Publisher and Cyber Currency/Security expert Stephen G. Barr reports on current and emerging cyber security technology, cryptocurrency, ICO crowd sales, blockchain, events, updated regulatory compliance & news.
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are susceptible to losing funds in many different ways. Aside from human error, there are risks posed by failed ICOs, hacked exchanges, or other calamities. Taylor-Copeland Law is one of the first law firms specializing in these issues. We may be witnessing the creation of a new niche within the legal system as we know it today.
FOCUSING ON EXCHANGES AND ICO MISHAPS
It was only a matter of time until law firms started paying attention to cryptocurrency. Especially with all the issues arising over the past few years, there is a booming market for all companies specializing in cryptocurrency. With so many exchanges getting hacked, disappearing, or failing to provide optimal services, a lot of users are often left frustrated.
Moreover, the initial coin offering industry poses several major risks to consumer funds. No one knows for sure if any given ICO project is legitimate or how things will play out once money has been raised. The Tezos ICO is a good example of how things can go awry pretty quickly if problems aren’t addressed in a timely manner. However, there has often been no legal repercussions for exchanges or ICO teams that fail to deliver on their original promises.
That situation is finally changing, thanks to law firms such as Taylor-Copeland Law. The company has a dedicated page on its website explaining how blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies will have an impact on our daily lives. However, with the regulatory and legal framework still making it difficult for businesses and individuals to comply with the law, something will need to change.
This is why Taylor-Copeland Law decided to provide the guidance investors may need when it comes to the intersection of law and crypto. They claim to specialize in aiding cryptocurrency traders harmed by exchange failures, including so-called “flash crashes“. Considering that we’ve seen a lot more of those crashes in recent months, there are a lot of legal disputes waiting to happen, by the look of things.
Furthermore, the company also provides services relating to initial coin offerings. A lot of investors are harmed by projects and teams which misrepresent their projects and intentions before or during their crowd sales. There need to be legal remedies in this regard as well, which is what this firm aims to provide. Additionally, they focus on the taxation of crypto investment gains and help companies check all the right legal boxes before they decide to organize an ICO.
It is expected that we will see even more law firms focus on these specific areas in the near future. There is a growing contingent of cryptocurrency users who will require legal counsel at one point or another. Whether or not all cryptocurrency users will decide to pursue that option is something else entirely. A lot of users may be somewhat ashamed to admit they were victims of an exchange mishap or a malicious ICO project.
Hacking and data breaches have been in the public mindset for a long time. But as more technology is integrated into our daily lives and the workplace, you and your firm have become even more susceptible to a hack – highlighting the importance of cybersecurity, an industry Arizona is on the frontline of shaping. You’ve probably seen the splashy headlines about data breaches hitting big names like Banner Health, Chick-fil-A, Equifax, Target, the U.S. Postal Service, Sony, Yahoo! and the list goes on. Like many other people, you might have brushed off those headlines or yawned, thinking you’re glad not to have to manage those damage control teams. But in this growing world of cybercrime and technology, it’s no longer a matter of if you’ll be playing damage control after a data breach at your firm, it’s a matter of when. “Small and medium-sized businesses are drastically underestimating the risk by just thinking, ‘They’re not interested in me,’” says Michael Cocanower, founder and president of Phoenix-based itSynergy. “In fact, hackers are very interested in you. They realize, ‘I can spend six months hacking into Target, or I can spend this afternoon hacking into your 20-person company and make $10,000 off that.’” Cybercrime has cost businesses, individuals, governments and the world game-changing amounts of money. Cost of cybercrime Cybersecurity Ventures, a research and market intelligence firm, reports the cost of cybercrime will grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion by 2021. United Kingdom-based research firm Juniper Research predicts cybercrime will cost businesses alone more than $2 trillion by 2019. However you cut it, cybersecurity will only get more serious and more important as time moves on. Many businesses are unprepared, with 87 percent of small businesses reporting that they do not have a formal written Internet security policy, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. Also, The National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60 percent of small companies are unable to stay in business six months after a cyberattack. Cocanower says business owners need to be much more aware of cybercrime and the importance of having their cybersecurity systems up to snuff. There are a variety of ways hackers can infiltrate your business and you need to be aware of them, Cocanower says. Phishing scams and downloading malware or viruses are probably the most common and known. But you could also be compromised by inputting your password on a website you think is real, using open Wi-Fi, the list of risks goes on. Nothing Web-connected is safe either. Your smart phone, watch, car and Web-connected toaster oven are just the newest items susceptible to attack. Sure, you can download the latest anti-virus software, hire a skilled cybersecurity team (if you can find people who are qualified and available) and do 100 different things to keep your company secure, but that’s still not enough. Why? “The weakest link in any system is the human being,” Cocanower says.
