Maze Hacker Group Claims Infecting Insurance Giant Chubb with Ransomware



Black hat hacker group, Maze, claims to have used ransomware to compromise the systems of insurance giant, Chubb. They also claim to have stolen the firm’s data.

Brett Callow, threat analyst at cybersecurity firm, Emsisoft, told Cointelegraph on March 27 that Maze published the claim on its website. While the website does not provide any direct proof of the hack so far, Callow pointed out facts that give the claim an air of credibility:

“Maze’s past victims include governments, law firms, healthcare providers, manufacturers, medical research companies, healthcare providers and more.”

Maze’s modus operandi

Callow explained that the group usually first claims the hacks after successful attacks and then — if the victim does not pay — they publish a small amount of the stolen data as proof of the hack. At this point, if the compromised entity still does not pay, Maze will start publishing more and more sensitive data:

“Should the company still not pay, more data is published, sometimes on a staggered basis, to ramp up the pressure. In previous cases, the criminals have also published the data on Russian cybercrime forums with a note to ‘Use this information in any nefarious ways that you want.’ In one previous incident, the group demanded $1 million to decrypt a company’s data plus an additional $1 million to destroy the copy that had been stolen.”

In February, Maze compromised five United States law firms and demanded two 100 Bitcoin ransoms in exchange for restoring data and deleting additional copies of their files. The ransom amount demanded from Chubb is not currently known.

According to company data website, Owler, Chubb is an insurance provider headquartered in Zurich with 32,700 employees and an annual revenue of $34.2 billion. The firm did not answer Cointelegraph’s inquiry by press time.

An organized hacker group

Maze is a particularly notorious and well-organized cybercriminal group. Callow also told Cointelegraph that “Maze was the first ransomware group to steal and publish data, and it is a strategy that other groups have since adopted.”

Maze also publishes press releases on the same website where stolen data is published. Those announcements closely resemble the statements released by ordinary companies, although they often contain grammatical errors. In one such press release — published on March 22 — the group claims that it carries on its activities in an attempt to bring attention to the lack of cybersecurity. The release reads:

“We want to show that the system is unreliable. The cybersecurity is weak. The people who should care about the security of the information are unreliable. We want to show that nobody cares about the users. […] Some people like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden were trying to show the reality. Now it’s our turn. We will change the situation by making irresponsible companies pay for every data leak.”

The announcement also promises that the public will hear more about successful attacks by the group in the future. In another announcement — dated March 18 — the Maze group also promised that firms they hack amid the pandemic will have right to a discount in the ransom:

“Due to the situation with the incoming global economy crisis and virus pandemic, our Team decided to help commercial organizations as much as possible. We are starting an exclusive discount season for everyone who has faced our product. Discounts are offered for both decrypting files and deleting of the leaked data. To get the discounts our partners should contact us using the chat or our news resource.”

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Maze also infected the systems of Hammersmith Medicines Research, a United Kingdom firm researching the coronavirus. Maze published sensitive data on its website including the results of medical tests and id documents, such as passports.





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Bitcoin Rallied 80% Without Any Gov’t Bailout: Time to Get Bullish?


The Bitcoin (BTC) price remained relatively sideways last week and not once did it test resistance or support of the descending channel identified in last week’s analysis

As such, today I’m looking at a new bullish case for Bitcoin that could see the leading digital asset see incredible growth if $7,200 resistance is broken as far as the technicals are concerned. 

However, last week proved a massive fundamental turning point for Bitcoin that very few are talking about.

Daily crypto market performance

Daily crypto market performance. Source: Coin360.com

Bitcoin’s old path

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

If Bitcoin has resumed the bear trend from July 2019, then over the next week we should see $5,600 get tested.

This $5,600 level represents the middle of the descending channel, and from here I would be looking for either a large rejection or a freefall to $4,100 as confirmation that this channel is still valid. 

If this channel is still valid, then this puts the resistance at $7,200, and I would be once again short-term bearish — perhaps even until the end of the year — expecting $3K Bitcoin to be an area we should not only expect to reach but an area we could possibly stay in for a while. 

A new path at $7,200 

BTC USD daily chart

BTC USD daily chart. Source: TradingView

On a more bullish note for Bitcoin price, there is a seemingly valid ascending channel opening up, which might catch many off guard, as the resistance on the descending channel is the moving average of the descending channel. 

As such, $7,200 could be a critical turning point for the king of cryptocurrencies, which could lead to a new resistance level of $8,300. 

If this is the case, it would put support today around $6,060 and around the $6,100 level next week; and holding these levels would certainly be incredibly bullish for Bitcoin. And it’s not just the technicals that are strong either. 

Last week, gold-bug Peter Schiff sent a smug tweet addressing all Bitcoin holders that read: 

“Congratulations Bitcoin hodlers. It looks like #Bitcoin may actually be living up to its status as a non-correlated asset after all. Every asset class is rallying today except Bitcoin!”

However, unknowingly to Schiff, he just made the most fundamentally bullish case for Bitcoin. As the global markets rising last week was a direct result of trillions of dollars being printed out of thin air, Bitcoin, however, doesn’t need “stimulus packages,” “quantitative easing” or “bailouts.” 

