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Technical: The Path to Taproot Activation

Taproot! Everybody wants to have it, somebody wants to make it, nobody knows how to get it!
(If you are asking why everybody wants it, see: Technical: Taproot: Why Activate?)
(Pedants: I mostly elide over lockin times)
Briefly, Taproot is that neat new thing that gets us:
So yes, let's activate taproot!

The SegWit Wars

The biggest problem with activating Taproot is PTSD from the previous softfork, SegWit. Pieter Wuille, one of the authors of the current Taproot proposal, has consistently held the position that he will not discuss activation, and will accept whatever activation process is imposed on Taproot. Other developers have expressed similar opinions.
So what happened with SegWit activation that was so traumatic? SegWit used the BIP9 activation method. Let's dive into BIP9!

BIP9 Miner-Activated Soft Fork

Basically, BIP9 has a bunch of parameters:
Now there are other parameters (name, starttime) but they are not anywhere near as important as the above two.
A number that is not a parameter, is 95%. Basically, activation of a BIP9 softfork is considered as actually succeeding if at least 95% of blocks in the last 2 weeks had the specified bit in the nVersion set. If less than 95% had this bit set before the timeout, then the upgrade fails and never goes into the network. This is not a parameter: it is a constant defined by BIP9, and developers using BIP9 activation cannot change this.
So, first some simple questions and their answers:

The Great Battles of the SegWit Wars

SegWit not only fixed transaction malleability, it also created a practical softforkable blocksize increase that also rebalanced weights so that the cost of spending a UTXO is about the same as the cost of creating UTXOs (and spending UTXOs is "better" since it limits the size of the UTXO set that every fullnode has to maintain).
So SegWit was written, the activation was decided to be BIP9, and then.... miner signalling stalled at below 75%.
Thus were the Great SegWit Wars started.

BIP9 Feature Hostage

If you are a miner with at least 5% global hashpower, you can hold a BIP9-activated softfork hostage.
You might even secretly want the softfork to actually push through. But you might want to extract concession from the users and the developers. Like removing the halvening. Or raising or even removing the block size caps (which helps larger miners more than smaller miners, making it easier to become a bigger fish that eats all the smaller fishes). Or whatever.
With BIP9, you can hold the softfork hostage. You just hold out and refuse to signal. You tell everyone you will signal, if and only if certain concessions are given to you.
This ability by miners to hold a feature hostage was enabled because of the miner-exit allowed by the timeout on BIP9. Prior to that, miners were considered little more than expendable security guards, paid for the risk they take to secure the network, but not special in the grand scheme of Bitcoin.

Covert ASICBoost

ASICBoost was a novel way of optimizing SHA256 mining, by taking advantage of the structure of the 80-byte header that is hashed in order to perform proof-of-work. The details of ASICBoost are out-of-scope here but you can read about it elsewhere
Here is a short summary of the two types of ASICBoost, relevant to the activation discussion.
Now, "overt" means "obvious", while "covert" means hidden. Overt ASICBoost is obvious because nVersion bits that are not currently in use for BIP9 activations are usually 0 by default, so setting those bits to 1 makes it obvious that you are doing something weird (namely, Overt ASICBoost). Covert ASICBoost is non-obvious because the order of transactions in a block are up to the miner anyway, so the miner rearranging the transactions in order to get lower power consumption is not going to be detected.
Unfortunately, while Overt ASICBoost was compatible with SegWit, Covert ASICBoost was not. This is because, pre-SegWit, only the block header Merkle tree committed to the transaction ordering. However, with SegWit, another Merkle tree exists, which commits to transaction ordering as well. Covert ASICBoost would require more computation to manipulate two Merkle trees, obviating the power benefits of Covert ASICBoost anyway.
Now, miners want to use ASICBoost (indeed, about 60->70% of current miners probably use the Overt ASICBoost nowadays; if you have a Bitcoin fullnode running you will see the logs with lots of "60 of last 100 blocks had unexpected versions" which is exactly what you would see with the nVersion manipulation that Overt ASICBoost does). But remember: ASICBoost was, at around the time, a novel improvement. Not all miners had ASICBoost hardware. Those who did, did not want it known that they had ASICBoost hardware, and wanted to do Covert ASICBoost!
But Covert ASICBoost is incompatible with SegWit, because SegWit actually has two Merkle trees of transaction data, and Covert ASICBoost works by fudging around with transaction ordering in a block, and recomputing two Merkle Trees is more expensive than recomputing just one (and loses the ASICBoost advantage).
Of course, those miners that wanted Covert ASICBoost did not want to openly admit that they had ASICBoost hardware, they wanted to keep their advantage secret because miners are strongly competitive in a very tight market. And doing ASICBoost Covertly was just the ticket, but they could not work post-SegWit.
Fortunately, due to the BIP9 activation process, they could hold SegWit hostage while covertly taking advantage of Covert ASICBoost!

UASF: BIP148 and BIP8

When the incompatibility between Covert ASICBoost and SegWit was realized, still, activation of SegWit stalled, and miners were still not openly claiming that ASICBoost was related to non-activation of SegWit.
Eventually, a new proposal was created: BIP148. With this rule, 3 months before the end of the SegWit timeout, nodes would reject blocks that did not signal SegWit. Thus, 3 months before SegWit timeout, BIP148 would force activation of SegWit.
This proposal was not accepted by Bitcoin Core, due to the shortening of the timeout (it effectively times out 3 months before the initial SegWit timeout). Instead, a fork of Bitcoin Core was created which added the patch to comply with BIP148. This was claimed as a User Activated Soft Fork, UASF, since users could freely download the alternate fork rather than sticking with the developers of Bitcoin Core.
Now, BIP148 effectively is just a BIP9 activation, except at its (earlier) timeout, the new rules would be activated anyway (instead of the BIP9-mandated behavior that the upgrade is cancelled at the end of the timeout).
BIP148 was actually inspired by the BIP8 proposal (the link here is a historical version; BIP8 has been updated recently, precisely in preparation for Taproot activation). BIP8 is basically BIP9, but at the end of timeout, the softfork is activated anyway rather than cancelled.
This removed the ability of miners to hold the softfork hostage. At best, they can delay the activation, but not stop it entirely by holding out as in BIP9.
Of course, this implies risk that not all miners have upgraded before activation, leading to possible losses for SPV users, as well as again re-pressuring miners to signal activation, possibly without the miners actually upgrading their software to properly impose the new softfork rules.

BIP91, SegWit2X, and The Aftermath

BIP148 inspired countermeasures, possibly from the Covert ASiCBoost miners, possibly from concerned users who wanted to offer concessions to miners. To this day, the common name for BIP148 - UASF - remains an emotionally-charged rallying cry for parts of the Bitcoin community.
One of these was SegWit2X. This was brokered in a deal between some Bitcoin personalities at a conference in New York, and thus part of the so-called "New York Agreement" or NYA, another emotionally-charged acronym.
The text of the NYA was basically:
  1. Set up a new activation threshold at 80% signalled at bit 4 (vs bit 1 for SegWit).
    • When this 80% signalling was reached, miners would require that bit 1 for SegWit be signalled to achive the 95% activation needed for SegWit.
  2. If the bit 4 signalling reached 80%, increase the block weight limit from the SegWit 4000000 to the SegWit2X 8000000, 6 months after bit 1 activation.
The first item above was coded in BIP91.
Unfortunately, if you read the BIP91, independently of NYA, you might come to the conclusion that BIP91 was only about lowering the threshold to 80%. In particular, BIP91 never mentions anything about the second point above, it never mentions that bit 4 80% threshold would also signal for a later hardfork increase in weight limit.
Because of this, even though there are claims that NYA (SegWit2X) reached 80% dominance, a close reading of BIP91 shows that the 80% dominance was only for SegWit activation, without necessarily a later 2x capacity hardfork (SegWit2X).
This ambiguity of bit 4 (NYA says it includes a 2x capacity hardfork, BIP91 says it does not) has continued to be a thorn in blocksize debates later. Economically speaking, Bitcoin futures between SegWit and SegWit2X showed strong economic dominance in favor of SegWit (SegWit2X futures were traded at a fraction in value of SegWit futures: I personally made a tidy but small amount of money betting against SegWit2X in the futures market), so suggesting that NYA achieved 80% dominance even in mining is laughable, but the NYA text that ties bit 4 to SegWit2X still exists.
Historically, BIP91 triggered which caused SegWit to activate before the BIP148 shorter timeout. BIP148 proponents continue to hold this day that it was the BIP148 shorter timeout and no-compromises-activate-on-August-1 that made miners flock to BIP91 as a face-saving tactic that actually removed the second clause of NYA. NYA supporters keep pointing to the bit 4 text in the NYA and the historical activation of BIP91 as a failed promise by Bitcoin developers.

Taproot Activation Proposals

There are two primary proposals I can see for Taproot activation:
  1. BIP8.
  2. Modern Softfork Activation.
We have discussed BIP8: roughly, it has bit and timeout, if 95% of miners signal bit it activates, at the end of timeout it activates. (EDIT: BIP8 has had recent updates: at the end of timeout it can now activate or fail. For the most part, in the below text "BIP8", means BIP8-and-activate-at-timeout, and "BIP9" means BIP8-and-fail-at-timeout)
So let's take a look at Modern Softfork Activation!

Modern Softfork Activation

This is a more complex activation method, composed of BIP9 and BIP8 as supcomponents.
  1. First have a 12-month BIP9 (fail at timeout).
  2. If the above fails to activate, have a 6-month discussion period during which users and developers and miners discuss whether to continue to step 3.
  3. Have a 24-month BIP8 (activate at timeout).
The total above is 42 months, if you are counting: 3.5 years worst-case activation.
The logic here is that if there are no problems, BIP9 will work just fine anyway. And if there are problems, the 6-month period should weed it out. Finally, miners cannot hold the feature hostage since the 24-month BIP8 period will exist anyway.

PSA: Being Resilient to Upgrades

Software is very birttle.
Anyone who has been using software for a long time has experienced something like this:
  1. You hear a new version of your favorite software has a nice new feature.
  2. Excited, you install the new version.
  3. You find that the new version has subtle incompatibilities with your current workflow.
  4. You are sad and downgrade to the older version.
  5. You find out that the new version has changed your files in incompatible ways that the old version cannot work with anymore.
  6. You tearfully reinstall the newer version and figure out how to get your lost productivity now that you have to adapt to a new workflow
If you are a technically-competent user, you might codify your workflow into a bunch of programs. And then you upgrade one of the external pieces of software you are using, and find that it has a subtle incompatibility with your current workflow which is based on a bunch of simple programs you wrote yourself. And if those simple programs are used as the basis of some important production system, you hve just screwed up because you upgraded software on an important production system.
And well, one of the issues with new softfork activation is that if not enough people (users and miners) upgrade to the newest Bitcoin software, the security of the new softfork rules are at risk.
Upgrading software of any kind is always a risk, and the more software you build on top of the software-being-upgraded, the greater you risk your tower of software collapsing while you change its foundations.
So if you have some complex Bitcoin-manipulating system with Bitcoin somewhere at the foundations, consider running two Bitcoin nodes:
  1. One is a "stable-version" Bitcoin node. Once it has synced, set it up to connect=x.x.x.x to the second node below (so that your ISP bandwidth is only spent on the second node). Use this node to run all your software: it's a stable version that you don't change for long periods of time. Enable txiindex, disable pruning, whatever your software needs.
  2. The other is an "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin Node. Keep its stoarge down with pruning (initially sync it off the "stable-version" node). You can't use blocksonly if your "stable-version" node needs to send transactions, but otherwise this "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node can be kept as a low-resource node, so you can run both nodes in the same machine.
When a new Bitcoin version comes up, you just upgrade the "always-up-to-date" Bitcoin node. This protects you if a future softfork activates, you will only receive valid Bitcoin blocks and transactions. Since this node has nothing running on top of it, it is just a special peer of the "stable-version" node, any software incompatibilities with your system software do not exist.
Your "stable-version" Bitcoin node remains the same version until you are ready to actually upgrade this node and are prepared to rewrite most of the software you have running on top of it due to version compatibility problems.
When upgrading the "always-up-to-date", you can bring it down safely and then start it later. Your "stable-version" wil keep running, disconnected from the network, but otherwise still available for whatever queries. You do need some system to stop the "always-up-to-date" node if for any reason the "stable-version" goes down (otherwisee if the "always-up-to-date" advances its pruning window past what your "stable-version" has, the "stable-version" cannot sync afterwards), but if you are technically competent enough that you need to do this, you are technically competent enough to write such a trivial monitor program (EDIT: gmax notes you can adjust the pruning window by RPC commands to help with this as well).
This recommendation is from gmaxwell on IRC, by the way.
submitted by almkglor to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

My mother's fears drive me crazy.

