Tag Archives: Blockchain

The Latest on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of the world is aware of Bitcoin’s recent record surge to more than $4,000 per coin—a somewhat surprisingly immediate increase after its long anticipated hard fork, which was essentially a “break-up” amongst its developers over differences in the platforms ability and plans to scale.

At the same time, Ethereum has rebounded nicely from its major mid-summer dip, where its coin, Ether, dropped to as low as 10 cents USD. Ether appears stable at its new floor of around $300, and is currently valued $370 at the time this post was written.

Thanks to Bitcoin and Ether activity/trading volumes, the Crypto market is currently a $150 billion industry, and growing…

While Bitcoin and Ether are breaking records and creating millionaires overnight, companies like Microsoft are unveiling plans to jump on the Blockchain bandwagon with the launch of its Confidential Consortium Framework, otherwise known as CoCo, designed to make Blockchain systems faster and more secure. A few weeks back, Fidelity Investments announced that it will be adding Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin prices and trade information via Coinbase to its customer’s online portfolios in Q3.

So, what does all this mean? It’s clear that Blockchain and Cryptos are maturing and gaining more mainstream attention. However, we’re still a long ways off from seeing Bitcoin, Ether, or Litecoin replace USD, or any other physical currency for that matter.

Regulation and security still pose the biggest questions among skeptics, optimists, and industry analysts. Up until recently, the SEC had been pretty mum on Cryptocurrencies. But with the explosion of the Initial Coin Offering (ICOs), the SEC has become a bit more vocal about taming the “wild west” that is Cryptocurrency investing.

As for security, each week we hear about new ICO being hacked, or coins being stolen from an exchange. Just a few days ago, Enigma—a project born out if MIT—was pilfered for $500,000 USD in Ether. While the project itself did not lose half a million dollars, the hackers we’re able to gain access into the unsecured accounts of members of the Enigma community via Slack, many of whom we’re planning to invest said Ether into Enigma’s ICO planned for September 11.

Needless to say, the next 6-18 months will be crucial for the development and mainstream adoption of Blockchain and Cryptos. Stay tuned for more from 10Fold on this topic.

In the meantime, we encourage our readers to share their thoughts. You can also check out a recent, related blog from our CEO: Cryptocurrency and the Digital Economy.

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Cryptocurrency and the Digital Economy

Today I had the pleasure of attending a Chertoff Group Conference, #TCGSecuritySeries. I was fascinated with the cryptocurrency discussion led by Jason Cook – Managing Director of the Chertoff Group.  Panel members included Rich Baich, Executive Vice President & Chief Information Security Officer of Wells Fargo & Company;  Dave Jevans, Chief Executive Officer at CipherTrace; and Mance Harmon, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Swirlds.

Below are just a few tidbits from this thought-provoking discussion.

What’s the big deal about cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies fuel a multi-billion dollar economy
  • In one year, if all continues on course, the cryptocurrency economy will represent more than a trillion Dollars – which has more value than Canada’s GDP. .
  • The vast majority of ransomware is powered by Bitcoin

What’s important to know in regards to cryptocurrencies and security trends?

  • The Darkweb is being used to sell your private data (credit cards).
  • There is now a whole class of crime called data extortion. This entails the theft of customer data and private information., which cybercriminals then threaten to make public unless they get paid a ransom.
  • One step organizations can take to address this threat is by developing a definition for an enterprise-grade consensus server for connecting organizations.
  • From there, they need to implement that consensus server — a trust layer to go across the internet to connect the organizations and take advantage of improved security models.

A Few Surprising Facts about Blockchain:

  • Blockchain, a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly, has real potential from a currency perspective, but there is no real production Blockchain project underway.
  • If anyone wants to bring these systems into the open and transact for value, security is going to be a massive concern.
  • If we move to blockchain, every bank will have to develop a security system that is just as secure as SWIFT (the current security solution used by banks to transfer money).  This will be a huge challenge for banks.
  • Cryptocurrency is the killer app for blockchain technology. There are potentially thousands of others.

