. Source Here
All of these civilizations vanished because of some combination of exhausting their natural resources, drought, plauge, and the little ice age. Sound familiar? Don't tell me that the Rockefeller Foundation and BlackRock became environmentally aware out of a sense of obligation to the planet. They're setting the groundwork for what's coming down the pipe. This isn't about money anymore, this is about control and survival. Throw out the rulebook because the rules no longer apply. Do you think the surveillance system is for your protection, or the protection of the state? Don't you think that an era of upcoming calamities will severely damage the communication networks, and thus the surveillance system? It might be prudent to consider that Starlink is being established to make the system redundant, so that they never lose track of the precious worker bees before they can be connected to the AI hive mind, right Elon? Neuralink, don't leave home without it. But let's not forget about the wonderful world of the Internet of Things.
March 15, 2012 • More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an "Internet of Things" -- that is, wired devices -- at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm. "'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies," Petraeus enthused, "particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft." All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you're a "person of interest" to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the "smart home," you'd be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room's ambiance. "Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters -- all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," Petraeus said, "the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing." Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices "change our notions of secrecy" and prompt a rethink of "our notions of identity and secrecy." All of which is true -- if convenient for a CIA director. The CIA has a lot of legal restrictions against spying on American citizens. But collecting ambient geolocation data from devices is a grayer area, especially after the 2008 carve-outs to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Hardware manufacturers, it turns out, store a trove of geolocation data; and some legislators have grown alarmed at how easy it is for the government to track you through your phone or PlayStation. That's not the only data exploit intriguing Petraeus. He's interested in creating new online identities for his undercover spies -- and sweeping away the "digital footprints" of agents who suddenly need to vanish. "Proud parents document the arrival and growth of their future CIA officer in all forms of social media that the world can access for decades to come," Petraeus observed. "Moreover, we have to figure out how to create the digital footprint for new identities for some officers." Source Here December 19, 2019: New York Times • THE DATA REVIEWED BY TIMES OPINION didn’t come from a telecom or giant tech company, nor did it come from a governmental surveillance operation. It originated from a location data company, one of dozens quietly collecting precise movements using software slipped onto mobile phone apps. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies — and yet to anyone who has access to this data, your life is an open book. They can see the places you go every moment of the day, whom you meet with or spend the night with, where you pray, whether you visit a methadone clinic, a psychiatrist’s office or a massage parlor. The Times and other news organizations have reported on smartphone tracking in the past. But never with a data set so large. Even still, this file represents just a small slice of what’s collected and sold every day by the location tracking industry — surveillance so omnipresent in our digital lives that it now seems impossible for anyone to avoid. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the powers such always-on surveillance can provide an authoritarian regime like China’s. Within America’s own representative democracy, citizens would surely rise up in outrage if the government attempted to mandate that every person above the age of 12 carry a tracking device that revealed their location 24 hours a day. Yet, in the decade since Apple’s App Store was created, Americans have, app by app, consented to just such a system run by private companies. Now, as the decade ends, tens of millions of Americans, including many children, find themselves carrying spies in their pockets during the day and leaving them beside their beds at night — even though the corporations that control their data are far less accountable than the government would be. Source Here
The IoT should be renamed to IoTT (Internet of Tracking Things), shouldn't it. But we can't have people figure out what's really happening, can we? It's a good thing that quantum computing isn't too close, isn’t it?
April 5, 2018: Global News • (Project Maven) Over 3,000 Google employees have a signed a petition in protest against the company’s involvement with a U.S. Department of Defense artificial intelligence (AI) project that studies imagery and could eventually be used to improve drone strikes in the battlefield. Source Here
December 12, 2019 • Palantir took over Project Maven defense contract after Google backed out. Source Here
December 29, 2020: Input • Palantir exec says its work is on par with the Manhattan Project. Comparing AI to most lethal weapon in human history isn’t comforting. SourceHere
August 14, 2020: Venture: • Google researchers use quantum computing to help improve image classification. Source Here
Hmmm. Maybe Apple will be for the little guy? They have always valued privacy rights, right?
