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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Encryption

As Bitcoin and other digital assets continue to grow in adoption and popularity, a common topic for discussion is whether the U.S. government, or any government for that matter, can exert control of its use. 
There are two core issues that lay the foundation of the Bitcoin regulation debate:

The digital assets pose a macro-economic risk. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can act as surrogates for an international currency, which throws global economics a curveball. For example, countries such as Russia, China, Venezuela, and Iran have all explored using digital currency to circumvent United States sanctions, which puts the US government at risk of losing its global authority. 

International politics and economics are a very delicate issue, and often sanctions are used in place of military boots on the ground, arguably making the world a safer place. 

The micro risks enabled by cryptocurrency weigh heavily in aggregate. One of the most attractive features of Bitcoin and other digital assets is that one can send anywhere

between a few pennies-worth to billions of dollars of Bitcoin anywhere in the world at any time for a negligible fee (currently around $0.04 to $0.20 depending on the urgency.) 

However, in the hands of malicious parties, this could be very dangerous. The illicit activities inherently supported by a global decentralized currency run the gamut: terrorist funding, selling and buying illegal drugs, ordering assassinations, dodging taxes, laundering money, and so on. 

Can Bitcoin Even Be Regulated?

Before diving deeper, it’s worth asking whether Bitcoin can be regulated in the first place. 

The cryptocurrency was built with the primary purpose of being decentralized and distributed– two very important qualities that could make or break Bitcoin’s regulation. 

By being decentralized, Bitcoin doesn’t have a single controlling entity. The control of Bitcoin is shared among several independent entities all over the world, making it nearly impossible for a single entity to wrangle full control over the network and manipulate it as they please. 

By being distributed, Bitcoin exists at many different locations at the same time. This makes it very difficult for a single regulatory power to enforce its will across borders. This means that a government or other third party can’t technically raid an office and shut anything down.

That being said, there are several chokepoints that could severely hinder Bitcoin’s adoption and use.

1. Targeting centralized entities: exchanges and wallets 

A logical first move is to regulate the fiat onramps (exchanges) , which the United States government has finally been getting around to. In cryptocurrency’s nascent years, cryptocurrency exchanges didn’t require much input or approval from regulatory authorities to run. However, the government started stepping in when cryptocurrency starting hitting the mainstream. 

The SEC, FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network), and CFTChave all played a role in pushing Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies across all exchanges operating within U.S borders.  

Cryptocurrency exchanges have no options but to adhere to whatever the U.S. government wants. The vast majority of cryptocurrency users rely on some cryptocurrency exchange to utilize their cryptocurrency, so they will automatically bend to exchange-imposed regulation. 

 

Regulators might not be able to shut down the underlying technology that powers Bitcoin, but they can completely wreck the user experience for the great majority of cryptocurrency users, which serves as enough of an impediment to diminish the use of cryptocurrency for most. 

 

2.Targeting users.

 

The government can also target individual cryptocurrency users. Contrary to popular opinion, Bitcoin (and even some privacy coins) aren’t anonymous. An argument can be made that Bitcoin is even easier to track than fiat because of its public, transparent ledger. 

Combined with every cryptocurrency exchange’s willingness to work with U.S. authorities, a federal task force could easily track money sent and received from certain addresses and pinpoint the actual individual with it. Companies such as Elliptic and Chainalysis have already created solid partnerships with law enforcement in many countries to track down illicit cryptocurrency uses and reveals the identities behind the transactions. 

Beyond that, we dive into the dark web and more professional illicit cryptocurrency usage. Although trickier, the government likely has enough cyber firepower to snipe out the majority of cryptocurrency-related cybercrime. In fact, coin mixers (cryptoMixer.io), coin swap services (ShapeShift) and P2P bitcoin transactions (localbitcoins.com) have been investigated for several years now and most of them have had to add KYC and adhere to strict AML laws.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, it’s going to take a lot to enforce any sort of significant global regulation on Bitcoin, with the most important factor being a centralization and consensus of opinion. The majority of the U.S. regulatory alphabet agencies fall into the same camp of “protect the good guys, stop the bad guys”, but there isn’t really a single individual piece of guidance to follow. Currently, cryptocurrencies are regulated in the US by several institutions: CFTC, SEC, IRS, making it difficult to create overarching regulatory guidelines.  

In short, yes– Bitcoin can be regulated. In fact, its regulation has already started with the fiat onramps and adherence to strict KYC & AML laws. While in countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Egypt and Morocco Bitcoin ownership is illegal, in the US, it would take some bending of the moral fabric of the Constitution in order for cryptocurrency ownership rights to be infringed.

However, it cannot be shut down. There are still ways to buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin P2P, without a centralized exchange. It would take an enormous effort by any government to completely uproot something as decentralized as Bitcoin, but that future seems more dystopian than tangible.  You can read the full article on albaronventures.com

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Encryption

Industry is changing a lot these days.

New concepts and systems pop-up continuously, and due to companies’ need to implement the best technology, a lot of things will change in a relatively short span of time.

One of the new terms that appeared at the turn of this decade was Industry 4.0.

As the name suggests, it is used to describe the fourth industrial revolution. The concept refers to the implementation of high-tech and, in particular, digital transformation.

So what kind of high-tech, you might be asking?

Industry 4.0 specifically focuses on smart factories that rely on the Internet of Things. It would affect every industrial process from manufacturing to logistics and supply chains. 

And it will also largely affect the way we create and distribute information.

The main benefit of an Industry 4.0 system is the ability to create decentralized decision making without relying on the traditional type of physical approach.

There are a lot of different industries that can benefit from Industry 4.0. However, it has shown the best results for:

  • virtual and augmented reality 
  • robotics
  • energy 
  • specific types of goods
  • autonomous or remote-controlled vehicles 

In this article, I will discuss some practical steps that will help you implement Industry 4.0. 

But let’s move forward one step at a time and see how it all started. Read on!

The first mention of the term Industry 4.0

If you think that the birth of Industry 4.0 has to do with the private sector, you would be dead wrong.

The term was initially introduced by the German government in their attempt to promote digitisation. Their version was “Industrie 4.0” or simply “I4”.

It was used during the Hannover Fair in 2011. Something that initially started as a great idea quickly turned into action: The German government created a working group in 2012 that was meant to create guidelines which would then be implemented at a federal level.

The working group was spearheaded by Siegfried Dais (Robert Bosch GmbH) and Henning Kagermann (German Academy of Science and Engineering). In April 2013, the project was ready.

Given that the concept is relatively new, it is still being modified and improved. There is a lot of discussion as to how to further polish it so it can benefit everybody.

There are also a lot of economic, political and social challenges that need to be addressed which we will discuss in the following chapters, so make sure you stick around!

Industry 4.0’s impact on the market

Not everyone wanted to implement I4.

While the concept works amazingly for bigger systems, it might not be ideal for smaller enterprises. Its effect will also vary from industry to industry.

Nevertheless, Industry 4.0 can bring amazing results to the companies that implement it.

There are also those who are unwilling to make the shift due to preconceptions or conservatism. However, as we go forward, it seems that Industry 4.0 will not only represent a small technical benefit, but it will become a necessary requirement to stay in business.

We recognize 6 dimensions of Industry 4.0:

  • Strategy and Business Model (Creating the right strategy that will benefit from this concept)
  • Technology and Systems (Using technology for optimal results)
  • Governance and Risk Management (Getting the most from the concept while avoiding risks)
  • People (Educating and leading employees so they can adapt to the new industrial norm)
  • Operational Excellence (Gaining a competitive edge through technology)
  • Customer Experience (Further improving customer experience)

Depending on the author, these dimensions may vary.

Still, they will almost always refer to processes that are otherwise common for traditional businesses.

What are the 3 main end benefits of Industry 4.0?

  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced costs
  • Process automation

If we exclude the initial implementation costs, there are very few drawbacks to I4. It is a concept that keeps on giving and the sooner you implement it, the sooner you will see its benefits.

The 9 Pillars of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a very complex subject.

So, it is not surprising that it’s based on 9 main pillars (you can also call them elements).

Here they are:

1 Big Data and Analytics

Big data is crucial for any corporation. It refers to datasets that have a major impact on how a company forms its strategies and runs its day-to-day operations. 

By improving this concept, the company is able to achieve a competitive edge. Like most business concepts, it is based on monitoring and measuring results, and then finding the right solutions. The main focus of analytics lies in dataset analysis. 

Based on this analysis, the company can learn more about customer preferences and current market trends. Big data can also be used for risk mitigation. Bosch was able to use big data as a way of digitally transforming their company. 

They were able to connect their machinery in order to have a better oversight of their manufacturing. With this, not only are they able to monitor the performance of individual machines and systems but they are also able to discover if there are any issues. 

This way, they were able to maximize the output of their machinery which led to a 10% overall increase in productivity. At the same time, Bosch was able to improve their customer satisfaction rate. For example, in this case study, scientists were able to create a risk map regarding Rift Valley Fever:

See: NAP.edu

2 Autonomous Robots

Robots are not a new concept; they have existed for quite a while. However, we were never able to implement them on a larger scale and furthermore, robots of the past weren’t as autonomous as the ones we can buy today. When it comes to industrial use, robots are able to solve certain tasks that are beyond human reach. 

Today, it is much easier to implement them as a part of the production process. 

But that doesn’t mean that human labour will become extinct, as a worker’s input is still necessary to allow a robot to perform certain tasks. Robots can be utilized in various ways, leading to production, logistics, and distribution improvements. 

Whether you like it or not, you need to use robots in order to maintain a competitive edge. 

Fetch Robotics, in particular, managed to benefit from this practice. The company relies on their own line of robots, which they named Autonomous Mobile Robots. 

They use them for inventory management and in particular, locating and moving things. The best thing yet is the fact that these robots are able to work by themselves, while also learning along the way. Because of them, Fetch Robotics managed to reduce their order cycle time by 50%. 

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg as we don’t yet understand the full potential of autonomous robots. According to this study, today there are approximately 2.9 million robots utilized in various industries:

See: IFR.org

3 Simulation

Simulation tools are very important for their support role. They are able to self-configure enabling effective shop-floor management. Simulations are crucial nowadays as they allow companies to make predictions regarding their potential actions. 

In other words, by making simulations of certain operational activities, you can learn where things may go wrong and how to prepare for such occurrences. 

Alternatively, you can adjust for them beforehand thus increasing productivity or reducing costs. You can also use simulation tools to increase the productivity of your workforce according to this study, as employees are quickly getting results of their actions and can change their behavior accordingly:

See: epsteineducation.com

4 Horizontal and Vertical System Integration

Let’s start by explaining what these two terms mean. Vertical integration is used to describe adaptable systems within a production plant. On the flipside, horizontal integration deals with the integration of partners within the SCs. 

