The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin | WIRED

In November 1, 2008, a man named Satoshi Nakamoto posted a research paper to an obscure cryptography listserv describing his design for a new digital currency that he called bitcoin. None of the lists veterans had heard of him, and what little information could be gleaned was murky and contradictory. In an online profile, he said he lived in Japan. His email address was from a free German service. Google searches for his name turned up no relevant information; it was clearly a pseudonym. But while Nakamoto himself may have been a puzzle, his creation cracked a problem that had stumped cryptographers for decades. The idea of digital moneyconvenient and untraceable, liberated from the oversight of governments and bankshad been a hot topic since the birth of the Internet. Cypherpunks, the 1990s movement of libertarian cryptographers, dedicated themselves to the project. Yet every effort to create virtual cash had foundered. Ecash, an anonymous system launched in the early 1990s by cryptographer David Chaum, failed in part because it depended on the existing infrastructures of government and credit card companies. Other proposals followedbit gold, RPOW, b-moneybut none got off the ground.

One of the core challenges of designing a digital currency involves something called the double-spending problem. If a digital dollar is just information, free from the corporeal strictures of paper and metal, whats to prevent people from copying and pasting it as easily as a chunk of text, spending it as many times as they want? The conventional answer involved using a central clearinghouse to keep a real-time ledger of all transactionsensuring that, if someone spends his last digital dollar, he cant then spend it again. The ledger prevents fraud, but it also requires a trusted third party to administer it.

Bitcoin did away with the third party by publicly distributing the ledger, what Nakamoto called the block chain. Users willing to devote CPU power to running a special piece of software would be called miners and would form a network to maintain the block chain collectively. In the process, they would also generate new currency. Transactions would be broadcast to the network, and computers running the software would compete to solve irreversible cryptographic puzzles that contain data from several transactions. The first miner to solve each puzzle would be awarded 50 new bitcoins, and the associated block of transactions would be added to the chain. The difficulty of each puzzle would increase as the number of miners increased, which would keep production to one block of transactions roughly every 10 minutes. In addition, the size of each block bounty would halve every 210,000 blocksfirst from 50 bitcoins to 25, then from 25 to 12.5, and so on. Around the year 2140, the currency would reach its preordained limit of 21 million bitcoins.

When Nakamotos paper came out in 2008, trust in the ability of governments and banks to manage the economy and the money supply was at its nadir. The US government was throwing dollars at Wall Street and the Detroit car companies. The Federal Reserve was introducing quantitative easing, essentially printing money in order to stimulate the economy. The price of gold was rising. Bitcoin required no faith in the politicians or financiers who had wrecked the economyjust in Nakamotos elegant algorithms. Not only did bitcoins public ledger seem to protect against fraud, but the predetermined release of the digital currency kept the bitcoin money supply growing at a predictable rate, immune to printing-press-happy central bankers and Weimar Republic-style hyperinflation.

Nakamoto himself mined the first 50 bitcoinswhich came to be called the genesis blockon January 3, 2009. For a year or so, his creation remained the province of a tiny group of early adopters. But slowly, word of bitcoin spread beyond the insular world of cryptography. It has won accolades from some of digital currencys greatest minds. Wei Dai, inventor of b-money, calls it very significant; Nick Szabo, who created bit gold, hails bitcoin as a great contribution to the world; and Hal Finney, the eminent cryptographer behind RPOW, says its potentially world-changing. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for digital privacy, eventually started accepting donations in the alternative currency.

The small band of early bitcoiners all shared the communitarian spirit of an open source software project. Gavin Andresen, a coder in New England, bought 10,000 bitcoins for $50 and created a site called the Bitcoin Faucet, where he gave them away for the hell of it. Laszlo Hanyecz, a Florida programmer, conducted what bitcoiners think of as the first real-world bitcoin transaction, paying 10,000 bitcoins to get two pizzas delivered from Papa Johns. (He sent the bitcoins to a volunteer in England, who then called in a credit card order transatlantically.) A farmer in Massachusetts named David Forster began accepting bitcoins as payment for alpaca socks.

When they werent busy mining, the faithful tried to solve the mystery of the man they called simply Satoshi. On a bitcoin IRC channel, someone noted portentously that in Japanese Satoshi means wise. Someone else wondered whether the name might be a sly portmanteau of four tech companies: SAmsung, TOSHIba, NAKAmichi, and MOTOrola. It seemed doubtful that Nakamoto was even Japanese. His English had the flawless, idiomatic ring of a native speaker.

Perhaps, it was suggested, Nakamoto wasnt one man but a mysterious group with an inscrutable purposea team at Google, maybe, or the National Security Agency. I exchanged some emails with whoever Satoshi supposedly is, says Hanyecz, who was on bitcoins core developer team for a time. I always got the impression it almost wasnt a real person. Id get replies maybe every two weeks, as if someone would check it once in a while. Bitcoin seems awfully well designed for one person to crank out.

Nakamoto revealed little about himself, limiting his online utterances to technical discussion of his source code. On December 5, 2010, after bitcoiners started to call for Wikileaks to accept bitcoin donations, the normally terse and all-business Nakamoto weighed in with uncharacteristic vehemence. No, dont bring it on,’ he wrote in a post to the bitcoin forum. The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to Wikileaks not to try to use bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.

Then, as unexpectedly as he had appeared, Nakamoto vanished. At 6:22 pm GMT on December 12, seven days after his Wikileaks plea, Nakamoto posted his final message to the bitcoin forum, concerning some minutiae in the latest version of the software. His email responses became more erratic, then stopped altogether. Andresen, who had taken over the role of lead developer, was now apparently one of just a few people with whom he was still communicating. On April 26, Andresen told fellow coders: Satoshi did suggest this morning that I (we) should try to de-emphasize the whole mysterious founder thing when talking publicly about bitcoin. Then Nakamoto stopped replying even to Andresens emails. Bitcoiners wondered plaintively why he had left them. But by then his creation had taken on a life of its own.

Bitcoins economy consists of a network of its users computers. At preset intervals, an algorithm releases new bitcoins into the network: 50 every 10 minutes, with the pace halving in increments until around 2140. The automated pace is meant to ensure regular growth of the monetary supply without interference by third parties, like a central bank, which can lead to hyperinflation.

To prevent fraud, the bitcoin software maintains a pseudonymous public ledger of every transaction. Some bitcoiners computers validate transactions by cracking cryptographic puzzles, and the first to solve each puzzle receives 50 new bitcoins. Bitcoins can be stored in a variety of placesfrom a wallet on a desktop computer to a centralized service in the cloud.

Once users download the bitcoin app to their machine, spending the currency is as easy as sending an email. The range of merchants that accept it is small but growing; look for the telltale symbol at the cash register. And entrepreneurial bitcoiners are working to make it much easier to use the currency, building everything from point-of-service machines to PayPal alternatives.

Illustrations: Martin Venezky

Bitcoin enthusiasts are almost evangelists, Bruce Wagner says. They see the beauty of the technology. Its a huge movement. Its almost like a religion. On the forum, youll see the spirit. Its not just me, me, me. Its whats for the betterment of bitcoin.

Its a July morning. Wagner, whose boyish energy and Pantone-black hair belie his 50 years, is sitting in his office at OnlyOneTV, an Internet television startup in Manhattan. Over just a few months, he has become bitcoins chief proselytizer. He hosts The Bitcoin Show, a program on OnlyOneTV in which he plugs the nascent currency and interviews notables from the bitcoin world. He also runs a bitcoin meetup group and is gearing up to host bitcoins first world conference in August. I got obsessed and didnt eat or sleep for five days, he says, recalling the moment he discovered bitcoin. It was bitcoin, bitcoin, bitcoin, like I was on crystal meth!

