Hyperledger’s blockchain framework Sawtooth reaches 1.0

The open source collaborative blockchain effort Hyperledger has announced the release of Sawtooth 1.0. This marks the organization’s second blockchain framework that has reached production ready status. The first was Hyperledger Fabric, a project designed to enable plug-and-play components.

Sawtooth is a modular platform designed for building, deploying and running distributed ledgers. Sawtooth started out inside Intel Labs as Sawtooth Lake. There, it was focused on exploring the security and scalability of bitcoin and blockchain technology. “By 2016 research had produced Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), to provide a green and performant alternative consensus to Proof of Work, and Transaction Families, an approach to building safe smart contracts. In the same year, Hyperledger was getting underway and Intel contributed Sawtooth Lake to Hyperledger as an incubated project,” Dan Middleton, Sawtooth project maintainer, wrote in a post.

More recently, the project was named one of Black Duck’s 2016 open source rookies of the year. “Throughout this time, we’ve maintained our focus on making smart contracts safe and bringing blockchain to the enterprise without cutting the benefits of blockchain that inspired interest to begin with. While maintaining that focus, we’ve not rested on PoET and Transaction Families,” wrote.

Sawtooth 1.0 now features an on-chain governance, an advanced transaction execution engine for processing transactions, support for Etherum and dynamic consensus for upgrading or swapping the blockchain consensus protocol.

Going forward, the team plans to focus on performance and privacy. “We’d like to add another consensus option for those planning to run small networks. Within the core, we are looking at replacing targeted python modules with optimized components in languages like Rust. On the privacy front, we have contributors investigating both trusted execution and zero-knowledge cryptographic approaches. We look forward to our enterprise users contributing back pilot implementations in these spaces as well,” Middleton wrote.

Bitcoin price surges prior to update

The price of Bitcoin has boomed over the past few weeks, with a price of $7,314 at the time of writing. One of the the drivers behind this is Bitcoin’s anticipated code update on November 16, dubbed Segwit2x, which will increase the size of blocks on the blockchain powering Bitcoin from 1MB to 2MB.

In turn, this will increase the speed, and size, of transactions that can be processed on the Bitcoin blockchain, making it more efficient. The code update, called a fork, will follow a similar pattern to previous ones, which led to the creation of new cryptocurrencies Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold.

The potential for another fork of this nature is one of the major drivers behind Bitcoin’s price boom. When a fork occurs, the rules determining what a “block” is are changed. The rules are determined by the people mining cryptocurrency on the blockchain, and if they cannot agree on those rules, then two different blockchains occur simultaneously. When this happens, a new cryptocurrency is created and, because both new blockchains share the same history, the original tokens are duplicated in the new currency.

In a way, it seems like holders of the original cryptocurrency, in this case Bitcoin, are receiving free money. It’s the potential for this scenario to occur off the back of Segwit2x that’s driving more people to invest in Bitcoin.

A new cryptocurrency is by no means certain, meaning Bitcoin investors hoping to double their holdings may be disappointed. The outcome of the software update isn’t set in stone, and the scenario outlined above may not occur. If a majority decision on the new rules, either for or against, can be agreed by miners then the blockchain underpinning Bitcoin will continue to operate as it has done historically. In that case, those hoping to gain “free” cryptocurrency will be left wanting.

However, even this result is unlikely to have a negative impact on the price of Bitcoin, as a majority decision would improve perceptions of stability, while a code update is sure to improve processing power of its underlying system. Whatever the outcome of the software update, we expect Bitcoin to continue to ascend in the near future.

This blockchain-powered phone and PC could be out next year

Sirin Labs today announced it’s developing a smartphone and PC designed to function on the blockchain. The devices will ship with built-in resource-sharing capabilities and run on their own cryptocurrency token.

The Finney smartphone and PC are being billed as niche` products, and with a price tag of $999 for the phone and $799 for the PC. After all, not everyone needs a secure e-wallet device that allows them to spend tokens on shared resources — but it would be really cool if we all had one.