During integration, the network will gather big data, which will allow for better performance. When the network gathers enough data, it will upload it onto cloud. This is where a framework will be created. 

By utilizing cloud-based systems, vertical elements can be integrated with each other through the same platform. Integration can be used for almost anything. Not only is it versatile, but it is also very profitable:

See: HBR.org

5 The Industrial Internet of Things 

The Internet of Things is a crucial element of this new industrial revolution. It allows devices to interact with each other, which is crucial for big systems. Each device will collect data and send it to the internet where it will be further processed. 

The Industrial Internet of Things is highly dependent on a hierarchy. Lower-tier devices will gather data, whereas highly-complex devices, such as robots and medical devices, will make decisions based on that data. The Industrial IoT is important as it brings more flexibility to organizations together with more responsiveness. 

Like most other technical aspects of the business, it will bring a competitive advantage to all those companies that implemented it early on. BJC HealthCare is perhaps one of the best examples of how the Industrial Internet of Things can be implemented to your advantage. As the name implies, this company operates within the health-care industry. 

They rely heavily on radio frequency identification for medical supply management. With this technology, they are able to track and identify supplies without physical contact. This proved to be especially important for resupplying and tracking item expiration dates. 

Previously, this job was done by people, which took forever. Also, the chance of human error was high. The company has managed to save a lot of money by having a 23% smaller inventory. According to several studies, it is predicted to generate $15 trillion of global GDP by 2030:

See: accenture.com

6 Cloud

Cloud is a crucial element that ties various pillars together. It allows transfer and storing of data as well as its further use. Most of a company’s resources will be stored there in a virtual form. The Cloud is based on three separate models: SaaS (software as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service), and PaaS (platform as a service). 

Nowadays, clouds are so common that you don’t have to be a big corporation in order to rely on them. Even individual users can benefit from Google Cloud for example. Cloud storage is also very eco-friendly. Among other things, clouds are very popular in the automotive industry. One of the best examples of this is how Volkswagen uses them. 

There are lots of ways a company can benefit from this technology, such as: having smart home connectivity, better maintenance service, regular updates, personal assistants and so on. Such systems and technology will be increasingly important in future as car makers are doing their best to create autonomous vehicles. 

Large amounts of data will have to be stored and transferred which is why clouds are such a good solution to this problem. They can reduce energy consumption by 70%, making a company not only considerate towards the environment but also more financially sound:

See: sciencedirect.com

7 Additive Manufacturing 

Customization has become more and more important as the years go by. Companies that are successfully meeting their clients’ needs usually have a better position in the market. This is also how we came to additive manufacturing. 

Most people don’t even know what additive manufacturing refers to. This is because there is a much more common term for it: 3D printing. Besides the fact that 3D printing allows you to create customized items, it also helps you avoid mass production, which in turn leads to a big inventory and unsellable products. 

On top of it all, due to its nature, 3D printing helps you use less material, which is both economically and environmentally sound. Additive manufacturing can take your whole organization to the next level. Fast Radius is one of the best examples of that. It is regarded as one of the top 9 smartest factories in the world. 

The company has facilities all over the world which allows them to create customized products and quickly deliver them to almost any spot on the globe. But there is much more to this organization than simple additive manufacturing; they’ve taken the process and made it their own. 

Fast Radius has developed their own platform that works well for their particular business. It is able to collect data from every part design that is stored and manufactured in the Fast Radius virtual warehouse. One of the studies found out that the component’s use saves 63% of relevant energy and carbon dioxide emissions over the course of the product’s lifetime:

See: sciencedirect.com

8 Augmented Reality 

Augmented reality is a relatively new concept but it has already become an integral part of Industry 4.0. With it, you are able to create a false sensation and put a person into a different place. 

It is a completely different type of interaction compared to anything we’ve known so far. AR creates a link between a human and a machine, putting the user in a different reality (hence the name). While it doesn’t impact business processes as much as some other pillars, it has still become a part of them. 

AR allows designers to experience a product’s design before completing the project. General Electric was always at the forefront of economy and industrial innovation and they have proven this by involving themselves with augmented reality. 

They did a pilot project during which the productivity of workers using smart wearables increased by up to 11%, compared to the previous period. 

Ultimately, this approach could offer a tremendous potential to minimize errors, cut down on costs and improve product quality. Volkswagen has used it successfully for comparing calculated and actual crash test imagery:

See: researchgate.net

9 Cyber Security

Most business is shifting online. Whether we are talking about purchasing, services, payments, or storing data, both companies and customers are highly dependent on the internet. This is why cybersecurity has become an integral part of I4. 

In the last few years, the focus of cybersecurity is not only to help users and companies, but it has also become a good way to prevent cyber-crime and terrorism. Besides the fact that cybersecurity helps you protect data, these systems are also able to notice certain harmful patterns and prevent crime and terrorism before they happen. 

As such, it ensures everything stays in place as it should. In fact, cyber security is so important that 66% of respondents believe that data breaches or cybersecurity exploits will seriously diminish their organization’s shareholder value according to this study:

See: raytheon.com

The biggest challenges ahead of Industry 4.0 

Like every industrial revolution, there are lots of things that need to be addressed.

Due to the sheer size and global nature of I4, there are many more challenges compared to any previous industrial revolution which we’ve had in the past.

At this point, some of these challenges may seem insurmountable. Let’s see what’s ahead of Industry 4.0.

Economic challenges

High costs

The very implementation of these systems will be too high for certain companies. Besides the initial costs, you also have to consider maintenance costs over time.

Adapting the model

As previously mentioned, I4 is especially useful for bigger corporations, but it provides different results for smaller organizations. It may prove difficult creating a model that will work for all types of industry.

Productivity

While the costs may be really high, that doesn’t mean that I4 would lead to increased productivity in every situation. This is one of the reasons why it might not be economically feasible.

Political challenges

Lack of regulation

Industry 4.0 is meant to have a global character. This would make it really hard to create a framework that can be applied to all countries and systems. To make things even worse, many countries haven’t even started creating the framework which would promote I4 development.

Data breaches

The same way security is an issue for the private sector, it can be an issue for the public sector as well. If we consider the fact that I4 will be regulated by governments, and there is a high chance that the public sector will also start implementing the system, it will pose the same security threats to them as it does to private enterprises.

Other legal issues

Due to the fact that this whole area lacks regulation, it is easy to see that legal issues are not only a possibility but are to be expected. This would lead to various losses on different sides.

Social challenges

Impact on privacy

Like with everything else digital, you have to ask yourself how much will I4 affect our privacy. The more money is invested in concepts such as this, the more people will be exposed to its negative sides.

IT people losing jobs

The whole point of Industry 4.0 is to make things easier and more productive. This usually means more automation, which in turn will lead to job losses. If the whole system is expanded quickly, this will not just send shockwaves throughout the IT industry, but will affect the wider social fabric.

Disconnect with customers

Due to all of these previously mentioned factors, it is easy to see how I4 might actually have a negative impact on consumers. Ethical business models are crucial for modern companies and those who go against these policies will lose their consumers.

Trouble accepting the concept

Although I4 should represent progress compared to the system we currently have, not everyone looks at it that way. There are a lot of stakeholders who will question both the economic and the social side of it and this resistance can lead to further issues during implementation.

Challenges at the company level

Changes to the production process

Having all these systems and improved production sounds great, but that also means that current processes and machines might become obsolete. In other words, this might make certain systems, software, and machines unusable without you maximizing their potential, which in turn will lead to business losses.

Potential IT issues

Given that everything will be interconnected and managed through one system, this means that even small issues can lead to a complete breakdown. Minor IT issues will not only affect one department but the company as a whole.

Lack of qualifications

The transition period is always rocky, no matter what you are doing. In this particular case, it will be reflected through a lack of qualified employees. This would lead to further losses and a halt in production.

Protecting industrial secrets

Due to the fact that all the data will be online, companies will become more susceptible to corporate espionage and loss of business secrets and patents.

There are many challenges ahead of us, but the benefits are most definitely worth it!

How to prepare your company for Industry 4.0?

As we promised, we will now go through the preparation process and what you need to do in order to introduce I4 to your organization. Let’s dive right in!

1 What are your actual needs?

As already mentioned, not every company will profit from industry 4.0 in the same way. While certain businesses will see a significant boost in production and improvement of other industrial processes, others will take a step back. In fact, implementing I4 principles may even become a financial burden. So, make sure that you really need this and that you can maintain it financially.

2 How would it work in your particular case?

Let’s say additive manufacturing works well within your industry and your competition has benefited greatly from it. How would it work for you? In most cases, it is not only about implementation of processes, but when and where you will implement these principles. 

3 Can you create a solid ‘Industry 4.0’ business strategy?

Whether you’re a big corporation or a smaller company, it is very important to create a proper strategy before implementing I4. There are lots of different risks involved in the whole process and the best you can do is to at least mitigate some of them. While you can’t do much about the legal or political aspects, you can definitely influence the financial and human factors. Each pillar needs to be addressed separately and your decisions regarding suppliers and service providers will go a long way in determining the overall success of the whole project. You should especially put emphasis on modular technological solutions. 

4 How quickly and efficiently can you educate your staff?

Although Industry 4.0 sounds like a self-sustaining system, it is everything but that. Human labour is very important for maintaining some of the systems and working within these new rules. Employees will play a big role in how you’re able to adapt to changes and how quickly you can transition to this new model. In fact, you might even consider starting the training now, as you’re preparing your general I4 strategy. This will save you a lot of time!

5 How quickly can you adapt and change?

You should never take Industry 4.0 lightly. Something that is based on the 9 different pillars will always pose certain challenges. Small issues with certain aspects of I4 can bring the whole system down. This is why it is very important for your company to be adaptable. You need to be able to change processes on the fly and improve procedures. If you think that your job is done once you implement I4, you’re sorely mistaken. 

6 Can you take a financial hit?

Lastly, you will also have to consider your exit strategy. No matter how much we may praise Industry 4.0, the sad truth is that some companies will not benefit from it. In fact, the whole process may become a big loss. If this is the case, you have to ask yourself in advance: “Am I prepared for this and can I take the financial hit that goes with it?”

How to prepare technical communications for I4?

Industry 4.0 will also affect the way we write and deliver information. 

When implementing Industry 4.0, there are lots of things  a company needs to do on the back-end. Not only do you have to address technical aspects, introduction of new software and systems, reconsider compliance processes, but you also need proper documentation, manuals and other content that will back up the whole process.

There are a few things you can do to adapt your technical writing to Industry 4.0.

First of all, as I4 products are often connected to the internet, a paper user manual is not the best way to provide the user with information. I4 enables you to create and deliver more intelligent information.

So what is Intelligent Information?