October 2, 2013: Vice News • The hacktivist group Anonymous released a video statement with an accompanying Pastebin document claiming that there are definitive links between AuthenTec, the company that developed the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint scanner, and the US government. Source Here
An apple a day helps the NSA. Or Google. Or Microsoft. Or Amazon. Take your pick from the basket, because dem Apple's are all the same. But at least we have fundamental rights, right? Foreign agent declaration not required • No mention of foreign agent status is made in the Protect America Act of 2007. Under prior FISA rules, persons targeted for surveillance must have been declared as foreign agents before a FISA warrant would be accorded by the FISC court. 'Quasi-anti-terrorism law' for all-forms of intelligence collection • Vastly marketed by U.S. federal and military agencies as a law to prevent terror attacks, the Protect America Act was actually a law focused on the 'acquisition' of desired intelligence information, of unspecified nature. The sole requirement is geolocation outside the United States at time of Directive invocation; pursuant to Authorization or Order invocation, surveillance Directives can be undertaken towards persons targeted for intelligence information gathering. Implementation of Directives can take place inside the United States or outside the United States. No criminal or terrorism investigation of the person need be in play at time of the Directive. All that need be required is that the target be related to an official desire for intelligence information gathering for actions on part of persons involved in surveillance to be granted full immunity from U.S. criminal or civil procedures, under Section 105B(l) of the Act. Removal of FISA Strictures from warrant authorization; warrants not required • But the most striking aspect of the Protect America Act was the notation that any information gathering did not comprise electronic surveillance. This wording had the effect of removing FISA-related strictures from Protect America Act 2007-related Directives, serving to remove a number of protections for persons targeted, and requirements for persons working for U.S. intelligence agencies. The acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance • The removal of the term electronic surveillance from any Protect America Act Directive implied that the FISC court approval was no longer required, as FISA warrants were no longer required. In the place of a warrant was a certification, made by U.S. intelligence officers, which was copied to the Court. In effect, the FISC became less of a court than a registry of pre-approved certifications.Certifications (in place of FISA warrants) were able to be levied ex post facto, in writing to the Court no more than 72 hours after it was made. The Attorney General was to transmit as soon as possible to the Court a sealed copy of the certification that would remain sealed unless the certification was needed to determine the legality of the acquisition.Source Here Oh. FISA is basically a rubber stamp. And even if it the stage play wasn't pretending to follow the script, would it matter? Who could actually stop it at this point? The cat's out of the bag and Pandoras Box is open.
Controversial debates arose as the Protect America Act was published. Constitutional lawyers and civil liberties experts expressed concerns that this Act authorized massive, wide-ranging information gathering with no oversight. Whereas it placed much focus on communications, the Act allowed for information gathering of all shapes and forms. The ACLU called it the "Police America Act" – "authorized a massive surveillance dragnet", calling the blank-check oversight provisions "meaningless," and calling them a "phony court review of secret procedures."
So the surveillance state doesn't have checks and balances anymore. The state is preparing for Massive Civil Breakdown. They keep warning us about environmental collapse. Got it? Good. Let's keep on keeping on.