Wagner is not given to understatement. While bitcoin is the most exciting technology since the Internet, he says, eBay is a giant bloodsucking corporation and free speech a popular myth. He is similarly excitable when predicting the future of bitcoin. I knew it wasnt a stock and wouldnt go up and down, he explains. This was something that was going to go up, up, up.

For a while, he was right. Through 2009 and early 2010, bitcoins had no value at all, and for the first six months after they started trading in April 2010, the value of one bitcoin stayed below 14 cents. Then, as the currency gained viral traction in summer 2010, rising demand for a limited supply caused the price on online exchanges to start moving. By early November, it surged to 36 cents before settling down to around 29 cents. In February 2011, it rose again and was mentioned on Slashdot for achieving dollar parity; it hit $1.06 before settling in at roughly 87 cents.

In the spring, catalyzed in part by a much-linked Forbes story on the new crypto currency, the price exploded. From early April to the end of May, the going rate for a bitcoin rose from 86 cents to $8.89. Then, after Gawker published a story on June 1 about the currencys popularity among online drug dealers, it more than tripled in a week, soaring to about $27. The market value of all bitcoins in circulation was approaching $130 million. A Tennessean dubbed KnightMB, who held 371,000 bitcoins, became worth more than $10 million, the richest man in the bitcoin realm. The value of those 10,000 bitcoins Hanyecz used to buy pizza had risen to $272,329. I dont feel bad about it, he says. The pizza was really good.

Perhaps bitcoins creator wasnt one man but a mysterious groupa team at Google, maybe, or the NSA.

Bitcoin was drawing the kind of attention normally reserved for overhyped Silicon Valley IPOs and Apple product launches. On his Internet talk show, journo-entrepreneur Jason Calacanis called it a fundamental shift and one of the most interesting things Ive seen in 20 years in the technology business. Prominent venture capitalist Fred Wilson heralded societal upheaval as the Next Big Thing on the Internet, and the four examples he gave were Wikileaks, PlayStation hacking, the Arab Spring, and bitcoin. Andresen, the coder, accepted an invitation from the CIA to come to Langley, Virginia, to speak about the currency. Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party (whose central policy plank includes the abolition of the patent system), announced that he was putting his life savings into bitcoins.

The future of bitcoin seemed to shimmer with possibility. Mark Suppes, an inventor building a fusion reactor in a Brooklyn loft from eBay-sourced parts, got an old ATM and began retrofitting it to dispense cash for bitcoins. On the so-called secret Internet (the invisible grid of sites reachable by computers using Tor anonymizing software), the black-and-gray-market site Silk Road anointed the bitcoin the coin of the realm; you could use bitcoins to buy everything from Purple Haze pot to Fentanyl lollipops to a kit for converting a rifle into a machine gun. A young bitcoiner, The Real Plato, brought On the Road into the new millennium by video-blogging a cross-country car trip during which he spent only bitcoins. Numismatic enthusiasts among the currencys faithful began dreaming of collectible bitcoins, wondering what price such rarities as the genesis block might fetch.

As the price rose and mining became more popular, the increased competition meant decreasing profits. An arms race commenced. Miners looking for horsepower supplemented their computers with more powerful graphics cards, until they became nearly impossible to find. Where the first miners had used their existing machines, the new wave, looking to mine bitcoins 24 hours a day, bought racks of cheap computers with high-speed GPUs cooled by noisy fans. The boom gave rise to mining-rig porn, as miners posted photos of their setups. As in any gold rush, people recounted tales of uncertain veracity. An Alaskan named Darrin reported that a bear had broken into his garage but thankfully ignored his rig. Another miners electric bill ran so high, it was said, that police raided his house, suspecting that he was growing pot.

Amid the euphoria, there were troubling signs. Bitcoin had begun in the public-interested spirit of open source peer-to-peer software and libertarian political philosophy, with references to the Austrian school of economics. But real money was at stake now, and the dramatic price rise had attracted a different element, people who saw the bitcoin as a commodity in which to speculate. At the same time, media attention was bringing exactly the kind of heat that Nakamoto had feared. US senator Charles Schumer held a press conference, appealing to the DEA and Justice Department to shut down Silk Road, which he called the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen and describing bitcoin as an online form of money-laundering.

Meanwhile, a cult of Satoshi was developing. Someone started selling I AM SATOSHI NAKAMOTO T-shirts. Disciples lobbied to name the smallest fractional denomination of a bitcoin a satoshi. There was Satoshi-themed fan fiction and manga art. And bitcoiners continued to ponder his mystery. Some speculated that he had died. A few postulated that he was actually Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Many more were convinced that he was Gavin Andresen. Still others believed that he must be one of the older crypto-currency advocatesFinney or Szabo or Dai. Szabo himself suggested it could be Finney or Dai. Stefan Thomas, a Swiss coder and active community member, graphed the time stamps for each of Nakamotos 500-plus bitcoin forum posts; the resulting chart showed a steep decline to almost no posts between the hours of 5 am and 11 am Greenwich Mean Time. Because this pattern held true even on Saturdays and Sundays, it suggested that the lull was occurring when Nakamoto was asleep, rather than at work. (The hours of 5 am to 11 am GMT are midnight to 6 am Eastern Standard Time.) Other clues suggested that Nakamoto was British: A newspaper headline he had encoded in the genesis block came from the UK-published Times of London, and both his forum posts and his comments in the bitcoin source code used such Brit spellings as optimise and colour.

Key moments in the short and volatilelife of bitcoin.

Even the purest technology has to live in an impure world. Both the code and the idea of bitcoin may have been impregnable, but bitcoins themselvesunique strings of numbers that constitute units of the currencyare discrete pieces of information that have to be stored somewhere. By default, bitcoin kept users currency in a digital wallet on their desktop, and when bitcoins were worth very little, easy to mine, and possessed only by techies, that was sufficient. But once they started to become valuable, a PC felt inadequate. Some users protected their bitcoins by creating multiple backups, encrypting and storing them on thumb drives, on forensically scrubbed virgin computers without Internet connections, in the cloud, and on printouts stored in safe-deposit boxes. But even some sophisticated early adopters had trouble keeping their bitcoins safe. Stefan Thomas had three copies of his wallet yet inadvertently managed to erase two of them and lose his password for the third. In a stroke, he lost about 7,000 bitcoins, at the time worth about $140,000. I spent a week trying to recover it, he says. It was pretty painful. Most people who have cash to protect put it in a bank, an institution about which the more zealous bitcoiners were deeply leery. Instead, for this new currency, a primitive and unregulated financial-services industry began to develop. Fly-by-night online wallet services promised to safeguard clients digital assets. Exchanges allowed anyone to trade bitcoins for dollars or other currencies. Bitcoin itself might have been decentralized, but users were now blindly entrusting increasing amounts of currency to third parties that even the most radical libertarian would be hard-pressed to claim were more secure than federally insured institutions. Most were Internet storefronts, run by who knows who from who knows where.

Sure enough, as the price headed upward, disturbing events began to bedevil the bitcoiners. In mid-June, someone calling himself Allinvain reported that 25,000 bitcoins worth more than $500,000 had been stolen from his computer. (To this day, nobody knows whether this claim is true.) About a week later, a hacker pulled off an ingenious attack on a Tokyo-based exchange site called Mt. Gox, which handled 90 percent of all bitcoin exchange transactions. Mt. Gox restricted account withdrawals to $1,000 worth of bitcoins per day (at the time of the attack, roughly 35 bitcoins). After he broke into Mt. Goxs system, the hacker simulated a massive sell-off, driving the exchange rate to zero and letting him withdraw potentially tens of thousands of other peoples bitcoins.