The Biggest Digital Economy Security Concerns

  • Distributed ledger technology is at the heart of the security concern because it’s the technology’s engine that acts like a database.  There may be multiple ledgers, and one or more may act as the master.  Copies are used for disaster recovery.  If you make the copies a master as well, you are writing to both simultaneously.  When you have a write conflict (two transactions come in simultaneously), then the community has to agree on the order to execute the transactions.  You can take a master out of one organization and give administration to a different party.  You can take all the masters and put them in control of many different organizations.  They can run each securely.
  • You should not be able to execute a DDOS attack against the network and bring it down.
  • You should not be able to change the actual order of transactions and no one should be prevented from transactions.
  • Protection of security encryption keys is also an issue.  If you have the encryption keys, you can effectively become the transacting party.

A Few Words of Security Advice

Going forward, organizations and the security community will need to:

  • Cultivate security education based on a deeper understanding of the threat
  • Implement regular “reality checks” of their security and compliance posture.
  • Thoroughly assess and prioritize risks and implement solutions and strategies for risk mitigation
  • Develop a government body for the crypto economy – possibly like the Federal Reserve Board for world governments.

Thanks to the Chertoff Group, and Secretary Chertoff, for inviting us to this very interesting event in Palo Alto, California.

By Susan Thomas

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Big Data Horizons- Blockchain, Transportation

When Blockchain Meets Big Data, the Payoff will be Huge

“Blockchain sweetspot will turn insights into tangible assets”

Blockchains will give greater confidence in the integrity of the data you see. Immutable entries, consensus-driven timestamping, audit trails, and certainty about the origin of data. Long term, we should expect to see an expansion of the concept of big data as data silos are converted to blockchain-enabled shared data layers.

Big Data could Revolutionise Transport, Right Now

“Future of transport is full of possibilities”

Superfast hyperloop systems, self-driving cars and other new technologies are showing promise to make us move faster and more efficiently than ever before. By implementing big data analytics, travel could be as simple as dialing in your destination as you leave home and reduce traffic, maximize responsiveness, and cut down overcrowding on public transit systems.

India Government to Nab Tax Evaders Through Big Data

“Indian government planning massive Big Data implementation”

The government of India is planning big data analytic information on individuals and corporate houses for income tax assessments. Starting in August, the government will collect statistics from bank sources, online transactions, and social media sites to match the spending and lifestyle patterns of a citizen with income declarations.  

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My First Trendjack Experience at 10Fold

As a new addition to the 10Fold team, as well as being new to the cybersecurity practice in general, it has been important for me to monitor the news on a daily basis in order to get familiar with trending topics and identify what it is my clients can speak to with authority. Although many stories have caught my eye in the last two months since I started these daily news sweeps, the NotPetya cyber attack stood out to me above all others.  

Peyta/NotPetya/ExPetr/GoldenEye is an ongoing cyberattack that started Tuesday, June 26. It began with a cyberattack in Kiev, Ukraine, where this malware went on to hit around 2,000 computer systems, specifically targeting computers running the Microsoft Windows Operating system. While many people originally believed it to be a form of ransomware similar to the recent ‘Petya’ attacks, this malicious software has been categorized as a  “wiper.” It’s designed to cause mayhem and wipe computers – and is not actually ransomware – which is why this ongoing attack has adopted so many names. It’s similar, but also different in a lot of ways.

Although there were corporations and public sector agencies affected in more than 65 countries all over the world, Ukraine and Russia were hit the hardest, including Ukraine government ministries, banks, utilities, telecom operators, an airport and other major companies. Also attacked were Russian oil giant Rosneft and Russian web security firm group-IB. Computers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant were compromised as well, forcing workers to manually monitor radiation levels, which have their own inherent security and safety challenges. Others hit include companies in the UK, Germany, China and U.S., British advertising giant WWp, French Industrial group Saint-Gobain, Shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, Cadbury, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and many more.

What was interesting about Petya was that after encrypting files on the PC, it demanded $300 worth of Bitcoin Cryptocurrency in order to supposedly unlock them. It turned out that as the story evolved, the ransomware was later categorized as a wiper, as previously stated, and the computer’s’ files were completely destroyed. Some security experts claim that this attack is more harmful than WannaCry, because rather than spreading only via a weakness in Windows’ SMB, the NotPetya malware can also spread by finding passwords on the infected computer to move from system to system. It extracts passwords from memory and local filesystem. Once inside a corporate network, it works its way from computer to computer, destroying the infected machines’ filesystems.