Bitcoin bounced back 80% from its recent bottom, showing that Bitcoin has something a lot more powerful than these things. It has believers in its value proposition. 

This to me is a great sign that Bitcoin will emerge from this global pandemic stronger than its ever been, but we might not be out of the woods just yet.

The Weekly MACD isn’t bullish just yet

BTC USD weekly MACD chart

BTC USD weekly MACD chart. Source: TradingView

One of the best indicators for knowing when to buy or sell Bitcoin is the weekly Moving Average Divergence Convergence ( MACD) indicator. As can be seen from the chart above, it crossed bullish eight months before the all-time high (ATH) and crossed bearish a month after the ATH. 

It also crossed bullish when Bitcoin was at its bottom in Feb. 2019. However, there can be false crosses, and this is what I warned people of in my analysis on Dec. 8, 2019. Here I pointed out that the MACD was mimicking the patterns we saw around the last false bullish cross, which saw Bitcoin fall from over $8K to under $4K and as it happens, that’s exactly what happened again this month. 

As such, it would suggest that perhaps the MACD is telling us once more, that the bottom is in, and that now is the time to buy Bitcoin aggressively before the next bull-run. 

However, I would personally like to see the MACD and Signal lines pinching before getting too excited, but if the new ascending channel remains valid, then that is exactly what we will see happen.

The bearish scenario for Bitcoin price

BTC mining difficulty

BTC mining difficulty. Source: BTC.com 

Despite all my bullishness, you cannot ignore that the Bitcoin mining difficulty had its biggest drop since December 2018, and it looks as if another big drop is on the cards for April. 

This could point to either more downside for Bitcoin, or it could be pointing for more profitability for miners, which would reinforce my theory on why miners crashed Bitcoin earlier this month. Should this have a detrimental effect on the price of Bitcoin, then this will invalidate the ascending support of $6,100 and put $5,600 and $4,100 as the levels to defend over the coming week.

The bullish scenario for Bitcoin price

If $6,100 support holds, then the next level to flip is $7,200. If this level becomes support next week, then $8,300 is where I am looking for a breakout that could put $10K back on the cards. 

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of @officiallykeith and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.





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Global Crypto Community Comes Out in Full Force Against Coronavirus



With cases of the deadly coronavirus still popping up at an unprecedented rate around the world, many prominent members of the blockchain and crypto industries have heeded the global cry for help and have swiftly engaged in meaningful action — be it in terms of direct research-related participation, or through the donation of funds or resource materials, such as masks, sanitization equipment, etc. 

For example, as early as January, premier cryptocurrency exchange Binance had already donated $1.4 million worth of medical supplies to Chinese authorities in a massive effort to combat the devastating effects of the coronavirus. Dubbed as the “Binance for Wuhan” project, the effort has seen the crypto trading platform donate a total of 366,000 pairs of gloves, 56,800 masks, 9 sterilizers, 5,280 bottles of hand sanitizer, 20,000 testing kits, 7,850 protective suits, 20,000 pairs of goggles, 388 oxygen concentrators, 1,000 germicidal lamps and roughly five tons of disinfectant. 

According to Jarred Winn, senior vice president of Binance Charity — the exchange’s social outreach wing — seven batches of medical supplies have reached 124 hospitals, medical teams and command wings. The germicidal lamps were sent to Wuhan University People’s Hospital and then distributed to 74 medical teams and health centers, as well as the hotels that accommodated the medical teams. 

Winn further told Cointelegraph that the germicidal lamps have the ability to produce ultraviolet light that can result in the deactivation of bacteria, viruses and protozoa, providing a clean living and working environment for the medical teams.

Additionally, Binance Charity has also embarked on a new initiative wherein the company is looking to raise a total of $5 million in cryptocurrencies to acquire essential medical items for all of the countries that have been affected the most by the COVID-19 crisis. In this regard, a bulk of the funds will be used to quickly disseminate key medical equipment and supplies across countries like Italy, Germany, Spain, South Korea, Iran, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Commenting on the developing coronavirus situation, Changpeng Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, was quoted as saying: “We encourage the community to take part in this initiative as we unite against COVID-19, and together, we’ll drive impact.”

On the role that blockchain technology has been playing in helping Binance with its aforementioned efforts, Winn told Cointelegraph that a long-lasting dilemma related to charity has been the question of “Where did my money go?” In regard to this point, he added:

“With blockchain technology, transparency and immutability allow any user to see that funds have been transferred to an individual with 100% certainty, and subsequently, in this case, there are no secrets in giving.”

Some notable efforts

The Giving Block

Recently, non-profit fundraising platform The Giving Block launched a crypto donation drive to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Giving Block Co-Founder Alex Wilson, the #cryptoCOVID19 alliance is being facilitated in partnership with Gitcoin — an open-source bounties platform on the Ethereum blockchain. In this regard, Wilson told Cointelegraph that Gitcoin and Vitalik Buterin will be matching donations up to $100,000 made in Ether (ETH), Dai (DAI) and ERC-20s. He further commented:

“In total, there are over 20 industry partners helping support our efforts, each contributing in a unique way. For example, another one of our partners, Brave, is providing free ad inventory as part of their ad grants program to help drive traffic and awareness to the #cryptoCOVID19 campaign page.”