When I was kicked out of the public school system at the age of 9, I ended up going to a special needs school for a few years. Being at that place, I was forced to comply. The place was an extension of my parents. My parents would have long phone conversations with my "teachers" over the weekend and a "daily contract" had to be signed each day by a parent or guardian and returned the next day. They'd always say "You start at 100!" It was because the contract had been based on a fake monetary value and each day was "a dollar." In other words, each point taken off was a cent taken off.
Every so-often, you could use the "money" that you've accumulated to buy staff's junk in a closet. That was "the student store." At the end of the school year would be the "student auction" where you could "buy" the staff's junk, like a chewed up water bottle, with your "money."
There were three statuses of students, platinum, gold, and silver. If you had 90 or above on your contract for above a certain amount of days, you would be "platinum." I don't remember the exact circumstances to dropping status. "Platinum students" would get the right to "platinum trips." One "platinum trip" was a trip to a nursing home.
If you "acted out," staff would mark it on your contract and "take points off" based on their judgment. They'd also be so random with giving out "bonus points," so you could end a day with a 103 or 104. Students had complained that the contract system had been very discouraging to them and once the staff got started negatively marking their contracts, it would make them feel awful, and it just caused them to get further negative marks.
I know, I used a lot of quotation marks. That place made no sense and it ran on suppression. You were treated like little babies and dummies there. The place was honestly a private hospital with a CEO and a board of directors. I don't feel as though we were "students," but sometimes, I just don't want to keep substituting words.
If I had "acted out," then my parents often knew before I'd get home. I wasn't at that school because I was slow. I was there because of my reactions. The place had consumed me. Why? Because I was forced to comply. I had seen the consequences of not complying. I hadn't complied and I ended up in a hospital day program for months. That was the summer I had turned 10. It was really swell.
So...just as in 2011, when my family went freakin' mad after I was doing things on my own, I had never wanted to be treated that way again. I put on an act until my body couldn't take it anymore. Each time I got out of the house, there was a chance that TV Tokyo might've been filming. That wasn't normal. I don't live in Japan.
So I escaped home and got to the dorms. I felt so ashamed, stressed, and afraid living there. I had basic freedoms that I had never been allowed to have. Also, though, I didn't have a plan to transition out of the dorms. I had gone through so much before escaping and there wasn't any transition. My mother had threatened me with the police up until the moment we left the house to leave for the dorms.
I said some crazy things over Internet messages and I ended up hospitalized and imprisoned. My mother had blamed "computers" and she's like the mainstream news personified. Nearly all my life, my mother was terrified that I was going to be "investigated by the FBI," so I'm really not surprised that it actually happened. "Computers" was not it, but my mother's mind is a product of so much strange fear mongering.
I got out of prison and a few months later, I was sentenced to three years of probation. My mother wouldn't help me get a computer. As a result, I spent $20 on a 2013 ThinkPad from eBay. The seller said there was no memory or Wi-Fi module. They had existed under the keyboard, though. Even though I bought both of those things after buying the laptop, I still had to buy an AC adapter.
Also, my mother wouldn't help me with getting my belongings back from my house, so I broke in when my parents were in Cape May. Now, my mother tells me "I could've GIVEN YOU your stuff! You didn't have to do what you did!" Sure. I asked for one container and my mother picked things out and wouldn't let me have them.
My mother consumes each step of progress that I make. When I got of prison, she limited the amount of money she gave me each week so that I couldn't buy a computer of any kind. When she saw that I was struggling with that, she "increased the amount that I get," as she had worded it. Then I bought a laptop and she ended up "being fine" with me having it.
She wouldn't let me have my belongings, but then she told me crap like I just stated. Then, I was asking for help with building a PC because my laptop really wasn't ideal. Did I mention how scared she was that I was registered for school for the fall of 2019 when the only computers that I could've used were the ones at my town's library and at my school's campus? My Sundays were so awful. I didn't have a phone or a computer and the library was closed on Sundays over the summer. I was going CRAZY each Sunday staring at the walls.
So anyway, I asked my mother for help in building a PC. She was adamantly declining. I then spent what money I had saved up to build a PC and it's fantastic! I have four monitors and an Elgato Stream Deck. The Elgato Stream Deck is amazing. If I want to take a screenshot of the current window during class, I just press a button.
Microsoft PowerToys's FancyZones helps so much. I have three of my monitors divided into three zones that I can snap windows to. Also, I'm not struggling with the small-capacity solid state drive in my ThinkPad. When I got out of prison, I had scoured the Internet trying to find all my personal files again and I was buying extra space in various cloud services and even transferring the files from, say, Google Drive to OneDrive so that I'd have the files in more than one place.
Hell, I don't know if I'd be able to record my audio for notes from my school's accessibility office with the audio built into the motherboard. My sound card has a feature called "What U Hear," though, and it lets me record whatever audio is being played on the computer.
Of course, I want to drive and my mother is NEVER going to help with that. Instead, as with everything else, if I buy a car and start driving again, she's initially going to be absolutely terrified, but she's going to consume that as well.
My setup has proved to be so helpful in ways that that 2013 laptop would have made far more difficult or even impossible. Heck, I even found myself having to attend two conference calls at the same time recently. I had moved one of the conference calls to a secondary monitor and it was really not necessary for me to participate in it or listen to anything. I lowered the volume on the unnecessary conference call using EarTrumpet from the Microsoft Store and I focused on the call that I had to focus on.
Before I got my computer, I didn't even have a home network. I wouldn't have had the Internet speed to handle things during COVID-19 while tethering with my phone. I had to do it myself. Asking my mother for help would've gone nowhere.
I have a real-time Bitcoin value monitor on my Elgato Stream Deck. It's sure rising. If I would've not spent what I had spent to have this setup, then I would've had nearly $20,000. I'm past the point of blaming myself, but I'm not past the point of feeling frustrated. My mother takes me for drives and that helps. I wish I could do that myself, though. Movement soothes my newborn baby niece and it works for me, too.
I'd prefer an Android phone, actually, due to how it can interface with Windows, but I don't have the money to buy a Google Pixel phone when I can buy an iPhone SE and it'll be supported for way longer. I bought an iPhone SE about 15 or 16 months ago and it'll be supported until next September. Also, because I don't drive, I'm playing video games. Microsoft's cloud streaming service isn't available on iPhone. Microsoft is trying to get around that by making it available as a web app. That doesn't exist yet, though.
This is just a final aside, but Outlook is permanently opened on my fourth monitor and it would work even better if it was a touch screen. I was so stressed without a computer, though, so the original "use" of having that fourth monitor was related to Microsoft Flight Simulator. I was so caught up in it and I had no control over that. I'm not going to replace that monitor right now, though.
Thank you so much for reading.
submitted by DocLuis to raisedbynarcissists [link] [comments]

Bob The Magic Custodian



Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses.
Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes.

First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure:

Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:

But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are!

"On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid".
"Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since."

"As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!"
"Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?"

"Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party."
"Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!"

"What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven."
"Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!"

"We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies.
And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often".

How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen?
Just one.

Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so?
If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security.

The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle.

And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet?

Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds.
So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever.

Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see.
It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation.
A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.

History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance.
Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.)
Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive.

Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today.
Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well.
Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do.

Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):



Thoughts?
submitted by azoundria2 to QuadrigaInitiative [link] [comments]

It's always about the present and never the future.

Well, it's that way for ME, anyway. My parents were so focused on my brother. He had to be "the best" in school, whatever that means. There was a student who did better than him academically. They made her out to be such a villain. They made my brother's eighth-grade teacher out to be a villain. I think she was related to the owner of a local Chinese eatery that I kept being taken to.
Yeah, so they got to talk about his teacher each Friday I was taken to that Chinese eatery. I had done a lot of wandering in my youth. Whenever my parents were preoccupied being social, I'd wander. The Chinese eatery was pretty big, so I could wander around in there. I saw the first person win through Who Wants to be a Millionaire? during that wandering. Also, the XFL was on that TV.
In fact, there was a lot of bumming around in TVs while I was stuck around my parents being social. I've never had interest in being social. Whenever my parents had guests over at the house, I stayed in my parents' room and watched TV in there. When I was taken to the house of the person who my grandmother got to know my old house from, I'd watch TV in there. When I was taken to the bank for so long, I'd watch TV in the conference room.
Oh, that or Game Boy. Someone had a Game Boy, so I was holed up in their room playing their goddamn Game Boy and looking at his magazines. I was taken to a ski resort at the age of eight and I just wandered in there. I did wandering in parking lots. Every Saturday was a shopping spree that I was forced to accompany my family on, so I wandered in Sports Authority, Modell's, CompUSA, Staples, Circuit City, The Wiz, Motophoto, Jennifer Convertible, Lord and Taylor, Macy's, Sears, and Huffman Koos.
I was forced to attend so many dinners at my parents' synagogue. I wandered during those, too.
During my brother's swim meets and basketball games, I wandered. During his soccer games, I had wandered. My second grade teacher had recommended me for the Gifted Child Society. It often wasn't over when my class was over, though. My mother would sit in the cafeteria and listen to some really weird post-Columbine fear mongering and I'd wander.
I'd watch TV whenever I went to my the houses of my parents' friends while they'd chit-chat. Also, my parents have this grand story about this birthday party for my father's friend's son. He was a year old. His grandparents were there from Nepal. There was this big cake fight and I was in a room upstairs playing Pac-Man on DOS.
I wandered around the local mini-golf place, too. This push for my brother to be "the best" gave him problems, by the way. My mother was on the phone with his fifth-grade teacher at night and his teacher was crying. He was saying that "she only liked the suckups." His problems as an adolescent were very strange. I don't know if that's normal when I've just wanted to be isolated.
I couldn't take it at the public schools. I've never been good at handling anything organized. Due to my reactions, I was sent to a special needs school. I was forced to comply being there. That place was an extension of my parents. I say that when my mother would have LONG conversations with my "teachers" on the phone over the weekend. Those were no "teachers." The place was a private hospital.
With my brother, my parents were SO focused on the U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges" list that's published each year. He was lucky. He got to leave to dorms while I was stuck around some stark raving lunatics. After he graduated, my parents paid for an apartment in Manhattan for my brother when he couldn't find a job. Also, he got to spend time away from their eye. I never had that. From the special needs school to the child study team at my high school...Well, one day, I couldn't take it so bad that I made my aide cry. Yes, my mother would have long conversations on the phone with my aide during the weekend.
Some days, I just didn't want to return to that house and I'd get off the bus and and walk away from the house. My mother would keep yelling out the car window "Come on! Get in the car! Come on! Get in! Get in the car! Come on! Get in the car!"
I was the anime freak, the Star Wars nerd, the Nintendo fanboy, a Pixar aficionado, Ace Attorney's biggest fan, and obsessed with Rugrats. Here's the thing, though. I never liked any of that stuff. It's even less that I had to cope. I was forced into stuff and I was always being watched. I was forced to be around the wrong people. I always got commentary. I was always made fun of. Ten years ago, I could barely speak. A few days ago, my mother told me that I have a greater command of the English language than my brother does.
I don't want to deal with fiction. In more recent years, my brother would say things like "[My name] doesn't watch TV!" Yeah, after all the TV that I watched, I "didn't watch TV."
I started doing things on my own at nearly the age of 21, but only because I had forced my way out of my family's ridiculous confines. All they could do was make fun of me. Nearing my 21st birthday, I did something with a group in Manhattan for my whole family to make fun of me upon my return home. I decided not to talk to them. My father had said "He'll talk to us in a few DAYS!" I didn't talk to them for six months.
I made myself feel so sick dealing with that nerd culture stuff and forcing myself to be social. I needed something away from that house. I had used to drive. I'd drive away from my parents and they'd get so ridiculous about it. I couldn't leave the house without it having to have been something to panic over. My father is so damaged. He still gets those frights because "I would drive away and be away for hours" and that "I'd wait in parking lots and sometimes, leave at 6 am."
They had no problems with my brother going away for days to so-called "parties." The one time I left for days, it was to BronyCon. It was all that I could've done "for days" away from that house. It made me feel so sick. I had returned for my parents to...nevermind.
As for the title of this post, when I first took a class at my school ten years ago and my professor was talking about good money that I could make, my father had told me "DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE MONEY!" That's when his OCD obsession all my life had been money. It was demeaning, like "Don't have CHILDREN WITH HER!" from my mother to my brother was demeaning. They were talking about some peer of my brother's who had "a brother with a disability." My mother was always an expert in my brother's peers. I was in my mother's car hearing my mother talk about my brother's female peer who "was flat." Creepy...
I didn't want peers, but I was forced into having the most inappropriate peers. It was always "how much money my brother was going to make," but as for me, why am I the only one ever talking about how I'll have a job someday? Why does my mother want me to shut up about that when I'm with my father? My brother would always talk about how my grandmother had said "You're going to need to manage his finances someday!" to him.
I fought and I dug myself out of the hole that had been dug FOR ME to be where I am now. I want to drive again. I've been doing what I've had to do to repair my credit score so that I can finance a car. Yet, my mother is so against it. She panics over it when I talk about it. This isn't cool. I get to feeling unwell in this apartment being in here all day. My mother taking me out for drives does so much for me. I want to be able to do that myself. Why is that such an extravaganza?
I don't love them. I used to be angry at myself for spending my Bitcoin...again...earlier this year. I can't blame myself, though. Despite all my goals for the future, my parents only focus on the now that's in their heads. I go CRAZY being in this apartment and my mother has the nerve to tell me "You don't like your apartment anymore? You used to like it!" and "What about your SCHOOLWORK?" I want a balance in my life. Why does my mother get agitated when I tell her that?
When I spent that year trying to leave that house, my father had told me "Let's FACE IT! Who knows if you're ever going to make a decent living?"
I'm leaving the country some day. It's not because I worship another country. I just want my own goddamn life that makes sense. The amount of crying that I did all my life wasn't normal.
I'm just reminding myself that I need to not be swayed by them. They honestly love me, but they're fucking ridiculous and the ideas that they have about me are wrong. I'm sick of my mother telling me about "my crazy side" when I'm just trying to let out tension that builds up.
submitted by DocLuis to raisedbynarcissists [link] [comments]