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 created a single new district corporation governing the entire federal territory, called the District of Columbia, thus dissolving the three major political subdivisions of the District (Port of Georgetown, the City of Washington, and Washington County) and their governments. Source Here)
The first big leap in corporate personhood from holding mere property and contract rights to possessing more expansive rights was a claim that the Equal Protection Clause applied to corporations. One of the strangest twists in American constitutional law was the moment that corporations gained personhood under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It occurred in a case called Santa Clara County, and what was odd was that the Supreme Court did not really even decide the matter in the actual opinion. It only appeared in a footnote to the case. What we are likely to have at the conclusion of the Supreme Court term is corporations that are empowered to spend in American elections because of Bellotti and Citizens United; corporations that can make religious objections thanks to Hobby Lobby; and if Jesner turns out as badly as I predict, corporations will be able to aid and abet human rights violations abroad with impunity. Source Here
"Having a corporation would allow people to put property into a collective ownership that could be held with perpetual existence," she says. "So it wouldn't be tied to any one person's lifespan, or subject necessarily to laws regarding inheriting property." Later on, in the United States and elsewhere, the advantages of incorporation were essential to efficient and secure economic development. Unlike partnerships, the corporation continued to exist even if a partner died; there was no unanimity required to do something; shareholders could not be sued individually, only the corporation as a whole, so investors only risked as much as they put into buying shares. Source Here
The way that the Arab Bank may get away with this alleged morally troubling behavior, even though it has a New York branch, is by reasserting the basic argument that was made in Nestle USA and Kiobel II: that the federal Alien Tort Statute was not intended to apply to corporations full stop. Given other cases in this area like Mohamad v. PLO, which held the word “individual” in the Torture Victim Protection Act means a natural person and does not impose any liability against organizations, the Arab Bank’s procorporate argument may well prevail. There are multiple federal Circuit Courts which have shot down the argument that corporations are immune from suit under the Alien Tort Statute. The lone outlier is the Second Circuit, which decided in 2010 that corporations are excused from suit in Kiobel I. This is the case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and became Kiobel II. Jesner v. Arab Bank was litigated in the Second Circuit. One question in Jesner was what exactly did Kiobel II do to Kiobel I. So far in the litigation, Jesner concluded that Kiobel I and its conclusion that corporations can’t be sued in federal court using the Alien Tort Statute remained the controlling law of the Second Circuit.
There's a reason people call lawyers snakes, it's because most of them speak with forked tounges. So the corporation isn't being held liable, but the shareholders can't be held liable either. That's too insane to even be called a Catch 22. We are literally being set up to have no recourse because there isn’t anybody who can be held responsible. Why is that important when I've been talking about the surveillance state?
July 14, 2020: The Intercept • Microsoft’s police surveillance services are often opaque because the company sells little in the way of its own policing products. It instead offers an array of “general purpose” Azure cloud services, such as machine learning and predictive analytics tools like Power BI (business intelligence) and Cognitive Services, which can be used by law enforcement agencies and surveillance vendors to build their own software or solutions. A rich array of Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings is on full display with a concept called “The Connected Officer.” Microsoft situates this concept as part of the Internet of Things, or IoT, in which gadgets are connected to online servers and thus made more useful. “The Connected Officer,” Microsoft has written, will “bring IoT to policing.” With the Internet of Things, physical objects are assigned unique identifiers and transfer data over networks in an automated fashion. If a police officer draws a gun from its holster, for example, a notification can be sent over the network to alert other officers there may be danger. Real Time Crime Centers could then locate the officer on a map and monitor the situation from a command and control center. Source Here
Uhm, I guess it's really is all connected, isn’t it?
June 18, 2020: The Guardian • How Target, Google, Bank of America and Microsoft quietly fund police through private donations. More than 25 large corporations in the past three years have contributed funding to private police foundations, new report says. Source Here
Long live the Military Industrial Techno Surveillance State. If you have nothing to hide, than you have nothing to worry about. Really? Are we still believing that line? Cause it's a load of crap. If we have nothing to worry about, then why are they worried enough to be implementing surveillance systems with corresponding units on the ground? Got your attention there, didn't I?
