Cryptocurrency News

Intel Is Working on an Energy Efficient Bitcoin Mining System

Intel has obtained a bitcoin mining SHA-256 datapath patent that covers a processor and hardware accelerator. The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent.

The patented hardware is designed to provide greater mining energy efficiency by reducing the circuit area and power consumption. It achieves this by harnessing a series of hardware accelerators and targets various stages of the hashing process.

The system also features micro-architectural enhancements and utilizes selective hardwiring of parameters to alleviate the recurrence of computations, thereby reducing power consumption by up to 15 percent.

In September, Intel had also filed a related patent application for a bitcoin mining hardware accelerator designed to lower energy consumption per hash while increasing performance per watt. The new innovation was aimed at minimizing the time required to find the 32-bit nonce in a bitcoin block.

The news comes in the wake of a bitcoin price fall that has led many miners to drop out due to diminishing returns. As the market nosedives, companies are working harder to acquire more efficient mining technology to reduce overheads.

Right now, bitcoin mining costs are going down due to the reduction of mining difficulty in tandem with falling hash rates. Thanks to the intellectual brilliance of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous entity that developed the bitcoin network, its algorithm adjusts mining difficulty after every 2016 blocks.

As more miners turn off their machines, the process becomes easier and inherently consumes less energy.

Energy Efficiency a Growing Necessity in Bitcoin Mining

Although bitcoin now changes hands at about $3,400, a significant tumble from the $6,400 rate it held just a month ago, there is hope that more efficient devices and a sustained drop in mining difficulty will begin to favor smaller miners.

As tech companies focus on improving processing power and related technology used in hardware, mining farms have been forced to seek cheaper, renewable energy sources. This is in a bid to reduce energy consumption costs which significantly impact mining profitability.

It is expected that consistent development of more efficient crypto mining hardware by tech companies will stimulate the growth of the industry in the long-term.

originally posted here.

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When to Buy Bitcoin: A Guide to Stacking Satoshis

Gaining a better understanding of when to buy Bitcoin can help you take your investment strategy to the next level. It has been an interesting year for Bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency market. The crypto market shed the majority of its 2017 gains this year as market corrections kicked in. These losses left many investors with difficult decisions to make, such as when to sell Bitcoins, and should I buy Bitcoin now? The important thing to remember is that there isn’t one particular style of investing that fits everybody.

Choose Your Strategy

When it comes to investing in Bitcoin, there are a couple of popular strategies to follow. In the end, you may find that a combination works best for you. This is normal and finding the right balance increases your return on investment (ROI) and reduces your stress levels in times of market corrections. Let’s explore two popular Bitcoin trading strategies.

Long-Term: HODL

The Bitcoin HODL (hold on for dear life) community is strong and why wouldn’t it be? Bitcoin is the world’s first successful cryptocurrency. Aside from the fact that it introduced the world to blockchain technology, there is also a social and economic freedom associated with this cryptocurrency.

HODLers believe in Bitcoin’s underlying quest to free the world from a corrupt and nefarious financial system. Additionally, they believe that Bitcoin will always see a rise in value in the long term. Considering that there is fewer than four million Bitcoin left to be mined, the scarcity of this digital asset is undeniable.

Unmined Bitcoins via Bitcoinblockhalf

Unmined Bitcoins via Bitcoinblockhalf

This is by far the easiest Bitcoin investment strategy to follow. You buy Bitcoin when the price dips and hold it. That’s it. If you review Bitcoin’s price history, anyone who followed this strategy before mid-2017 made out in a big way.

Short-Term: Day Trading

Day trading takes a more active approach to cryptocurrency. Day traders look to make gains based on their market understanding, rather than HODLing their Bitcoin. For these investors, utilizing the best market tools is essential. Advanced market analytics and trading bots are two perfect examples of popular day trading tools that can improve your ROI.

Strengthen Your Position

Day traders earn their profits during times of volatility. A savvy day trader knows how to make a profit, even when the market is collapsing. In a bear market scenario, these traders will strengthen their position. This trading strategy requires you to sell your Bitcoin at the beginning of a market drop and then repurchase Bitcoin at a lower price once the market bottoms out. The result: more Bitcoin. This strategy is easier said than done, however.

Combo Method

Many investors utilize a combination of these tactics to achieve the goal of increasing their Bitcoin holdings. These investors hold their Bitcoin until major market adjustments. As a crypto investor, monitoring new developments in the crypto market is important. In theory, it’s easier to predict a bear market than a bull market.