Summary Golem Factory AMA, January 22nd 2020!

Hi all,
First of all, hope you have all had a great start to the new decade.
Golem has done an AMA on the 22nd of January and there was a lot to discuss with over 50 questions from all of you. It is somewhat understandable that a lot do not want to read the whole thing. I will try to recap the most 'important' or viable questions for the current state of development. As always, I will include a juicy Tl;dr at the end.
General Development Direction and Product Adoption
"We believe that decentralization, in the upcoming years, will not only be needed, but will be inevitable. We’re then preparing for when that time comes, as we are aware that Golem will need to grow robuster and then, the worries of low requestor supplies, will be a thing of the past. Taking into account how dependent we have become from corporations we believe that this trend will have to change and we have to be ready. Nowadays, the adoption is not going as quickly as we expected, and as quickly as we all wished for. Not only for the Golem network but for the whole cryptospace. We believe this is a moment to think progressively and overcome doubts by bulding."
(Viggith) "We're almost about to become Clay officially. Reaching this milestone gave us a lot of opportunities to learn. As the whole process took quite some time, we could observe the development decisions made in other projects, how the tech stack matured, and how expectations in the community changed shape."
"Right now we’re mostly focused on the general platform development rather than working on deep development of integrations. It doesn’t mean that we’re not actively looking for the new ones, we just want to encourage devs to build their own rather then build them interally. However, we have several examples and PoCs that are being integrated - computational chemistry software for one of the scientific research projects from IChO, the transcoding use- case is at its MVP stage. We are also investigating the usage of gWASM for gas price optimization for Ethereum, and we had a PoC for a meta-use case with tools for devops’. We are striving to improve the existing software including Task API, so that the gWASM and Task APIusers will propose new integrations."
Task API Launch and Concent
Last week, the Task API launched on Testnet which allows users to build their tasks on the Golem Network. This has been perceived to be the largest component that will transition Golem from the Brass stage, to Clay. For more information and elaboration on Concent, see this comment
"We worked on the task-api component with a small and agile team, with proper planning and preparation we were able to not have big hiccups. The largest changes where that subtask-id was only unique when combined with task-id. The largest fights with code were about windows exceptions and the issues between twisted and asyncio. Twisted is our old async library, asyncio is the new one that has better native python support.
For the mainnet release we would like to have more use-cases, better developer utilities and a lot of testing, by the team and the community. The main focus is to stabilize the task-api"
For quick examples of the Task API:
"As examples for the task-api we made two apps: `blenderapp` and `tutorialapp`. blenderapp can be run by anyone on the current testnet using these instructions. tutorialapp can be build and run locally using these instructions ( NOTE: technical ). As for tests we made unit tests on almost all levels: the apps, connecting libraries and golem core. In Golem core there are also multiple integration tests to test integration with core, one for testing blenderapp, one for testing apps while developing them."
Other Usecases for Golem on the Horizon
"We did some research on integrating BOINC and BOINC-like computations. For now it seems that it is technically possible. But it will require more effort. Recently we are planning to try to cross-compile [email protected] to gwasm application for the start and run it on mainnet. Another possible way is to use the testnet Task API as you mentioned. In general, it would be better to do so on mainnet but we need to wait for the release.
(...)Golem should be presented to science oriented researchers and be recognized in voluntary computations. That would improve our userbase, it would contribute to non-profit organizations and, of course, would bring dApps to the non blockchain world. (...) I see that there have been more discussions on reddit and we will review them and speak internally."
"Right now we’re mostly focused on the general platform development rather than working on deep development of integrations. It doesn’t mean that we’re not actively looking for the new ones, we just want to encourage devs to build their own rather then build them interally. However, we have several examples and PoCs that are being integrated - computational chemistry software for one of the scientific research projects from IChO, the transcoding use- case is at its MVP stage. We are also investigating the usage of gWASM for gas price optimization for Ethereum, and we had a PoC for a meta-use case with tools for devops’. We are striving to improve the existing software including Task API, so that the gWASM and Task APIusers will propose new integrations."
The GNT, Layer 2 and DeFi
"We crowdfunded for this project, and GNT has always been a utility token. So, in short, the narrative "the price does not matter" would be neither politically nor logically correct. However, we need to look after the best interests of all users, either golem software users or token holders, that helped us kickstart this venture.
(...)So, the GNT should be easy to use directly on the platform. Still, the token should also supplement the platform in other ways (e.g., through community-driven projects on the platform utilizing economic mechanisms envisioned and developed by the community members). The token should also be easy to use in a broader context (e.g., the DeFi), which may or may not result in a direct connection with the Golem platform."
"The current model with on-chain payments is not sustainable for Golem and other similar projects which need a trade-off between the cost of transaction, security/finality and timing. When it comes to small (aka micro) payments it’s even more important. It may happen that due to Ethereum congestion one has to pay more for the gas than the computations itself.
Here comes the idea for moving payments to layer 2 solutions. Unfortunately currently there is no such in the production which fits our platform needs, though the situation is very dynamic and we can expect suches to appear in the coming months."
"It is no secret that we have been thinking about migrating to ERC-20 for a long time. For one reason or another, we always postponed. But with all the 2019 astronomical DeFi growth, the flame was reignited(...).
We’ve been working with ETHWorks on finding the best approach for migrating GNT to ERC20.We chose to work with this particular company as our goal is to make sure that the passage to ERC20 allows the (new)GNT to be able to adapt to various matters: for instance, to be used for layer 2 scaling solutions, or Universal Logins, gassless transactions, among others. Right now, doing gassless transactions with the current GNT is cumbersome, and there are many solutions in the market that would be a great fit if GNT was ERC20.(...) As we continue the work & research, we may come up with more ideas that go beyond this, but our main focus remains on giving our users the chance to improve their Golem experience, trade without KYC (if they want to) - while we simultaneously look into all the DeFi ecosystem, and see if we can have the chance of using the token in other platforms."
New Team Members and GolemGrid
"Radek Tereszczuk has joined us in order to work on the long-term vision of the project and how it fits in the overall web 3 vision. He is an inventor, expert and consultant in areas such as IT, telecommunications, statistics, machine learning, genetics and physics. After hours, research on the new class of programming languages ​​based on his own discoveries in graph mathematics. Has 20+ years professional experience in both his own start-ups and big enterprises (mainly banks and insurance), acting as dev / analyst / architect / project and product manager.
Kuba Kucharski is joining us as Chief Product Engineering Officer to boost our product and engineering efforts. He has vast experience in leading developer teams and building product organisations. Involved in Blockchain space since 2013, some of his projects being OrisiOracles (smart contract framework built on top of Bitcoin and BitMessage) and Userfeeds (attention economy / blockchain explorer built on Ethereum)."
Phillip from GolemGrid has officially joined the team as well, after his support on mainly Rocket Chat. (chat.golem.network). When asked about his product GolemGrid (golemgrid.com) and his working abroad, he said the following:
"So far so good. No issues with working remotely for what i’m currently doing. We have an internal chat for the team members, so if there’s any questions one can just type in there and receive an answer fairly quickly.
No challenges to GolemGrid. Actually all more helpful since i've got the smart developers around to answers questions about Golem if needed. (...)
Currently there has not been any talk of GolemGrid integrating into Golem or something similar. So atm it’s purely separated as it always has been. I myself will always integrate what’s possible with Golem to GolemGrid, so whether that’s ML, Rendering or a third thing, I want to integrate it all when released.
I have plans to fiddle with the Task API in the nearest time and see if I can create something unique and useful for others."
Events and upcoming Promo
"Kubkon’s speaking at FOSSDEM 2020 in Belgium in a matter of days, then he’s heading towards ETHCC 2020 in Paris to spread the word about gWASM even further.The very eloquent Marcin Benke is speaking in April at EDCON.
MP is also doing active reach out to conferences to help with programming and intro some Golem angles we’ve not presented before, and maybe more generalized knowledge that our team can share.We’re adding more conferences every month - and most importantly, we will focus on hackathons. You can rest assured that angle will be thoroughly covered, whether local or more international initiatives, we’ll have a lot of news on this front."
"We are working on our content schedule for 2020 (including regular blogposts as we’ve been doing), planning to add tutorial videos and workshops / hackathons. The planned marketing activities for the first two quarters of 2020 are going to be targeted towards quite technical people and they are going to be heavily tech oriented (tutorials, docs, hackathons, explanatory videos, workshops etc). The promo video was a representation of the more mainstream marketing that forms part of our long-term goal."
Tl;dr
Golem has not adopted users as quickly as expected, however that goes for a lot of things in the cryptospace. The focus is currently on making the platform more robust and on UX instead of deep development and integrations. The Testnet API is live. Blenderapp can be run by anyone on the current testnet using these instructions. tutorialapp can be build and run locally using these instructions ( NOTE: technical ). Other possible use-cases for Golem are BOINC and BOINC-like computations, however these require more effort currently and have been passed on for internal discussion. Several PoCs are being integrated; chemistry software for one of the scientific research projects from IChO as well as gas-optimization calculations for gWASM and a PoC for a meta-usecase with tools for developers.
The GNT should be easy to use directly on the platform. The current model with on-chain payments is not sustainable for Golem and other similar projects which need a trade-off between the cost of transaction, security/finality and timing. When it comes to small (aka micro) payments it’s even more important. Golem has not found a layer 2 solution that satisifies their needs. Golem has been working with ETHWorks on finding the best approach for migrating GNT to ERC20. They chose to work with this particular company as our goal is to make sure that the passage to ERC20 allows the (new)GNT to be able to adapt to various matters. Their main focus remains on giving our users the chance to improve their Golem experience, trade without KYC (if they want to) - while we simultaneously look into all the DeFi ecosystem, and see if we can have the chance of using the token in other platforms.
Radek Tereszczuk, Kuba Kucharski and Phillip from GolemGrid have joined the team and they will help in the fields of long-term web3.0 vision, boosting product and engineering performance and efforts and tech support as well as community support respectively.
Golem will be speaking at FOSSDEM 2020 in Belgium in a matter of days and will then be heading towards ETHCC 2020 in Paris to spread the word about gWASM even further. They will also be speaking in April at EDCON, as well as doing active reach-outs to conferences to help with programming.