As it happened, market forces conspired to thwart the scheme. The price plummeted, but as speculators flocked to take advantage of the fire sale, they quickly drove it back up, limiting the thiefs haul to only around 2,000 bitcoins. The exchange ceased operations for a week and rolled back the postcrash transactions, but the damage had been done; the bitcoin never got back above $17. Within a month, Mt. Gox had lost 10 percent of its market share to a Chile-based upstart named TradeHill. Most significantly, the incident had shaken the confidence of the community and inspired loads of bad press.

In the publics imagination, overnight the bitcoin went from being the currency of tomorrow to a dystopian joke. The Electronic Frontier Foundation quietly stopped accepting bitcoin donations. Two Irish scholars specializing in network analysis demonstrated that bitcoin wasnt nearly as anonymous as many had assumed: They were able to identify the handles of a number of people who had donated bitcoins to Wikileaks. (The organization announced in June 2011 that it was accepting such donations.) Nontechnical newcomers to the currency, expecting it to be easy to use, were disappointed to find that an extraordinary amount of effort was required to obtain, hold, and spend bitcoins. For a time, one of the easier ways to buy them was to first use Paypal to buy Linden dollars, the virtual currency in Second Life, then trade them within that make-believe universe for bitcoins. As the tone of media coverage shifted from gee-whiz to skeptical, attention that had once been thrilling became a source of resentment.

More disasters followed. Poland-based Bitomat, the third-largest exchange, revealed that it hadoopsaccidentally overwritten its entire wallet. Security researchers detected a proliferation of viruses aimed at bitcoin users: Some were designed to steal wallets full of existing bitcoins; others commandeered processing power to mine fresh coins. By summer, the oldest wallet service, MyBitcoin, stopped responding to emails. It had always been fishyregistered in the West Indies and run by someone named Tom Williams, who never posted in the forums. But after a month of unbroken silence, Wagner, the New York City bitcoin evangelist, finally stated what many had already been thinking: Whoever was running MyBitcoin had apparently gone AWOL with everyones money. Wagner himself revealed that he had been keeping all 25,000 or so of his bitcoins on MyBitcoin and had recommended to friends and relatives that they use it, too. He also aided a vigilante effort that publicly named several suspects. MyBitcoins supposed owner resurfaced, claiming his site had been hacked. Then Wagner became the target of a countercampaign that publicized a successful lawsuit against him for mortgage fraud, costing him much of his reputation within the community. People have the mistaken impression that virtual currency means you can trust a random person over the Internet, says Jeff Garzik, a member of bitcoins core developer group.

And nobody had been as trusted as Nakamoto himself, who remained mysteriously silent as the world he created threatened to implode. Some bitcoiners began to suspect that he was working for the CIA or Federal Reserve. Others worried that bitcoin had been a Ponzi scheme, with Nakamoto its Bernie Madoffmining bitcoins when they were worthless, then waiting for their value to rise. The most dedicated bitcoin loyalists maintained their faith, not just in Nakamoto, but in the system he had built. And yet, unmistakably, beneath the paranoia and infighting lurked something more vulnerable, an almost theodical disappointment. What bitcoiners really seemed to be asking was, why had Nakamoto created this world only to abandon it?

If Nakamoto has forsaken his adherents, though, they are not prepared to let his creation die. Even as the currencys value has continued to drop, they are still investing in the fragile economy. Wagner has advocated for it to be used by people involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. While the gold-rush phase of mining has ended, with some miners dumping their souped-up mining rigsPeople are getting sick of the high electric bills, the heat, and the loud fans, Garzik saysthe more serious members of the community have turned to infrastructure. Mt. Gox is developing point-of-sale hardware. Other entrepreneurs are working on PayPal-like online merchant services. Two guys in Colorado have launched BitcoinDeals, an etailer offering over 1,000,000 items. The underworlds use of the bitcoin has matured, too: Silk Road is now just one of many Tor-enabled back alleys, including sites like Black Market Reloaded, where self-proclaimed hit men peddle contract killings and assassinations.

You could say its following Gartners Hype Cycle, London-based core developer Amir Taaki says, referring to a theoretical technology-adoption-and-maturation curve that begins with a technology trigger, ascends to a peak of inflated expectations, collapses into a trough of disillusionment, and then climbs a slope of enlightenment until reaching a plateau of productivity. By this theory, bitcoin is clambering out of the trough, as people learn to value the infallible code and discard the human drama and wild fluctuations that surround it.

But that distinction is ultimately irrelevant. The underlying vulnerabilities that led to bitcoins troublesits dependence on unregulated, centralized exchanges and online walletspersist. Indeed, the bulk of mining is now concentrated in a handful of huge mining pools, which theoretically could hijack the entire network if they worked in concert.

Beyond the most hardcore users, skepticism has only increased. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote that the currencys tendency to fluctuate has encouraged hoarding. Stefan Brands, a former ecash consultant and digital currency pioneer, calls bitcoin clever and is loath to bash it but believes its fundamentally structured like a pyramid scheme that rewards early adopters. I think the big problems are ultimately the trust issues, he says. Theres nothing there to back it up. I know the counterargument, that thats true of fiat money, too, but thats completely wrong. Theres a whole trust fabric thats been established through legal mechanisms.

It would be interesting to know what Nakamoto thinks of all this, but hes not talking. He didnt respond to emails, and the people who might know who he is say they dont. Andresen flatly denies he is Nakamoto. I dont know his real name, he says. Im hoping one day he decides not to be anonymous anymore, but I expect not. Szabo also denies that he is Nakamoto, and so does Dai. Finney, who has blogged eloquently about being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sent his denial in an email: Under my current circumstances, facing limited life expectancy, I would have little to lose by shedding anonymity. But it was not I. Both The New Yorker and Fast Company have launched investigations but ended up with little more than speculation.

The signal in the noise, the figure that emerges from the carpet of clues, suggests an academic with somewhat outdated programming training. (Nakamotos style of notation was popular in the late 80s and early 90s, Taaki notes. Maybe hes around 50, plus or minus 10 years.) Some conjecturers are confident in their precision. He has at best a masters, says a digital-currency expert. It seems quite obvious its one of the developers. Maybe Gavin, just looking at his background.

I suspect Satoshi is a small team at a financial institution, whitehat hacker Dan Kaminsky says. I just get that feeling. Hes a quant who may have worked with some of his friends.

But Garzik, the developer, says that the most dedicated bitcoiners have stopped trying to hunt down Nakamoto. We really dont care, he says. Its not the individuals behind the code who matter, but the code itself. And while people have stolen and cheated and abandoned the bitcoiners, the code has remained true.

Benjamin Wallace ( wrote about scareware in issue 19.10.

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The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin | WIRED

The Science Behind Cryptocurrencies Cryptography

In this guide, we will be going deep into symmetric and asymmetric cryptography and the science behind cryptocurrencies cryptography.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum use a peer-to-peer decentralized system to conduct transactions. Since the entire process is online, there are fears that the transactions maybe volatile and hackable. What we are going to see in this guide is how cryptocurrency uses cryptography to make their transactions extremely secure.

Digital Signatures

One of the most important cryptographical tools that are used in cryptocurrency is the concept of signatures. What is a signature in real life and what are its properties? Imagine a paper that you have signed with your signature, what should a good signature do?

In the real world, however, no matter how intricate the signature, there are always chances of forgery, and you cannot really verify signatures using simple visual aids, it is very inefficient and non-reliable.

Cryptography gives us a solution to this by means of digital signatures which is done via the use of keys. So, what are keys? And how are the used in the blockchain? Before we explore those, it is important to know more about basic cryptography.