Moshe Hogeg, CEO and Founder of Sirin Labs, is a big-picture kind of person. The companies last device, the Solarin, was a $16,000smartphone billed as the world’s most secure cell phone. It seems like the idea was to provide a solution for celebrities and secret agents who are willing to spend anything to keep their data safe.

This time he’s building for the cryptocurrency market and, like many other startup CEOs, he’s betting on the blockchain.

While there’s no word yet on some specifics such as release date, Sirin Lab’s website does list the following technical specs for the Finney phone:

  • 5.2-inch QHD Display
  • 256GB of internal memory storage
  • 8GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac
  • BT 5.0
  • 16MP Main camera
  • 12MP Wide-Angle selfie camera


And for the Finney PC:

  • 24-inch (diagonal) 2K Display
  • Biometric security sensors
  • 8GB Memory
  • 256GB storage
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac

The technology behind the phone and PC will be released as open source. Hogeg told TNW that Sirin Labs will release the hardware designs as well, in hopes that other manufacturers will make unique offerings of their own. He envisions a plethora of devices being designed and created in places like Taiwan and Hong Kong, all operating on the same token: Sirin Lab’s own SRN.

Sirin Labs will be launching its SRN token sale sometime in October, with early adopter bonuses and bounties. They’ll be accepting fiat money and popular cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and ETH.

Virtual coding practice from Skillsoft, Token Alliance formed to promote blockchain, CCleaner compromised

Skillsoft announces virtual coding practice lab

Educational technology company Skillsoft announced CodeX, which combines coding exercises and embedded video alongside multiple IDEs to provide an all-in-one practice space for coders.

“CodeX is contextual learning at its best. Learners can practice coding in a seamless, integrated platform that provides a live working development environment and puts learning into context for a deeper experience,” said Bill Donoghue, executive chairman of the Skillsoft group, in the announcement.

In addition to the learning modules included with CodeX, users can run and test their own projects, all within CodeX’s virtual machine.

Chamber of Digital Commerce announces blockchain advocacy initiative

The Chamber of Digital of Commerce, an advocacy group that promotes blockchain and cryptocurrency technology, announced the Token Alliance, aiming to “educate, promote and shape the responsible growth of token and digital asset issuance.”

Led by over 70 industry organizations, the initiative will work to help design legal frameworks and best-practices to promote the adoption and innovation of blockchain technology.

“As with all new technologies, it is important to set appropriate guidelines to curb potential abuse, while protecting innovation,” said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, in the announcement. “We look forward to working with our members to continue to promote and advocate for the power of the blockchain.”

CCleaner infected by malware, Piriform says to update immediately

In a post on their development blog, Piriform announced that their popular CCleaner optimization tool had been modified illegally before distribution and sending information to an unknown IP address.

“An unauthorized modification of the CCleaner.exe binary resulted in an insertion of a two-stage backdoor capable of running code received from a remote IP address on affected systems,” Paul Yung, VP of products with Piriform, wrote in the post.

Yung says that they are moving all users of the affected CCleaner v5.33.6162 to the latest version, though he believes that Piriform managed to contain the problem before it could cause any harm

The Pirate Bay Uses Your CPU Power To Mine Cryptocurrency

Many top torrent websites add an option to donate them via bitcoins. They also provide .onion address to help you access them via dark web. In a first, The Pirate Bay torrent has been found to be using a cryptocurrency miner.

It was found that the JavaScript code in the website uses your processor to mine Monero digital coins. According to a report by TorrentFreak, The Pirate Tested this feature for about 24 hours as a way to earn revenue.

“The miner does indeed appear to increase CPU usage quite a bit. It is throttled at different rates (we’ve seen both 0.6 and 0.8), but the increase in resources is immediately noticeable,” the report adds.

The website has been using a miner from Coinhive and the code was embedded in website’s footer. This code was spotted when many The Pirate Bay users noticed a spike in their CPU usage.