Wilson also pointed out that donations made through The Giving Block’s official widget will go directly to the aforementioned nonprofits — with each of these entities having its very own institutional Gemini account on the backend so that incoming funds are directly passed to the beneficiaries. Lastly, while donations are possible via a host of digital assets, Wilson told Cointelegraph that a vast majority of the funds that have been received up until now have come in the form of Bitcoin (BTC), ETH, DAI and Zcash (ZEC). 

COVIDathon

The Decentralized AI Alliance, or DAIA, recently launched #COVIDathon, the world’s first decentralized artificial intelligence hackathon that has been designed to help assist the global medical industry in creating solutions to combat COVID-19. 

The alliance currently has more than 50 members from the blockchain space, including SingularityNET, Ocean Protocol, Aragon, Shivom, NEM, InboundJunction, as well as communities of health care professionals, biotechnologists and geneticists.

Cointelegraph spoke to Ben Goertzel, chairman of DAIA and the CEO and founder of SingularityNET. In his view, the current global pandemic is confronting the masses at large with a lot of ‘unknown unknowns,’ and thus in the face of such radical uncertainty, Goertzel believes that the crypto community as a whole must launch into action immediately. Talking about COVIDathon in more detail, he added: 

“The COVIDathon AI/blockchain hackathon is pulling together a diverse global group of AI and blockchain developers, medical and policy researchers, forming a community capable of creating and deploying new tools with the responsiveness and creativity demanded by a situation that is constantly changing.”

Goertzel hopes that the community will come up with innovations, such as new apps for monitoring the health of individuals and communities, discovering new approaches for simulating the spread of COVID-19, in addition to developing new machine learning tools to help biomedical and epidemiological analysis, and many others. 

Additionally, Bruce Pon, one of COVIDathon’s key participants and co-founder of Ocean Protocol, told Cointelegraph that even though a whole lot of people are currently willing to compromise their privacy to ensure the safety of the masses, such a mindset should not become the new norm. In Pon’s view, COVIDathon will showcase useful, real-world applications that will look to give individuals more control when governments ask to surveil and track people to defeat the coronavirus.

Ripple Labs

On March 25, Ripple Labs issued a tweet stating that the organization has donated a total of $200,000 to two separate non-profit organizations — namely, the Tipping Point Community and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The money is primarily aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States since a host of new data has shown that the total number of confirmed cases in the country is now higher than the number of reported cases in China.

San Francisco-based Tipping Point Community is a non-profit organization that recently launched its Emergency Response Fund, through which it seeks to raise a total of $1 million for the COVID-19 response initiative. Similarly, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s COVID Regional Response Fund will focus more on the containment of COVID-19 within the Silicon Valley region.

UAE’s MOCD

According to a recent report, a number of international blockchain firms have come together to help minimize the spread of the virus, as well as prevent future outbreaks across the United Arab Emirates — mainly through the use of distributed database-related solutions. 

In this regard, the UAE’s Ministry of Community Development has already initiated the use of various digital platforms to streamline its government’s services. For example, a blockchain system that is reportedly capable of processing 2,919 types of documents is currently live — thus allowing citizens to authenticate their official certificates and other paperwork online without having to step out of their homes.

Speaking on her country’s latest lockdown measures, Hessa Essa Buhumaid, UAE’s minister of community development, was quoted as saying that the “step confirms the ministry’s commitment to ensure the continuity and flexibility of all government services in light of the directives of the smart government to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Napoli Blockchain Association

The Napoli Blockchain Association recently launched a crypto fundraiser to help combat the coronavirus by purchasing a host of electromedical equipment to strengthen Italy’s health care sector — specifically within the nation’s Campania region. 

Italy has been one of the worst-hit countries of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with Iran, the U.S., Spain and China. What is most striking is that the recent virus outbreak is putting an exceptionally heavy load on the Italian health care system — a country that was touted to have one of the best medical infrastructures in the world. 

Providing his thoughts on the matter, Napoli Blockchain Association President Celestino Santagata said that he and his team will use the raised funds to acquire specific equipment, such as ventilators and vital medicines to help those in need.

Mateon

Blockchain driven immuno-oncology company Mateon released a report on March 25 claiming to have successfully completed positive testing for multiple COVID-19 drug candidates. Per the release, one of the company’s formulations — the OT-101, a TGF-Beta antisense drug — seems to have displayed significant effect against COVID-19. 

From a technical standpoint, it appears as though the drug works by inhibiting the virus from binding to its target, thus preventing the virus from replicating and infecting its host with pneumonia-related symptoms. In the wake of these promising developments, Vuong Trieu, president and CEO of Mateon, was quoted:

“We are excited about our platform for rapid response against viral epidemics and look forward to working with GMP to further expand on that platform in the U.S. and China.” 

Folding Home (F@H)

Folding@Home is a digital platform that has been designed to help provide medical researchers with adequate computational power to help them with their investigative efforts. The project has gained a lot of mainstream traction over the past month or so, with Greg Bowman, director of F@H, revealing that the project now has over 400,000 computers actively contributing their processing capacity to help with the aforementioned research efforts. 