Cryptography is a method of using advanced mathematical principles in storing and transmitting data in a particular form so that only those, for whom it is intended for, can read and process it. Cryptography has been used for thousands and thousands of years by people to relay messages without detection. In fact, the earliest use of cryptography was seen in the tomb taken from Old Kingdom in Egypt circa 1900 BCE. Cryptography has existed in the modern society through one way or another.

Encryption is one of the most critical tools used in cryptography. It is a means by which a message can be made unreadable for an unintended reader and can be read only by the sender and the recipient. In modern technology, there are three forms of encryption that are widely used, symmetric cryptography, asymmetric cryptography, and hashing.

Symmetric Cryptography

Symmetric cryptography is the earliest known cryptographic method known to man. The concept is very simple and if we were to break it down to steps, this is what it will look like:

If we were to show a visual representation of the process, this is what it will look like.

Image credit: SSL2BUY

The are two types of symmetric cryptography:

Stream cipher basically means using a fixed key which replaces the message with a pseudorandom string of characters. It is basically the encryption of each letter one at a time.

We are going to discuss 3 kinds of stream ciphers in this guide to give you an idea of how stream ciphers work:

One-time pad with alphabets

For doing this encryption we need to have a key which has the same number of characters as the message and it must be used one time only (hence the term one-time pad).

Suppose for this example we are going to send a message, MEET ME OUTSIDE to our friend Bob. But we dont want anyone intercepting our message. This is why, Bob and us have decided to use a one-time pad which goes like this:


As you can see, the pad has the same number of characters as the message as well, i.e. 13.

Now, this is a very simple example of the one-time pad, we are using this because we feel it is the best example to use to understand this tactic.

Now, one more thing you need take note of, every alphabet will be replaced by its numeric equivalent in during the process.

The numerical mapping goes like this:

During the process, there will be 6 pieces of data that we need which are: Basically, the numerical equivalent of each alphabet. Ok, now that we have built the foundations, lets move on to the actual process.

So, we need to send the message MEET ME OUTSIDE and we need to use the one-time pad to encrypt it.

The encryption process

So, lets start off by putting in the message in the OM

We put the message MEET ME OUTSIDE in the OM row.Ok, so what happened here?

Next, we used the numerical mapping table to get the numerical equivalent of each alphabet. So, lets refer to the mapping table and see what we get:

In the OTP row we put in the key that we were already given which is, in case you have forgotten, B D U F G H W E I U F G W.Its just simple substitution, we will take these values and put it in NOM row.

Now, in the NOTP row we used the same number mapping table and found the equivalent numerical values of the key which are:

1, 3, 20, 5, 6, 7, 22, 4, 8, 20, 5, 6, 22.

In the new row, for the Numerical cipher text (NCT) we add the NOTP and NOM and mod the result by 26 to get our NCT.

So, finally the message MEET ME OUTSIDE turns into a pseudo-random series of characters N H Y Y S L K Y B M N J A.Thats how you find the values for NCT and then you use the mapping table and find the corresponding alphabets which are: N H Y Y S L K Y B M N J A.

That is how the encryption process works.

Now we will see how we can decrypt the message using the exact same key.

Lets see the data that Bob has with him:

So, how will he decrypt the message using this data?

So, lets see how the NOM calculation work?

Now, if we map the NOM to its alphabetical equivalent using the mapping table then we get:


And just like that, the message is encrypted and decrypted using the same key.

One-time pad with XOR gate

XOR or Exclusive OR is a logic gate. What is a logic gate? A logic gate usually takes in 2 inputs and gives out 1 output. The inputs and outputs are binary values, meaning they can be 1 or 0. A XOR logic gate takes in 2 binary inputs and gives out a high output ONLY when the inputs are different. Meaning, if A and B are inputted to a XOR gate then the out C will be 1 ONLY when A is not equal to B.

The XOR gate looks like this:

Image courtesy: Wikimedia

This what the XOR truth table look like:

Suppose you have a plain text data which you want to send to your friend Alice. First, youll convert it to its binary form. Suppose the message that you have is this: 00011110

Now you have the key, the key that you share with your recipient and suppose you have passed the key through an algorithm which gives you the equivalent binary result: 01001010.

So now that you have the key, you are going to XOR each corresponding individual bits to get the resulting cipher text output.

Cipher Text = Plain Text XOR Key

So if you XOR both the data the key that you will get is:


This is the cipher text that Alice will get from you.

The decryption process

So now, how will Alice decrypt your message and retrieve the original one?

This is the data that she has:

So what is she going to do? It is simple.

She will simply XOR the key and the cipher text and she will retrieve the original message! See for yourself:

And just like that, she will retrieve the original message.

Linear feedback shift register

What is a linear feedback shift register? It is a function whose future output completely depends on its earlier (or current) state. This will become clearer as you keep reading so dont get scared off!

The idea of this style of a stream cipher is to predetermine a key with your recipient which will be a linear feedback shift register function which will be used by you to determine the code. Suppose you spoke to your friend Bob and determined that this is the formula that you both want to go with (credit to Daniel Rees from Youtube for this formula).

And lets also assume that prior to sending this message you and Bob determined that E(1) = 2 and E(2) = 4.

Now you can see that in this equation, all future outputs are dependent upon the previous outputs.

So, suppose the message that you want to send to Bob is MEET ME. Since there are 6 characters, we need to determine 6 values of E() to act as key. We already have predetermined the values of E(1) and E(2). Now we need to calculate E(3) to E(6).

So, now that we have the keys, lets start the decryption.

The encryption process

So now that we have the key and message, lets create the table:

To get the numerical cipher text, you add the key and the corresponding numerical value of the alphabet that you map from this table that we have already seen before:

Now, to get the numerical value of the cipher texts, add the key and the numerical value of the original message and mod with 26.

So you get:

Now use the mapping table again to find the corresponding alphabets and you get OIORSO. Thats the encrypted message.

The decryption of this message is really hard especially if you dont have the key. An expert might spot a pattern though. You will need computers to beak this code.

The Rivest Cipher 4 of the RC4

The A5/1

So, that is pretty much it about stream ciphers, time to move on to block ciphers.

Block ciphers are a form of symmetric cryptography which uses a key of a fixed length to encrypt a block of fix length. Lets start by checking out a very common substitution cipher that you must have seen before:

So, if someone were to tell you that they got a message which says EFBD and wants you to decrypt it and get the original message instead, how will you do it?

You will simply see the table, see which alphabets correspond to which and then simply substitute right? So EFBD is the cipher for FACE.

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The Science Behind Cryptocurrencies Cryptography

We Knew Julian Assange Hated Clinton. We Didnt Know He Was …

The revelation that WikiLeaks secretly offered help to Donald Trumps campaign, in a series of private Twitter messages sent to the candidates son Donald Trump Jr., gave ammunition to the groups many detractors and also sparked anger from some longtime supporters of the organization and its founder, Julian Assange.

One of the most high-profile dissenters was journalist Barrett Brown, whose crowdsourced investigations of hacked corporate documents later posted on WikiLeaks led to a prison sentence.

Brown had a visceral reaction to the news, first reported by The Atlantic, that WikiLeaks had been advising the Trump campaign. In a series of tweets and Facebook videos, Brown accused Assange of having compromised the movement to expose corporate and government wrongdoing by acting as a covert political operative.

Brown explained that he had defended WikiLeaks for releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee, because it was an appropriate thing for a transparency org to do. But, he added, working with an authoritarian would-be leader to deceive the public is indefensible and disgusting.