August 19, 2019: Big Think • Though the term "Orwellian" easily applies to such a technology, Michel's illuminating reporting touches something deeper. Numerous American cities have already been surveilled using these god-like cameras, including Gorgon Stare, a camera-enabled drone that can track individuals over a 50-square kilometer radius from 20,000 feet. Here's the real rub: the feature that allows users to pinch and zoom on Instagram is similar to what WAMI allows. Anything within those 50-square kilometers is now under the microscope. If this sounds like some futuristic tech, think again: Derivations of this camera system have been tested in numerous American cities. Say there is a big public protest. With this camera you can follow thousands of protesters back to their homes. Now you have a list of the home addresses of all the people involved in a political movement. If on their way home you witness them committing some crime—breaking a traffic regulation or frequenting a location that is known to be involved in the drug trade—you can use that surveillance data against them to essentially shut them up. That's why we have laws that prevent the use of surveillance technologies because it is human instinct to abuse them. That's why we need controls. Source Here
Want to know more about the Gorgon Stare? Flatten the Curve. Part 12. Source Here Now, I'm not sure if you remember or know any Greek Mythology, but the Gorgons were three sisters, and one sister had Snakes on her head (she wasn't a lawyer) and she turned people to stone when she looked at them.
MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) is a directed-energy non-lethal weapon designed by WaveBand Corporation in 2003-2004 for temporary personnel incapacitation. The weapon is based on the microwave auditory effect resulting in a strong sound sensation in the human head when it is subject to certain kinds of pulsed/modulated microwave radiation. The developers claimed that through the combination of pulse parameters and pulse power, it is possible to raise the auditory sensation to a “discomfort” level, deterring personnel from entering a protected perimeter or, if necessary, temporarily incapacitating particular individuals. In 2005, Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired WaveBand Corporation.
Ok. Get it? The Gorgon eye in the sky stares at you while the Medusa makes you immobile. Not good, but at least it'll just freeze you in your tracks.
July 6, 2008: Gizmodo • The Sierra Nevada Corporation claimed this week that it is ready to begin production on the MEDUSA, a damned scary ray gun that uses the "microwave audio effect" to implant sounds and perhaps even specific messages inside people's heads. Short for Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, MEDUSA creates the audio effect with short microwave pulses. The pulses create a shockwave inside the skull that's detected by the ears, and basically makes you think you're going balls-to-the-wall batshit insane. Source Here
Uhm. And drive you insane.
July 26, 2008: Gizmodo • The MEDUSA crowd control ray gun we reported on earlier this month sounded like some pretty amazing-and downright scary-technology. Using the microwave auditory effect, the beam, in theory, would have put sounds and voice-like noises in your head, thereby driving you away from the area. Crowd control via voices in your head. Sounds cool. However, it turns out that the beam would actually kill you before any of that happy stuff started taking place, most likely by frying or cooking your brain inside your skull. Can you imagine if this thing made it out into the field? Awkward! Source Here
Annnnnnnndddddd it'll kill you. Guys, they're prepared. They've been prepared. They're ready. Remember the Doomsday Bunkers? The military moving into Cheyenne Mountain? Deep Underground Military Bunkers? The rapid rolling out of 5G? BITCOIN and UBI so neatly inserted into our minds over the last five years? They've directly told us to have three months of supplies in our homes. 2020 isn't going to be an anomaly? It's the start of the collapse of our natural resources. Take a look on Reddit and all the posts about crazy weather. Cyanobacteria blooms killing dogs and people. Toxic Super Pollution caused by atmospheric inversions killing people. This isn’t normal, this is New Normal. And they know it. They've known it for a while. Let me show you one last thing before I wrap it up.
From the earliest Chinese dynasties to the present, the jade deposits most used were not only those of Khotan in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang but other parts of China as well, such as Lantian, Shaanxi.
Remember, words matter. Look at Gorgon Stare and Medusa. They don't randomly grab names out of a hat, or pick them because they think it sounds dystopian. They pick words for a reason.