Additionally, Folding@Home has also been able to garner the support of various big-name players, such as Tezos, a multipurpose blockchain platform, and CoreWeave, a company offering affordable and scalable machine learning on NVIDIA GPUs.

In unity, there is strength

Despite the mass destruction — both economic and social — that has occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many silver linings that have come through in this time of need. For example, a number of prominent individuals operating within the private sector, entertainment and sports industry have come forth and made huge contributions to aid research, as well as provide essential supplies to those currently affected by the coronavirus.

Even though the virus sadly continues to spread and with the efforts taken by a number of governments across the globe, it seems as though there might be some respite waiting right around the corner for everyone.





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Here’s Why 100 SMA Could Spark Fresh Bitcoin Rally In Near Term


Bitcoin failed to surpass the $7,000 resistance and declined below $6,500 against the US Dollar. BTC is likely to bounce back as long as it is above $6,000 and the 100 SMA (H4).

  • Bitcoin price is currently correcting gains from the $7,000 resistance area.
  • The $6,000 region and the 100 simple moving average (4-hours) are important supports.
  • There was a break below a major bullish trend line with support at $6,620 on the 4-hours chart of the BTC/USD pair (data feed from Kraken).
  • The pair is currently consolidating losses above the $6,000 and $6,100 levels.

Bitcoin is Approaching Crucial Support

This past week, bitcoin struggled to gain strength above the $6,880 and $7,000 resistance levels against the US Dollar. BTC price topped near the $6,982 level and recently started a fresh decline.

There was a break below the main $6,500 support area to start a substantial decline. Moreover, there was a break below a major bullish trend line with support at $6,620 on the 4-hours chart of the BTC/USD pair.

Bitcoin Price

Bitcoin Price

The pair even declined below the $6,200 support and traded close to the $6,000 area. A new weekly low is formed near the $6,048 level and the price is currently consolidating losses. An initial resistance on the upside is near the $6,270 level since it is close to the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $6,982 swing high to $6,048 low.

On the downside, there are a couple of important supports near $6,050 and $6,000. The main support for bitcoin is near the $5,950 level and the 100 simple moving average (4-hours).

If BTC fails to stay above the 100 SMA, there is a risk of a larger decline below $5,800. An immediate support is near $5,750, below which the price is likely to decline towards the $5,500 level.

Fresh Increase

The main support for bitcoin is forming near the $6,000 area and the 100 SMA. If the price stays above the 100 SMA, there are chances of a strong recovery wave above the $6,300 level.

The next resistance is near the $6,500 region (the recent breakdown support). The 50% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $6,982 swing high to $6,048 low is also near $6,515.

Therefore, a successful break above the $6,500 resistance area could start a fresh increase towards the $6,800 and $7,000 resistance levels.

Technical indicators

4 hours MACD – The MACD for BTC/USD is about to move back into the bullish zone.

4 hours RSI (Relative Strength Index) – The RSI for BTC/USD is currently flat near the 40 level.

Major Support Level – $6,000

Major Resistance Level – $6,500

Take advantage of the trading opportunities with Plus500

Risk disclaimer: 76.4% of retail CFD accounts lose money.



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Network of Fake Bitcoin QR Code Generators Stole $45,000 in March



A network of malicious QR code generators has stolen more than $40,000 from Bitcoin (BTC) users in one month.

At least nine fake Bitcoin-to-QR code generators have been spotted in recent weeks, with security researcher, Harry Denley, first tweeting that he had identified two domains hosting fake QR code applications on March 22.

Denley later identified seven other domains sharing the same interface — suggesting that they are all created by the same developer.

Fake Bitcoin QR code generators steal over 7 BTC

The malicious programs promise to convert a user’s Bitcoin address into a QR code, claiming to eliminate the risk of the user losing their funds as a result of typos when entering or sharing their address — a service offered by every popular block explorer and most mobile wallet applications.

However, the QR code generated by the programs is always the same address — diverting the victims’ funds to the malicious program’s developers. The supposed QR generators correspond to five different wallets, which have absorbed more than seven BTC, likely from the apps’ victims. 

The malicious websites are bitcoin-barcode-generator.com, bitcoinaddresstoqrcode.com, bitcoins-qr-code.com, btc-to-qr.com, create-bitcoin-qr-code.com, free-bitcoin-qr-codes.com, freebitcoinqrcodes.com, qr-code-bitcoin.com, and qrcodebtc.com.

‘Bitcoin transaction accelerators’ accumulate 17.6 BTC

The websites are hosted by three different servers that collectively host roughly 450 other websites that appear sketchy — with the sites featuring keywords related to coronavirus, Gmail, and various cryptocurrencies.

Among the sites are several purported “Bitcoin transaction accelerators,” which claim to speed up BTC transfers in exchange for a 0.001 BTC. The BTC addresses associated with the supposed ‘accelerators’ have absorbed more than 17.6 BTC — taking in nearly $110,000.

Crypto scams capitalize on coronavirus fears

Opportunistic scammers have sought to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic — with UK county regulators, the Texas State Securities Board, and the US Commodity Futures Trade Commission issuing warnings about the proliferation of coronavirus crypto scams over the past week.