He was particularly outraged by an Oct. 26, 2016 message, in which Assange had appealed to Trump Jr. to let WikiLeaks publish one or more of his fathers tax returns in order to make his groups attacks on Hillary Clinton seem less biased. If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality, the Assange-controlled @Wikileaks account suggested. That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it wont be perceived as coming from a pro-Trump pro-Russia source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with.

A screenshot of a direct message from the WikiLeaks Twitter account to Donald Trump Jr.

As Brown pointed out in another tweet, it was all-caps exasperating that Assange was in this case complaining about slander of being pro-Trump IN THE ACTUAL COURSE OF COLLABORATING WITH TRUMP.

The journalist, an Intercept contributor, whose work had been championed by WikiLeaks, also shared a link to a Reddit AMA conducted two days after the election in which WikiLeaks staff, including Assanges longtime collaborator Sarah Harrison, had denied point-blank that they had collaborated with the Trump campaign.

The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false, the staffers wrote then. We were not publishing with a goal to get any specific candidate elected.

It is not surprising that Brown felt personally betrayed by Assange, since, as he explained on Facebook Tuesday night, I went to prison because of my support for WikiLeaks. Specifically, Brown said, the charges against him were related to his role in operations to identify and punish members of the government and members of private companies that had been exposed by Anonymous hackers of my acquaintance, via email hacks, as having conspired to go after Assange, to go after WikiLeaks.

That sort of activism, dedicated to making public secret wrongdoing, Brown argued, is very different from colluding with an authoritarian presidential campaign backed by actual Nazis while publicly denying it.

Plainly, he observed with bitterness, the prospect of a Clinton in the White House was such an unimaginable nightmare scenario that all normal standards of truth and morality became moot and it became necessary to get people like Sebastian Gorka into the White House to establish order.

Before his private messages to Trump Jr. were leaked, Assange himself had categorically denied that he or WikiLeaks had been attacking Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election, he wrote in a statement released on November 8 as Americans went to the polls.

Even though Assange had by then transformed the WikiLeaks Twitter feed into a vehicle for smearing Clinton, he insisted that his work was journalistic in nature. The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself, Assange wrote. Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us, he added. It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.

The same morning, WikiLeaks tweeted an attack on Clinton for not having driven her own car during her decades of public service.

For Brown, and others who have been critical of Assange for using the platform of WikiLeaks to fight his own political and personal battles, his secret communication with the Trump campaign was damning because it revealed that he had been functioning more like a freelance political operative, doling out strategy and advice, than a journalist interested in obtaining and publishing information, concerned only with its accuracy.

James Ball, a former WikiLeaks volunteer who has described the difficulty of working for someone who lies so much, was also appalled by one post-election message to Trump Jr., in which WikiLeaks suggested that, as a form of payback, it would be helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC.

That request for payback, on December 16, 2016, came three weeks after Trumps father had called on the British government to make his friend Nigel Farage its ambassador. This should be it, game over, end of it, for anyone who tries to suggest Assange looks out for anyone except himself, Ball observed on Twitter. Thats his cause, and plenty of good people have been played, badly.

There was also criticism from journalists, like Chris Hayes of MSNBC, a network Assange accused of being, along with the New York Times, the most biased source in one note to Trump Jr. Pointing to a message from WikiLeaks sent on Election Day, advising Trump to refuse to concede and claim the election was rigged, Hayes asked how, exactly, offering that sort of political advice squared with the organizations mission to promote transparency.

A screenshot of a Nov. 8, 2016 DM to Donald Trump Jr. from WikiLeaks.

Still, many of Assanges most vocal supporters stuck with him, calling even secret communication with the Trump campaign to undermine Clinton entirely consistent with his vision of WikiLeaks as a sort of opposition research group, dedicated to crushing bastards by finding dirt in the servers of powerful individuals or organizations.

As Raffi Khatchadourian explained in a New Yorker profile of the WikiLeaks founder in 2010, Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events. To Assange, Khatchadourian wrote, Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.

One steadfast Assange ally was Kim Dotcom, founder of the shuttered file-sharing site MegaUpload, who helped fuel a conspiracy theory that the DNC emails had not been hacked by Russia, but provided to WikiLeaks by a young Democratic staffer named Seth Rich, who was subsequently murdered. Alluding to another entirely unsubstantiated allegation that Clinton had once suggested killing Assange in a drone strike Dotcom said that the WikiLeaks founder was merely part of a crowdsourced political operation that had successfully defeated the greater evil.

As it happens, one of the anti-Clinton rumors that WikiLeaks had urged Trump Jr. to push in an October 3, 2016 message was a tweet linking to that unsubstantiated allegation in an unsigned blog post citing anonymous sources. The blog post includes no documentation of the allegation, but the WikiLeaks tweet linking to it, which Trump Jr. told Assange he did share, included an excerpt from the blog post in which the type was styled to look like a leaked document.

While WikiLeaks has undoubtedly facilitated the release of information that is both true and important, it is Assanges Trump-like willingness to traffic in such unsubstantiated rumors, conspiracy theories, and innuendo not supported by evidence that undermines his claim to be a disinterested publisher, not a political operative.

While this tendency to disguise personal animus in the cloak of high-minded ideals was very much in evidence during his work on behalf of Trump, it is a consistent feature of Assanges advocacy for other people and causes.

During the final week of the Brexit campaign last year, Assange tried to undermine the credibility of a witness to the savage murder of a pro-European Union member of parliament, Jo Cox. In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, Brexit supporters like Assange were concerned that a wave of sympathy for the murdered MP could sway the vote. So they set out to contest evidence that the killing had been politically motivated.

To that end, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed drew attention to the fact that one witness to the killing who said he had heard the attacker shout Britain First! might have belonged to a racist political group, the British National Party, whose membership rolls WikiLeaks had obtained. Within hours of the murder, WikiLeaks also shared a link to a conspiratorial post from the pro-Brexit Breitbart U.K., which speculated that the witness might have lied about what he heard as part of a feud among far-right racist groups.

The next day, British police confirmed that the attacker told the arresting officers he was a political activist and had indeed shouted pro-Brexit phrases, including Britain First, during the murder.

More recently, during the separatist protests in Catalonia he supported, Assange was forced to delete several fake images he had shared on Twitter like one photograph of Spanish police officers struggling with Catalans, which had been digitally altered to insert a Catalan independence flag.

A screenshot of a fake image Julian Assange shared and later deleted.

In the final months of the 2016 presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed promoted not just its new publications, but also frequently referred totabloid rumors like old chestnuts about Hillary Clintons supposed role in the death of White House counsel Vince Foster and wild conspiracy theories about her campaign chair taking part in bloody satanic rituals.

We know now that, from late September on, Assange was also privately using that account to urge the candidates son to hype the mostly anodyne emails stolen from the account of campaign chair, John Podesta, as crucial evidence of Clintons unfitness for office. And it certainly looks like the campaign took his advice.

On October 12, 2016, just 15 minutes after Assange told Trump Jr. that a new batch of Podesta emails had been released, with many great stories the press are missing, his father tweeted a complaint accusing the dishonest media of ignoring incredible information provided by WikiLeaks.

In the same message, Assange urged Trump Jr. to share a link he provided to the email database so you guys can get all your followers digging through the content. Two days later, Trump Jr. shared that link.

Despite the constant claims, from Assange and the Trumps, that the emails stolen from Democrats implicated Clinton in scandal and corruption, it is important to keep in mind that the WikiLeaks method of encouraging Trump supporters and Reddit trolls to scour the documents for evidence of malfeasance did not, in fact, uncover any such evidence.

Instead, the hacked emails were used to reverse-engineer preposterous conspiracy theories, like the imaginary pedophilia scandal called Pizzagate, which WikiLeaks was still treating as real two months after the election.