July 7, 2017: The Warzone • There only appears to be one official news story on this exercise at all and it's available on the website of Air Mobility Command’s Eighteenth Air Force, situated at Joint Base Charleston. At the time of writing, a google shows that there were more than a half dozen more copies on other Air Force pages, as well as number of photographs. For some reason, someone appears to have taken these offline or otherwise broken all the links. Using Google to search the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, which is the main U.S. military's public affairs hub, brings up more broken links. Oh, and unless there's been some sort of mistake, JADE HELM actually stands for the amazingly obtuse Joint Assistance for Deployment Execution Homeland Eradication of Local Militants. A separate web search for this phrase does not turn up any other results. Source Here
Now, using an acronym that indicates training to Eradicate Local Militants seems pretty dumb. It may be used in that manner if environmental collapse triggers riots, but i don't think they would warn everyone ahead of time, do you? So I dug a little bit more. Joint Assistant for Development and Execution (JADE) is a U.S. military system used for planning the deployment of military forces in crisis situations. The U.S. military developed this automated planning software system in order to expedite the creation of the detailed planning needed to deploy military forces for a military operation. JADE uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology combining user input, a knowledge base of stored plans, and suggestions by the system to provide the ability to develop large-scale and complex plans in minimal time. JADE is a knowledge-based system that uses highly structured information that takes advantage of data hierarchies. An official 2016 document approved for public release titled Human Systems Roadmap Review describes plans to create autonomous weapon systems that analyze social media and make decisions, including the use of lethal force, with minimal human involvement. This type of system is referred to as a Lethal Autonomous Weapon System (LAWS). The name "JADE" comes from the jade green color seen on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is headquartered. PACOM? Why isn't that command group responsible for the South China Sea? Formerly known as United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) since its inception, the command was renamed to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on 30 May 2018, in recognition of the greater emphasis on South Asia, especially India. Now doesn't it look like Jade Helm is preparing for an invasion? And possibly insurrection later. Or at the same time? Or riots over WW3? Or food riots? And start thinking about why the laws are starting to exclude corporations? Then think about the mercenaries that are being contracted out by the government.
October 17, 2018: The Carolinan • In 2016, 75 percent of American forces were private contractors. In 2017, Erik Prince, former head of Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, head of Dyncorp, discussed plans for contractors completely taking over U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it remains to be seen if the current administration will change its mind. Contractors are involved in almost every military task, such as intelligence analysis, logistics and training allied soldiers. Contractors are even involved in U.S. special ops missions. This is because contractors are essentially untraceable and unaccountable. Most are born in other countries; only 33 percent are registered U.S. citizens. Private military firms don’t have to report their actions to Congress, unlike the military or intelligence agencies. They also aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so private citizens and journalists aren’t allowed to access their internal documents. There are also no international laws to regulate private military firms. It’s been proven that many contractors are involved in illegal activities. The larger multinational companies sometimes hire local subcontractors. These contractors sometimes aren’t background-checked. A 2010 investigation by the Senate found that many subcontractors were linked to murders, kidnappings, bribery and anti-coalition activities. Some subcontractors even formed their own unlicensed mercenary groups after coalition forces leave. A 2010 House investigation showed evidence that the Department of Defense had hired local warlords for security services. In 2007, Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians. This eventually led Blackwater to being restructured and renamed as Academi. Source Here
Military Exercises. Private Defense Firms. No oversight. And it's all coming soon. Read more at Flatten the Curve. Part 20. Upcoming war and catastrophes. Source Here Nah. I'm just fear mongering and Doomscrolling again. Heads up and eyes open. Talk soon.