Recent scams have also impersonated the World Health Organization in an attempt to siphon donations, and taken the form of apps purporting to track the spread of coronavirus.





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Ethereum Is In Downtrend But This Variable Can Trigger A New Rally


Ethereum failed to clear the $142 resistance and started a fresh decline against the US Dollar, similar to bitcoin. ETH price could soon test the main $120 support area, where the bulls might emerge.

  • ETH price is currently trading in a bearish zone below the $135 level against the US Dollar.
  • There are many hurdles on the upside, starting with $135 and up to $144.
  • There is a major bearish trend line forming with resistance near $135 on the 4-hours chart of ETH/USD (data feed via Kraken).
  • The pair remains in a downtrend as long as it is below $145 and the 100 simple moving average (4-hours).

Ethereum Price Could Extend its Decline

In the past few days, Ethereum made more than two attempts to gain strength above the $140 resistance against the US Dollar. However, ETH price failed to settle above the $140 level and the 100 simple moving average (4-hours).

As a result, a fresh decline initiated below the $136 and $135 support levels. There was a break below the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the upward move from the $108 swing low to $144 swing high.

Ethereum price even broke the $130 support area to move into a bearish zone. It is now trading near the 50% Fib retracement level of the upward move from the $108 swing low to $144 swing high.

On the upside, there is a major bearish trend line forming with resistance near $135 on the 4-hours chart of ETH/USD. If the price fails to stay above the $125 support area, it is likely to extend its decline.

Ethereum Price

Ethereum Price

The next key support is near the $120 level, where the bulls are likely to take a stand. Any further losses may perhaps open the doors for a larger decline towards the $105 and $100 support levels in the coming days.

Fresh Increase?

If Ethereum price stays above the $120 support, it could bounce back and start a fresh increase. A clear break above the trend line and the $135 resistance might start an upward move.

The main resistance is still near the $144 level and the 100 simple moving average (4-hours). A successful close above the $144 resistance is needed for a strong rally towards the $155 and $160 levels.

Technical Indicators

4 hours MACD – The MACD for ETH/USD is slowly losing momentum in the bearish zone.

4 hours RSI – The RSI for ETH/USD is now well below the 50 level.

Major Support Level – $120

Major Resistance Level – $144



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These 3 Factors Show Bitcoin Has Further to Fall After Hitting $6,000


Over the past 24 hours, Bitcoin hasn’t performed too well. After maintaining the $6,700 support for a number of days, the cryptocurrency tanked on Friday evening in a move that shocked investors, falling as low as $6,050 by the next morning, marking a decline of 10% from the then-daily highs.

Related Reading: King of the Hill: Top Crypto Investor Explains Why Altcoins Are Highly Risky

Although the selling pressure has since abated, with BTC holding $6,200 over the past few hours, some fear the crypto market will continue to trend lower in the coming days due to technical factors.

Bitcoin Chart Flashing Number of Bearish Signs

According to crypto trader CryptoHamster, Bitcoin’s daily chart is flashing three harrowing signs at the moment:

  • The Tom Demark Sequential, which called Bitcoin’s 2019 top at $14,000 and the bottom at $6,400, recently flashed a green “9” candle, suggesting a reversal is imminent.
  • The Stochastic RSI has seen a bearish crossover, suggesting downside remains.
  • The MACD histogram is currently declining and looks poised to turn negative within the next few days.

Not the Only Bear

It isn’t only the abovementioned analyst who expects Bitcoin’s prospects to worsen.

Cryptocurrency trader DonAlt — who called much of Bitcoin’s recent decline — posted the below chart while asking why the recent price action “feels so familiar.”

Related Reading: Crypto Tidbits: Bitcoin Holds $6,000s, Federal Reserve To Do “QE Infinity,” U.S. Digital Dollar Proposed

As can be seen below, the commentator is referring to his sentiment that the price action that has transpired since March 12th is similar to that seen in late-February to early-March, during which BTC rallied higher to only get rejected at a horizontal resistance.

If Bitcoin is to follow this forming pattern to a T, it will make one more attempt at surmounting $7,000s in the coming days, then fall dramatically, potentially towards the local lows at $3,800.

The expectation that the cryptocurrency market will continue to retrace further has been echoed by Bitcoin chartist Crypto Cactus, who remarked that with the recent move, the cryptocurrency has moved below a key horizontal level and is showing signs it is entering into a textbook “mark down” phase, which will likely result in more losses for BTC in the short term.

Featured Image from Shutterstock





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Bitcoins on the Move — Is BTC Price Inversely Correlated to Mempool Size?


After making a strong recovery from $3,775 to $6,450, Bitcoin’s (BTC) price has traded in a tight range which has seen the price struggle to push above resistance at $6,400 and $6,850. Despite the current pullback, technical indicators like the Stock-to-Flow model and the network’s consistent growth in hash rate show that investors have regained a small amount of confidence.

Another factor worth considering is Bitcoin’s mempool size as it also can provide some insight into how buyers and sellers are reacting during these uncertain times.