See you all next AMA!
submitted by PSVjasper99 to GolemProject [link] [comments]

A portal opened in front of my car today and I hit a time traveler. I cradled him in my arms and he gave me some pages from a journal. His dying words: “take this and publish it to r/Buttcoin. The world must know what awaits it. I fear, however, trying to change the future is futile.” Here it is.

Thursday, July 27, 2023
5:30 am -My alarm goes off blaring random Leo Wolf clips. When he says “I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich!” I roll out of bed and fill my kitty’s bowl until it overflows. I watch his obese body slide out from under the bed and make its way toward the bowl. I return to sleep.
5:53 am - I awake to Mr. Fats barfing up his food along with a tiny baggie containing a small slip of paper with one-time codes to unlock my trading computers. Not safe to just leave them laying around at night where they could be stolen while I sleep or photographed by a drone through a window.
6:15 am - I enter my sonically shielded (so no one can record my typing patterns) and EMF shielded (obvious reasons) trading room I built out of the closet next to the front door of my 200 square foot apartment. I unlock my machines and get the new random passwords for tomorrow. Time to start trading during my self-imposed two hour trading schedule. Things are looking good. HomeCoin is up 10% - yes! - one step closer to being out of the apartment and into my own house. PottyCoin went down the tubes last night, so to speak, but I knew it was coming and I hedged with 10x margin shorts. Someone will be personally wiping my butt clean in a luxurious stall today! WaterCoin down - no wonder my faucet wasn’t working this morning - but CoffeeCoin up. One of my exchanges exit scammed last night but like most people I have at least ten different exchange accounts with balances at any given time.
8:15 am - I’m done trading. I wipe the sweat from my brow and take my pulse. 137. Not bad! Who needs exercise when you spend each morning with your life savings one click away from being decimated? Suddenly I remember that my paycheck came in last night and it’s time to do some bitcoin cost averaging to my altcoin portfolio. The bitcoin transaction fee eats up half my paycheck, as usual, but I’m not too worried. Lightning Network is only about 18 months from being production-ready and high fees will soon be a thing of the past.
8:33 am - I make it to my favorite coffee shop a little late and order my favorite latte. The cashier frowns, however. Turns out that five minutes ago CoffeeCoin pulled a bart and I can’t even pay for half a cup. I shrug, “I guess I’ll have to trade for more tomorrow!” I tell the cashier as I leave. Oh crypto market you big silly animal - big gains mean sometimes you take little losses.
8:59 am - I squeeze into work just before the door traps me inside. Phew. Wouldn’t want to be docked a week’s pay. Ever since the government collapsed when fiat became worthless, businesses have become way more efficient and profitable due to not being restrained by oppressive labor laws. I may work twelve hours a day, six days a week, but being locked in the building motivates me to strive toward that eight-year promotion where I’ll only work ten hours a day and I can leave the building for thirty minutes at lunch.
9:15 am - I settle into my desk at Kodak Corp. We specialize in ICOs, our most successful being a coin for tracking food coloring from production to consumption. My job is to find photos of random people on the internet that look important and make the images suitable for our ICO prospectuses.
11:37 am - I’m fatigued so I pop a few amphetamines. Weird to think I once had to buy these on the dark web but now they sell them at the company pharmacy.
12:18 pm - Watch a bunch of new hires in a conference room for orientation. KodakCoin has really been up since last Monday and we’ve been hiring like crazy. Hope they all aren’t canned by next Friday if the market drops.
12:47 pm - Eat a quick lunch and then “drop the kids off at the pool”. It’s everything I dreamed it would be.
7:17 pm - Finish a lot of photos. Stretch. Pop more amphetamines.
9:25 pm - Get out of work a little late and then head home.
9:55 pm - Arrive at my apartment only to find a repo team taking my stuff away. After a frantic two hours I discover what happened. Turns out I was dumb enough to buy a laptop from a non-Intel approved computer store. It had a hidden chip on the motherboard waiting for the right moment to steal my private keys and then move my crypto out of my wallets. At first I’m distraught, but then at the lowest point of my despair I realize that I’m one of the few people that could afford to learn a lesson this expensive. I’m truly lucky.
11:58 pm - After dealing with the fiasco at my former apartment, I find out hackers discovered KodakCoin was using SHA1 for their block hashes and the entire coin collapsed. So I’m out of a job, too. I head to my local HomelessShelterPlus. In the past, I would have been ashamed, but now that homeless shelters are all private companies, I have the satisfaction of knowing I won’t be getting a handout. Only five years of indentured servitude until I’m back in the voluntary work force. I smile as I step forward to wait in line for a cardboard box and an allocated spot on a nearby street.
submitted by taxonomicnomenclatur to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