Intelligent information is, amongst others:

  • efficient use of content processes, people, and technology.
  • content that is scalable and can be reused.
  • content that’s personalized, so it delivers most  value for the consumer of the content: the right content is delivered to the right person at the right time, regardless of the device or channel that the consumer uses

Software companies that develop technical authoring tools, such as MadCap, Adobe, Author-it, Schema, Fischer, Oxygen etc develop tools that enable you to publish the same content to several output formats, such as PDF and online. 

This is done single source. In other words: the same content is being reused for several output formats.

When you create single source content, you can not only use the same content for several mediums, but you can also reuse the content for several related products.

Principles that software companies build on and that a professional technical writer should embrace to create ‘smart’ content that can be reused is topic based (structured) writing or DITA

Also, the newly published 82079 standard for information for use integrated much of these principles.

This standard:

  • gives requirements for the information management process;
  • describes how you can use people efficiently by describing professional competencies
  • describes how you can use technology (media and format) in order to digitise your information for use;
  • gives requirements on structuring information. This enables you to scale, automate and reuse content;
  • states that information should be delivered individualised, if possible.

Conclusion

Although there are many unknown variables and still quite a lot of challenges to overcome, which makes it really hard to assess whether or not your company can pull it off, investigating the possibilities of Industry 4.0 is an absolute must.

In order to make more or fewer sound decisions, you should first of all determine which pillar(s) might be of most importance for your industry or just your company. 

Also, identify the risks for your company and how to mitigate them.

In the end, you know your business best,, what direction you want to go to and what Industry 4.0 related business decisions serves that best.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Encryption
The internet has become a staple of modern life. We use it to shop for what we need and want, talk to friends and family, run businesses, meet new people, watch movies and TV, and pretty much everything else you can think of. In short, it has given birth to a new age in human history.
The last example of this type of widespread change was the industrial revolution. But unlike the digital revolution, which took place over less than a half a century, the transition to industrialized societies took hundreds of years. However, this rapid change is just further proof of how much the internet is reshaping the way we live.
The internet started in the 1950s as a small, government-funded project. But have you ever wondered how these humble beginnings led to worldwide connectivity?
If you have, read on for a detailed summary of the history of the internet.

Internet Statistics in 2019




Timeline of the Internet

The invention of the internet took nearly 50 years and the hard work of countless individuals. Here’s a snapshot of how we got to where we are today:




Part 1: The Early Years of the Internet

When most of us think of the early years of the internet, we tend to think of the 1990s. But this period was when the internet went mainstream, not when it was invented. In reality, the internet had been in development since the 1950s, although its early form was a mere shell of what it would eventually become.

Wide Area Networking and ARPA (1950s and 1960s)


For the internet to become popular, we first needed computers, and while the first computers date back to the 17th and even the 16th century, the first digital, programmable computers broke onto the scene in the 1940s. Throughout the 1950s, computer scientists began connecting computers in the same building, giving birth to Local Area Networks (LANs.), and instilling people with the idea that would later morph into the internet.

In 1958, the United States Department of Defense Secretary Neil McElroy signed Department of Defense Directive 5105.15 to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which, due to the tensions produced during the Cold War, was tasked with creating a system of long-distance communications that did not rely on telephone lines and wires, which were susceptible to attack.

However, it wasn’t until 1962 that J.C.R. Licklidler, an MIT scientist and ARPA employee, and Welden Clark published their paper “On-line man-computer communication.” This paper, which was really a series of memos, introduced the “Galactic Network” concept, which was the idea that there could be a network of connected computers that would allow people to access information from anywhere at anytime. Eventually, the idea of a “galactic network” became known as a Wide Area Network, and the race to create this network became the race to create the internet.

Because of how closely this idea resembles the internet today, some have chosen to name Licklidler as the “father of the internet,” although the actual creation and implementation of this network resulted from the hard work of many hundreds if not thousands of people.

The First Networks and Packet Switching (1960s)

To build the internet, researchers were working on ways to connect computers and also make them communicate with one another, and in 1965, MIT researcher Lawrence Roberts and Thomas Merrill connected a computer in Massachusetts to one in California using a low-speed dial-up telephone line. This connection is credited as being the first-ever Wide Area Network (WAN). However, while the two men were able to make the computers talk to one another, it was immediately obvious that the telephone system used at the time was not capable of reliably handling communications between two computers, confirming the need to develop a technology known as packet switching to facilitate a faster and more reliable transmission of data.

In 1966, Roberts was hired by Robert Taylor, the new head of ARPA (which had been renamed DARPA), to realize Licklider’s vision of creating a “galactic network.” By 1969, the early framework of the network, named ARPAnet, had been built, and researchers were able to link one computer in Stanford and one in UCLA and communicate using packet switching, although messaging was primitive. Shortly thereafter, also in 1969, computers at the University of Utah and the University of California, Santa Barbara were added to the network. Over time, the ARPAnet would grow, and it served as the foundation for the internet we have today.

However, there were other versions, such as the Merit Network from the University of Michigan and the Robert CYCLADES network, which was developed in France. Also, Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury of the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) in the United Kingdom were developing a similar network based on packet switching, and there were countless other versions of the internet in development in various research labs around the world. In the end, the combined work of these researchers helped produce the first versions of the internet.

Internet Protocol Suite (1970s)

Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the early 1970s, different academic communities and research disciplines, desiring to have better communication amongst their members, developed their own computer networks. This meant the internet was not only growing, but that there were also countless versions of the internet that existed independently of one another.

Seeing the potential of having so many different computers connected over one network, researchers, specifically Robert Kahn from DARPA and Vinton Cerf from Stanford University, began to look at a way to connect the various networks, and what they came up with is the Internet Protocol Suite, which is made up of the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol, also known as TCP/IP. The introduction of this concept was the first time the word “internet” was used. It was shorthand for the word “internetworking,” which reflects the internet’s initial purpose: to connect multiple computer networks.

The main function TCP/IP was to shift the responsibility of reliability away from the network and towards the host by using a common protocol. This means that any machine could communicate with any other machine regardless of which network it belonged to. This made it possible for many more machines to connect with one another, allowing for the growth of networks which much more closely resemble the internet we have today. By 1983, TCP/IP became the standard protocol for the ARPAnet, entrenching this technology into the way the internet works. However, from that point on the ARPAnet became less and less significant until it was officially decommissioned in 1990.

Part 2: The Internet Goes Mainstream

By the middle of the 1980s, the growth of the internet combined with the introduction of TCP/IP meant the technology was on the brink of going mainstream. However, for this to happen, massive coordination was needed to ensure the many different parties working to develop the internet were on the same page and working towards the same goal.

The first step in this process was to turn the responsibility of managing the development of the internet over to a different government agency. In the U.S., NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) all took on important roles in the development of the internet. By 1986, the NSF created NSFNET, which served as the backbone for a TCP/IP based computer network.

This backbone was designed to connect the various supercomputers across the United States and to support the internet needs of the higher education community. Furthermore, the internet was spreading around the world, with networks using TCP/IP across Europe, Australia, and Asia. However, at this point, the internet was only available to a small community of users, mainly those in the government and academic research community. But the value of the internet was too great, and this exclusivity was set to change.

Internet Service Providers – ISPs (Late 1980s)

By the late 1980s, several private computer networks had emerged for commercial purposes that mainly provided electronic mail services, which, at the time, were the primary appeal of the internet. The first commercial ISP in the United States was The World, which launched in 1989.

Then, in 1992, U.S. Congress passed expanding access to the NSFNET, making it significantly easier for commercial networks to connect with those already in use by the government and academic community. This caused the NSFNET to be replaced as the primary backbone of the internet. Instead, commercial access points and exchanges became the key components of the now near-global internet infrastructure.




The World Wide Web and Browsers (Late 1980s-early 1990s)

The internet took a big step towards mainstream adoption in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) invented the World Wide Web, also known as “www,” or, “the web.” In the World Wide Web, documents are stored on web servers and identified by URLs, which are connected by hypertext links, and accessed via a web browser. Berners-Lee also invented the first Web Browser, called WorldWideWeb, and many others emerged shortly thereafter, the most famous being Mosaic, which launched in 1993 and later became Netscape.

The release of the Mosaic browser in 1993 caused a major spike in the number of internet users, largely because it allowed people to access the internet from their normal home or office computers, which were also becoming mainstream around this time. In 1994, the founder of Mosaic launched Netscape Navigator, which, along with Microsoft Internet Explorer, was the first truly mainstream web browser.

The subsequent Browser Wars, which resulted in the failure of Netscape and the triumph of Microsoft, made Netscape one of the many early internet players to rise quickly and fall just as fast. Many use this story to demonstrate the ruthlessness of Bill Gates’ business practices, but no matter what you think of the guy, this “war” between Netscape and Microsoft helped shape the early days of the internet.

Apart from making it easier for anyone to access the internet from any machine, another reason browsers and the World Wide Web were so important to the growth of the internet was that they allowed for the transfer of not only text but also images. This increased the appeal of the internet to the average person, leading to its rapid growth.

Part 3: The Internet Takes Over

By the middle of the 1990s, the Internet Age had officially begun, and since then, the internet has grown both in terms of the number of users but also in the way it affects society. However, the internet as we know it today is still radically different than the internet that first went mainstream in the years leading up to the turn of the millennium.

Growth of the Internet and the Digital Divide



All restrictions to commercial use of the internet were lifted in 1995, and this led to a rapid growth in the number of users worldwide. More specifically, in 1995, there were some 16 million people connected to the internet. By 2000, there were around 300 million, and by 2005, there were more than a billion. Today, there are some 3.4 billion users across the world.

However, most of this growth has taken place in North America, Europe, and East Asia. The internet has yet to reach large portions of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, largely due to economic and infrastructure challenges. This has left many with the fear that the internet will exacerbate inequalities around the world as opportunities provided to some are denied to others based on access to the web.

But the other side of the coin is that these regions are poised to experience rapid growth. East Asia had relatively few internet users in 2000, but that region now represents the majority of internet users in the world, although much of this is due to the rapid industrialization of China and the growth of its middle class.

The Internet Gets Faster

In its early years, computers required connection to a phone line to access the internet. This connection type was slow and it also created problems, the most famous being that it limited the number of people who could access the internet from a particular connection (Who doesn’t remember getting kicked off the internet when their mom or dad signed on or picked up the phone?)

As a result, shortly after the internet went mainstream, the public began demanding faster internet connections capable of transmitting more data. The response was broadband internet, which made use of cable and Direct Service Line (DSL) connections, and it rapidly became the norm. By 2004, half the world’s internet users had access to a high-speed connection. Today, the vast majority of internet users have a broadband internet connection, although some 3 percent of American’s still use a dial-up internet connection.

Web 2.0

Another big driver of the growth of the web was the introduction of the concept known as “Web 2.0.” This describes a version of the web in which individuals play a more active role in the creation and distribution of web content, something we now refer to as social media.