Korean Democratic Party lawmaker Park Yong-jin announced last week that he has introduced an amendment for the Electronic Financial Transaction Act. Its main purpose is to create a regulatory framework for digital currencies in order to “maintain healthy market order and protect users,” Inews24 reported. Business Korea calls this amendment the “Bitcoin Regulation Act.”
“As interests in virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum have soared,” Park said “there is no clear definition of virtual currencies or restrictions on those who can sell virtual currencies.” He first announced that he would introduce this legislation back in July. Business Korea wrote:
The Bitcoin Regulation Act is scheduled for a regular session of the National Assembly in September with a growing debate foreseen.
Definitions and Classifications
In this amendment, virtual currency is defined as “an instrument of exchange or an electronic store of value,” reported Inews24. It also distinguishes virtual currency from “real” currency. The amendment proposes five classifications of digital currency handlers with the following definitions.
“Virtual currency traders” – those selling goods or services in exchange for digital currency.
“Virtual currency dealers” – those operating a market for the sale of virtual currencies such as exchanges.
“Virtual currency brokers” – those intermediating or arranging the sale of digital currency.
“Virtual currency issuers” – those offering systems to create and issue digital currencies, and
“Virtual currency managers” – those storing or managing digital currencies for others.
Requirements and Prohibited Activities
The revised legislation requires all digital currency handlers “to have 500 million won or more in capital and receive approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission,” detailed Business Korea.
The amendment also mandates customer funds be deposited at a separate institution with insurance, or some form of payment guarantee in order to protect customers, the publication added.
The legislation prohibits several specific digital currency-related activities such as their sale and brokering through door-to-door and multi-level marketing schemes. It also strictly prohibits illegal acts involving digital currencies, such as market price manipulation and money laundering. Violations can carry a prison sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to 50 million won, Business Korea detailed.
Guide to Buying NEO (Antshares) on Bittrex Exchange
If you’ve never traded on a regular fiat currency exchange before, then you may have a tough time navigating cryptocurrency exchanges like Bittrex. In this guide I will explain many of the features and nuances that will make your initial trading journey easier. Basic technical and financial literacy is assumed (see prerequisites below). In all examples I will consider NEO as the target cryptocurrency and Bitcoins (BTC) as the transacting cryptocurrency. If you want to learn more about blockchain technology, check out my blockchain ELI5 post. Otherwise hold onto to your seats… you’re about to hop on the NEO blockchain rocket to the moon.
There’s lots to learn in this post. To help you remember, try using my app Harvest, the easiest way to grow your mind. Write or highlight any text and automatically receive reminders on the content (Add from Chrome store).
Register an account
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Set up an offline wallet on your desktop
Understand exchange rates
Understand a basic transaction (buyer, seller, price, volume)
For most people, getting Bitcoins (BTC) is the first step to acquiring cryptocurrencies like NEO. BTC is the world’s crypto reserve currency, like the role USD plays for fiat. Got some obscure coin? Someone out there is probably willing to buy or sell it for BTC.
There are tons of ways to get BTC, but the easiest way is to use the most established crypto platform in the USA, Coinbase.
Help me help you! Sign up for Coinbase using my referral code (already in the link) and we both get $10!
On Coinbase, you’ll be able to purchase BTC with conventional fiat ways (like bank account and wallet), which I won’t even begin to describe here. I’ll wait here while you buy some.
A few days later…
Okay great! Let’s get those BTC over to Bittrex, one of the best exchanges for acquiring coins like NEO. Tab on over in your Coinbase account to “Send” and pop in that Bitcoin address from your Bittrex account with all of your newly bought BTC.
I have only 0.0023344 BTC 😦
2. Fund Bittrex Account
What Bittrex account address, you ask? If you haven’t already, make an account on Bittrex with basic and phone verifications set up so you can get some Digital Token Trading in. If everything is set up correctly, then your “Settings” tab should have a check mark like the following:
Now you can head over to your “Wallets” tab and click on the “+” next to “Bitcoin”. Clicking on that will pop open an address that represents your personal online wallet that Bittrex holds for you. This address is where you should be sending your BTC that you bought from Coinbase.
Yea that’s my real wallet on Bittrex. Feel free to send any BTC ^^
One of the world’s largest Bitcoin and Ether cryptocurrencies exchanges Bithumb has recently been hacked, resulting in loss of more than $1 Million in cryptocurrencies after a number of its user accounts compromised.
Bithumb is South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange with 20% of global ether trades, and roughly 10% of the global bitcoin trade is exchanged for South Korea’s currency, the Won.
Last week, a cyber attack on the cryptocurrency exchange giant resulted in a number of user accounts being compromised, and billions of South Korean Won were stolen from customers accounts.
Around 10 Million Won worth of bitcoins were allegedly stolen from a single victim’s account, according to the Kyunghyang Shinmun, a major local newspaper.
A survey of users who lost cryptocurrencies in the cyber attack reveals “it is estimated that hundreds of millions of won [worth of cryptocurrencies] have been withdrawn from accounts of one hundred investors. One member claims to have had 1.2 billion won stolen.”