I'm an Undercover FBI Agent on the Deep Web

Part one
My name is Special Agent “Barry Allen” . (Not my real name of course) It's actually my code name. Given to me by my colleagues. You may recognize this name from the comic book character “The Flash”. I was given this name due to my quickness to obtain IP addresses , bypass firewalls and hack into certain deep web sites and shut them down. That is my area of expertise.
However, I've also been assigned to a Joint Task Force before which tracked and arrested drug runners, firearms dealers and human trafficking rings. Believe it or not. The federal government is everywhere. Social media, Reddit, YouTube. You name it. We have our guys on it. We monitor everything. That being said, the FBI only has jurisdiction to operate within the borders of the United States.
In this new digital age we find ourselves living, Cybercrime is much more of a direct threat. Now more than ever…
Yes in the past we feared as a nation, biological and chemical warfare. As an example, right after 9/11 the United States had an Anthrax attack. In the FBI, it was known as “Amerithrax” Letters were mailed containing anthrax spores to several news media offices and to Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, killing 5 people and infecting 17 others. Once the victim opened the letters they would immediately be exposed to the spores. Inhaling them is the most deadly form of the attacks. And it quickly destroys your immune and respiratory system's.Back then there were no known cures and it was difficult to treat as the symptoms often times confused doctors. The death rate once exposed was nearly 95% .No one was ever officially arrested or tried as the primary suspect for this horrific crime. If you ask me though, the scariest part of this investigation is where it led us….To a lab on an Army base. Essentially the US Army was weaponizing Anthrax using independent scientists specializing in microbiological warfare.
Of course though, if you wanted to bring down Western Civilization today , all you'd have to do is manipulate or destroy our satellites and we would be back in the dark ages. Computers, banks , grocery stores and cell phones, power plants, even the water filtration system runs with electronics and the ability to communicate with satellites.
Essentially, our world now depends on this. It's scary to think about. Especially when 14 year olds are hacking into the largest banks in the world from their mother's basement. Somehow they are able to bypass the best security systems we know of. (I personally believe they are using password skimmers) We joke in my department that in order to work for us, you simply only need to be smarter than a teenager.
My background is in IT while in the military. While serving i also obtained several certifications and degrees in my field..
I worked alongside someone i never thought i would. Turns out the federal government often times hires former hackers to “consult” for them. In fact they have an army of internet soldiers at their disposal. I was actually trained by a convicted felon. It's been said he is one of the best hackers in the world. Eventually i was put in contact with men in the FBI. Essentially went through a series of rigorous “tests” to determine my operating field of work. After seeing our skills, they then placed myself and the felon on the Cyber Anti-Terrorism unit (or CAT as we call it) .
Our first assignment was to locate a man on the Deep Web known only as “Captain Death” He runs this anonymous site in which the viewers would donate bitcoin to watch unspeakable acts of torture, mutilation and murder. Often times called “Red Rooms”. After searching for a while, clicking on every single link given to us, we found the exact link which directed us to the host site.We visited the website. For a moment the page was completely black. So we waited a few moments. Suddenly a bright red colored text appears across the top of the screen. “Welcome! To the house of pain, tonight's events will commence in 2 minutes. Enjoy” Looking over at my colleague, Jeff begins penetrating the sites security systems attempting to find the IP address of the hosts location. Viewing the site still with my eyes locked onto the screen. Using my laptop separate from Jeffs. The monitor goes black, Then a video attempts to load. Buffering now for several minutes. “Any luck Jeff”? I ask. “I'm searching for a weakness in the security firewall. Give me a minute” he responds. Frustrated i say, “We may not have a minute” Using access control, Jeff was able to find and manipulate the users login information bringing down the video before the it began. Believe it or not. One of the weakest points to a website can often times be it's login feature. Jeff found a vulnerability in the source codes software and exploited it. Still haven't found the guy. As that process is much more difficult. For now, we can rest a little bit easier knowing his account is compromised.
The best hack is when you can invade a security system and not ever be noticed. This was not one of those instances. “Who are you” appears on Jeff's computer screen. He responds quickly “The Dark Knight” in bold green text as he looks over the offenders account. Attempting to track down banking information. Recent transactions. Even bitcoin exchange.
Searching over the vast amount of data pouring into the site. Seems they have gone through great lengths to keep themselves hidden from the public. The Identity of the perp is still unknown. Patting Jeff on the shoulder i thank him for saving my eyes from witnessing god only knows what. I suppose for now it's a small victory. “Let's take a break Jeff” I urge. Shutting down our laptops we exit the dark cold room we sat in with monitors, computers, servers and many other electronic components all around us. One thing to remember, heat is the enemy of electronics. and for some strange reason, we enjoy freezing our asses off while hacking.
Walking outside Jeff lights up a cigarette and takes a drag. Putting on his sunglasses “Want one?” He asks “No thanks, they really break my concentration, I don't seem to function well with that in my system” i reply… he scoffs and quietly whispers (amateur) while choking and coughing. I smile and look up “Yeah well at least I can breathe” I say laughing. (A smile forming on ny face) We begin walking to a nearby restaurant. My phone lights up and rings loudly. It's my supervisor. “Go for Barry” I speak confidently. My boss is breathing heavily into the phone and says sternly “What's the News on Captain Death”? I begin to inform him on our progress and our struggles. “Keep me posted Barry, good work.” He says. (Not telling him Jeff did most of the work, i feel bad for taking credit for this one)
Reaching the doors of the bar and grill, I notice a man sitting in the corner of the restaurant with his family. Jumping back quickly while peering around the corner. Jeff gives me a strange look as I inform him that man is a fugitive from an earlier investigation. I call in for back up and sit back in our unmarked unit waiting for the Cavalry to arrive as he is armed and extremely dangerous. 15 minutes pass as back up swarms the parking lot. We exit the vehicle and surround the building. Rushing in 12 men strong, guns drawn we make the arrest. Fortunately, he did not resist. No civilians were harmed on the takedown.This man has been on the run for months moving from state to state. I had previously set up a sting operation to illegally buy stolen guns from the man which had been arranged through the deep web. However , this particular sting was an in-person arms deal. He appeared very spooked and got away from us before the transaction was made. After searching his panel van today we found an entire armory of weapons. A few days pass and we now have a search warrant issued by the judge for his last known address. Confiscating all of his computers, hard drives and weapons. My partner and I found a hidden room below the living room floor boards with $1.4 million dollars in it. It also had passports and other documents. He was ready to flee the country for sure. Why he was out in public is beyond me. Though often times, men like him feel they are untouchable and above the law.
It's several weeks later and work has been slow. (Not sure if that is good or bad) Until today that is, I began chatting on forums and meeting interesting characters in chat rooms. On the clear net and deep web. Today I met a dark shadowy figure online. He claims to have worked with a group of hackers who specializes in debit and credit card theft online. (Playing the part ask in a private chat) “How much does this pay?” Moments pass with no answer. I sit and wait for a response. A message appears with a link and a phone number. “Contact him for a trial run, if you do well. He'll set you up with further work” he writes. (Thinking for a moment, finally an adversary worth hunting) Typing quickly I say “Who is he, do you know him personally”? He responds rapidly and the text box closes after he writes “Rule number one, no names!” Fortunately I was able to copy the link and phone number before my computer screen went completely blank.
Reaching for the burner phone i recently acquired i begin dialing the number provided. It rings several times. No answer. So i check out the link i copied. Right before i click on it. My phone lights up and rings beside me forcing me to jump out of my seat. Startled i look at the cell phone. Mildly confused as it reads 'unknown number’. Quickly i answer the phone. A man on the other end speaks. “How did you find this number”? he asks. I inform him i was searching online for a while. Im new and im looking for work. “I was told you're the man to call if i wanted some action, i need the money” i implore. “Competition is next week, meet at this address, winner gets a spot on my team, if you think you're up for the test, be on time” he demands. I thank him and abruptly hang up.
Jeff comes over to my place. He has some info on low level guys in the fraudulent/stolen debit card scheme. Using an unmarked and totally not suspicious surveillance van. We follow a few men on their day to day operations. For the most part, this portion of our job is the worst. Very daunting and boring. Sitting and waiting isn't exactly glamourous as the movies depict it to be.
From what we can tell so far these men are using credit card skimmers. Victims of credit card skimming are completely blindsided by the theft. They notice fraudulent charges on their accounts or money withdrawn from their accounts, but their credit and debit cards never left their possession. How did the theft happen?
You may be wondering, what exactly is this? Credit card skimming is a type of credit card theft where crooks use a small device to steal credit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction. When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card's magnetic stripe. The stripe contains the credit card number and expiration date and the credit card holder's full name. Thieves use the stolen data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card.
These men have been using these small devices all over the local area and surrounding states as well. Targeting the nicer areas of town. Attaching the devices to the ATMs. Sitting a short distance away in their cars watching each victim approaching. Laughing all the way to the bank...so to speak. After several days of stake-outs. Out team makes the arrests. Finding blank cards, machines and large sums of cash on hand. After hours of interrogations we learn a much bigger scheme is in the works. The men inform us that they were merely a distraction for a much larger crime. My supervisor gives us clearance to make a deal with them. Lessening their charges if they are willing to cooperate. Speaking with the men for 3 more hours we learn what's really going on. The next few days are extremely tense as our offices try to warn all the banks and even get the media involved.
Calling every bank, big and small we alert them of the situation that cybercriminals are poised to carry out an “ATM cash-out,” an operation that gives thieves access to untold sums of money by bypassing security measures on an ATM. If successful, the operation has the potential to be a heist unlike any we’ve ever seen.
The FBI has obtained unspecified reporting indicating cyber criminals are planning to conduct a global Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cash-out scheme in the coming days, likely associated with an unknown card issuer breach and commonly referred to as an ‘unlimited operation‘.
These unlimited operations compromise financial institutions or payment processors by installing malware that allows hackers to exploit network access, allowing admin-level access. Once inside, they can disable fraud protection, raise maximum ATM withdrawal amounts (and transaction limits) and withdraw large sums of money. Millions, potentially.
All they’ll need to carry out the attack are debit and credit card numbers found on the dark web, and dummy cards, also known as “blanks,” to attach the numbers to.
The cyber criminals typically create fraudulent copies of legitimate cards by sending stolen card data to co-conspirators who imprint the data on reusable magnetic strip cards, such as gift cards purchased at retail stores. At a pre-determined time, the co-conspirators withdraw account funds from ATMs using these cards.
It's nearly a week later and im preparing for my tests. I have my laptop ready in its case. Im extremely nervous.The information given to me is that i am to meet at this very strange building on the outskirts of town. I have no idea what to expect. I must come in first place to become a member of the team and ultimately take down the leader of this cybercrime domestic terrorist.
If things go according to his plan.He could potentially put the entire country on its knees and our banking systems would completely collapse.Chaos and madness will spread like wildfires. Millions of people unable to access their money will riot and destroy stores. Stealing food and everything they can get their hands on. The police will be overrun and unable to do anything about it. The military would most certainly be called in an attempt to regain order. Mass hysteria ensues. To the extremes we have never seen before. I must stop him. Before its too late….
Part 2
The day has come and I just received the call I've long avoided. It is time. The competition for top tier hackers are meeting at this building in which i believed to have been abandoned. We are in the surveillance van. Heading towards our destination. Our equipment is all packed up. Wearing a wire on my chest. (Hopefully they don't pat me down upon entry) Jeff is driving recklessly, as he has a bad habit of being late. Testing the audio in the back of the van. Generally this is done days before an operation. However, we are rather short on time. (Not pointing any fingers)
Leaving the city limits, we now enter a heavily wooded area. There is only one way in. The road is turning into rubble. Small rocks are shooting from our tires .Lights are fading behind us as we venture further into the forest. Jeff now using high beams. We notice it's grown quiet. Other than hearing the tires on the gravel road. There seems to be less and less wildlife in the area. I got this feeling like we are being watched.
Checking my cell phone, we have lost all signal. (Is this a trap)? i thought . Our other equipment seems to work just fine. I can begin to see dim lights in the distance. We must be nearing the competition. “You ready for this?” (Jeff asks while blowing smoke out the window) I start to swat the backdraft of the smoke billowing back into my window. “Yeah, I'm ready, you should really consider cutting back on the smokes.” I utter. Just then, a pack of Marlboros are hurled in my direction. “We're here , Barry. Make sure you have everything.” (Jeff commands) “I'm all set.” I reply.
Jeff stops the Van on the gravel. Exiting the vehicle, i grab my backpack while adjusting my clothes. (I found some glasses with regular lens in them, so as to ‘look the part’) Walking towards the building i speak quietly into my chest microphone. “Test, test chest mic, how do you read me” i ask. (Jeffs growly voice comes into my earpiece) “Loud and clear, good luck” he responds.
One odd thing i notice right away as my feet kick up against the rocks on the ground is that there is only one vehicle other than ours. A large bus. Slightly confused, i look in every direction while also investigating the bus. Seems as though it's empty. (Later i would learn everyone else met up at a different location and they all took the bus to get here).
Reaching the suspicious looking building, i reach for the door handle. As the door opens with little force, loud music hits me as well as bright flashing lights. What the hell? Walking around i find what i was looking for in a back room. “You're late , take your seat.” a well dressed man says (Seeing one empty seat left) Grabbing my laptop from the bag. Booting it up and joining the their local area network. Connection established. A strange software automatically downloads on my laptop.
The man who greeted me walks over to examine my screen. “We will wait until this participant is ready” (he tells everyone else) Minutes pass and the program has finished installing. What's on my screen is a D O D login showing the user name and password empty fields. “Ok everyone, your first task will be to crack the code and gain entry into this system. You have ten minutes to access the servers and find the login information. The first 10 people who accomplish this task will advance to the next round, good luck, your time starts now!” he explained.
A voice come over my earpiece once more .“Ok Barry, i'm linked up with your laptop, i can see everything you see. I will now control everything remotely. How do you read”? Jeff says quietly. “I hear you, I'll let you take over from here.” I reply. My colleague begins typing away like mad. It's been said he can type up to 153 words per minute. Looking at my screen, the computer is changing rapidly, each window appearing with different streams of code. (Almost like what you seen in the movie The Matrix) Which i suppose is a foreign language to most people. It can seem overwhelming at times. Normally. I would be doing this.
Jeff is far better and faster than i. It's not worth the risk. This task is far too important. There is much at stake here. As he continues going in through the firewall. More boxes open and close all over the screen. I appear as if im typing away. As there is a man walking around watching each potential hacker perform their duties. Not sure if it's the leader of this anonymous group. He is in a dark suit and all i can see is the flashes of light from each monitor.
Maybe it's just my paranoia but i feel like he keeps shooting me these awfully suspicious looks. Have to stay focused. Come on Barry. You need this. Concentrate! Keep your head in the game. I can't lose myself in the moment. Oh wait a minute, i just now remembered. I'm not even in control of my machine. Jeff, i sure as hell hope you know what you're doing…
“Barry, you DO know i just heard everything you said, right? Now shut the hell up and let me work. We only have 4 minutes left!!” Jeff urges. “Well then hurry up you lung cancer having prick, I'm dying in here. Must be 90 degrees” i whisper. Just then (Access granted) appears on my screen. The login information has been hacked. Instantly i jump up as if I've just won in BINGO. “I'm in!!!” I yell loudly to the man. He nods and another man comes over to confirm the legitimacy of my claim.
After confirmation is given a few moments later. Myself and several others are ushered to another room not first seen when you enter the building. First we are taken down a flight of unkempt stairs creaking and groaning with every step. Feeling as it could give out at any moment. Our group reaches the bottom of the stairs and are now on a platform. A mechanical whirring is heard as we now are being lowered even further underground. “Where the hell are we going”? One man asks in fear. “Silence fool”!! (Says the man in a nice dark suit) Finally the platform stops as i would approximate we are at least 80 feet underground.
A long dark hallway is before us. Lit dimly by low hanging lights. Which never seem to end as far as we can see. Walking for several minutes i no longer hear my associate in my ear piece. So i remove it quickly before anyone notices. There is a musty smell that has disturbed me immediately coming down here. It grows stronger the closer we get to the direction we are headed. Im last in line only in front of what i assess is a hired goon.
Stopping for a moment im pushed forward on my upper back near my shoulders. (I swear if i wasn't trying to save the world right now, I'd just take out my service pistol and blow this cocksucker away. No one would miss him) We reach a large old wooden door with absolutely no handle or markings of any kind. The leader pushes up against the wall near the door and it opens slowly. Everyone pours in single file line. There is a large wooden table with chairs almost like a conference room. “Take your seats please” the leader addresses. “You're all probably wondering what the hell we are doing down here, well you're here for a job. Also i didn't want any interference of any kind. Just in case the government is watching us. There's no way they could possibly hear what's being said this far underground.” He explains.
“Congratulations to each of you that has moved on to the next round. You 10 have been chosen to advance to the next stage in the competition. This following task will include various stages of difficulty. You will be chosen at random by a computer so it's completely fair. Each of you are to hack into some the world's largest banks and bring down their servers. Please come back to this location. Your names have been taken down and we shall contact you if anything changes. I expect to see all of you back with us .Same time next week. 6 days from now. That is all for now, thank you.”
The leader finishes and leaves the room first. Each man muttering and chatting loudly. I can hear only bits and pieces as everyone is talking loudly. Minutes pass and we are escorted out of the building. Everyone begins walking towards the bus. I veer towards my van and am stopped by the same man who pushed me earlier. “Just where the hell do you think you're going”? He asks. “Oh i didn't get the meet up spot, i had to drive here.” I respond while swatting away his hand from my shoulder. The man reaches in his pocket pulling out a card. “Be at this location and be on time or we will find someone else” the man urges. I snatch the card and stuff it into my wallet.
Reaching the van, i hop in and drive away. “What the hell happened in there”? Jeff demands. I begin informing him of everything that took place and explained the situation. He nods and tells me good work. Wait a minute, this doesn't look right. Jeff looks at me puzzled. Something is off. I don't remember any of this. Now there's a fork in the road. Is this the way we came? I thought i remembered it being only a one way in and one way out. “You went off the gravel road, move over,let me drive.” Jeff says. Hey sorry man, I'm a hacker. Not a tracker. Just get us the hell out of here. I'm more lost than Atlantis.
About an hour passes and Jeff somehow gets us out of the woods and back to the main road. We head back towards my house. But suddenly he makes a detour. “Screw this man. After all that i need a damn drink. You down”? Jeff asks. “Well in the words of my father, If you have time to think, you have time to drink” i utter proudly. (Then again dad was a major alcoholic, so perhaps that's bad advice) “Well alright then” jeff says as he floors the gas pedal.
Roughly 20 minutes later we arrive at his favourite bar where he immediately opens up a tab. I'm worried as I've heard he drinks like a fish. Not to mention we are both armed in a bar. (Yes that's illegal but screw you i am F B I. Remember folks, laws are made to be broken, otherwise, I'd be out of a job)
Crap i think i have lost my colleague. I begin walking around the establishment and am stunned to see this gorgeous blonde woman cross my path. We strike up a conversation and i soon forget about Jeff. (Meh oh well he is a grown man, i am sure he will be fine) She asks what i do for work and of course i lie. Never know when you need to run a background check on someone. Besides telling the whole world you're an undercover FBI agent isn't exactly the best idea. Or so the Bureau instructed us.
We continue chatting for a while and eventually part ways as it began to get late into the night we exchange numbers and she leaves gracefully. I walk outside to see the van still parked in the same spot. A bit puzzled i go over to inspect the van thinking maybe he just passed out in the front seat. I arrive at the driver's side door and open it to find all of our equipment gone and jeff is nowhere to be found. Freaking out i run back into the bar searching all over even behind the bar next to the register.
The bathrooms are empty and it's closing time. I have no idea where he went.. Did he leave with some one or was he was abducted possibly, either way i am completely dead if my supervisor finds out about this. I have to find him and the equipment. And who the hell was that girl, could she have something to do with this? I need answers. Oh no. I just realized, my laptop is also missing. If that information gets in the wrong hands. It could have catastrophic consequences…...
submitted by BeardedVeteran to DrCreepensVault [link] [comments]