Cryptocurrency market weekly overview. Source: Coin360

Cryptocurrency market weekly overview. Source: Coin360

The mempool is where all the unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions wait until all confirmations are released to conclude each transaction. The higher the mempool size, the longer it takes for transactions to be confirmed since more blocks have to be confirmed (more power input).

If a jam occurs in the memory pool due to an abnormal size of transaction waiting to be confirmed, the higher the probability to incur in a higher transaction fee to expedite it promptly.

Bitcoin’s mempool size reached a record-high value at over 130MB/block during January 2018, days after Bitcoin price slightly crossed its all-time high at $20,000.

Bitcoin Mempool size (in MB/Block) since June 2016-March 2020. Source: Blockchain.com

Bitcoin Mempool size (in MB/Block) since June 2016-March 2020. Source: Blockchain.com

This could suggest a relationship between the number of transactions waiting to be confirmed and Bitcoin’s price. If that is the case, the relationships would be inverse in times of corrections such as the one investors are facing now.

2020 shows an inverse relationship in Bitcoin mempool size and price

Considering a period from Feb. 19 until March 13, when Bitcoin lost 60%, we find that the correlation between the Bitcoin mempool size and its price is negative at -41.2%. This is a very high relationship considering that this correlation for the entire 2020 period available is almost non-significant at 2.34%.

A correlation of 100% means that the Bitcoin price and the mempool size move completely in the same direction, while -100% correlation means they are inversely related. A correlation of 0% means that the variables are not related in any way.

Current activity mirrors 2016

In correction periods during 2016, where Bitcoin lost more than 20% in price, we find the same negative relationship between the mempool size and Bitcoin price, even though both have a high difference in values — one period is very inversely correlated (-83.1%) and the other period very slightly negative (-4.6%).

In the six periods where a correction of up to a 20% decrease in price during 2017 and 2018, we find an inconclusive relationship across the correlations and this makes it impossible to reach a solid conclusion.

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size for different correction periods during 2017

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size for different correction periods during 2017

However, if we look closely at the two periods that occurred during the second half of 2017 when Bitcoin ended up reaching its record price, both periods show an inverse relationship between the mempool size and Bitcoin price.

Between Nov. 8 and Nov. 12, this relationship was very negative (-85.9%), while between Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, the correlation is very small (-5.6%).

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2018 correction periods

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2018 correction periods

Positive relationship in 2019

During 2019, four out of the five correction periods identified showed a positive correlation between the Bitcoin mempool size and its price, except for the last periods, which showed a slight negative correlation.

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2019.

Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2019

Positive correlation in full-year periods 

When considering the relationship during each year instead of only analyzing the corrective periods, we find a clear trend and a positive correlation between the mempool size and Bitcoin’s price. 

Moreover, a high correlation is seen in 2017 (80.8%) and 2018 (72.2%), despite not being able to draw a conclusive trend when analyzing the correction periods within those years. The positive trend, although small in magnitude, is also seen between both variables in 2016 (26.3%) and 2019 (9.5%). While in 2020, the relationship is practically non-existent (2.34%). 

“There is so much BTC in transit”

Last week, there has been an increase in the mempool size even as Bitcoin’s price is going down. Looking forward, we may see the continuation of this inverse relationship contributes to the uncertainty of Bitcoin’s price in the short-term. 

As Cointelegraph markets analyst filbfilb recently pointed out:

“I just can’t be long while I know there is so much BTC in transit.”

The amount of Bitcoin possibly being moved into and out of exchanges in the last week’s raises further doubts about the inverse relationship between the mempool and Bitcoin price.

Data for the mempool size drawn from Blockchain.com and prices from coinmarketcap.com. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.





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Overview of Software Wallets, the Easy Way to Store Crypto



Similar to a bank account for fiat currency, a crypto wallet is a personal interface for a cryptocurrency network that provides reliable storage and enables transactions. Whether a cryptocurrency is securely stored or not, much depends on the wallet, which is only as secure as its private keys.

Wallets are generally either hot or cold. The funds in a hot wallet can be spent at any time, online. A cold wallet functions in contrast: not intended for regular cryptocurrency transactions, but funds can be received at any time. Wallets can also be divided into three groups: software, hardware and paper. Today, we will take a look at the most widespread group of crypto wallets ー software.

What is a software wallet?

Software wallets come in many forms, each with its own set of unique characteristics. Most are somehow connected to the internet and are hot in nature. Wallets are distinguished by a set of supported cryptocurrencies and software platforms such as Windows, Mac and other operating systems. Software wallets are available in three forms — desktop, mobile and online:

  • Desktop wallets are computer programs that store cryptocurrencies on a PC so that its information is not accessible to anyone but the user, whose private keys are kept only on the desktop.
  • Mobile wallets come in the form of a smartphone app and are easily accessible to their users at any time, considering most people don’t leave their homes without their phones. However, it is worth remembering that mobile devices are vulnerable to various malware and can be easily lost.
  • Online wallets are web wallets that can be accessed from anywhere and any device, making them more convenient, but the private keys are stored by website owners rather than locally on user devices.

So, the burning question on everyone’s mind is: Which of these software wallets do I choose?