However, there is some debate as to whether or not Web 2.0 is truly different from the original concept of the web. After all, social media grew up alongside the internet – the first social media site, Six Degrees, was launched in 1997. But no matter which side of the debate you fall on, there’s no doubt that the rise of social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook helped turn the internet into the cultural pillar that it has become.

The Mobile Internet

Perhaps the biggest reason the internet has become what it is today is the growth of mobile technology. Early cell phones allowed people to access the internet, but it was slow and modified. The Apple iPhone, which was released in 2007, gave people the first mobile browsing experience that resembled that which they got on a computer, and 3G wireless networks were fast enough to allow for email and web browsing.

Furthermore, WiFi technology, which was invented in 1997, steadily improved throughout the 2000s, making it easier for more and more devices to connect to the internet without needing to plug in a cable, helping make the internet even more mainstream.

WiFi can now be found almost anywhere, and 4G wireless networks connect people to the mobile internet with speeds that rival those of traditional internet connections, making it possible for people to access the internet whenever and wherever they want. Soon, we will be using 5G networks, which allow for even faster speeds and lower latency. But perhaps more importantly, 5G will make it possible for more devices to connect to the network, meaning more smart devices and a much broader understanding of the internet.

Part 4: The Future of the Internet

While the concept of the internet dates back to the 1950s, it didn’t become mainstream until the 1990s. But since then, it has become an integral part of our lives and has rewritten the course of human history. So, after all this rapid growth, what’s next?

Continued Growth

For many, the next chapter of the history of the internet will be defined by global growth. As economies around the world continue to expand, it’s expected that internet use will as well. This should cause the total number of internet users around the world to continue to grow, limited only by the development of infrastructure, as well as government policy.

Net Neutrality

One such government policy that could dramatically impact the role of the internet in our lives is that of net neutrality. Designed to keep the internet a fair place where information is freely exchanged, net neutrality prohibits ISPs from offering preferred access to sites who choose to pay for it. The argument against net neutrality is that some sites, such as YouTube and Netflix, use considerably more bandwidth than others, and ISPs believe they should have the right to charge for this increased use.

However, proponents of net neutrality argue this type of structure would allow large companies and organizations to pay their way to the top, reducing the equality of the internet. In the United States, net neutrality was established by the FCC in 2015, under the Obama administration, but in 2018, this policy was repealed. At the moment, nothing significant has changed, but only time will tell how this shift in policy will affect the internet.

Censorship

Another issue that could possibly affect the internet moving forward is the issue of censorship. Internet use around the world is often restricted, most famously in China, as a means of restricting the information available to people. In other parts of the world, specifically in the U.S, and Europe, these policies have not been enacted. However, in the era of fake news and social media, some companies, most notably Facebook, are taking action to slightly limit what people can say on the internet. In general, this is an attempt to limit the spread of hate speech and other harmful communications, but this is a gray area that has defined free speech debates for most of history and that will continue to be at the center of debates about the internet for years to come.

Conclusion

The internet has helped usher in a new age in human history, and we are just now beginning to understand how it will impact the way we live our lives. The fact that this tremendous cultural revolution has taken place in less than half a century speaks to the rapid nature of change in our modern world, and it serves as a reminder that change will continue to accelerate as we move into the future. You can read the full article on broadbandsearch.net.

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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Encryption
Edward Snowden’s NSA spying revelations highlighted just how much we have sacrificed to the gods of technology and convenience something we used to take for granted, and once considered a basic human right – our privacy. It is just not just the NSA. Governments the world over are racing to introduce legislation that allows to them to monitor and store every email, phone call and Instant Message, every web page visited, and every VoIP conversation made by every single one of their citizens. The press has bandied parallels with George Orwell’s dystopian world ruled by an all-seeing Big Brother about a great deal. They are depressingly accurate. Encryption provides a highly effective way to protect your internet behavior, communications, and data. The main problem with using encryption is that its use flags you up to organizations such as the NSA for closer scrutiny. Details of the NSA’s data collection rules are here. What it boils down to is that the NSA examines data from US citizens, then discards it if it’s found to be uninteresting. Encrypted data, on the other hand, is stored indefinitely until the NSA can decrypt it. The NSA can keep all data relating to non-US citizens indefinitely, but practicality suggests that encrypted data gets special attention. If a lot more people start to use encryption, then encrypted data will stand out less, and surveillance organizations’ job of invading everyone’s privacy will be much harder. Remember – anonymity is not a crime!

How Secure is Encryption?

Following revelations about the scale of the NSA’s deliberate assault on global encryption standards, confidence in encryption has taken a big dent. So let’s examine the current state of play…

Encryption Key Length

Encryption Key 01Key length is the crudest way of determining how long a cipher will take to break. It is the raw number of ones and zeros used in a cipher. Similarly, the crudest form of attack on a cipher is known as a brute force attack (or exhaustive key search). This involves trying every possible combination to find the correct one. If anyone is capable of breaking modern encryption ciphers it is the NSA, but to do so is a considerable challenge. For a brute force attack:
  • A 128-bit key cipher has 3.4 x10(38) possible keys. Going through each of them would thousands of operations or more to break.
  • In 2011 the fastest supercomputer in the word (the Fujitsu K computer located in Kobe, Japan) was capable of an Rmax peak speed of 10.51 petaflops. Based on this figure, it would take Fujitsu K 1.02 x 10(18) (around 1 billion) years to crack a 128-bit AES key by force.
  • In 2016 the most powerful supercomputer in the world is the NUDT Tianhe-2in Guangzhou, China. Almost 3 times as fast as the Fujitsu K, at 33.86 petaflops, it would “only” take it around a third of a billion years to crack a 128-bit AES key. That’s still a long time, and is the figure for breaking just one key.
  • A 256-bit key would require 2(128) times more computational power to break than a 128-bit one.
  • The number of years required to brute force a 256-bit cipher is 3.31 x 10(56) – which is about 20000….0000 (total 46 zeros) times the age of Universe (13.5 billion or 1.35 x 10(10) years!
The NUDT Tianhe-2 supercomputer in Guangzhou, China

128-bit Encryption

Until the Edward Snowden revelations, people assumed that 128-bit encryption was in practice uncrackable through brute force. They believed it would be so for around another 100 years (taking Moore’s Law into account). In theory, this still holds true. However, the scale of resources that the NSA seems willing to throw at cracking encryption has shaken many experts’ faith in these predictions. Consequently, system administrators the world over are scrambling to upgrade cipher key lengths. If and when quantum computing becomes available, all bets will be off. Quantum computers will be exponentially more powerful than any existing computer, and will make all current encryption ciphers and suites redundant overnight. In theory, the development of quantum encryption will counter this problem. However, access to quantum computers will initially be the preserve of the most powerful and wealthy governments and corporations only. It is not in the interests of such organizations to democratize encryption. For the time being, however, strong encryption is your friend. Note that the US government uses 256-bit encryption to protect ‘sensitive’ data and 128-bit for ‘routine’ encryption needs. However, the cipher it uses is AES. As I discuss below, this is not without problems.

Ciphers

Encryption key length refers to the amount of raw numbers involved. Ciphers are the mathematics used to perform the encryption. It is weaknesses in thesealgorithms, rather than in the key length, that often leads to encryption breaking. By far the most common ciphers that you will likely encounter are those OpenVPN uses: Blowfish and AES. In addition to this, RSA is used to encrypt and decrypt a cipher’s keys. SHA-1 or SHA-2 are used as hash functions to authenticate the data. AES is generally considered the most secure cipher for VPN use (and in general). Its adoption by the US government has increased its perceived reliability, and consequently its popularity. However, there is reason to believe this trust may be misplaced.

NIST

The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed and/or certified AES, RSA, SHA-1 and SHA-2. NIST works closely with the NSA in the development of its ciphers. Given the NSA’s systematic efforts to weaken or build backdoors into international encryption standards, there is every reason to question the integrity of NIST algorithms. NIST has been quick to deny any wrongdoing (“NIST would not deliberately weaken a cryptographic standard”). It has also has invited public participation in a number of upcoming proposed encryption-related standards in a move designed to bolsterpublic confidence. The New York Times, however, has accused the NSA of introducing undetectable backdoors, or subverting the public development process to weaken the algorithms, thus circumventing NIST-approved encryption standards. News that a NIST-certified cryptographic standard – the Dual Elliptic Curve algorithm (Dual_EC_DRGB) had been deliberately weakened not just once, but twice, by the NSA destroyed pretty much any existing trust. Encryption That there might be a deliberate backdoor in Dual_EC_DRGB had already been noticed before. In 2006 researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands noted that an attack against it was easy enough to launch on ‘an ordinary PC.’  Microsoft engineers also flagged up a suspected backdoor in the algorithm. Despite these concerns, where NIST leads, industry follows. Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and RSA all include the algorithm in their products’ cryptographic libraries. This is in large partbecause compliance with NIST standards is a prerequisite to obtaining US government contracts. NIST-certified cryptographic standards are pretty much ubiquitous worldwide throughout all areas of industry and business that rely on privacy (including the VPN industry). This is all rather chilling. Perhaps because so much relies on these standards, cryptography experts have been unwilling to face up to the problem.

Perfect Forward Secrecy

Perfect Forward Secrecy 01 One of the revelations in the information provided by Edward Snowden is that “another program, code-named Cheesy Name, was aimed at singling out SSL/TLS encryption keys, known as ‘certificates,’ that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.” That these certificates can be “singled out” strongly suggests that 1024-bit RSA encryption (commonly used to protect the certificate keys) is weaker than previously thought. The NSA and GCHQ could therefore decrypt it much more quickly than expected. In addition to this, the SHA-1 algorithm widely used to authenticate SSL/TLS connections is fundamentally broken. In both cases, the industry is scrambling fix the weaknesses as fast as it can. It is doing this by moving onto RSA-2048+, Diffie-Hellman, or  Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key exchanges and SHA-2+ hash authentication. What these issues (and the 2014 Heartbleed Bug fiasco) clearly highlight is the importance of using perfect forward secrecy (PFS) for all SSL/TLS connections. This is a system whereby a new and unique (with no additional keys derived from it) private encryption key is generated for each session. For this reason, it is also known as an ephemeral key exchange. Using PFS, if one SSL key is compromised, this does not matter very much because new keys are generated for each connection. They are also often refreshed during connections. To meaningfully access communications these new keys would also need to be compromised. This makes the task so arduous as to be effectively impossible. Unfortunately, it is common practice (because it’s easy) for companies to use just one private encryption key. If this key is compromised, then the attacker can access all communications encrypted with it.

OpenVPN and PFS

The most widely used VPN protocol is OpenVPN. It is considered very secure. One of the reasons for this is because it allows the use of ephemeral keys. Sadly this is not implemented by many VPN providers. Without perfect forward secrecy, OpenVPN connections are not considered secure. It is also worth mentioning here that the HMAC SHA-1 hashes routinely used to authenticate OpenVPN connections are not a weakness. This is because HMAC SHA-1 is much less vulnerable to collision attacks than standard SHA-1 hashes. Mathematical proof of this is available in this paper.