Remember, the crypto market is still new to many investors and bad media can spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), which causes a sell-off by worried investors. For example, if you wake up tomorrow and type Bitcoin into the Google news search engine and the first three pages of stories are negative, it’s likely that this will cause the price of Bitcoin to drop. How much? Nobody knows.

Comparing Market Cycles

Market cycles are like the tides of the ocean. While nobody can guess exactly how powerful the tide will be, they can reference the year’s prior activity to get a general idea of when market activity increases or decreases. Bitcoin is now 10 years old and there is a decade of market research that can be evaluated to obtain a better understanding of Bitcoin’s market cycles.

Bitcoin via CoinMarketCap

Bitcoin via CoinMarketCap

Recent Market Stabilization

The market appears to be stabilizing with volatility at its lowest levels in years. Does this mean that Bitcoin is stable? Probably not. Bitcoin usually experiences volatility following this type of market behavior. In most cases, a bull market ensues.

The Truth About the Dip

Buy low, sell high. This is the investment axiom that is echoed by experts throughout the crypto space. While it seems easy enough, predicting when the dip is at its lowest point is tricky, to say the least. One of the best strategies is to review the market charts and if the dip is near resistance lines, buy. Resistance lines on a market chart represent points in which the market showed an increase in buying activity, thereby stopping the bear.

Following the trading activity of whales within the Bitcoin space is another awesome way to schedule your buying efforts. Bitcoin whales are people that own huge amounts of a Bitcoin. A recent Bloomberg reportrevealed that just 1,000 people own over 40 percent of all the Bitcoin in existence.

When a whale makes a move, the entire market responds. A report published by Investopedia in September 2018 highlighted this scenario. The report showed how one whale caused a $53 billion Bitcoin sell-off. The moral of the story, watch the whales because they can affect prices dramatically.

Police Auctions

Law enforcement officials are stepping up their crypto confiscations, and if you are looking to invest heavily into cryptocurrency, these scenarios are ideal. Large-scale crypto auctions provide you with the perfect opportunity to get huge sums of crypto at discounted rates.

Longtime crypto investor Tim Draper famously bought nearly 30,000 confiscated Bitcoin from authorities following the Silk Road bust. While Draper refused to give the specific price details paid, a report by Fortune magazine places the average price paid for Bitcoin at around $334.

When to Buy Bitcoin

Learning when to buy Bitcoin comes down to learning what type of crypto investor you want to be. Once you understand your strategy, you know when it makes sense to purchase more Bitcoin, HODL, sell, or strengthen your position. With these concepts in mind, you are now ready to learn how to increase your cryptocurrency portfolio like a pro.

originally posted here

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How USI Tech Pulled off One of the Largest Crypto Scams

What Exactly Is USI Tech?

USI Tech (United Software Intelligence Technology) is a company that claimed to develop the world’s first automated trading platform for Bitcoin (BTC). Starting in May 2017, USI Tech started concentrating on selling BTC packages to traders and miners who wanted to automate these activities.

At first, a lot of people bought into this plan. However, after some time, they began to increasingly suspect that USI Tech was really a Ponzi scheme. But how did the company pull it off in the first place?

USI Tech Owners

A lot of cryptocurrency project websites provide tons of relevant information about founders and team members. However, many also do not. In the case of USI Tech, the latter was true. On the project website, there wasn’t much info about who the USI Tech owners were. Furthermore, the site didn’t provide much information about the products that USI Tech was selling.

What we do know is that Joao Severino and Ralf Gold founded the project. Before starting USI Tech, Severino was banned from all financial activity in Portugal because of his involvement with another scam company called AMC Invest. Even worse, Ralph Gold had been involved in all sort of Ponzi scheme companies. These included AdsProfitReward, MX Fast Money, World Consumer Alliance, HourlyRevShare, AdsProfitWiz, APR Clicks, and Upper Game.

The company also claimed to be based in Dubai. However, the registration of the business is actually from Ras al Khaimah, another city in the United Arab Emirates that is well known for its offshore business registration services.

screenshot of USI Tech homepage (from November 2018)

As of November 2018, USI Tech’s homepage is just a simple login page.

How Did the USI Tech Claim That Users Could Make Money?