Besides digital currencies, hackers were succeeded in stealing the personal information of 31,800 Bithumb website users, including their names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers, the South Korean government-funded Yonhap News reported.
However, Bithumb claims that this number represents approximately 3% of its customers.
The exchange also told Yonhap that it contacted South Korea’s cybercrime watchdog on June 30, Friday after it learned of the hack on June 29.
Anonymity is an appealing factor in the world of Bitcoin debit cards, although it can be much harder to come by than most people assume. Cryptocompare has put together a comprehensive list of which card offers what, and it appears CoinsBank – formerly Bit-x – is the clear market leader with their Anon Card. It is interesting to note this card is available in EUR, USD, and GBP, and will cost 24.90 in the respective currency. Top-ups will take place instantly, which is an bonus.
Xapo, one of the most well-known companies in the Bitcoin debit card sector, offers Medium anonymity. Their cards are available in the three aforementioned fiat currencies as well and are slightly cheaper with a US$18 price tag. Fees are also slightly lower – based on the CryptoCompare information – and makes for an attractive solution for people looking to spend digital currency more conveniently.
WageCan is a company which recently entered the Bitcoin debit card, and they offer the same level of anonymity as Xapo. However, these cards have no monthly fee, albeit the cost per card is US$30. Moreover, this card can only be obtained denominated in USD, which means international users will have to worry about conversion fees as well.
A discussion pertaining to the legality of ICOs is overdue. With a flood of new projects entering the markets recently, developers are seemingly printing money out of thin air in the form of cryptographic tokens on a weekly basis, which are then passed onto greedy investors seeking to find the next big crypto. With ICOs raising almost half a billion USD in the last 2 years, it is unsurprising to see the SEC taking an interest in the current ICO landscape.
A recent article posted on Medium has sought to argue that Brave’s BAT pre-sale ICO and others like it may comprise the sale of unregistered securities, and are thus illegal.
Recently there have been numerous reports of people losing their bitcoins to hackers and malware as bitcoin’s price continues to grow in value. It is safe to assume that organizations and individuals trying to steal people’s bitcoin reserves will persistently increase because the decentralized cryptocurrency becomes more valuable to thieves.
‘Faster and More Lucrative Than Robbing a Suburban Bank’
At the time of writing one bitcoin is worth roughly $2900 as it has become a treasured digital asset. While bitcoin’s value has increased the number of people losing money to malware attacks and hackers cracking bitcoin accounts usually follows the price rise in unison. Just recently Cody Brown, founder of the virtual reality community Roomscale.org, lost $8000 worth of bitcoin held on Coinbase.
Brown’s attack vector was through Verizon where the hacker easily took over his cell phone number with a some “simple billing information.” After his phone was compromised the attacker swiped his Coinbase funds in less than fifteen minutes. Brown does detail that he did not use two-factor authentication with his email account, but feels that it shouldn’t be so easy to access Verizon information. He also believes that he may have been targeted after tweeting about bitcoin a week prior.
For most of the history of blockchain-based currencies and assets, the story has been all about Bitcoin. At a market capitalization of around $40 billion, it remains the most valuable cryptocurrency.
But with the rise of a new ‘chain on the — ahem — block, namely Ethereum, and new ways to fund the development of new crypto-platforms with ICOs, the narrative is shifting somewhat to the entire cryptographic asset class.
Today, let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the historical trends in the digital currency space, paying close attention to Ethereum and its role as the platform of choice for new cryptographic assets.
The number of new digital assets is on the rise
In roughly the past 12 months, the number of cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap.com, a main reference site for digital asset developers and speculators alike, has increased significantly.
Below is a chart compiled from the count of cryptocurrencies listed on historic snapshots of the site’s main table starting with the first snapshot on April 28, 2013 (featuring a whopping seven cryptocurrencies) and the most recent snapshot from June 4, 2017.
Initial Coin Offering (ICO) funding, a means of raising funds from the crowd for a new cryptocurrency or blockchain venture, grew quickly throughout 2016 and Q1’17, while traditional venture funding to blockchain companies fell progressively over the same period.
28% of total early-stage blockchain funding came from ICOs over the past four quarters, a figure that’s continuing to grow, according to CB Insights. In Q1’17, 37% of all blockchain funding came through ICOs.
ICO activity significantly picked up in 2016 with US$78 million being raised by cryptocurrency and blockchain startups that year (excluding Q2’16’s US$150 million failed ICO by The DAO). Notable ICOs in 2016 include ICONOMI (US$10 million), SingularDTV (US$7.5 million) and Waves (US$15.5 million).
In Q1’17, both ICO and VC funding rose, with ICOs hitting their highest funding point of US$69 million through over 10 deals, and VC funding totaling US$118 million. The largest ICO fundraisings went to Cosmos, Qtum, and iEx.ec.