The Takeaway – So, is Encryption Secure?

To underestimate the NSA’s ambition or ability to compromise all encryption is a mistake. However, encryption remains the best defense we have against it (and others like it). To the best of anyone’s knowledge, strong ciphers such as AES (despite misgivings about its NIST certification) and OpenVPN (with perfect forward secrecy) remain secure. As Bruce Schneier, encryption specialist, fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and privacy advocate famously stated,
Trust the math. Encryption is your friend. Use it well, and do your best to ensure that nothing can compromise it. That’s how you can remain secure even in the face of the NSA.”
Remember too that the NSA is not the only potential adversary. However, most criminals and even governments have nowhere near the NSA’s ability to circumvent encryption.

The Importance of End-to-end Encryption

End-to-end (e2e) encryption means that you encrypt data on your own device. Only you hold the encryption keys (unless you share them). Without these keys, an adversary will find it extremely difficult to decrypt your data. Encryption Many services and products do not use e2e encryption. Instead they encrypt your data and hold the keys for you. This can be very convenient, as it allows for easy recovery of lost passwords, syncing across devices, and so forth. It does mean, however, that these third parties could be compelled to hand over your encryption keys. A case in point is Microsoft. It encrypts all emails and files held in OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), but it also holds the encryption keys. In 2013 it used these to unlock the emails and files of its 250 million worldwide users for inspection by the NSA. Strongly avoid services that encrypt your data on their servers, rather than you encrypting your own data on your own machine.

HTTPS

Although strong encryption has recently become trendy, websites have been using strong end-to-end encryption for the last 20 years. After all, if websites were not secure, then online shopping or banking wouldn’t be possible. The encryption protocol used for this is HTTPS, which stands for HTTP Secure (or HTTP over SSL/TLS). It is used for websites that need to secure users’ communications and is the backbone of internet security. When you visit a non-secure HTTP website, data is transferred unencrypted. This means anyone watching can see everything you do while visiting that site. This includes your transaction details when making payments. It is even possible to alter the data transferred between you and the web server. With HTTPS, a cryptographic key exchange occurs when you first connect to the website. All subsequent actions on the website are encrypted, and thus hidden from prying eyes. Anyone watching can see that you have visited a certain website, but cannot see which individual pages you read, or any data transferred. For example, the BestVPN.com website is secured using HTTPS. Unless you are using a VPN while reading this web page, your ISP can see that you have visited www.bestvpn.com, but cannot see that you are reading this particular article. HTTPS uses end-to-end encryption. Secured website Firefox It is easy to tell if you visit a website secured by HTTPS – just look for a locked padlock icon to the left of the main URL/search bar. There are issues relating to HTTPS, but in general it is secure. If it wasn’t, none of the billions of financial transactions and transfers of personal data that happen every day on the internet would be possible. The internet itself (and possibly the world economy!) would collapse overnight. For a detailed discussion on HTTPS, please see here.

Metadata

An important limitation to encryption is that it does not necessarily protect users from the collection of metadata. Even if the contents of emails, voice conversations, or web browsing sessions cannot be readily listened in on, knowing when, where, from whom, to whom, and how regularly such communication takes place can tell an adversary a great deal. This is a powerful tool in the wrong hands. For example, even if you use a securely encrypted messaging service such as WhatsApp, Facebook will still be able to tell who you are messaging, how often you message, how long you usually chat for, and more. With such information, it would be easy to discover that you were having an affair, for example. Although the NSA does target individual communications, its primary concern is the collection of metadata. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has openly acknowledged,
“Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.
Technologies such as VPNs and Tor can make the collection of metadata very difficult. For example, an ISP cannot collect metadata relating to the browsing history of customers who use a VPN to hide their online activities. Note, though, that many VPN providers themselves log some metadata. This should be a consideration when choosing a service to protect your privacy. Please also note that mobile apps typically bypass any VPN that is running on your device, and connect directly to their publishers’ servers. Using a VPN, for example, will not prevent WhatsApp sending metadata to Facebook.

Identify Your Threat Model

When considering how to protect your privacy and stay secure on the internet, carefully consider who or what worries you most. Defending yourself against everything is almost impossible. And any attempt to do so will likely seriously degrade the usability (and your enjoyment) of the internet. Identifying to yourself that being caught downloading an illicit copy of Game of Thrones is a bigger worry than being targeted by a crack NSA TAO teamfor personalized surveillance is a good start. It will leave you less stressed, with a more useable internet and with more effective defenses against the threats that really matter to you. Of course, if your name is Edward Snowden, then TAO teams will be part of your threat model… I will discuss steps you should take to help identify your threat model in an upcoming article on BestVPN.com. In the meantime, this article does a good job of introducing the basics.

Use FOSS Software

Ultimate Privacy Guide Illustration 03 01The terrifying scale of the NSA’s attack on public cryptography, and its deliberate weakening of common international encryption standards, has demonstrated that no proprietary software can be trusted. Even software specifically designed with security in mind. The NSA has co-opted or coerced hundreds of technology companies into building backdoors into their programs, or otherwise weakening security in order to allow it access. US and UK companies are particularly suspect, although the reports make it clear that companies across the world have acceded to NSA demands. The problem with proprietary software is that the NSA can fairly easily approach and convince the sole developers and owners to play ball. In addition to this, their source code is kept secret. This makes it easy to add to or modify the code in dodgy ways without anyone noticing. Open source code The best answer to this problem is to use free open source software (FOSS). Often jointly developed by disparate and otherwise unconnected individuals, the source code is available to everyone to examine and peer-review. This minimizes the chances that someone has tampered with it. Ideally, this code should also be compatible with other implementations, in orderto minimize the possibility of a backdoor being built in. It is, of course, possible that NSA agents have infiltrated open source development groups and introduced malicious code without anyone’s knowledge. In addition, the sheer amount of code that many projects involve means that it is often impossible to fully peer-review all of it. Despite these potential pitfalls, FOSS remains the most reliable and least likely to be tampered with software available. If you truly care about privacy you should try to use it exclusively (up to and including using FOSS operating systems such as Linux).

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Privacy

With the proviso that nothing is perfect, and if “they” really want to get you “they” probably can, there are steps you can take to improve your privacy.

Pay for Stuff Anonymously

One step to improving your privacy is to pay for things anonymously. When it comes to physical goods delivered to an actual address, this isn’t going to happen. Online services are a different kettle of fish, however. It is increasingly common to find services that accept payment through Bitcoin and the like. A few, such as VPN service Mullvad, will even accept cash sent anonymously by post.Ultimate Privacy Guide Illustration 04 01

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a decentralized and open source virtual currency that operates using peer-to-peer technology (much as BitTorrent and Skype do). The concept is particularly revolutionary and exciting because it does not require a middleman to work (for example a state-controlled bank). Whether or not Bitcoins represent a good investment opportunity remains hotly debated, and is not within the remit of this guide. It is also completely outside of my area of expertise! You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
A number of VPN providers now accept payment via Bitcoin, but which is the best one? In certain circumstances, remaining anonymous is important. When you pay for services from your bank account, you create a trail that leads straight to your door. Bitcoin allows you to store your money outside the banking system. You don’t need to attach any personal details to the “wallet” that stores your money. Instead, a code identifies your value store. However, you can easily destroy that anonymity if you create a trail into and out of your wallet. Receiving payments into your wallet can also give away your identity. However, if you can’t make or receive payments without giving away your identity, what good is Bitcoin?

How Can I Keep My Bitcoin Wallet Anonymous?

You can keep your Bitcoin wallet anonymous with a little planning. Firstly, you need to create a pseudonym by which you can be recognized without giving your identity away. You create lots of pseudonyms in your life on the internet without any difficulty. The usernames that you select when signing up for services or social media platforms are essentially pseudonyms. However, these usernames are usually linked to some real-world form of identification. You can create webmail accounts without giving any personal details. You can then use those relatively anonymous email addresses to access services. The next step is to prevent anyone tracing your Bitcoin payments through your IP address. This can be achieved using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When you connect to websites through a VPN, your transactions are identified by the VPN server’s IP address, not yours. VPN companies own thousands of IP addresses. They cycle through them regularly. Most successful VPNs also have millions of customers. That makes it very difficult to trace your activities. One weak point in the privacy that VPN services offer is that the VPN company itself can keep track of your activities. It can identify you through its cross-reference between your allocated IP address and your real IP address. If your VPN keeps that information on file, a court order can force it to hand it over to the authorities. The simple solution to this is to pick a VPN service that keeps no logs. You can read more tips on how to mask your identity when using Bitcoin further on in this article. However, first take a look at the five best VPNs for Bitcoin payments. For any VPN to qualify for this list, it has to keep no records of customers’ activities, provide unbreakable encryption, and accept anonymous Bitcoin payments. Remember to create a pseudonym to use with your Bitcoin account. Also, don’t forget that you have to protect your identity when collecting payments as well as when paying out of your wallet. You probably don’t need full anonymity in your day-to-day life. As such, why not run your regular finances through a standard bank account? You can then reserve your Bitcoin transactions for activities that you want to remain private. Avoid contact between your Bitcoin account and your bank account(s) to avoid links between you and your Bitcoin wallet.

The Problem with Paying for Digital Services in the EU…

Paying for digital services when you’re in Europe can present a problem. EU requirements specify that all charges for online services have to include Value Added Tax (VAT). VAT is levied at the rate of the European country in which the customer is making the purchase. It is not levied at the rate of the service provider’s location. The VAT rule applies to companies that are based outside of the EU as well. That means that if you subscribe to a VPN service that is based in the US, such as IPVanish, that company has to identify your location and apply the VAT rate for the EU country that you’re in at the moment you pay. Vendors are required to seek two forms of location confirmation. Just about all of these include factors that will identify you. These can include the address of your bank account or your home address. These requirements make matters complicated if you’re travelling within Europe and not in your home country. That’s because online service companies have to provide the address of your bank account. This applies even if the payment is processed by a third party company. Thus having a PayPal account, or paying through Bitcoin, doesn’t protect you. The Bitcoin payment processor has to return details of your address to the service provider along with confirmation of payment. If the two identifying pieces of information don’t match the location of your IP address, the service cannot be provided.