This is the real tragedy and menace of the public and private collaboration of WikiLeaks with Trump. An organization with a sterling reputation for providing the public with accurate information about secret government and corporate activities was used to launder conspiracy theories that helped elect a racist, sexual predator president of the United States.

That might be a terrific result for people like Julian Assange, who see a dysfunctional, discredited White House as a way to undermine what they see as the real evil empire. For Americans condemned to live under Trump, particularly the most marginalized who, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, will suffer the most from his cruelty, it is less good.

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We Knew Julian Assange Hated Clinton. We Didnt Know He Was …

DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is …

Enlarge / US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivers remarks at the 65th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Just two days after the FBI said it could not get into the Sutherland Springs shooter’s seized iPhone, Politico Pro published a lengthy interview with a top Department of Justice official who has become the “governments unexpected encryption warrior.”

According to the interview, which was summarized and published in transcript form on Thursday for subscribers of the website, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein indicated that the showdown between the DOJ and Silicon Valley is quietly intensifying.

“We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas,” he told Politico Pro. “There’s some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They’re moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption.”

While the battle against encryption has been going on within federal law enforcement circles since at least the early 1990s, Rosenstein has been the most outspoken DOJ official on this issue in recent months.

The DOJ’s number two has given multiple public speeches in which he has called for “responsible encryption.” The interview with Politico Pro represents the clearest articulation of the DOJs position on this issue, and it suggests that a redux of the 2016 FBI v. Apple showdown is inevitable in the near future.

“I want our prosecutors to know that, if there’s a case where they believe they have an appropriate need for information and there is a legal avenue to get it, they should not be reluctant to pursue it,” Rosenstein said. “I wouldn’t say we’re searching for a case. I’d say were receptive, if a case arises, that we would litigate.”

What Rosenstein didn’t note, however, is that the DOJ and its related agencies, including the FBI, are not taking encryption lying down.

The FBI maintains an office, known as the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center(NDCAC), which actively provides technical assistance to local law enforcement in high profile cases.

In its most recently published minutes from May 2017, the NDCAC said that one of its goals is to make such commercial tools, like Cellebrite’s services, “more widely available” to state and local law enforcement. Earlier this year, the NDCAC provided money to Miami authorities to pay Cellebrite to successfully get into a seized iPhone in a local sextortion case.

In the interview, Rosenstein also said he “favors strong encryption.”

“I favor strong encryption, because the stronger the encryption, the more secure data is against criminals who are trying to commit fraud,” he explained. “And I’m in favor of that, because that means less business for us prosecuting cases of people who have stolen data and hacked into computer networks and done all sorts of damage. So I’m in favor of strong encryption.”

“This is, obviously, a related issue, but it’s distinct, which is, what about cases where people are using electronic media to commit crimes? Having access to those devices is going to be critical to have evidence that we can present in court to prove the crime. I understand why some people merge the issues. I understand that they’re related. But I think logically, we have to look at these differently. People want to secure their houses, but they still need to get in and out. Same issue here.”

He later added that the claim that the “absolutist position” that strong encryption should be by definition, unbreakable, is “unreasonable.”

“And I think it’s necessary to weigh law enforcement equities in appropriate cases against the interest in security,” he said.

The DOJ’s position runs counter to the consensus of information security experts, who say that it is impossible to build the strongest encryption system possible that would also allow the government access under certain conditions.

“Of course, criminals and terrorists have used, are using, and will use encryption to hide their planning from the authorities, just as they will use many aspects of society’s capabilities and infrastructure: cars, restaurants, telecommunications,” Bruce Schneier, a well-known cryptographer, wrote last year.

“In general, we recognize that such things can be used by both honest and dishonest people. Society thrives nonetheless because the honest so outnumber the dishonest. Compare this with the tactic of secretly poisoning all the food at a restaurant. Yes, we might get lucky and poison a terrorist before he strikes, but we’ll harm all the innocent customers in the process. Weakening encryption for everyone is harmful in exactly the same way.”

Rosenstein closed his interview by noting that he understands re-engineering encryption to accommodate government may make it weaker.

“And I think that’s a legitimate issue that we can debatehow much risk are we willing to take in return for the reward?” he said.

“My point is simply that I think somebody needs to consider what’s on the other side of the balance. There is a cost to having impregnable security, and we’ve talked about some of the aspects of that. The cost is that criminals are going to be able to get away with stuff, and that’s going to prevent us in law enforcement from holding them accountable.”

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DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is …

FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone

Getty Images | Peter Dazeley

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has not been able to break the encryption on the phone owned by a gunman who killed 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday.

“We are unable to get into that phone,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said in a press conference yesterday (see video).

Combs declined to say what kind of phone was used by gunman Devin Kelley, who killed himself after the mass shooting.”I’m not going to describe what phone it is because I don’t want to tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy, to harass our efforts on trying to find justice here,” Combs said.

The phone is an iPhone,The Washington Post reported today:

After the FBI said it was dealing with a phone it couldnt open, Apple reached out to the bureau to learn if the phone was an iPhone and if the FBI was seeking assistance. Late Tuesday an FBI official responded, saying it was an iPhone but the agency was not asking anything of the company at this point. Thats because experts at the FBIs lab in Quantico, Va., are trying to determine if there are other methods to access the phones data, such as through cloud storage backups or linked laptops, these people said.

The US government has been calling on phone makers to weaken their devices’ security, but companies have refused to do so.Last year, Apple refused to help the government unlock and decrypt the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone, but the FBI ended up paying hackers for a vulnerability that it used to access data on the device.

Deliberately weakening the security of consumer devices would help criminals target innocent people who rely on encryption to ensure their digital safety, Apple and others have said.

“With the advance of the technology in the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement, whether it’s at the state, local, or the federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Combs said yesterday.

Combs said he has no idea how long it will take before the FBI can break the encryption.”I can assure you we are working very hard to get into the phone, and that will continue until we find an answer,” he said. The FBI is also examining “other digital media” related to the gunman, he said.

There are currently “thousands of seized devices sit[ting] in storage, impervious to search warrants,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said last month.

FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone

‘$300m in cryptocurrency’ accidentally lost forever due to bug …

More than $300m of cryptocurrency has been lost after a series of bugs in a popular digital wallet service led one curious developer to accidentally take control of and then lock up the funds, according to reports.

Unlike most cryptocurrency hacks, however, the money wasnt deliberately taken: it was effectively destroyed by accident. The lost money was in the form of Ether, the tradable currency that fuels the Ethereum distributed app platform, and was kept in digital multi-signature wallets built by a developer called Parity. These wallets require more than one user to enter their key before funds can be transferred.

On Tuesday Parity revealed that, while fixing a bug that let hackers steal $32m out of few multi-signature wallets, it had inadvertently left a second flaw in its systems that allowed one user to become the sole owner of every single multi-signature wallet.

A cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset, created through a canny combination of encryption and peer-to-peer networking.

Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, is part of a decentralised payment network. If you own a bitcoin, you control a secret digital key which you can use to prove to anyone on the network that a certain amount of bitcoin is yours.

If you spend that bitcoin, you tell the entire network that you’ve transferred ownership of it, and use the same key to prove that you’re telling the truth. Over time, the history of all those transactions becomes a lasting record of who owns what: that record is called the blockchain.

After bitcoin’s creation in 2009, a number of other cryptocurrencies sought to replicate its success but taking its free, public code and tweaking it for different purposes.

Some, such as Filecoin, have a very defined goal. It aims to produce a sort of decentralised file storage system: as well as simply telling the network that you have some Filecoins, you can tell the network to store some encrypted data and pay Filecoins to whoever stores it on their computer.