BTC packages started out at around 50 Euros each. The more packages you bought, the higher your return would be, allegedly. USI Tech’s automated software was supposed to provide a way for users to make passive income. The returns (one percent daily payout on average over five days per week) sounded promising to some people. The company also claimed to offer a staggering 140 percent return over the course of a 140-day package. It also stated (without proof) that some people had already received 150 percent returns.

Looking at these promises, it’s clear that this was too good to be true. However, put in context with the bull market of late 2017 and the introduction of new/eager traders, it’s easy to see how some people could fall for this. Still, there were other factors that point to the malicious nature of the company. For example, USI Tech openly operated as a multilevel network marketing company, which made many people view it as a pyramid scheme from the start.

USI Tech shut down its operations in the US and Canada in early 2018.

USI Tech Update: Timeline of Events

  • October 2017: USI Tech starts the Tech Coin ICO. USI Tech users hand back over 11,500 BTC from the same payments they were receiving from multiplier packages and member purchases.
  • December 2017: USI Tech receives a cease-and-desist order from the Texas State Securities Board.
  • January 2018: USA and Canada users stop receiving BTC payouts.
  • March 2018: USI Tech packages are no longer available for purchase or rewards.
  • March 2018: SEC requests documents from members.
  • April 2018: Spain’s financial regulation agency (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores) adds USI Tech to its warning list.
  • August 2018: The Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand warns that USI Tech has all the characteristics of a scam.

What Lessons Can We Learn from This?

Regardless if you are someone who lost funds from this scam or chose to stay away from this particular one, there are a lot of things to take away from the USI Tech story.

First, sending funds to a third-party that guarantees high returns is generally a bad idea. As we’ve covered in a previous article, there is another blatant scam on Twitter similar to this. The cryptocurrency market is volatile, and there are certainly no guarantees of making a profit.

Second, it’s essential to research the project’s background. In the case of the USI Tech owners, the evidence couldn’t be clearer. Many members were already experienced scam artists well before working for USI Tech. This should have been the only red flag needed for most people.

Third, you shouldn’t blindly trust success stories about how people made money through investing in a particular cryptocurrency, product, etc. In any pyramid scheme, this story could simply be a lie.

USI Tech had all of the classic signs of a Ponzi scheme.

USI Tech Could Still Be Scamming

Even though there is ample information about the scam available from various sources online, the USI Tech owners and team members are still trying to fool potential investors. According to one Facebook group dedicated solely to calling out the project as a scam, people associated with the project are now using new language to avoid getting caught.

For example, members have been told to avoid using terms like “return of capital” and “investment.” In the future, it’s even possible that the company could change its name to keep the pyramid scheme going. Still, don’t let this fool you into falling for this specific scam or a similar one.

Additionally, as of November 2018, the USI Tech website is still online. However, the homepage is nothing but a login screen for existing members. There also isn’t an option for signing up as a new member.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have all of the information you need to know about USI Tech and the company’s large-scale cryptocurrency scam. As a cryptocurrency investor, always be sure to investigate in-depth and make informed decisions. More importantly, it’s crucial to learn from cases like this. With this knowledge, you should be able to prevent yourself from falling for similar scams in the future.

originally posted here

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Adult Entertainment and its love affair with cryptocurrency

Digital Currency is ceaselessly gaining new ground and several industries have already embraced cryptocurrencies along with its blockchain technology and have facilitated transactions as well as communications in the most beneficial way. Today, there are talks all over the internet advocating that cryptocurrency is the future and will soon make the fiat currency a thing of the past. It is no wonder therefore that cryptocurrencies have already made its way even into the obscure sectors of the society.

In an industry market research conducted by the IBISWorld, the growth of internet connectivity and a generational shift in attitudes toward sex have contributed tremendously to the increased consumptions of pornographic materials which made the Adult & Pornographic Websites Industry grow by 10.4% in 2018. With a massive industry as such, several websites have adopted the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payments for their content. PornHub for example has recently partnered with Verge, a decentralized cryptocurrency that uses networks such as TOR and I2P to make transactions anonymous. PornHub will now accept Verge as a means of payment for their services like in their platforms. The introduction of this cryptocurrency as a payment option in Pornhub is a radical transformation from the traditional payment options in an industry boosting technological advances.

The use of digital currencies has its advantages to which patrons and providers in the adult entertainment industry can benefit alike. Among these are anonymity, convenience, and practicality. Cryptocurrencies do not depend on any intermediaries so transaction periods are faster and are not impeded from any holidays. While banks, credit-card companies, and even some payment processors like PayPal have policies which restrict clients from transactions related to adult industries like subscription for pornography and other online adult communities, cryptocurrencies do not discriminate at all.