It was also noticed that the Monero cryptocurrency miner wasn’t enabled. Instead, it only appeared in category listings and search results; it didn’t appear on the homepage or individual torrent download page.

As it was spotted as an experiment, we can’t predict the future of this initiative. There is also a possibility that The Pirate Bay can replace the ads with some cryptominer.

Keep reading SmartArenaPost, we’ll be keeping you updated with the latest developments.

“Bitcoin Is A Fraud,” Says JPMorgan CEO — Bitcoin Price Expected To Fall More And Reach $3,000

On Tuesday, at the Barclays Financial Services Conference, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, called Bitcoin a fraud and said that the bubble will ultimately burst.

This statement has added more fuel to the existing clouds of uncertainty which are surrounding the world’s biggest crypto currency. Currently, Bitcoin is trading at $3,870, which is a lot less as compared to the all-time high of $5,000 on September 2.

In the latest developments, after Dimon’s statement, Bitcoin price has suffered losses up to 11%. At the conference, he added that it’s worse than tulip bulbs. “It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” he added. He supported his argument by saying that currencies have legal support.

The views of an investment bank are surely affecting the prices, but it should be kept in mind that such organizations have already been critical of crypto currencies.

According to Bitcoin news website CoinDesk, such statements have become common and more stocks market experts have been comparing stock market bubbles and Bitcoin. CoinDesk also predicts that the prices are looking to reach $3,000.

This prediction, combined with the rumors that Chinese government is shutting down its Bitcoin exchanges, is causing a continuous drop in the Bitcoin price. On the other hand, the Chinese authorities haven’t made the situation clear. However, the experts have said that a ban won’t be feasible in long run.

The Chinese government has already banned ICOs and called them illegal. The companies have also been instructed to issue a refund to the investors.

In another related development, India central bank, The Reserve Bank of India, is carrying out cryptocurrency research, according to The Economic Times. The organization is looking at fiat cryptocurrencies for the digitization of the rupee.

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Here’s a new reason to fear ransomware more than ever before: a new variant of Cerber has been modified to steal Bitcoin wallets and passwords before encrypting victims’ files and demanding ransom.

ransomware variant steals bitcoin wallets

Two ways to profit off of one infection

The new and improved Cerber searches for wallet files of three Bitcoin wallet applications (Bitcoin Core, Electrum, and Multibit wallets), sends them to the attackers’ C&C, and finally deletes them from the victim’s machine.

It also tries to steal the saved passwords from Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

Trend Micro researchers noted that the theft of the wallets does not mean for sure that the Bitcoins in them will be stolen, as the attacker would still have to know the password for accessing them. Still, they might find a way to guess it or steal it, while victims are dealing with getting their computer and files back.

Monetizing Cerber

Cerber is a piece of ransomware that has “earned” criminals huge amounts of money, but apparently that’s not nearly enough.

“This new feature shows that attackers are trying out new ways to monetize ransomware. Stealing the Bitcoins of targeted users would represent a valuable source of potential income,” the researchers noted.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is the infection method: Cerber is still delivered via email, i.e. it is downloaded by the Nemucod downloader Trojan attached in fake emails (see screenshot above).

Not opening attachments in emails from external or unverified sources is a good way to lower the risk of getting infected with this and other malware.

A little after 8AM ET today, Bitcoin was split into Bitcoin Cash, an alternative cryptocurrency, in a chain split that had been anticipated for months. The split, called a “hard fork,” comes out of a bitcoin group’s desire to combat high transaction fees and a bitcoin size limit that made mining larger blocks invalid.

This has a nuanced implication for Bitcoin owners. If you own Bitcoin and control your private keys, the same private keys can be used to spend your newly minted Bitcoin Cash.

If you own Bitcoin but don’t control the keys, then it depends on whether you’ve chosen to keep your bitcoins on a Bitcoin Cash-friendly platform or digital wallet. Each platform is treating the new Bitcoin Cash differently. To enjoy this extra currency, you should check with your platform and wallet to see what the company policy is.