…and the Solution

A simple solution to this problem is to make sure that you don’t appear to be in an EU country when you sign up for a VPN (or other service). That way, all of the location identification requirements disappear. You can perform this trick when signing up for a VPN by employing another VPN at the point of paying. This sounds a bit mad, but some free VPNs can help you out with that. AirVPN offers a three-day trial subscription for €1. You can take out that subscription using your real bank account, then turn the VPN on with a non-EU server location engaged. You can then sign up for another VPN service, such as IPVanish, or ExpressVPN. As a non-EU customer, the VPN company will not have collect your location details. You can thus proceed with the purchase via Bitcoin anonymously. So long as the VPN you use during your purchase doesn’t keep logs, there will be no way for anyone to connect you to the VPN account you set up with a Bitcoin payment. You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
The nonstop increase of Bitcoin price over dollar has shown its reverse side. It has given birth to a brand new cybercrime industry based on numerous scams, even if they are easy to get. Crafty rascals target naive internet users in a bid to cause them to lose their Bitcoins. This article lists most popular cryptocurrency-related scams to help you separate the grain from the chaff when dealing with Bitcoin transactions.

Fake Bitcoin Exchanges

Fake Bitcoin ExchangesWhenever you encounter an advertisement promising to sell you Bitcoins at a low price, be aware that it might be trying to lure you to a rogue cryptocurrency exchange website. The primary thing to look at when you visit any exchange service is whether or not it makes use of HTTPS. If the web address begins with HTTPS, it indicates that all interactions of your web-browser and the service are encrypted and quite secure. In the event it’s HTTP, using this kind of an exchange is dangerous. Another sign of a phony service is the PayPal to BTC exchange fraud. Such websites offer a web form for you to type in your PayPal email and the sum of money you plan to spend. After that, a QR code appears to confirm the transaction. However, instead of receiving your Bitcoins, you just get your PayPal account stolen.

Rogue Bitcoin Wallets

Rogue Bitcoin WalletsIt’s slightly more difficult to recognize rogue Bitcoin wallets, since the primary goal of any wallet is to store BTC rather than trade it. Thus, this kind of fraud isn’t generally geared toward immediate monetary gains. In fact, they most often seek to trick you into installing malware that can steal sensitive data. To identify fraudulent wallets, be on the lookout for suspicious hallmarks. Ask people you trust if they’ve used the service before. Check online reviews and scores. If the Bitcoin wallet is an application for downloading, examine it for risky code. Sites like VirusTotal can scan software binaries for known infections using two dozen anti-viruses simultaneously.

Phishing

Crypto PhishingPhishing is probably the most prevalent scam in the online world. It’s aim, in relation to Bitcoin, is to get you to visit a rogue website camouflaged as a well-known and legitimate service. By visiting pseudo services, you’re at risk of not only losing your Bitcoins but having all of your sensitive data compromised, along with your identity stolen. The malicious phishing email message may appear to originate from an exchange or wallet service you’re using. The cyber-crooks could have acquired your personal details after a big data breach like the notorious Yahoo hack. The general guideline is to avoid clicking on hyperlinks inside emails. A malicious hyperlink can seem entirely genuine. It uses several redirect steps to finally bring you to the site controlled by hackers. To stay away from this hazard, type URLs directly into your browser or use your bookmarks. You should also approach email attachments with Attachments frequently deliver viruses like ransomware. Fraudsters may also use web ads or black SEO to direct you to visit a bogus Bitcoin exchange or wallet while Googling terms like “Buy Bitcoin” or “Bitcoin exchange.” Booby-trapped sites will frequently show up among top search results. Again, use VirusTotal to check if websites are safe.

Bitcoin Ponzi Schemes

Bitcoin Ponzi SchemesCertain websites propose tempting BTC deals. They look too good to be true. That’s because they are. Based on their claims, you can increase your BTC twofold by the very next day. This is a typical Ponzi scheme. As soon as you send your Bitcoin, the likelihood of you getting even the initial quantity back is very low. Such websites usually include referral programs that allow their members to earn some cash from new customer leads. As such, a referral link in URLs on social media should act as a warning sign. Referral links look like this: website.com/?ref=826.

Cloud Mining False Promises

Cloud Mining False PromisesCloud mining relates to a model in which individuals group together and put in money to rent Bitcoin mining equipment. This idea is great and totally legit. However, crooks launch their scams to attract interested people and eventually give a lower return on investment, rather than keeping their promises. To avoid cloud mining scams, look closely at possible indicators of risk. Stay away from services marketed via referral links. Be sure the website is open and honest when it comes to what pool is employed for mining, who operates it and the amount of income you can get. A professional service will generally include a dashboard to manage the process and monitor all operations.

In-person Trading Thefts

In Person Trading TheftsBitcoin theft extends past the online world. With new legislation and control over cryptocurrency trading gearing up in certain parts of the globe, citizens may have problems buying and selling Bitcoins in the usual way. These challenges have stimulated the Bitcoin economy to begin migrating offline. Traders are starting to meet face-to-face to conduct exchanges. A number of cases show how risky peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchanging may be. In April 2017, an entrepreneur from India was robbed when he tried to buy BTC at an attractively low price. He met with the supposed dealers at a shopping center. The crooks then abducted and robbed him. The lesson you can learn from this kind of offline cybercrime incidents is that it’s best to refrain from meeting unknown people in person to exchange BTC, especially when carrying large sums of money.

Bitcoin Security: Conclusion

The world of Bitcoin is growing. If you plan to be a part of it, hopefully the above steps will help you stay safe and secure while trading and using your BTC. You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
We repeatedly read that the blockchain is very cool – it’s a breakthrough, it’s our future, and so forth. If you believe all this is true, you’re in for a disappointment. Important note: this article deals with the implementation of blockchain technology, which is used for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. There are other applications and implementations of the blockchain and certain issues are resolved in some of them.

About Bitcoin

Bitcoin creators had a task: to make it work without a central control point; no-one should trust anyone. The authors fulfilled the task, the resulting electronic money functioned as intended and its adoption has grown. However, the decisions they made are monstrous in their inefficiency. The purpose of this post is not to discredit the blockchain. It’s a useful technology that has many great applications. Despite its shortcomings, it has unique advantages. However, in the pursuit of sensationalism, many journalists concentrate on the advantages of blockchain technology and often forget to assess the real state of affairs. They ignore the disadvantages. Therefore, it’s useful to consider the blockchain from all angles.

Myth One: Blockchain Is a Giant, Distributed Computer

Blockchain Distributed ComputerThose who don’t understand the basic principles of blockchain may be under the impression that it’s some kind of computer that performs distributed computing tasks, while its nodes around the world are gathering small bits of data to build something complicated and big. This is not the case. In fact, all the nodes that serve the blockchain are doing precisely the same thing. Millions of computers:
  1. Check the same transactions using the same rules. They perform an identical job.
  2. Add the same data to the blockchain.
  3. Store the whole history, which is the same and one for all.
There’s no parallelization, no synergy, no mutual assistance. There’s just duplication and, most importantly, it’s million-fold duplication. There’s no efficiency at all, as you can see.

Myth Two: Blockchain is Eternal – Everything Written There Will Remain Forever

Blockchain is Eternal The entire history of all transactions already runs to over 130 gigabytes of data. This is the full capacity of a cheap laptop or a modern smartphone. The more transactions that occur in the Bitcoin network, the faster the volume grows. The growth in the capacity of hard disks is probably not keeping up with the growth of the size of the blockchain. In addition to the fact that it needs to be stored, the whole database must be downloaded from the very beginning. It now takes several days to do so. You may ask: “Is it possible to store just part of the blockchain, since it’s the same thing on every node of the network?” Yes, you could, but then it would be a traditional client-server architecture instead of a peer-to-peer blockchain. Also, clients will be forced to trust servers. Thus the idea of “not trusting anyone,” which is the cornerstone of the blockchain, disappears. For most users, this principle has already gone. Bitcoin users are divided into two groups: enthusiasts who “suffer” and store it locally, and ordinary people who use online exchange services and wallets. The latter are much more prominent. These people trust the server and don’t care how it works.

Myth Three: Blockchain is Effective and Scalable

Blockchain is ScaleableIf each node of the network does the same thing, it’s obvious that the bandwidth of the entire network is equal to the bandwidth of one node of the network. Bitcoin can process a maximum of seven transactions per second – that’s it. In addition, Bitcoin transactions are recorded only once every ten minutes. After the record appears, it’s agreed to wait another 50 minutes, because some records spontaneously roll back from time to time. Thus if you need to buy chewing gum, you may have to wait an hour or so in the store in order to complete the transaction! With such a transaction speed, it’s impossible to increase the number of active users substantially. For comparison, Visa processes thousands of operations per second. It can also quickly increase this rate, as traditional banking technologies are easily scalable.

Myth Four: Miners Provide Network Security

Bitcoin Miners Provide Network SecurityYou’ve probably heard of miners, and of giant mining farms built next to power stations. What are they doing? They’re just wasting electricity! They “shake” the blocks until they become “beautiful” and can be included in the blockchain. Rewriting the financial history in this way takes as much time as creating it (provided you have the same total capacity). To build one block, you need the same amount of electricity as an average city consumes per 100,000 inhabitants. Add to that the costly equipment, which is suitable only for mining, and you can formulate the principle of mining (the so-called proof-of-work) as: “Burning the resources of mankind.” Blockchain optimists assert that miners ensure the stability and security of the network. The problem here is that the miners protect Bitcoin from other miners. If there were a thousand times fewer miners who burned a thousand times less electricity, Bitcoin would function just as well as now – the same one block every ten minutes, the same number of transactions, the same speed. With regard to most blockchain solutions, there’s a risk of the “51% attack.” The essence of the attack is that if someone controls more than half of all mining capacities, he can secretly write an alternative financial history, in which he doesn’t send his money to others. And then he may present his own version of the blockchain – which will become a new reality. Thus, he gets an opportunity to spend his money several times. It’s not possible to attack traditional payment systems in this way. Ultimately, Bitcoin is a hostage of its own ideology. “Superfluous” miners can’t stop mining because there will be a sharp increase in the likelihood that one entity will control more than half of the remaining capacity. As long as mining is profitable, the network is stable, but if the situation changes (for example, because electricity prices rise), the network may face massive double-counted transactions.

Myth Five: The Blockchain is Decentralized and Thus Unbreakable

Blockchain is DecentralizedYou may think that since the blockchain is stored on each node of the network, the security services won’t be able to shut it down (since the blockchain doesn’t have a central server or something similar). This is just an illusion. In reality, all “independent” miners are united in pools, or rather, cartels. They have to unite because it’s better to receive a stable but small income than to wait 1,000 years to get a huge one. There are only about 20 large pools. The largest four of them control more than 50% of all Blockchain capacity. It’s enough to knock on just four doors and get access to four Command & Control servers to have the opportunity to spend the same BTC more than once. In fact, the threat is even more real. Most of the pools, along with their computing power, are located in one country – China – which simplifies the potential Bitcoin takeover.