For the last few months we’ve been following new zero-knowledge proof projects in Rust. This month, with Secret Network upgrading their mainnet with secret contracts, it seems like a good opportunity to explore Rust blockchains that are using a completely different privacy-preserving technology: secure enclaves. Secure enclaves are processes whose environment is protected from inspection by other processes, even the kernel, by special hardware. This protection particularly involves the encryption of a process’s memory. Software that wants to compute in secret can put those computations inside a secure enclave and, if everything works as expected, neither a local user, nor the hosting provider, can snoop on the computations being performed. The most notable implementation of secure enclaves is Intel’s SGX (Secure Guard Extensions). Secure enclaves are an attractive way to perform private computation primarily because they don’t impose any limitations on what can be computed — code that runs inside SGX is more-or-less just regular x86 code, just running inside a special environment. But depending on SGX for privacy does have some special risks: software that runs in an SGX enclave must be signed (if transitively) by Intel’s own cryptographic keys, which means that Intel must approve of any software running in SGX, that Intel can revoke permission to use SGX, and that there is a risk of the signing keys being compromised; and it’s not obvious that secure enclaves are actually secure, there have already been a number of attacks against SGX. Regardless, as of now, hardware enclaves provide security features that aren’t feasible any other way. There are two prominent Rust blockchains relying on SGX:
Secret Network is a programmable blockchain based on Cosmos / Tendermint that runs smart contracts written in Rust, and compiled to WASM, inside of secure enclaves.
MobileCoin is a private currency that aims to integrate with Signal, and that uses SGX to add additional confidentiality on top of RingCT transactions and its variant of the Stellar Consensus Protocol.
Outside of the blockchain world there are some other Rust projects using SGX, the most notable being:
Teaclave SGX SDK is an SDK for running Rust code inside SGX enclaves, developed at Baidu, and now an Apache project. MobileCoin uses a heavily modified fork.
Fortanix is a provider of various Rust+SGX services, and they provide an SGX SDK, for which mainline Rust has some built-in support.
Thanks so much to our anonymous donors. We don’t often receive donations, so this was a nice surprise! We intend to put all monetary contributions to use funding events or new contributors, and we’ll let you know what we do with the funds when we spend them.
Each month we like to shine a light on a notable Rust blockchain project. This month that project is… Aleo. Aleo is a zero-knowledge blockchain, with its own zero-knowledge programming language, Leo. We don’t have a lot to say about it, but we think it looks cool. We hope they blog more.
Google Alternatives huge list restore your privacy
This guide aims to be the most exhaustive resource available for documenting alternatives to Google products. With growing concerns over online privacy and securing personal data, more people than ever are considering alternatives to Google products. After all, Google’s business model essentially revolves around data collection and advertisements, both of which infringe on your privacy. More data means better (targeted) ads and more revenue. The company pulled in over $116 billion in ad revenue last year alone – and that number continues to grow. But the word is getting out. A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to Google products that respect their privacy and data. So let’s get started. Note: The lists below are not necessarily in rank order. Choose the best products and services based on your own unique needs.
Google search alternatives
When it comes to privacy, using Google search is not a good idea. When you use their search engine, Google is recording your IP address, search terms, user agent, and often a unique identifier, which is stored in cookies. Here are ten alternatives to Google search:
Searx – A privacy-friendly and versatile metasearch engine that’s also open source.
MetaGer – An open source metasearch engine with good features, based in Germany.
DuckDuckGo – A private search engine based in the US.
Mojeek – The only true search engine (rather than metasearch engine) that has its own crawler and index (based in the UK).
YaCy – A decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer search engine.
Givero – Based in Denmark, Givero offers more privacy than Google and combines search with charitable donations.
Ecosia – Ecosia is based in Germany and donates a part of revenues to planting trees.
*Note: With the exception of Mojeek, all of the private search engines above are technically metasearch engines, since they source their results from other search engines, such as Bing and Google. (Startpage is no longer recommended.)