As a prelude to the split, Bitcoin trading platforms like CEX.io suspended Bitcoin withdrawals beforehand. CEX.io will allow both cryptocurrencies and split the coins for its customers. CEX.io chief marketing officer Eugene Kovalyk says, “Whether we will list Bitcoin Cash as a new trading pair depends on the demand. If demand is big we should consider adding it definitely…No one should lose Bitcoin Cash on our platform.”

Meanwhile, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has rejected the new Bitcoin Cash to some customers’ chagrin. It argues that their systems can’t support Bitcoin Cash without a major system rework that is currently not worth the unknown value of Bitcoin Cash. A spokeswoman for CoinBase says, “If this decision were to change in the future and Coinbase was to access Bitcoin Cash, we would distribute Bitcoin Cash to customers associated with Bitcoin balances at the time of the fork. Coinbase would not keep the Bitcoin Cash associated with customer Bitcoin balances.” The exchange allowed a brief window of time before August 1st for users who wished to access Bitcoin cash to withdraw their funds from Coinbase.

A digital gold rush always has one obvious winner: the people who make the tools necessary to mine in the first place. AMD, for instance, has found itself the beneficiary of an increase in demand for its graphics cards, although it doesn’t believe that it’s a sustainable, long-term business.

The company revealed as much during its earnings, with profits in the graphics card business increasing by 51 percent year on year.

Despite this huge upswing in interest, it’s not an area that AMD sees its future, which it’s insisting is still the gaming market. During the call, CEO Lisa Su said that the company had seen some “elevated demand,” but that it’s not “looking at [cryptocurrency] as a long-term growth driver.”

That’s despite some of its partners, like ASUS, producing dedicated currency-mining cards that are better tweaked for constant use.

Of course, cryptocurrency is essentially a computational arms race, with the person with the most power liable to win. That has led to some outlandish — and unverifiable — stories, such as Quartz reporting that Marco Streng claiming he has chartered a Boeing 747 to ship graphics cards to his digital mining facilities.

As that report elaborates, the current Etherium boom is worth around $7.2 million a day, although with all bubbles, it remains to be seen if the investment will provide a decent return.

In 2014, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced plans to create a cryptocurrency ecosystem. As part of this plan, the university gave incoming freshman access to $100 worth of bitcoins and launched the MIT Bitcoin Project. The idea was to study the role early adopters have on spreading technology. Now, three years later the university is providing some insight into that study.

The study looked at how early adopters reacted when some participants were given access to bitcoins while others were denied access to the technology. During the study, half the participants were randomly given bitcoin allotments every couple of weeks. These early adopters that were denied or experienced delayed access abandoned the technology nearly twice as much as adopters who didn’t experience any delays in their payments, according to the study.

In addition, the study found those early adopters who cashed out and abandoned bitcoin influenced others to do so as well. For instance, the researchers found cash-out rates increased in smaller dorms.

“As a unique feature of the experiment, students who would generally adopt first were placed in a situation where many of their peers received access to the technology before them, and they then had to decide whether to continue to invest in this digital currency or exit. Our results suggest that when natural early adopters are delayed relative to their peers, they are more likely to reject the technology,” according to the research.

Of the 4,494 MIT freshmen, about 3,100 joined the bitcoin experiment. According to the researchers, randomly delaying bitcoin access to half the participants created parallel universes. The idea of these universes were to study the speed of adoption in societies. The final result revealed a period of exclusivity encouraged early adopters while delayed access stifled innovation for others.

“In one universe, we ended up seeding Bitcoin in the optimal way, by giving it first to early adopters and later to everybody else. In the other parallel universe, the opposite was likely to happen,” Christian Catalini professor for the MIT Sloan School of Management, said in a statement.

“This suggests that small changes in the initial availability of a technology have a lasting effect on its potential: Seeding a technology while ignoring early adopters’ needs for distinctiveness is counterproductive,” according to the research.