Myth Six: Anonymity and Openness of the Blockchain is Good

Blockchain AnonymityWe know that the blockchain is open and everyone can see everything. Though Bitcoin doesn’t list your name, it’s not completely anonymous. For example, if a cybercriminal gets a ransomwarepayment to his wallet, then everyone understands that this wallet belongs to a bad guy. And since anyone can monitor and follow all the transactions from this wallet, it won’t be easy for the crook to take advantage of this money. It’s enough to make a small mistake and reveal your identity somewhere for law enforcement officials to catch you. This happens more often than you might think. These days, almost all Bitcoin exchanges require their users to go through identification procedures. Therefore, hackers have to use the so-called “mixer” services. Such services mix dirty BTC with lots of clean ones. Crooks pay large commissions for this and take a lot of risks, since the mixer is either anonymous (and could run away with the money) or is already under the control of law enforcement authorities. The pseudo-anonymity of Bitcoin may be bad for legitimate users too. Here’s a simple example: Someone transfers a small amount of BTC to his mother. After that, mother knows:
  • How much money her son has at any given time
  • What exactly he spent it on
Or, if someone pays a debt to a friend, that friend now knows everything about the first friend’s finances. It’s the equivalent of opening the financial history of your credit card for everyone on Earth to see. This is a critical issue for businesses. All their counterparties, purchases, sales, customers, transfer amounts and everything else becomes public and accessible by competitors.

Blockchain Myths: Conclusion

You have just read about the six main Bitcoin shortcomings. You may wonder why the media doesn’t cover these issues. Unfortunately, it’s simply not profitable for them to write about these matters. Many of those who bought Bitcoin began to advertise and promote it, as well as to profit from it. Why, then, would they write about the blockchain technology’s shortcomings? Bitcoin has many competitors, who have tried to solve certain problems. Although some ideas are very good, they’re all built around the same basic blockchain principles. Yes, there are other, non-monetary applications of blockchain technology, but the fundamental drawbacks of the blockchain apply there too. You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.
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Bitcoin, Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
This is the ultimate guide to Bitcoin Privacy. Learn how to buy bitcoins anonymously and securely! How to spend it without worrying, and more! Of course, we’ll show you how to buy the best VPN anonymously, however, the same process can be used to anonymously purchase pretty much any product that accepts Bitcoins. Do note, however, that physical products need to be delivered to a physical address and/or be collected in person. This is an updated version of a guide I originally published on this website back in 2013. Since then, many things have changed. The value of Bitcoin has shot through the roof, well-known trading websites such as Mt. Gox have closed down, and much more. In some places, you can now even buy Bitcoins from ATM machines!

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency. It is a decentralized and open source virtual currency that operates using peer-to-peer (P2P) technology (much as BitTorrent and Skype do). Like traditional money, you can trade Bitcoin for goods or services (such as a VPN subscription) and exchange it for other currencies. Unlike traditional currencies, however, there is no “middleman,” such as a state-controlled bank.
Bitcoins are instead generated using a free computer program, at a predictable rate determined by the amount of processing power dedicated to their generation. This process is known as Bitcoin mining. In theory, anyone can do it. A Bitcoin is not a physical thing; it is a cryptographic algorithm consisting of a public key and private key. Some vendors do sell physical notes and coins denominated in Bitcoin, but what they are really selling is a private key (usually protected by a seal which you must break) together with a public key that you can use to verify the balance.

Bitcoin Mining

In practice, Bitcoin mining requires a large amount of processing power – so much so that mining is impractical for most individuals. However, it is possible to join a Bitcoin mining pool (or similar organization) to help spread the costs (and rewards). The prohibitive cost of Bitcoin mining is in part responsible for the current craze for mining alternative cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, which has a much lower entry point than mining for Bitcoins. Bitcoin mining is not the focus of this article, but if you are interested in the subject then there is an excellent article here. You may also be interested in our .

Other Cryptocurrencies

Since the release of Bitcoin in 2009, numerous other virtual cryptocurrencies have been developed. Many of these have features that offer distinct advantages over Bitcoin (including being more anonymous). None of these alternatives, however, have achieved anything near the popularity of Bitcoin. This limits their real-world usefulness when you want to buy things.

Bitcoin And Anonymity

There are two sides to the Bitcoin when it comes to anonymity. The first thing to stress is that Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. However, it can be made so (at least to a high degree). Please always bear in mind that 100% anonymity can never be guaranteed. Central to the concept of Bitcoin is the . This is basically a public ledger that records Bitcoin transactions. Transactions in the form payer X sends Y bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to the Bitcoin network for all the world to see. Thus, from this perspective, Bitcoin is much less anonymous than, say, good old cash. As Sergio Lerner, CEO of Argentinian company Certimix, notes, It is possible to purchase Bitcoins and hold a Bitcoin address without revealing your true identity. This only provides a form of pseudonymity, though. Interested parties can use advanced data analysis techniques to look for patterns to de-anonymize users. Such wide-scale and sophisticated data analysis is Google and Facebook’s entire business model. However…  You can use Bitcoin mixing techniques to further confuse who did what with Bitcoins. By randomly switching the ownership of Bitcoins, such techniques make de-anonymization via data analysis very hard to achieve. If you purchase and hold them without revealing your identity, and then properly mix them, Bitcoins canafford a high level of anonymity when performing transactions. I discuss ways to mix Bitcoins later in this guide. To more fully understand how Bitcoin and the blockchain works, The ultimate, 3500-word, plain English guide to blockchain by Mohit Mamoria is a fantastic introduction, as is our own Blockchain Explained guide.

The Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork

Because nothing is ever easy, on 1 August 2017 Bitcoin split into two derivative currencies: Bitcoin Classic (BTC or XBT) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH or BCC). This split is known as the Bitcoin Cash hard fork and the reasons are highly technical.

Bitcoin Classic Vs. Bitcoin Cash

If you had any Bitcoin in your wallet and have possession of the private keys, then you are now also entitled to claim an equal number of Bitcoin Cash coins. Thus, if on 1 August 2017 you had a wallet with one Bitcoin in it, you still have that Bitcoin and can nw also claim one Bitcoin Cash coin (BCH). If you are just starting with Bitcoins, then you’ll need to decide between purchasing Bitcoin Classic or Bitcoin Cash. Some points to bear in mind are:
  • Bitcoin Classic is much better established and far more vendors accept it as a form of payment.
  • Most Bitcoin wallets and many exchanges don’t accept Bitcoin Cash.
  • However, Bitcoin Cash allows for more transactions per second. This translates to faster payments and lower fees.
  • 1,500 more blocks were mined on the Bitcoin Cash chain than on the original one.
  • The market price for Bitcoin Cash has fluctuated wildly over the last month, but in general it has seen steady growth.
As already noted, this article was written just one month after the hard fork. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops. For the purpose of this article, I will assume regular Bitcoin Classic is used. However, while there may be big differences between the currencies from an investment viewpoint (on which I am not qualified to comment), there is almost no difference in the front-end of how they are used. Indeed, they are based on the same code. As such, you can expect to see more Bitcoin Cash versions of existing Bitcoin software going forward, as tweaking code for the new currency is almost trivially easy. You can read the full article on BestVPN.com.
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Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is the bipolar of the trading world. The volatility is insane; you’ll see major swings from 12% to 300% in a single day! With movement like this, it can be hard for anyone, let alone a newcomer to the cryptocurrency exchange, to make heads or tails of the market. Good news is there are a lot of people doing research on this exact topic (like us!) who can help you figure out the best way to turn a profit when cryptocurrency trading. So, if you’re in the mood to make some money but can’t make sense of all the cryptomarket lingo, check out some of these cryptocurrency trading hacks (spoiler, there are hacks for novices and experienced traders, so skip the first few if this isn’t your first rodeo). Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #1: Start at the beginning If you’re a newbie to the world of cryptocurrency trading, then the first and most important hack you can hear about is to learn! Jumping in without knowing what you’re talking about is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. So, before you put your money where your mouth is, get educated. Understand the market, terms, and trends. Know what terms like falls, rises, volatility, and swing trading mean. Understand what blockchain is and how it helps. Learn the different trading strategies and when to use which. Dylan from Six-Figure Marketers Club put out one of the best beginner’s cryptocurrency trading strategy videos. It starts at the beginning and proceeds to walk you through all the basics you’ll need to start trading bitcoin. The best part of this video (and all his videos, really) is that he speaks English clearly! You’d be surprised how difficult it is to find a good cryptocurrency video tutorial by a native English-speaker, so Dylan’s stuff is really golden. What’s more, Dylan explains everything clearly, so you will really walk away from this video understanding the ABC’s of cryptocurrency trading. As they say, knowledge is power! Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #2: Only invest what you can afford to lose Ok, this one doesn’t seem like a pro tip, but if you’ve ever lost money in any investment platform, you know that sticking to this rule is key. Picture this: You invest a large sum of money, probably more than you can really afford, but it’s ok because your broker ensures you that this is a solid bet. Lo and behold, the market swings the other way, and you lose everything you’ve invested. You’re devastated, heartbroken, and what’s more, you’re broke. Now, what do you do? The smart investor walks away, but that’s not everyone. Too many people get the itch. I’ve come this far, I’ve invested so much. I can’t turn back now. So, they invest more and more and keep sinking in deeper and deeper. This is a dangerous game you don’t ever want to play, so make sure you don’t even start your game strategy this way. Set a certain amount of money you’re willing to invest, and make sure that is only money you can responsibly afford to lose. This way, if you lose it all, you’ll still be able to pay your bills, make rent, and take care of your regular obligations without feeling any pressure. If you make a profit, that’s great! Go ahead and invest some of that too. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #3: Use the right software/tool/trading platform Up there with knowing what you’re doing is knowing which platform to do it on. The right platform will give you the best advantages when trading cryptocurrencies. You’d be amazed at what a difference a convenient and smooth mobile app makes. Other features to look out for when scouting platforms include what type of security the exchange offers, the exchange, trade, and deposit-withdrawal fees charged. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #4: Using the MACD Indicator for buy and sell signs I think this is one of the best beginner’s strategies. MACD aka moving average convergence divergence scale is an indicator that follows the momentum of an asset based on the movement of two averages of the security’s price. It sounds much more complicated than it really is (and if you’ve never used it before, let B from Your Altcoins show you exactly how it’s done), but once you play around with it, you’ll see just how simple it is. Basically, following the MACD indicator will show you when is the best time to sell your investments (it can also show you when is a good time to enter or not enter into an investment). There are different settings like you can micromanage down to every five minutes or let it go for days, so play around with it to see which ones you like best and which are most successful for you. Toggle the different timeframes, how often it displays, etc. until you find the groove that works for you. Regardless of which settings you use, the MACD indicator will show you two lines, one showing rise and one showing fall. If you follow these two trends, you’ll be able to see clearly when to sell to make the most profit. Try it out, you’ll be amazed at how easy this one is. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #5: Use Momentum Momentum is a pretty simple concept: if things start going up, they keep going up. And when things start going down, they continue in that direction too. In general, the strategy works using this logic. Momentum says to buy a week after a currency experiences an upward trend (20% or more), and then sell a week or so later. Of course, this isn’t always the case (see the next few hacks for a solution to this strategy loophole), there are plenty of times that assets will keep climbing and you’ll kick yourself for having sold, but at least you’ll make some profit off of the currency using this strategy. Plus, you’ll be really happy if the asset drops suddenly since you won’t have lost everything in one fell swoop. I thought this was a great video for clarifying momentum. It’s only 15 minutes, but it explains the strategy pretty clearly. What’s more, this video is solidly backed by real research done by Yale University studies and findings. So, the information is really something you can take to the bank. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #6: Take profits… One of the biggest mistakes that investors can make is not taking profits when they see a rise. It’s natural for you to want to hold out for a bigger gain, and that’s fine. But with such a volatile market and such rapidly moving changes, it’s just a bad idea to keep everything in for the big payout. If you want to see just how far you can ride the gravy train, by all means, go for it. Just do yourself a favor and take your profits out first. If you’ve invested $1,000 and you see a rise, and your investment is now worth $1,200, take that $200 gain as your profit. Then if you want to leave the initial $1,000, you haven’t lost anything more than what you originally knew you could lose anyway. Either way, you’re still up $200! Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #7: …But don’t take out everything Ok, so you want to make sure you take out your profit before the asset loses its value, BUT you don’t want to take out everything, and that’s the next cryptocurrency trading hack. Basically, you want to take out your profit and leave the rest. Why? Because when an asset goes up in value, it’s the time to make your profit. Yay! But there are so many times when a currency rises…and then continues to rise for quite some time. If you sold early on, you’ll be kicking yourself for months or even years that you didn’t hold out for a bigger slice of the pie. This CryptoLand video explains this concept really well, so if you want to learn more about it, check it out. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #8: Use MTP Properly Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) basically posits that you set aside a certain amount of money that you are willing to invest (i.e., lose) and buy an assortment of assets consistently regardless of the price. The reason this works is because the assets aren’t directly correlated, so you aren’t going to feel the pressure of all your assets moving in the same direction at one time. A good spread of assets could yield an excellent return over time. The real hack here is to use MPT properly. That means diversifying your assets across markets, not just sticking to cryptomarkets. Why? Because all cryptocurrencies are too highly correlated right now to be considered varied enough to protect you against the risks. Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #9: Breakouts Breakouts are one of the most popular investment strategies (whether you’re buying low or selling high), and here’s a quick video that’ll tell you everything you need to know about it. Chris just has a personable air to him, but more importantly, he tells you all the right information in simple terms that anyone can understand. Plus, Chris actually makes trading sound like fun, so check it out! Cryptocurrency Trading Hack #10: Make sure you’re secure This last one also seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people operate in this mode (scared face emoji!) Cryptocurrency trading is somewhat of a wild wild west of exchanges, and that means there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of you. There are plenty of built-in security features, but you’ve got to do your part to keep yourself and your investments safe too. When trading, make sure:
  • You have two-step authentication enabled
  • You’ve read up and are aware of phishing and email scams
  • You keep your cryptocurrency keys available (you forget your passwords, you’re screwed!)
With these ten hacks in hand, you can make a profit and really have some fun with this 21st-century investment trading opportunity. Go for it! This article was originally published at YouTubetoMP3Shark.
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Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrency
 