Weekly Update: First ParJar Pilot Class, Constellation partners with Chainlink, $BAT on 2gether, Pynk on BlockMAG... – 11 Oct - 17 Oct'19

Weekly Update: First ParJar Pilot Class, Constellation partners with Chainlink, $BAT on 2gether, Pynk on BlockMAG... – 11 Oct - 17 Oct'19
Hi everyone! Here’s your week at Parachute + partners (11 Oct - 17 Oct'19):

The first ParJar Pilot Class is officially off to a roaring start with 5 amazing projects and their communities. Here’s to a great future. This was the perfect occasion to announce a ParJar Battle Royale for our ParJar Pilot partners. Blood will be spilled next week. Pow! ParJar now has almost 20k active users. It works in 400+ communities and has seen 400k+ transactions. Say what! Par4Par lottery entered stage 5 this week. The stakes are even higher. 250k $PAR in prizes. Dang! Reflecting on Vitalik Buterin’s observation, Cap says: “...we’ve done things in reverse here at Parachute - we grew an amazing community around exploring ideas and built our tech to meet what they needed”. What are your thoughts on buying houses for USD 1 each in an Italian town for building the Parachute village? Cap’s recommendation. Haha.
Andy’s Advent calendar. Each window is a 16.9 oz can of beer. Sweet!
We saw Tiproom become the 17th most active group on Telegram a few weeks back. Well, hold on to your pants because it is now the 12th most active group. Whoa! A big reason for the group’s constant buzz are the amazing trivias hosted by the TTR crew. This week was no different. Doc Victor’s Sunday medical trivia had 8 Qs, 3k $PAR each. This was a quiz with a twist. In Doc’s words: "..beware, in each question they will have to diagnose a case based on symptoms and signs that I will give them". Noice! Charlotte’s Tuesday Trivia had 10 questions with a 25k $PAR prize pool. Another trivia by Victor (not the Doc) had another 10 Q’s, 2500 $PAR each. Listened to the TTR theme yet? DJ Jose in da house with a rocking theme. Wicked! Congratulations to Mario for winning the pet contest in TTR. Sebastian made a compilation video of all the entries. Awww!
Let’s see if Cap’s guerrilla marketing at Burger Joint in NYC gets us a new Parachuter
Victor’s Friday trivia at aXpire was the usual 10 Q, 100 $AXPR per Q affair. And like always, super duper fun! If you missed news from Week 41 at aXpireverse, Joakim’s got your back. Check out his video to catch up. CEO Gary Markham travelled to India this week to prepare for the Bilr release. Click here to track the latest 20k $AXPR burn. Plus, a featured article by Hosting Advice was pretty cool. 2gether added Basic Attention Token ($BAT) support to the app this week. Let the $BAT spending begin! Use the invite code: paywithbat to get 100 $2GT free when you sign up for the app. Know of a startup that’s going to Malta Blockchain Summit? Let the XIO crew know since the team will be attending along with Uptrennd. Benjamin’s tutorial video on market cycles with the BOMB token as case study was riveting and full of useful info. This week’s Dash-walk-the-talk discussion revolved around getting unstuck as an entrepreneur. After taking inputs from the community 2 weeks back, the BOMB Board finalised on the team and way forward to manage the BOMB Instagram. For the latest update on the Birdchain app, click here. Congratulations to Bounty0x for crossing 2.5x of its funding goal on Republic with more than 2 months to go. Voyager is offering a 5% annual interest on ETHOS tokens held on their platform. Read more about it here. The news was also covered by SludgeFeed. Wendy O shared her usability experience of Voyager as well.
Bitcoin ATM in Alexis’ neighbourhood. Cool!
The McAfeeDex launched last week is off to a tremendous start. Bitcoin Cash’s Roger Ver spoke briefly on it in a news roundup video. 6 portals are live already. If you’re still wondering how to list your token on the Dex, here’s a simple guide from the man himself. Binance Chain support coming soon! SwitchDex is now trackable on DappRadar and State of the DApps. The team has set up a dedicated TG group for folks wanting to BUIDL on SwitchDex. Also, Callisto Network is slated to do a security audit of the McAfeeDex contracts. Great stuff! Peeps who missed the Fantom AMA with G.Crypto from 2 weeks back, can catch up from the transcript released this week. The latest technical update is detailed and covers all major changes in code. Uptrennd started a new video intro contest for a 2500 $1UP prize pool. Woot! Full transcript of Jeff’s interview with OmiseGo CTO Kasima from few weeks back was released this week. $1UP can now be spent in tons of retail chains thanks to a newly forged partnership with MobiePay. Last week we saw Jarau buy a laptop with his Uptrennd earnings. This week we learnt about Zubair buying a mobile phone with his $1UP earnings. Neat! The latest biweekly Dev update and weekly District update from Ditrict0x covers news such as Ethlance redesign, Meme factory NSFW filter etc.
Uptrennd continues to breach new heights on Alexa rankings every week

OST has set up a community slack to coordinate all Pepo related feedback received for the Pepo app. So join in if you want to help out! Did you know that Pepo is home to some of the most influential people in crypto? This week, we heard from Ethereum and Coinbase investor Bobby Goodlatte. The app crossed 20k P2P transactions and is now live in both app stores. The first such with micro-transactions, in-app purchases and cash-out options for crypto. Few weeks back, the Sentivate community chose to burn tokens (vs a raffle). This week, they voted on how many to burn. The $SNTVT crew sat down for a live Q&A with Bit Shaman this week. The team also wrote about possible future use-cases of the Universal Web with short story threads. Cryptoreview.xyz’s review of the project also came out this week. Constellation announced that it is joining Chainlink as a new node operator in order to stream enterprise data to Chainlink’s smart contracts. Click here for the PR release. The technical overview paper gets into details of what the partnership means for both companies. Bags Token hosted an AMA this week in their Telegram group. Hope you had an opportunity to get your doubts cleared. Community member Con built a $BAGS-centric image/gif board called bagsbook. Check it out! In a bit of a sobering news, Scroll (XD Token) ceased business operations this week.
Constellation will act as an oracle for Chainlink by streaming verified data to the network
Pynk was featured in the latest edition of the BlockMAG published by the Malta Blockchain Summit. COO Rupert Barksfield was invited by NatWest to speak on how to get traction for tech projects. Rupert’s interview by Ayo News where he explains how AI and crowd wisdom works in tandem at Pynk came out as well. Pynk Tank is Pynk's very own think tank intiative which hosts meet ups, panel discussions, podcasts with entrepreneurs, thought leaders etc. Their latest event was this week. Folks who are yet to figure out what Pynk does can read co-founder Zack Yurtsever’s article that explains it all. Following up on the Hydro Vault sneak peek from last week, check out its detailed update on the dev front. How can the Hydro platform be used to get acceleration for your fintech product? Click here to read how. Co-Founder Mike Kane travelled to the AWS Loft in NYC for the Shearman & Sterling Empire Startups Demo Day event to showcase Hydro’s fintech solutions. $HYDRO got listed on the Coinone exchange. This will be $HYDRO's first IDR fiat on-ramp. With bZx joining the Hydro dApp store this week, it now has an impressive line up of partners. Thanks to the massive community push, $HYDRO will be listed on Atomic Wallet in its next release. For a quick summary of the latest news from Hydroverse, click here. Most of these have already been covered in our updates. Silent Notary conducted the first ever speedtest of its IDL network. The team published the results and steps to optimise the code. In its current state, the network is able to execute 5-12 transactions per second. The first version of the SelfKey Corporate Wallet was launched this week. The corporate wallet will allow you to purchase digital services for your business in the future. Plus, a partnership with ChangeNOW allows easy crypto swapping from the marketplace.

And with that, we close for another week in the Parachuteverse. See you soon with another update. Cheers!
submitted by abhijoysarkar to ParachuteToken [link] [comments]

Andreas Antonopoulos' depiction of the day he became aware of the donations that made him a millionaire

I'm not sure if this already has been posted here, but I just came across this post from A. Antonopoulos' Patreon page (it's a public entry posted on 16th of December. The readability and formatting is better there btw):
Edit: direct link to the post: https://www.patreon.com/posts/emotional-15912702
On December 6th, my life changed trajectory... again. I went to sleep on a wave of positive messages and support from the bitcoin community, in response to a letter I had posted on Patreon titled “In defense of optimism” that had leaked to Reddit. I had spent the day reading messages of support pouring in on Twitter, Patreon, and email, literally thousands of them. It was a life-affirming experience. Like everyone else on social media, the messages I receive are not always kind and supportive. Often the critical messages and trolls are far louder than the supporters. Our brains don't evaluate praise and criticism in equal measure - it's easy to believe the criticism and see the praise as undeserved. That’s why each little message of support makes a difference, each one helps me ignore the critics and see the impact of my work. In addition to all of the written messages, people were signing up to support me on Patreon and some were even sending bitcoin to my donation address. By the time I went to sleep, I was filled with gratitude, humbled by the overwhelmingly positive, viral response of the community.
Here’s what happened next...
I wake up on December 7th, the notifications list on my phone was too long to scroll. Hundreds more messages of support had come in while I was asleep.
Then my phone rings and I recognize the number of a dear friend. "Strange," I think. I’m not expecting a call. "Don't open your laptop yet," she says. "You got some big bitcoin donations overnight. Are you sitting down?" I sit down. I open my laptop, I look at the balance in my 1andreas bitcoin donation address.
Surprise, gratitude, fear, shock, joy, elation, anxiety. My emotions achieved a level of volatility that mirrored that of the bitcoin exchange rate. Good thing I was sitting down.
You're probably thinking that between the supportive messages and the large donations, I’d have been celebrating without a care in the world. But I'm a security professional who works in bitcoin. Could I come up with a doomsday scenario to taint this experience? Hold my beer.
I'm in a taxi on the way to the airport. I’m cycling through emotions again, a bit faster now.
Joy, Terror, Tears, Gratitude, Fear, Elation, Dread, Cold Sweat. It's a good thing I'm sitting down. I can't feel my fingers.
Anxiety
Wouldn't it be ironic if I get hacked and this massive donation is stolen the same day it was given? Shudder. That was a real possibility. Funds were sent to a vanity address, posted on my website, which was mainly used to support my habit of giving small amounts of bitcoin to strangers at meetups and conferences. Before December 6th, the address typically received small gifts each month and I emptied it every now and then in a spree of small donations.
Gratitude
I still can’t believe how many people have responded. I had no idea how many people could identify with the feelings expressed “In defense of optimism” and would want to show their support. I’m grateful to be a part of this community.
Fear
This vanity address is secured with a single private key which was stored on my phone in a “hot” wallet, so that I can give away bitcoin at meetups. The address has maximum public visibility and no Segwit (segregated witness) support. My security model just tipped over and I'm freaking out.
Happiness
I’m so happy! This is incredible, unimaginable. My fingers are numb, in a good way. Is this really happening?!?
Cold Sweats
I have to move the funds out. Now. Right now. But I only have this key on a wallet that doesn't handle RBF (replace-by-fee), CPFP (child-pays-for-parent), and it's not a Segwit address. I'm traveling; I’m about to get on two long flights and the mempool is slammed with transactions. Of all the days!
Joy
I’m crying. Tears of joy. This is something most people never get to experience in the most meaningful of careers, a loud acknowledgement from an entire community and financial security. I’m thinking about my family members and close friends who are struggling and overjoyed at the opportunity I now have to help them.
Terror
Then it dawns on me: a perfect nightmare scenario. What if this is considered "income" in the US and I have to pay taxes at a 39.6% rate? Those taxes would be evaluated on the USD value of the donation at the time it was made, at an all-time-high price of bitcoin. If bitcoin's bubble bursts by 50% today, I will owe more taxes than the donation is worth. I will be bankrupt but will owe the IRS and those debts can't be discharged in bankruptcy. I'm going to be in debt for a decade!
Elation
I can HODL! I don’t have to keep selling to pay bills. Patreon has grown too, so I should be able to cover my expenses and build the business with their support. I can really HODL!
[Alarm buzzes on my phone]
“Boarding on Gate D15”. Pack everything back up, run to the gate. Find my seat. Unpack all my electronics. Re-establish connections. No Wifi yet. 3G if I hold my phone just so against the window. We're taking off. No Wifi at all on this flight. 4 hours, offline, me and my thoughts. What is the opposite of a state of mindfulness? Head spinning.
Fear
What if the price crashes. Should I sell some?
Silliness
I'm buying a lambo (I laugh out loud at the thought of that. No, I'd never waste money on something so silly).
Dread
What if the donations had zero fees and will never confirm? What if this was all a cruel joke?
Joy
My dad will be so proud!
[Landed]
Turn on smartphone. Too many notifications. Turn on VPN, Tor. Sync wallet. Too slow. Too slow.
Run to the lounge. Get on Wifi. Fire up VPN, Tor. Start electrum. Import keys. Child-pays-for-parent the stuck transactions, Replace-by-fee new transactions. Careful coin selection. Send to cold storage (so glad I keep an unused cold storage address handy). Overpay fees more than ever before. 2000 satoshi per byte? Fuck yeah. This is the highest priority transaction of my life. 8 agonizing minutes. 1st block. Confirmations ripple down my screen. Exhaling... I hadn't noticed I was holding my breath.
“Boarding gate C51”. Pack everything, run to the gate. Board the plane. Unpack everything. This flight has Wifi. Bet it doesn't work. Yup, it doesn't work. 6.5 hour flight. I'll just read a book. I've read the same paragraph 8 times and don't know what it says. I'll sleep. Nope. Ok fine, I'll fret - seems I'm good at that and nothing else right now.
[Landed]
That was the longest flight ever. Boot up, 4G, VPN, Tor. Sync.... slow, too slow.
ANOTHER GIANT DONATION. WTF! Is this really happening? Is my wallet counting the balance incorrectly? This isn't possible. WTF IS GOING ON?
Joy, Terror, Tears, Gratitude, Fear, Elation, Dread. I’m cycling faster now.
I just emptied my wallet into cold storage and now it's carrying a ridiculous amount again. Boot up, VPN, Tor, Electrum, CPFP, RBF, cold sweat, 1 confirmation. Phew.
I realize that I just conducted the 4 biggest transactions of my life. I'm shaking. Hope I didn't screw anything up.
Finally I get to my hotel. “Long day” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I am grateful, giddy, jetlagged and exhausted, so sleep should come easy, right? Not happening. Two hours of tossing and turning while my mind is racing. In the end I just pass out from exhaustion. I wake up in a state of anxiety.
I open my inbox. I have a dozen interview requests from newspapers, TV, radio. They don’t want to talk about bitcoin. They want to talk about “my story.” It’s never been about “my story” and I’m not about to change that. Denied, denied, denied. That’s it. I’m going offline for a few days. I need time to process everything that has happened over the past couple of days and strategize about what to do next.
There are no words to adequately convey my appreciation, my gratitude.
These are life-changing gifts, but I don’t intend to change my life. I’m highly suspicious and careful about “lifestyle inflation”: I resist any urges to increase my spending as my income increases because as a self-employed entrepreneur I know my income can decrease significantly at any moment.
First, the practical side: For legal and tax reasons the gifts should remain mostly untouched for at least three years. This is a new situation and no one knows for sure how the authorities will characterize it. I wanted to HODL anyway, so that’s fine with me.
Second, and the much more important side, I love what I do. I’m obviously not going to “retire” or slow down. Receiving your messages and support has energized me and I’m excited to do more, much more.
The number of people supporting me on Patreon has grown significantly and with that support I’ll actually be able to do a lot more. And there are many things I want to do: a new website with more materials, in as many formats and languages as possible; more books; an epic tour; and that’s just the beginning! I also plan to grow my team, which serves two goals: I can get help for the things that need to be done, but I can also bring more people success and security with a steady paycheck.
While I’m excited about all of these new projects, I want you to know that the ultimate goal remains the same: to educate as many people as possible about this transformational technology and remain an independent voice, working directly for the community.
A week has passed. The one feeling that keeps returning, among the barrage of feelings, is gratitude. After taking time to process and calm down, the fear and stress is gone and all that is left is gratitude. I am so thankful for all the messages of support. I am so touched to hear stories of how my work has affected others in a positive way. I am thankful for all the donors who rallied behind me to help me in my advocacy and education.