Exodus

Exodus is one of the most popular software wallets for storing Bitcoin (BTC) and supports over 110 other cryptocurrencies. Launched in 2015 and based in Nebraska, the service is supported by all major software platforms.

The Exodus code is partially open-source. Private keys are controlled by the users and do not leave the device where the wallet is installed. The service’s philosophy implies the absence of any personal identification and interaction with banks. Exodus uses the instant digital asset exchange ShapeShift for its wallet’s exchange function, although fiat money exchanges are not supported.

Exodus is a free service, while its transaction fees are paid only to miners and determined automatically using the Bitcoin fee service. The size of a transaction in the wallet is determined by the number of inputs and outputs. The more input, the more expensive the transaction becomes. The wallet charges a portion of the commission for facilitating transactions made within the system.

Electrum Bitcoin Wallet

The Electrum Bitcoin Wallet is a reliable service that has been around since 2011. It is a so-called “thin” cold wallet, where the entire blockchain is not downloaded to the user’s device but is rather stored on the network servers. In this case, private keys are stored on the user’s computer in an encrypted form and are never sent to the server.

Versions of the Electrum Bitcoin Wallet can be automatically synchronized on different computers. If users want to use another client program or an online service in the future, they can easily export their keys there or import keys into a cold wallet.

This crypto wallet can sign transactions on a device disconnected from the network by saving a new transaction onto a USB flash drive and then loading it onto a device connected to the internet, where the new transaction can be imported onto the network. The wallet is functionally an analog of a hardware wallet, albeit with a slightly more complex chain of actions, and also uses two-level encryption.

Jaxx Liberty

Based in Canada, Jaxx was launched in 2016 by Anthony Di Iorio, CEO and founder of Decentral as well as a co-founder of Ethereum. Jaxx is available on most popular operating systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, IOS and also as an extension in the Google Chrome web browser.

Over 80 cryptocurrencies are available as the ShapeShift exchange is also integrated into the Jaxx wallet for easy and fast transactions. The Jaxx platform does not support fiat money exchange operations or multi-signature. It is a free service, and its transaction fees are paid to miners and differ by currency. When transferring BTC, users choose from three options for fees, depending on the urgency of the transfer.

All of Jaxx’s code is open-source except for the user interface. Private keys are controlled by users and do not leave devices that have had wallets installed on them. To verify transactions, centralized validation technology is used. The intuitive controls render this wallet user-friendly and convenient to use.

However, the company has had its rough times. In 2017, Jaxx was hacked, and more than $400,000 in various cryptocurrencies was stolen. However, Jaxx Chief Technical Officer Nilang Vyas said in a Reddit post that, unlike hardware wallets, Jaxx is not designed for long-term storage of crypto assets and that users should store only small amounts of funds in their Jaxx wallets.

Atomic Wallet

Founded in 2017, Atomic Wallet is a desktop app that provides users with full control over their cryptocurrency savings, as the private keys and transactional data for this service are stored on users’ computers rather than on the provider’s servers.

Atomic Wallet is compatible with all known operating systems and currently supports more than 300 cryptocurrencies, including the most common ones, alongside most ERC-20 tokens and its own Atomic Wallet Coin (AWC). The app can be downloaded for free, but it does contain certain paid services:

  • Purchasing cryptocurrency with a credit card (a 2% commission and minimum commission of $10).
  • Currency transactions within the wallet, such as peer-to-peer.
  • Transactions conducted through ShapeShift.

As a solution that lacks servers, Atomic Wallet does not require registration from its users. Therefore, the wallet does not store any confidential personal information and does not utilize the services of intermediaries to conduct transactions.

All data transferred is encrypted, as users receive a unique “backup phrase” comprising 12 randomly generated words to recover access to their wallets to serve as a backup should other forms of verification fail, or in case a mobile phone is lost.

Bitcoin Core

Bitcoin Core was created in 2009 and is based on the wallet program code that was published along with Bitcoin’s project software, thereby ensuring streamlined functionality along the network. 

In 2012, the Bitcoin Foundation began developing applications based on the original Bitcoin project code. The main focus was on the wallet as a dominant app that met the primary needs of the network: storage and money transfer.

Bitcoin Core was one of the first wallets to support SegWit technology and serves as a reference cold wallet for BTC. No other currencies are supported. The wallet can be downloaded as a desktop application on Windows, Linux and Mac.

The main advantage of Bitcoin Core is its security. All information is stored on the user’s PC, independent of third parties and other entities’ servers. A file with private keys is generated and stored by the user — no one else can access it.

With Bitcoin Core, the user can be guaranteed complete anonymity, including anonymized payments. Bitcoin Core uses an address rotation system, making it practically impossible to track the sender and the recipient addresses — provided that different addresses are used for each transaction.

Among the wallet’s shortcomings is low mobility, which may be unappealing for many potential users. Bitcoin Core lacks a mobile version, and this is likely to remain the case, as mobile use contradicts the wallet’s foundational principles of operation and security. Installing a wallet on another computer or even on a reinstalled OS will also not help to recover the funds, as the entire synchronization process (i.e., data downloading and verifying validity) would need to be repeated.