You might be somewhat familiar with the idea of blockchains, or you might have only heard of the phrase in passing (or you might not have any idea what a blockchain is but thought the article title sounded more interesting than the topic currently being discussed in the meeting your supervisor is making you sit through…). Either way, there are still a lot of questions that you probably have. What is a blockchain? How does a blockchain actually work? Are blockchains really as secure as they claim to be? Can you invest in blockchain itself? What is the advantage of blockchain? Maybe you’re getting more involved and want to delve deeper into the exciting and fascinating world of blockchains. In that case, your questions might be more advanced like: What programming language is used for blockchains? Is blockchain open source? Is blockchain hackable? Are there other use cases for blockchain beyond bitcoin storage? Will blockchain change the world? No matter what your string of queries, the best place to find the answers is always the internet. There are thousands and thousands of videos out there explaining the definition, uses, and inner workings of the blockchain. I know what you’re thinking. Great! Let’s sift through thousands of videos to find the ones that actually make sense, answer your questions, and give over the information you want in an appealing manner. If that doesn’t sound as much fun as a barrel of monkeys (why would a barrel of monkeys be fun anyway?!), then you’re in luck. Since we know how interested our readers are in the topic, we’ve aggregated the best videos from across the web that talk about blockchains. From the straight-up definition to the more advanced jargon that most of us will never really understand, check out the 5 most useful blockchain videos out there to help you get started down the path of blockchain wisdom. Great Blockchain Video #1: What is blockchain? CNBC Explains by Tom Chitty And here’s why: It gives you all the important information you want to know, starts from the beginning, and explains the entire concept well There are a lot of blockchain for beginners videos. You’ll recognize them by the names like, what is a blockchain, blockchain explained, or blockchain for beginners. The truth is, though, that most of these videos take a lot for granted, assume you know more than you actually do about the topic, or don’t really explain the concept in a practical way. And that’s why this CNBC exclusive done by Tom Chitty is our first recommendation for anyone who is just starting out on the learning journey to blockchain technology. If you can understand the accent and overlook the poor wardrobe choices, then you can actually learn a ton from this explanation video. Chitty goes through the ABCs of blockchains, showing the negatives alongside the positive uses for blockchains. He also shows you exactly how it works, why it is so secure, and what future applications might be possible for this technology. The CNBC video also takes you through the benefits and possible financial ramifications that are involved in embracing this technology. All in all, Chitty does a great job of explaining a complex topic and gives you a lot of food for thought. Great Blockchain Video #2: New Kids on the Blockchain by Lorne Lantz And here’s why: Practical ways people are currently putting blockchain to good use and how they will even more so in the future Aside from the fact that this is a TED talk, which automatically makes it amazing, Lorne Lantz explains exactly how blockchain works quickly and eloquently. He then moves on to break down how blockchain works within the bitcoin universe, something that most people are curious about. Finally, Lantz illustrates how blockchain can be used in other instances. This is not only fascinating, but it is a great way to educate the public about how this brilliant technology can be utilized in the future and within our day-to-day interactions. Great Blockchain Video #3: Understand the blockchain in two minutes by Institute for the Future (IFTF) And here’s why: It’s fast and easy to watch but surprisingly thorough for a two-minute video We all want to know more about various topics like cybersecurity, the effect of drug and alcohol combinations, or depression and prevention. But let’s face it, we’re lazy! And what’s more, our attention spans are shorter than Michael Jordan’s laughable attempt at becoming a baseball star. For this reason, I am highlighting this video from IFTF. The Institute for the Future does snapshots of interesting topics, trending concepts, and technological advancements that they deem worthy of a closer look. This video on blockchain is just two minutes long, but somehow it manages to explain everything you really need for a cursory understanding of the topic (and even a little more). So, if you’re already antsy just from reading this intro, check out the IFTF blockchain video (you can watch it double speed if you’re that strapped for time!). Great Blockchain Video #4: How the blockchain will radically transform the economy by Bettina Warburg And here’s why: Food for thought on a more advanced technology that is offering a safer and more reliable forum for value exchange Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist, a budding financial mogul, or just someone who thinks it’s really cool to see entire empires brought to their knees by the unlikely underdog (think David and Goliath or Spartans against the Persians), this is a must watch video. Bettina Warburg explains briefly how throughout history we have used various methods to exchange values within our societies. From protection to fish and coins and now to the more advanced banks and digital currencies, the world has always had its way of trading valuables for desired goods. In this video (yep, another TED talk), Warburg takes us through the process of how blockchain is the next chain in the evolution of value exchange. She expertly breaks it down, so you can see how this makes sense on a sociological, economic, and technological level. What’s more, she demonstrates how blockchain is the safest, easiest, and most reliable method we have come up with yet. So basically, Warburg’s video shows viewers how blockchain is like a solid, unbreakable safe, which makes it more trustworthy and evergreen than any other transaction method that came before it. I don’t want to spoil the video for you, so just watch it for yourself. Great Blockchain Video #5: Blockchain: Massively Simplified Richie Etwaru And here’s why: A fabulous twist This video starts off seemingly like all other beginner’s guides to blockchain. It talks about the early days of the internet (those dark times of dial-up modems and even earlier ARPAnet packet switching technologies) and quickly fast forwards to show you how kickass technology has become (as if we needed a video to tell us that). All very interesting stuff, but nothing new. And then Etwaru does something that nobody else we’ve seen so far attempt. He takes blockchain and explains how it can bridge a gap that no other technology has been able to traverse, a gap that is so fundamental to human interactions and our society as a whole that it’s truly a marvel that we’ve gotten this far in history without having a more reliable failsafe for it. In this video, Etwaru explains that inventions are all about bridging gaps in our society, world, and lives. He then continues on illustrating how blockchain bridges the gap of trust, one of the most core and necessary element of our society, one that holds trillions of dollars on its wobbly shoulders. With his mesmerizing voice, witty personality, and mind-blowing revelation, Etwaru really blows the top off of this simplified concept. And that’s what makes his video on blockchain really stand out. Blockchain Explained, Expanded, and Explored So, there you have it. Sure, you could sit there for hours and hours watching video after video, sifting through the crap and suffering through the clunky terminology, but why bother? We’ve rounded up the cream of the crop, the best videos out there, the ones that’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck. In fact, if you just watch these five videos, you’ll: • Know all the basic information about what blockchain is, how it works, and what it’s used for • Be able to hold your own in a conversation that is arguing the different sides of blockchain • Have some interesting ideas to help stir up controversy when everyone’s talking about this technology at the office water cooler, at your next family barbecue, or this Thursday night at the bar • Just generally sound like a smartass because you know more about an interesting topic than almost anyone else in the room Of course, if you are a real newbie to the blockchain concept, then here’s some quick information to warm you up to the subject and to ensure you don’t sound like a complete idiot the next time the subject comes up. • Blockchain is an online database that can be accessed by anyone and from anywhere in the world (provided you have an internet connection) • Blockchain is decentralized, which means its ledger is shared on every computer around the world, so it has no single central location • Blockchain can be added to by anyone, but once a record (or block of information) is created, it cannot be tampered with, changed, or deleted • Bitcoin is NOT the only use case for blockchain technology. In fact, it’s just the beginning baby! From banking to cybersecurity, crowdfunding, Internet of Things, and healthcare, blockchain has so many real-life applications. Now that you’ve got all this information in your head, knowledge is power. So, get out there and do the best thing anyone can do with a boatload of interesting information; flaunt it in front of your friends. This article was originally published at YouTubetoMP3Shark.
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