THANKYOUBITCOINCOMMUNITY

Thank you for being so generous, so kind, so supportive; I’ll never forget this experience. Now, back to work!
submitted by TheGreatMuffin to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

I'm an Undercover FBI Agent on the Deep Web.

Part one
My name is Special Agent “Barry Allen” . (Not my real name of course) It's actually my code name. Given to me by my colleagues. You may recognize this name from the comic book character “The Flash”. I was given this name due to my quickness to obtain IP addresses , bypass firewalls and hack into certain deep web sites and shut them down. That is my area of expertise.
However, I've also been assigned to a Joint Task Force before which tracked and arrested drug runners, firearms dealers and human trafficking rings. Believe it or not. The federal government is everywhere. Social media, Reddit, YouTube. You name it. We have our guys on it. We monitor everything. That being said, the FBI only has jurisdiction to operate within the borders of the United States.
In this new digital age we find ourselves living, Cybercrime is much more of a direct threat. Now more than ever…
Yes in the past we feared as a nation, biological and chemical warfare. As an example, right after 9/11 the United States had an Anthrax attack. In the FBI, it was known as “Amerithrax” Letters were mailed containing anthrax spores to several news media offices and to Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, killing 5 people and infecting 17 others. Once the victim opened the letters they would immediately be exposed to the spores. Inhaling them is the most deadly form of the attacks. And it quickly destroys your immune and respiratory system's.Back then there were no known cures and it was difficult to treat as the symptoms often times confused doctors. The death rate once exposed was nearly 95% .No one was ever officially arrested or tried as the primary suspect for this horrific crime. If you ask me though, the scariest part of this investigation is where it led us….To a lab on an Army base. Essentially the US Army was weaponizing Anthrax using independent scientists specializing in microbiological warfare.
Of course though, if you wanted to bring down Western Civilization today , all you'd have to do is manipulate or destroy our satellites and we would be back in the dark ages. Computers, banks , grocery stores and cell phones, power plants, even the water filtration system runs with electronics and the ability to communicate with satellites.
Essentially, our world now depends on this. It's scary to think about. Especially when 14 year olds are hacking into the largest banks in the world from their mother's basement. Somehow they are able to bypass the best security systems we know of. (I personally believe they are using password skimmers) We joke in my department that in order to work for us, you simply only need to be smarter than a teenager.
My background is in IT while in the military. While serving i also obtained several certifications and degrees in my field..
I worked alongside someone i never thought i would. Turns out the federal government often times hires former hackers to “consult” for them. In fact they have an army of internet soldiers at their disposal. I was actually trained by a convicted felon. It's been said he is one of the best hackers in the world. Eventually i was put in contact with men in the FBI. Essentially went through a series of rigorous “tests” to determine my operating field of work. After seeing our skills, they then placed myself and the felon on the Cyber Anti-Terrorism unit (or CAT as we call it) .
Our first assignment was to locate a man on the Deep Web known only as “Captain Death” He runs this anonymous site in which the viewers would donate bitcoin to watch unspeakable acts of torture, mutilation and murder. Often times called “Red Rooms”. After searching for a while, clicking on every single link given to us, we found the exact link which directed us to the host site.We visited the website. For a moment the page was completely black. So we waited a few moments. Suddenly a bright red colored text appears across the top of the screen. “Welcome! To the house of pain, tonight's events will commence in 2 minutes. Enjoy” Looking over at my colleague, Jeff begins penetrating the sites security systems attempting to find the IP address of the hosts location. Viewing the site still with my eyes locked onto the screen. Using my laptop separate from Jeffs. The monitor goes black, Then a video attempts to load. Buffering now for several minutes. “Any luck Jeff”? I ask. “I'm searching for a weakness in the security firewall. Give me a minute” he responds. Frustrated i say, “We may not have a minute” Using access control, Jeff was able to find and manipulate the users login information bringing down the video before the it began. Believe it or not. One of the weakest points to a website can often times be it's login feature. Jeff found a vulnerability in the source codes software and exploited it. Still haven't found the guy. As that process is much more difficult. For now, we can rest a little bit easier knowing his account is compromised.
The best hack is when you can invade a security system and not ever be noticed. This was not one of those instances. “Who are you” appears on Jeff's computer screen. He responds quickly “The Dark Knight” in bold green text as he looks over the offenders account. Attempting to track down banking information. Recent transactions. Even bitcoin exchange.
Searching over the vast amount of data pouring into the site. Seems they have gone through great lengths to keep themselves hidden from the public. The Identity of the perp is still unknown. Patting Jeff on the shoulder i thank him for saving my eyes from witnessing god only knows what. I suppose for now it's a small victory. “Let's take a break Jeff” I urge. Shutting down our laptops we exit the dark cold room we sat in with monitors, computers, servers and many other electronic components all around us. One thing to remember, heat is the enemy of electronics. and for some strange reason, we enjoy freezing our asses off while hacking.
Walking outside Jeff lights up a cigarette and takes a drag. Putting on his sunglasses “Want one?” He asks “No thanks, they really break my concentration, I don't seem to function well with that in my system” i reply… he scoffs and quietly whispers (amateur) while choking and coughing. I smile and look up “Yeah well at least I can breathe” I say laughing. (A smile forming on ny face) We begin walking to a nearby restaurant. My phone lights up and rings loudly. It's my supervisor. “Go for Barry” I speak confidently. My boss is breathing heavily into the phone and says sternly “What's the News on Captain Death”? I begin to inform him on our progress and our struggles. “Keep me posted Barry, good work.” He says. (Not telling him Jeff did most of the work, i feel bad for taking credit for this one)
Reaching the doors of the bar and grill, I notice a man sitting in the corner of the restaurant with his family. Jumping back quickly while peering around the corner. Jeff gives me a strange look as I inform him that man is a fugitive from an earlier investigation. I call in for back up and sit back in our unmarked unit waiting for the Cavalry to arrive as he is armed and extremely dangerous. 15 minutes pass as back up swarms the parking lot. We exit the vehicle and surround the building. Rushing in 12 men strong, guns drawn we make the arrest. Fortunately, he did not resist. No civilians were harmed on the takedown.This man has been on the run for months moving from state to state. I had previously set up a sting operation to illegally buy stolen guns from the man which had been arranged through the deep web. However , this particular sting was an in-person arms deal. He appeared very spooked and got away from us before the transaction was made. After searching his panel van today we found an entire armory of weapons. A few days pass and we now have a search warrant issued by the judge for his last known address. Confiscating all of his computers, hard drives and weapons. My partner and I found a hidden room below the living room floor boards with $1.4 million dollars in it. It also had passports and other documents. He was ready to flee the country for sure. Why he was out in public is beyond me. Though often times, men like him feel they are untouchable and above the law.
It's several weeks later and work has been slow. (Not sure if that is good or bad) Until today that is, I began chatting on forums and meeting interesting characters in chat rooms. On the clear net and deep web. Today I met a dark shadowy figure online. He claims to have worked with a group of hackers who specializes in debit and credit card theft online. (Playing the part ask in a private chat) “How much does this pay?” Moments pass with no answer. I sit and wait for a response. A message appears with a link and a phone number. “Contact him for a trial run, if you do well. He'll set you up with further work” he writes. (Thinking for a moment, finally an adversary worth hunting) Typing quickly I say “Who is he, do you know him personally”? He responds rapidly and the text box closes after he writes “Rule number one, no names!” Fortunately I was able to copy the link and phone number before my computer screen went completely blank.
Reaching for the burner phone i recently acquired i begin dialing the number provided. It rings several times. No answer. So i check out the link i copied. Right before i click on it. My phone lights up and rings beside me forcing me to jump out of my seat. Startled i look at the cell phone. Mildly confused as it reads 'unknown number’. Quickly i answer the phone. A man on the other end speaks. “How did you find this number”? he asks. I inform him i was searching online for a while. Im new and im looking for work. “I was told you're the man to call if i wanted some action, i need the money” i implore. “Competition is next week, meet at this address, winner gets a spot on my team, if you think you're up for the test, be on time” he demands. I thank him and abruptly hang up.
Jeff comes over to my place. He has some info on low level guys in the fraudulent/stolen debit card scheme. Using an unmarked and totally not suspicious surveillance van. We follow a few men on their day to day operations. For the most part, this portion of our job is the worst. Very daunting and boring. Sitting and waiting isn't exactly glamourous as the movies depict it to be.
From what we can tell so far these men are using credit card skimmers. Victims of credit card skimming are completely blindsided by the theft. They notice fraudulent charges on their accounts or money withdrawn from their accounts, but their credit and debit cards never left their possession. How did the theft happen?
You may be wondering, what exactly is this? Credit card skimming is a type of credit card theft where crooks use a small device to steal credit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction. When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card's magnetic stripe. The stripe contains the credit card number and expiration date and the credit card holder's full name. Thieves use the stolen data to make fraudulent charges either online or with a counterfeit credit card.
These men have been using these small devices all over the local area and surrounding states as well. Targeting the nicer areas of town. Attaching the devices to the ATMs. Sitting a short distance away in their cars watching each victim approaching. Laughing all the way to the bank...so to speak. After several days of stake-outs. Out team makes the arrests. Finding blank cards, machines and large sums of cash on hand. After hours of interrogations we learn a much bigger scheme is in the works. The men inform us that they were merely a distraction for a much larger crime. My supervisor gives us clearance to make a deal with them. Lessening their charges if they are willing to cooperate. Speaking with the men for 3 more hours we learn what's really going on. The next few days are extremely tense as our offices try to warn all the banks and even get the media involved.
Calling every bank, big and small we alert them of the situation that cybercriminals are poised to carry out an “ATM cash-out,” an operation that gives thieves access to untold sums of money by bypassing security measures on an ATM. If successful, the operation has the potential to be a heist unlike any we’ve ever seen.
The FBI has obtained unspecified reporting indicating cyber criminals are planning to conduct a global Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cash-out scheme in the coming days, likely associated with an unknown card issuer breach and commonly referred to as an ‘unlimited operation‘.
These unlimited operations compromise financial institutions or payment processors by installing malware that allows hackers to exploit network access, allowing admin-level access. Once inside, they can disable fraud protection, raise maximum ATM withdrawal amounts (and transaction limits) and withdraw large sums of money. Millions, potentially.