Sex toys which can generate more than $20 billion a year globally and is expected by 2020 to reach almost $30 billion in sales, according to London-based market-research firm Technavio, are still considered by some financial institutions as high-risk. Credit-Card companies are also cautious when it comes to chargeback frauds. The adult entertainment industry is considered as “high risk” because of the high risk of chargebacks and disputes in transactions where the credit card is not physically present. It becomes difficult therefore for adult entertainment websites to find merchant accounts and even if merchant account providers accept adult accounts, they are more likely to charge higher than normal processing fees as well as setup fees. Visa and MasterCard have each imposed a $500 annual fee to every company classified under the adult industry. Businesses classified under the “high risk” are constantly in search for merchant account providers that can protect their businesses without incurring huge unnecessary fees. Such complications led the adult industry to slowly adopt cryptocurrencies. Once a client has paid for a product or service, the money will be immediately directed in the company’s wallet and charges cannot be reversed.

A review of history will show how the adult entertainment industry aided in the evolution of innovative technology from VHS, Beta Max, Internet, dating applications, to virtual reality, the adoption of an innovative cryptocurrency in this industry where privacy is highly valued is only fitting.

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Cryptojacking, Hacks, and Scams: N.Korea Is Ramping up Cyber Attacks

Cryptojacking in South Korea

According to the latest reports, the South Korean government is blaming the North Korean regime for launching a string of cyber attacks against the country.

Going by an audit carried out by the country’s National Intelligence Service, Pyongyang is using cryptojacking and hacking techniques to mine Monero using computers located in South Korea.

The country is apparently spreading links through social media and emails that send users to malicious websites prepped for cryptojacking attacks. North Korea’s cyber attack units are also accused of relentlessly probing South Korean networks and intelligence systems to obtain sensitive information.

According to the NIS report, their teams may also soon be able to launch attacks using Artificial Intelligence technology.

The Regime Is Sponsoring Cryptocurrency Hacker Groups

Attacks on cryptocurrency platforms have been on the rise in the past two years, with sophisticated hacker groups specifically in China and Russia believed to be behind the schemes. According to a recent report released by the cybersecurity firm, Group-IB, Pyongyang also backs some of the most successful hacker syndicates on the planet, the most notable being the Lazarus hacker unit. In most cases, the syndicates target world financial institutions and cryptocurrency trading platforms.

With over a billion dollars worth of cryptocurrencies stolen from various platforms over the past two years, Lazarus was specifically responsible for siphoning off over $500 million worth of digital assets from exchange networks.

Cryptocurrency exchange platforms that have fallen victim to its schemes include Bithumb, Yapizon, YouBit, Coinis, and Coincheck. Such groups commonly use spear phishing for their exploits.

Lazarus has successfully attacked several cryptocurrency exchange platforms including Bithumb, Yapizon, YouBit, Coinis, and Coincheck. (Image Credit: Kaspersky)

North Korea Backing Scam Coins

Pyongyang cyber units have also been involved in a spate of scam coin setups to illicitly obtain funds from unsuspecting investors. Among recent discoveries was a scam coin dubbed Marine Chain, which the state of Ontario declared as a fraud. Now defunct, it allowed for the tokenization of marine vessels.

Clients lured in by the scheme lost their investments on the platform, allegedly set up by enablers in Singapore. Its website was hosted on four different IP addresses on different occasions. Some users also noted striking similarities with another platform called shipowner.io.

North Korean scammers may also be behind another scam coin dubbed Stellar Holdings or HOLD. Unusual activity involving the HOLD altcoin was detected between the months of March and August. Experts started to notice significant data transfer volumes during this period. Several network nodes indicated significant activity, especially during June.

The team behind the coin reportedly generated interest and revenue at the beginning of the year through a technique called stacking. It involves allowing miners to mine the cryptocurrency and add to its value and growth momentum before giving them permission to trade. Participants generally take on significant risks while indulging in such schemes because trades and time-frames are limited by coin developers.

There is also the real risk that the coin will depreciate in value before miners can trade. In August, the HOLD coin was apparently rebranded to HUZU after being listed and delisted on several cryptocurrency platforms. The change reportedly led to major financial losses among its investors.

originally posted here

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