BitGo

BitGo is a blockchain company founded in 2013 and headquartered in Palo Alto, California. While originally a BTC wallet, BitGo has added support for other popular cryptocurrencies over the years. The BitGo wallet is a web wallet that can be connected through a desktop computer, laptop or other devices. The mobile version of the wallet allows storing keys on user devices. Additionally, keys can be transferred to other devices.

The company has developed two versions of its wallet for either individual or business use.

In addition to being an online wallet, BitGo offers a service providing reliable storage of digital assets for institutional investors through its partnership with Kingdom Trust. In the spring of 2018, the wallet began supporting the ERC-20 standard, expanding the list of supported digital currencies to 90. However, this is of little use to ordinary investors, as all ERC-20 tokens on BitGo are available only to institutional investors.

Each BitGo wallet has three keys: One is stored on BitGo, the second on the user’s device and the third through the Key Recovery Service software. To avoid third-party involvement, just two signatures are required to complete transactions. Access to the wallet is protected by two-factor authentication, and users must confirm their IP every time they log in to their wallets. BitGo charges a fee of 0.25% on all withdrawals up to 1 BTC alongside the usual mining fees.

Like Jaxx Liberty, the BitGo wallet has been at the center of a scandal. In 2015, BitGo and Bitfinex announced their collaboration to create a multi-signature wallet system. The companies decided to put user funds into a mixed storage, in which some were stored on large, offline wallets and the rest online. As a result, each user had three keys, two of which were stored by Bitfinex and the third by BitGo.

However, in August 2016, Bitfinex discovered that more than $60 million in BTC had been withdrawn from its users’ hot wallets. To this day, no explanation has been offered as to how the attackers managed to pull this off other than BitGo confirming on its official Twitter page that its servers had not been breached.

Crypto wallets going forward

Cryptocurrency wallets are an integral part of using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They are a fundamental element of the crypto infrastructure that allows funds to transfer across blockchain networks. Each wallet has its own advantages and disadvantages, so understanding how they work and what kind of activities they facilitate is essential before moving on to using them.

In any case, software wallets are becoming increasingly popular, and according to Atomic Wallet’s PR manager, Kristina Khachatryan, they are becoming more accessible and attractive every day:

“The software wallets are getting to be more and more accessible for a larger number of people, more multifunctional and filled with cool features at the same time losing nothing in the performance or the security issue. Moreover, the possibility of the decentralized staking is the central opening of this year. That’s why we see high potentials in this field of the software wallets and believe that the market will be surely driven to grow by the increased popularity of this product.”

Exodus’s communications manager, Davey Zelaya, is confident that the software market will develop at a faster pace as more cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions continue to be launched:

“We expect the market to continue to demand user-friendly software to interact with the increasing number of blockchain products and applications. In short, we want to make crypto easy for everyone. Right now, decentralized apps are still bulky and sometimes difficult to navigate. We want to change that.”





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Top Crypto Investor Explains Why Altcoins Are Highly Risky


As surprising as this may seem, Bitcoin has been underperforming its crypto ilk over the past few weeks; data from CoinMarketCap shows that Bitcoin dominance — the percentage of this market made up by BTC — has fallen from 66% to 64.9% in the past three days.

To further contextualize this, as of the time of this article’s writing, Bitcoin has fallen 6% in the past 24 hours while both Ethereum and XRP have posted relatively strong performances of -3%. 

There’s little to explain this trend; in fact, a top crypto investment fund recently reduced its exposure to altcoins and increased its allocation to Bitcoin. Here’s why it did that.

Crypto: Will Bitcoin Outperform In This Crisis?

In “Crypto In This Crisis: Pantera Blockchain Letter, March 2020,” Dan Morehead and Joey Krug of blockchain-centric fund Pantera Capital explained that Bitcoin will “probably out-perform other tokens for a while,” explaining that it is one of the crypto projects that are entrenched and doesn’t rely on funding per se:

It’s a project that’s already built, it works, it has an 11-year track record. Many newer blockchain and smart contract projects are still in development and might be stressed to raise funding to complete their development.

They further explained that “there’s typically a flight-to-quality” or flight to safety “where people want to put money in the mega-caps, the safest asset, “the Treasuries” of the industry.” In the case of crypto assets, Bitcoin is a Treasury bond, as it is much more liquid than the rest.

Bitcoin Could Hit New Highs Within a Year: Pantera CEO

Pantera doesn’t only think the crypto market will begin to recentralize around Bitcoin, the fund also thinks the leading digital asset will outperform amid these times of crisis.

Earlier in the letter, Morehead explained that the unorthodox monetary and fiscal response to the crisis will be extremely bullish for Bitcoin. He wrote:

As governments increase the quantity of paper money, it takes more pieces of paper money to buy things that have fixed quantities, like stocks and real estate, above where they would settle absent an increase in the amount of money. The corollary is they’ll also inflate the price of other things, like gold, bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.

As to how exactly it will affect Bitcoin, Morehead explains that with this backdrop, it will take around 12 months for the BTC price to “set a new record” above $20,000, which would mark at least a 230% rally from the current price point of $6,200 in under a year’s time.

Featured Image from Shutterstock



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