All they’ll need to carry out the attack are debit and credit card numbers found on the dark web, and dummy cards, also known as “blanks,” to attach the numbers to.
The cyber criminals typically create fraudulent copies of legitimate cards by sending stolen card data to co-conspirators who imprint the data on reusable magnetic strip cards, such as gift cards purchased at retail stores. At a pre-determined time, the co-conspirators withdraw account funds from ATMs using these cards.
It's nearly a week later and im preparing for my tests. I have my laptop ready in its case. Im extremely nervous.The information given to me is that i am to meet at this very strange building on the outskirts of town. I have no idea what to expect. I must come in first place to become a member of the team and ultimately take down the leader of this cybercrime domestic terrorist.
If things go according to his plan.He could potentially put the entire country on its knees and our banking systems would completely collapse.Chaos and madness will spread like wildfires. Millions of people unable to access their money will riot and destroy stores. Stealing food and everything they can get their hands on. The police will be overrun and unable to do anything about it. The military would most certainly be called in an attempt to regain order. Mass hysteria ensues. To the extremes we have never seen before. I must stop him. Before its too late….
Part 2
The day has come and I just received the call I've long avoided. It is time. The competition for top tier hackers are meeting at this building in which i believed to have been abandoned. We are in the surveillance van. Heading towards our destination. Our equipment is all packed up. Wearing a wire on my chest. (Hopefully they don't pat me down upon entry) Jeff is driving recklessly, as he has a bad habit of being late. Testing the audio in the back of the van. Generally this is done days before an operation. However, we are rather short on time. (Not pointing any fingers)
Leaving the city limits, we now enter a heavily wooded area. There is only one way in. The road is turning into rubble. Small rocks are shooting from our tires .Lights are fading behind us as we venture further into the forest. Jeff now using high beams. We notice it's grown quiet. Other than hearing the tires on the gravel road. There seems to be less and less wildlife in the area. I got this feeling like we are being watched.
Checking my cell phone, we have lost all signal. (Is this a trap)? i thought . Our other equipment seems to work just fine. I can begin to see dim lights in the distance. We must be nearing the competition. “You ready for this?” (Jeff asks while blowing smoke out the window) I start to swat the backdraft of the smoke billowing back into my window. “Yeah, I'm ready, you should really consider cutting back on the smokes.” I utter. Just then, a pack of Marlboros are hurled in my direction. “We're here , Barry. Make sure you have everything.” (Jeff commands) “I'm all set.” I reply.
Jeff stops the Van on the gravel. Exiting the vehicle, i grab my backpack while adjusting my clothes. (I found some glasses with regular lens in them, so as to ‘look the part’) Walking towards the building i speak quietly into my chest microphone. “Test, test chest mic, how do you read me” i ask. (Jeffs growly voice comes into my earpiece) “Loud and clear, good luck” he responds.
One odd thing i notice right away as my feet kick up against the rocks on the ground is that there is only one vehicle other than ours. A large bus. Slightly confused, i look in every direction while also investigating the bus. Seems as though it's empty. (Later i would learn everyone else met up at a different location and they all took the bus to get here).
Reaching the suspicious looking building, i reach for the door handle. As the door opens with little force, loud music hits me as well as bright flashing lights. What the hell? Walking around i find what i was looking for in a back room. “You're late , take your seat.” a well dressed man says (Seeing one empty seat left) Grabbing my laptop from the bag. Booting it up and joining the their local area network. Connection established. A strange software automatically downloads on my laptop.
The man who greeted me walks over to examine my screen. “We will wait until this participant is ready” (he tells everyone else) Minutes pass and the program has finished installing. What's on my screen is a D O D login showing the user name and password empty fields. “Ok everyone, your first task will be to crack the code and gain entry into this system. You have ten minutes to access the servers and find the login information. The first 10 people who accomplish this task will advance to the next round, good luck, your time starts now!” he explained.
A voice come over my earpiece once more .“Ok Barry, i'm linked up with your laptop, i can see everything you see. I will now control everything remotely. How do you read”? Jeff says quietly. “I hear you, I'll let you take over from here.” I reply. My colleague begins typing away like mad. It's been said he can type up to 153 words per minute. Looking at my screen, the computer is changing rapidly, each window appearing with different streams of code. (Almost like what you seen in the movie The Matrix) Which i suppose is a foreign language to most people. It can seem overwhelming at times. Normally. I would be doing this.
Jeff is far better and faster than i. It's not worth the risk. This task is far too important. There is much at stake here. As he continues going in through the firewall. More boxes open and close all over the screen. I appear as if im typing away. As there is a man walking around watching each potential hacker perform their duties. Not sure if it's the leader of this anonymous group. He is in a dark suit and all i can see is the flashes of light from each monitor.
Maybe it's just my paranoia but i feel like he keeps shooting me these awfully suspicious looks. Have to stay focused. Come on Barry. You need this. Concentrate! Keep your head in the game. I can't lose myself in the moment. Oh wait a minute, i just now remembered. I'm not even in control of my machine. Jeff, i sure as hell hope you know what you're doing…
“Barry, you DO know i just heard everything you said, right? Now shut the hell up and let me work. We only have 4 minutes left!!” Jeff urges. “Well then hurry up you lung cancer having prick, I'm dying in here. Must be 90 degrees” i whisper. Just then (Access granted) appears on my screen. The login information has been hacked. Instantly i jump up as if I've just won in BINGO. “I'm in!!!” I yell loudly to the man. He nods and another man comes over to confirm the legitimacy of my claim.
After confirmation is given a few moments later. Myself and several others are ushered to another room not first seen when you enter the building. First we are taken down a flight of unkempt stairs creaking and groaning with every step. Feeling as it could give out at any moment. Our group reaches the bottom of the stairs and are now on a platform. A mechanical whirring is heard as we now are being lowered even further underground. “Where the hell are we going”? One man asks in fear. “Silence fool”!! (Says the man in a nice dark suit) Finally the platform stops as i would approximate we are at least 80 feet underground.
A long dark hallway is before us. Lit dimly by low hanging lights. Which never seem to end as far as we can see. Walking for several minutes i no longer hear my associate in my ear piece. So i remove it quickly before anyone notices. There is a musty smell that has disturbed me immediately coming down here. It grows stronger the closer we get to the direction we are headed. Im last in line only in front of what i assess is a hired goon.
Stopping for a moment im pushed forward on my upper back near my shoulders. (I swear if i wasn't trying to save the world right now, I'd just take out my service pistol and blow this cocksucker away. No one would miss him) We reach a large old wooden door with absolutely no handle or markings of any kind. The leader pushes up against the wall near the door and it opens slowly. Everyone pours in single file line. There is a large wooden table with chairs almost like a conference room. “Take your seats please” the leader addresses. “You're all probably wondering what the hell we are doing down here, well you're here for a job. Also i didn't want any interference of any kind. Just in case the government is watching us. There's no way they could possibly hear what's being said this far underground.” He explains.
“Congratulations to each of you that has moved on to the next round. You 10 have been chosen to advance to the next stage in the competition. This following task will include various stages of difficulty. You will be chosen at random by a computer so it's completely fair. Each of you are to hack into some the world's largest banks and bring down their servers. Please come back to this location. Your names have been taken down and we shall contact you if anything changes. I expect to see all of you back with us .Same time next week. 6 days from now. That is all for now, thank you.”
The leader finishes and leaves the room first. Each man muttering and chatting loudly. I can hear only bits and pieces as everyone is talking loudly. Minutes pass and we are escorted out of the building. Everyone begins walking towards the bus. I veer towards my van and am stopped by the same man who pushed me earlier. “Just where the hell do you think you're going”? He asks. “Oh i didn't get the meet up spot, i had to drive here.” I respond while swatting away his hand from my shoulder. The man reaches in his pocket pulling out a card. “Be at this location and be on time or we will find someone else” the man urges. I snatch the card and stuff it into my wallet.
Reaching the van, i hop in and drive away. “What the hell happened in there”? Jeff demands. I begin informing him of everything that took place and explained the situation. He nods and tells me good work. Wait a minute, this doesn't look right. Jeff looks at me puzzled. Something is off. I don't remember any of this. Now there's a fork in the road. Is this the way we came? I thought i remembered it being only a one way in and one way out. “You went off the gravel road, move over,let me drive.” Jeff says. Hey sorry man, I'm a hacker. Not a tracker. Just get us the hell out of here. I'm more lost than Atlantis.
About an hour passes and Jeff somehow gets us out of the woods and back to the main road. We head back towards my house. But suddenly he makes a detour. “Screw this man. After all that i need a damn drink. You down”? Jeff asks. “Well in the words of my father, If you have time to think, you have time to drink” i utter proudly. (Then again dad was a major alcoholic, so perhaps that's bad advice) “Well alright then” jeff says as he floors the gas pedal.
Roughly 20 minutes later we arrive at his favourite bar where he immediately opens up a tab. I'm worried as I've heard he drinks like a fish. Not to mention we are both armed in a bar. (Yes that's illegal but screw you i am F B I. Remember folks, laws are made to be broken, otherwise, I'd be out of a job)
Crap i think i have lost my colleague. I begin walking around the establishment and am stunned to see this gorgeous blonde woman cross my path. We strike up a conversation and i soon forget about Jeff. (Meh oh well he is a grown man, i am sure he will be fine) She asks what i do for work and of course i lie. Never know when you need to run a background check on someone. Besides telling the whole world you're an undercover FBI agent isn't exactly the best idea. Or so the Bureau instructed us.
We continue chatting for a while and eventually part ways as it began to get late into the night we exchange numbers and she leaves gracefully. I walk outside to see the van still parked in the same spot. A bit puzzled i go over to inspect the van thinking maybe he just passed out in the front seat. I arrive at the driver's side door and open it to find all of our equipment gone and jeff is nowhere to be found. Freaking out i run back into the bar searching all over even behind the bar next to the register.
The bathrooms are empty and it's closing time. I have no idea where he went.. Did he leave with some one or was he was abducted possibly, either way i am completely dead if my supervisor finds out about this. I have to find him and the equipment. And who the hell was that girl, could she have something to do with this? I need answers. Oh no. I just realized, my laptop is also missing. If that information gets in the wrong hands. It could have catastrophic consequences…...
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Bitcoin 2.0 Hackathon: A Million in Prizes and Contracts

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