Others are more nebulous. Ethereum, using the Ether token, is now the second biggest cryptocurrency after bitcoin and essentially a cryptocurrency for making cryptocurrencies. Users can write “smart contracts”, which are effectively programs that can be run on the computer of any user of the network if they’re paid enough Ether.

Of course, to many, the purpose is secondary. The only really important thing is that the value of an Ether token increased 2,500% over 2017, meaning some are hoping to jump on the bandwagon and get rich. Bubble or boom? That’s the $28bn question.

The user, devops199, triggered the flaw apparently by accident. When they realised what they had done, they attempted to undo the damage by deleting the code which had transferred ownership of the funds. Rather than returning the money, however, that simply locked all the funds in those multisignature wallets permanently, with no way to access them.

This means that currently no funds can be moved out of the multi-sig wallets, Parity says in a security advisory.

Effectively, a user accidentally stole hundreds of wallets simultaneously, and then set them on fire in a panic while trying to give them back.

We are analysing the situation and will release an update with further details shortly, Parity told users.

Some are pushing for a hard fork of Ethereum, which would undo the damage by effectively asking 51% of the currencys users to agree to pretend that it had never happened in the first place. That would require a change to the code that controls ethereum, and then that change to be adopted by the majority of the user base. The risk is that some of the community refuses to accept the change, resulting in a split into two parallel groups.

Such an act isnt unheard of: another hack, two years ago, of an Ethereum app called the DAO resulted in $150m being stolen. The hard fork was successful then, but the money stolen represented a much larger portion of the entire Ethereum market than the $300m lost to Parity.

The lost $300m follows the discovery of bug in July that led to the theft of $32m in ether from just three multisignature wallets. A marathon coding and hacking effort was required to secure another $208m against theft. Patching that bug led to the flaw in Paritys system that devops199 triggered by accident.

Parity says that it is unable to confirm the actual amount lost, but that the $300m figure is purely speculative. The company also disputes that the currency is lost, arguing that frozen is more accurate. But if it is frozen, it appears that no-one has the ability to unfreeze the funds.

The Parity vulnerability was the result of an incorrectly coded smart contract used by the Parity wallet to store tokens on the Ethereum network, said Dominic Williams, founder of blockchain firm DFINITY. The vulnerability made it possible for anyone to freeze the tokens held by that smart contract, making them immovable. At this time, the only method we are aware of to unfreeze tokens held by the vulnerable smart contract would be to create a new hard fork Ethereum client that deploys a fix. This would require every full node on the Ethereum network to upgrade by the date of the hard fork to stay in sync, including all miners, wallets, exchanges, etc.

Ethereum has rapidly become the second most important cryptocurrency, after Bitcoin, with its price increasing more than 2,500% over the past year. One token of Ether is now worth a little over $285, up from $8 in January.

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‘$300m in cryptocurrency’ accidentally lost forever due to bug …

UK prosecutors admit destroying key emails in Julian Assange …

The Crown Prosecution Service is facing embarrassment after admitting it destroyed key emails relating to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is holed up in Ecuadors London embassy fighting extradition.

Email exchanges between the CPS and its Swedish counterparts over the high-profile case were deleted after the lawyer at the UK end retired in 2014.

The destruction of potentially sensitive and revealing information comes ahead of a tribunal hearing in London next week.

Adding to the intrigue, it emerged the CPS lawyer involved had, unaccountably, advised the Swedes in 2010 or 2011 not to visit London to interview Assange. An interview at that time could have prevented the long-running embassy standoff.

The CPS, responding to questions from the Guardian, denied there were any legal implications of the data loss for an Assange case if it were to come to court in the future. Asked if the CPS had any idea what was destroyed, a spokesperson said: We have no way of knowing the content of email accounts once they have been deleted.

Assange, whose WikiLeaks has been involved in a series of controversial leaks that include the Iraq war logs, US state department cables and Democratic party emails, was wanted by Sweden as part of a preliminary investigation into rape allegations. Sweden dropped the investigation in May.

Detractors of Assange, who sought refuge in Ecuadors embassy in 2012, accuse him of collaborating with Russian propagandists in undermining Hillary Clintons bid for the presidency and helping Donald Trump secure it.

Supporters of Assange fear he could have been extradited to the US from Sweden and might yet from the UK. The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said this year Assange was a priority for the justice department and US federal prosecutors are believed to be considering charges against him over the leaks.

The CPS data destruction was disclosed in a freedom of information (FOI) case being pursued by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi.

Maurizi, a reporter on La Repubblica who has covered WikiLeaks since 2009, has been pressing both the CPS and its Swedish counterpart for information relating to Assange and extradition.

Unhappy over the limited material released so far, she is taking her case against the CPS to an information tribunal on Monday and Tuesday.

It is incredible to me these records about an ongoing and high-profile case have been destroyed. I think they have something to hide, Maurizi said.

She is keen to establish how much influence the UK had in the decision of the Swedish authorities at the time not to travel to London to interview Assange. She is also looking for evidence of US involvement in extradition moves.

She unearthed two years ago, through an FOI request to the Swedish prosecutors, an email from a lawyer in the CPS extradition unit on 25 January 2011 saying: My earlier advice remains, that in my view it would not be prudent for the Swedish authorities to try to interview the defendant in the UK.

The sentence was redacted in the email obtained by Maurizi from the CPS under an FOI request but not when it was released under an FOI request from the Swedish prosecutors.

Assange declined to travel to Sweden at the time, expressing fear it was a ruse that could pave the way for his extradition to the US. His lawyers offered a compromise in which Swedish investigators could interview him in person in London or by a video link, but the Swedish authorities did not take up the offer at the time.

A legal manager at the CPS, Mohammed Cheema, who has been dealing with the FOI requests, said, in a lengthy witness statement in August this year, that the Assange case file comprises mainly 55 lever-arch files, one A4 file and a selection of other paper files.

He added it was very unlikely the CPS held further significant email correspondence.

But just 11 days before the hearing, Cheema sent a further statement saying a search of electronic records found data associated with the lawyer who had been in touch with the Swedish prosecutors was deleted when he retired and cannot be recovered. He retired in March 2014.

Jennifer Robinson, a Doughty Street chambers barrister, and Estelle Dehon, who specialises in freedom of information, will be representing Maurizi at the tribunal.

Robinson, who has also represented Assange, said: The missing information raises concerns about the Crown Prosecution Services data retention policy and what internal mechanisms are in place to review their conduct of this case in light of the fact the UK has been found to have breached its international obligations.

A United Nations panel last year found Assange had been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden.

Robinson said: The CPS has disclosed some material which is very limited. We know there is more.

She added: Serious questions must be asked about the role of the CPS. Had the Swedes interviewed Assange back in 2010 one wonders whether this case would have continued for such a long time.

The Swedes had interviewed many other people in the UK in relation to other cases, Robinson said. We had been offering the Swedish prosecutors Assanges testimony since October 2010. We didnt know at the time that the CPS was advising them not to take up the offer.

The CPS spokesperson, in response to a question from the Guardian why such important documents were destroyed, said the email account was deleted following retirement in accordance with standard procedure.

Asked if it was CPS policy that documents relating to live court cases should be destroyed, the spokesperson said: The individual to whom you refer was a lawyer in the CPS extradition unit discussing matters relating to extradition proceedings which concluded in 2012. The case was, therefore, not live when the email account was deleted.

He added: Most casework papers and related material are stored for three years following the conclusion of proceedings, or for the duration of the convicted defendants sentence plus three months. In some cases material may be held for longer.