Gmail may be convenient and popular, but there are three major problems:
When you remain logged in to your Gmail account, Google can easily track your activities online as you browse different websites, which may be hosting Google Analytics or Google ads (Adsense). Here are ten alternatives to Gmail that do well in terms of privacy:
Tutanota – based in Germany; very secure and private; free accounts up to 1 GB
Mailfence – based in Belgium; lots of features; free accounts up to 500 MB
Posteo – based in Germany; €1/mo with 14 day refund window
StartMail – based in Netherlands; $5.00/mo with 7 day free trial
Runbox – based in Norway; lots of storage and features; $1.66/mo with 30 day free trial
Mailbox.org – based in Germany; €1/mo with 30 day free trial
CounterMail – based in Sweden; $4.00/mo with 7 day free trial
Kolab Now – based in Switzerland; €4.41/mo with 30 day money-back guarantee
ProtonMail – based in Switzerland; free accounts up to 500 MB
Thexyz – based in Canada; $1.95/mo with 30 day refund window
Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s also a data collection tool – and many people are taking notice. Just a few days ago, the Washington Post asserted that “Google’s web browser has become spy software,” with 11,000 tracker cookies observed in a single week. Here are seven alternatives for more privacy:
Firefox browser – Firefox is a very customizable, open-source browser that is popular in privacy circles. There are also many different Firefox modifications and tweaks that will give you more privacy and security. (Also check out Firefox Focus, a privacy-focused version for mobile users.)
There are many solid Google Docs alternatives available. The largest offline document editing suite is, of course, Microsoft Office. As most people know, however, Microsoft is not the best company for privacy. Nonetheless, there are a few other good Google Docs alternatives:
CryptPad – CryptPad is a privacy-focused alternative with strong encryption, and it’s free.
Etherpad – A self-hosted collaborative online editor that’s also open source.
Mailfence Documents – From the Mailfence team, this is a secure file sharing, storage, and collaboration tool.
Zoho Docs – This is another good Google Docs alternative with a clean interface and good functionality, although it may not be the best for privacy.
OnlyOffice – OnlyOffice feels a bit more restricted than some of the other options in terms of features.
Cryptee – This is a privacy-focused platform for photo and document storage and editing. It’s open source and based in Estonia.
LibreOffice (offline) – You can use LibreOffice which is free and open source.
Tip: Invidio.us is a great Youtube proxy that allows you to watch any Youtube video without logging in, even if the video is somehow restricted. To do this, simply replace [www.youtube.com] with [invidio.us] in the URL you want to view.
Google translate alternative
Here are a few Google translate alternatives I have come across:
DeepL – DeepL is a solid Google Translate alternative that seems to give great results. Like Google Translate, DeepL allows you to post up to 5,000 characters at a time (but the pro version is unlimited). The user interface is good and there is also a built-in dictionary feature.
Linguee – Linguee does not allow you to post large blocks of text like DeepL. However, Linguee will give you very accurate translations for single words or phrases, along with context examples.
dict.cc – This Google Translate alternative seems to do a decent job on single-world lookups, but it also feels a bit outdated.
If you want to translate blocks of text, check out DeepL. If you want in-depth translations for single words or phrases, then Linguee is a good choice.
Google analytics alternative
For website admins, there are many reasons to use an alternative to Google analytics. Aside from privacy concerns, there are also faster and more user-friendly alternatives that also respect your visitors’ privacy.
Clicky is a great alternative to Google Analytics that truncates and anonymizes visitor IP addresses by default. It is lightweight, user-friendly, and fully compliant with GDPR regulations, while also being certified by Privacy Shield.
Matomo (formerly Piwik) is an open-source analytics platform that respects the privacy of visitors by anonymizing and truncating visitor IP addresses (if enabled by the website admin). It is also certified to respect user privacy.
Get Insights – Another privacy-focused analytics platform, with a full analytics suite. The front-end client is open source and available here.
AT Internet is a France-based analytics provider that is fully GDPR compliant, with all data stored on French servers, and a good track record going back to 1996.
Many websites host Google Analytics because they run Google Adsense campaigns. Without Google Analytics, tracking performance of these campaigns would be difficult. Nonetheless, there are still better options for privacy.
Google Maps alternative
A map alternative for PCs is OpenStreetMap. A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:
OsmAnd is a free and open-source mobile maps app for both Android and iOS (based on OpenStreetMap data).