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UK prosecutors admit destroying key emails in Julian Assange …

Best Open Source Software for Windows 10 – Datamation

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Windows fan. That said, I work with many folks who are. Which gets me thinking about open source applications that would be a best fit for their Windows 10 installations. In this article, I’ll share my top picks for Windows 10 open source software.

Hey, just because someone is using Windows doesn’t mean they can’t still enjoy the benefits of great open source software! Right?

When it comes to backing up your DVD collection, in case of fire/kids/life, it’s tough to beat the awesome feeling that comes from a completed Handbrake session. Despite its highly customizable nature, Handbrake also provides you with some helpful presets to make the disc to file conversion as painless and simple as possible. I personally appreciate the preview mode myself.

Whether you’re still using traditional FTP to upload your files to a server or keeping it secure with SSH keys using sFTP FileZilla has you covered. I’ve long believed that FileZilla is among the best in class FTP management applications on any desktop operating system. You can drag drop, change permissions, even master through thousands of batch transfers without breaking a sweat!

Despite statements to the contrary, podcasts are not dead. Many of the most popular are booming right now and you can use Juice to capture all of your favorites, automatically. Thanks to the magic of RSS enclosures, your favorite podcasts can simply appear on your PC as they’re released. Not sure what to listen to? No biggie, they have a huge directory of podcasts to choose from. How’s that for convenience?

When I watch video on a PC, I run VLC. To me, it doesn’t matter if that PC runs Windows or Linux, my expectations on what I want from my video player are the same. As a general rule, VLC will play just about anything. VLC works like a champ for anything audio- or video-based, ranging from FLAC audio to DVD playback.

It often amazes me how frequently I find myself relying on GIMP these days. From image combining to extraction, GIMP is simply one of the best tools in my toolbox. Admittedly, I’ve used it for so long that using anything else is out of the question. I have a workflow that works for me and GIMP is at the forefront of any serious creative project I have to accomplish.

I’ve found that many people who honestly don’t know anything about running Open Source software are, in fact, running a fairly current version of LibreOffice. Usually these individuals read about it somewhere, found it for free or had it installed by someone they knew. The one common thread all of these folks seem to share is the fact that it’s being used often and dependably. Whether I’m running calculations with Calc or word processing with Write, these are my goto apps within the LibreOffice suite. Impress for presentations is also fantastic and worth your consideration.

The very first time I switched to an open source jukebox media player for my music, I ended up with amaroK on Linux. Years later, I’ve found myself using a fork of this media player called Clementine. It offers the best features anyone could want in a music player. I’ve been known to plugin to my Spotify account and export my playlists. This way if I ever switch to something different, say Google Play Music, my playlists will remain intact. That is the power of Clementine, folks.

Very few applications have shook my view of using Windows harder than Notepad++. Suddenly I find myself using a sane, usable text editor that doesn’t leave me frustrated! In my humble opinion, its the most amazing text editor ever conceived of for Windows users. Notepad++ features a tabbed interface with macro support, customizable GUI, Perl Compatible Regular Expression Search/Replace, and zoom functionality. Bundle all this with its syntax handling and you’ll never want to close this editor!

Most people don’t think much about the licensing of the VM software they use. But if you’re using VirtualBox OSE, you could be using the Open Source Edition to boot another OS within your host Windows installation. Side note, I like to think that using VirtualBox is a great way to get to know Linux…without any lengthy commitment!

Trying to track down large files that are stealing precious hard drive space can be a pain. But Windows users rejoice, there’s an app that can help you with this challenge WinDirStat. Designed to be a visual application, WinDirStat will literally show you which files and directories are taking up the bulk of your hard drive space. To make things easier, you’ll also find that WinDirStat provides pretty solid tree-map support as well.

Not to be confused with Woz, the co-founder of Apple, Wox is a keyboard launcher designed to make you more productive at your Windows computer. For me, I can’t even fathom using a computer without a good keyboard launcher. So if you were to drop me in front of a Windows box today, I’d be using Wox without a second thought. Using Wox, I can search the Web, locate files to open, and even startup programs!

Automating Macros and repetitive tasks can be a real pain. Lucky for you, there’s an open source application called AutoKey to take the sting out of the experience. Even with documentation, there is a learning curve involved, yet once you get the hang of it you’ll never look back. At it’s simplest, you can think of AutoKey as software designed to automate keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can even use it to help with typing. For example, abbreviations can become full sentences or paragraphs. It’s actually pretty amazing what can be done with this application.

Gone are the days of taking screen shots only to drop them into some paint like program! With Greenshot, you can take a screenshot and then add annotations, or even export a screenshot straight to a printer. Need to highlight or obfuscate parts a screenshot? Not a problem! Only wish to take a screenshot of a region of the screen? Again, this is doable without any issues. Greenshot is a must have application for Windows.

So which open source applications are you using? Perhaps you’re using them on other platforms like Linux or OS X? No matter, hit the Comments and sound off with your favorites! I’d love to compare notes and see if there are any new software titles I haven’t heard of.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Best Open Source Software for Windows 10 – Datamation

Amazon might want in on cryptocurrency –

Image: Jakub Kaczmarczyk/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Amazon is not-so quietly shaping the future around its ever-expanding business, so it makes sense they’d want to get in on cryptocurrency, too.

The company wants to build a fleet of package-delivering drones. They maybe want to build giant drone hives in a city near you. They’ve got grocery stores and devices you can ask to set a timer or play a song. Now, according to Whois data, an Amazon subsidiary registered,, and on Oct. 31.

The news was first reported by DomainNameWire, and, as they wrote, Amazon might just be buying up the names so nobody else can profit off a feigned association with their brand. Coindesk pointed out that Amazon registered four years ago, and that just redirects to the company’s regular homepage.

Or maybe Jeff Bezos recently spent some time reading about how Bitcoin is doing better than ever, and decided to jump into the cryptocurrency pool.

We reached out to Amazon for more information, but didn’t immediately hear back.

Amazon might want in on cryptocurrency –

Julian Assange: FBI Supplied Stephen Paddock Weapons For Massacre

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claims that the FBI supplied Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock the weapons used to carry out the massacre.

Assange tweeted that almost all so-called terror plots are orchestrated by the FBI as part of its business model. What is their business model? Extracting tax. reports:The FBI is giving guns to the mentally ill to attack people then leaping in to save the day, cameras rolling. What a bunch of jerks. In many cases, agents will seek outpeople who have somehow demonstrated radical views, and then coax them into plotting an act of terrorism often providing weapons and money. Before the suspects can carry out their plans, though, theyre arrested.


Last March, The Intercept profiled 25-year-old Sami Osmakac, who was broke and struggling with mental illness when he became the target of an FBI sting operation. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakacs martyrdom video, The Intercept reported. The bureau alsogave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go.

Now, this leaves every sane individual with a number of questions left unanswered. First, if the sheriff believes it was impossible for Paddock to have acted alone, who helped him? And, second, what if the federal agents were in contact with him? Finally, why would Assange choose to tweet this information out now?

Aaron Rouse, the special agent in charge for the FBIs Vegas investigation is likely the only one that knows the answers to the questions keeping many American up at night. He also doesnt seem inclined to reveal them anytime soon.

During his recent statement before the press he seemed quite annoyed at some of the questions being asked and very reluctant to field any at all. It was almost as if he was ashamed.

But theres one troubling possibility: the FBI was involved or at least aware of Paddock prior to this incident. They could have egged him on, they could have failed to arrest him when they planned to, or they could have misread the immediacy of his intentions.Regardless, if that is the case then this tragedy could be as simple as the FBI not arresting him when they should have all because of their dirty obsession with quarterbacking terrorism.

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Julian Assange: FBI Supplied Stephen Paddock Weapons For Massacre