MapHub is also based on OpenStreeMap data and it does not collect locations or user IP addresses.
Note: Waze is not an “alternative” as it is now owned by Google.
Google Play Store alternative
Currently the best Google Play Store alternative is to use F-Droid and then go through the Yalp store. As explained on the official site, F-Droid is an installable catalog of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. After you have installed F-Droid, you can then download the Yalp store APK, which allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store directly as APK files. 📷The Yalp Store is a good alternative to the Google Play Store. See the F-Droid website or the official GitHub page for more info. Other alternatives to the Google Play Store include:
Aptoide – An independent marketplace for Android apps.
APKMirror – This is a large library of APK files uploaded by different users (be careful).
Want to ditch the Chromebook and Chrome OS? Here are a few alternatives:
Linux – Of course, Linux is arguably the best alternative, being a free, open-source operating system with lots of different flavors. With some adjustments, Linux Ubuntu can be run on Chromebooks.
Tails – Tails is a free, privacy-focused operating system based on Linux that routes all traffic through the Tor network.
QubesOS – Recommended by Snowden, free, and also open source.
Of course, the other two big operating system alternatives are Windows and Apple’s operating system for MacBooks – Mac OS. Windows, particularly Windows 10, is a very bad option for privacy. While slightly better, Apple also collects user data and has partnered with the NSA) for surveillance.
The biggest alternative to Android is iOS from Apple. But we’ll skip over that for reasons already mentioned. Here are a few Android OS alternatives:
LineageOS – A free and open-source operating system for phones and tablets based on Android.
Ubuntu Touch – A mobile version of the Ubuntu operating system.
Plasma Mobile – An open source, Linux-based operating system with active development.
Sailfish OS – Another open source, Linux-based mobile OS.
Replicant – A fully free Android distribution with an emphasis on freedom, privacy, and security.
/e/ – This is another open source project with a focus on privacy and security.
Purism is also working on a privacy-focused mobile phone called the Librem 5. It is in production, but not yet available (estimated Q3 2019).
Google Hangouts alternatives
Here are some alternatives to Google Hangouts:
Wire – A great all-around secure messenger, video, and chat app, but somewhat limited on the number of people who can chat together in a group conversation via voice or video.
Signal – A good secure messenger platform from Open Whisper Systems.
Telegram – A longtime secure messenger app, formerly based in Russia, now in Dubai.
Riot – A privacy-focused encrypted chat service that is also open source.
Google Domains alternative
Google Domains is a domain registration service. Here are a few alternatives:
Namecheap – I like Namecheap because all domain purchases now come with free WhoisGuard protection for life, which protects your contact information from third parties. Namecheap also accepts Bitcoin and offers domain registration, hosting, email, SSL certs, and a variety of other products.
Njalla – Njalla is a privacy-focused domain registration service based in Nevis. They offer hosting options, too, and also accept cryptocurrency payments.
OrangeWebsite – OrangeWebsite offers anonymous domain registration services and also accepts cryptocurrency payments, based in Iceland.
Other Google alternatives
Here more alternatives for various Google products: Google forms alternative – JotForm is a free online form builder. Google Keep alternative – Below are a few different Google Keep alternatives:
Standard Notes is a great alternative for a note-taking service. It is secure, encrypted, and free with apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android (web-based also available).
Joplin is another great option that is open source and works on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Zoho Notebook from Zoho, with apps for desktop and mobile devices.
QOwnNotes is an open source file editor with Nextcloud integration.
Google Fonts alternative – Many websites load Google fonts through Google APIs, but that’s not necessary. One alternative to this is to use Font Squirrel, which has a large selection of both Google and non-Google fonts which are free to download and use. Google Voice alternative – JMP.chat (both free and paid) G Suite alternative – Zoho is probably the best option Google Firebase alternative – Kuzzle (free and open source) Google Blogger alternatives – WordPress, Medium, and Ghost are all good options.
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