There has yet to be a solid explanation on the attackers’ motive and what they were after. Researching the attack, NATO said it was likely launched by a state actor or by a non-state actor with support and approval from a nation state since the operation was extremely complex and likely very expensive. The Russian government has been suspected as a possible origin for NotPetya. The latest rumors suggested that it spread by accident by a Ukrainian tax software company, named MeDoc.

NotPetya is continually evolving and more information is exposed every day. As one of the more significant organized attacks in 2017, it should bring awareness to the fact that many are unprotected. Even though large-scale attacks like this are not new, they are important to watch because each time around they are getting stronger and more sophisticated.   

It will be fun keeping an eye on more of these trends as they pop up. The next one I’ll dive into is the recent disclosures of public cloud leaks from organizations using the popular AWS services!

By Kory Buckley

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Sources:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/it/notpetya-latest-ransomware-is-a-warning-note-from-the-future

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-attack-ukraine-backdoor-idUSKBN19Q14P

http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/petya-or-not-global-ransomware-outbreak-hits-europes-industrial-sector-thousands-more/d/d-id/1329231

https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/2/15910826/nato-response-petya-attack-state-actor-russia-ukraine

http://www.csoonline.com/article/3204547/security/petya-wannacry-and-mirai-is-this-the-new-normal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/07/05/notpetya-hackers-demand-256000-in-bitcoin-to-cure-ransomware-victims/#5f709ac86cf9

What are Blockchain and Crypto Currency, and why you should be paying attention…

Throughout the last two years we’ve heard rumblings about Blockchain, and more recently, Crypto Currency. But as these technologies graduate from buzz words to real-world technologies, many questions still remain…

This blog will be the first in a short series where we explore what pundits are dubbing the next gold rush, and quite possibly, the foundation for the Internet 2.0.

What are Blockchain and Crypto Currency?

Blockchain, as defined by Wikipedia, is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of recordscalled “blocks”, which are secure from tampering and revision. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to the previous block. By design, Blockchains are resistant to data modification. Once recorded, the data in a block cannot be altered.

Crypto Currency, on the other hand, is designed to work as a medium of exchange for digital and tangible assets. It uses cryptography to secure said transactions, and to control the creation of additional units of the currency, called Double Spending—which is essentially the counterfeiting of digital currencies. Bitcoin, which we’re all familiar with, became the first decentralized Crypto Currency in 2009, gaining notoriety for its role in Silk Road.

Where does Crypto Currency fit into Blockchain?

Simply put, think of Crypto Currency as the monetary medium for “purchasing” or exchanging digital and tangible assets securely on the network, while Blockchain is the accountant tracking all said transactions in a public digital ledger.

So what’s next for Blockchain and Crypto Currency?

While the future looks bright, Cryptos still lack backing and regulation from financial institutions and government bodies, and pricing/valuation remains highly volatile. Standards have also yet to be established for the Blockchain. 2017, however, is shaping up to be perhaps the most important year for Blockchain and Crypto advancements to date, as use-case specific Blockchains and Cryptos are beginning to emerge.

Take Ethereum for example, a distributed public Blockchain network and Crypto Currency that recently partnered with the United Nations for a large-scale beta test to distribute funds to residents of a Jordanian refugee camp (read more here). Then there’s Litecoin, an open-source peer-to-peer Crypto Currency and software project released under the MIT/X11 license. The Australian Government recently committed nearly half a million dollars to Blockchain standardization, one of many standards efforts currently underway.  

Stay tuned for more from 10Fold as these technologies continue to evolve, as we’ll be diving into both Blockchain and Crypto Currency progress, news, etc. during the coming weeks.

Trends 2017: Big Data Adds Big Intelligence and Bigger Learning

While it’s too early to say that Big Data is all grown up, it is mature enough to have spawned a number of new and very interesting offspring. As Gartner analyst Betsy Burton explained in late 2015 when she removed Big Data from the firm’s Hype Cycle, “Big Data has quickly moved over the peak of inflated expectations and has become prevalent in our lives across many hype cycles.”

Big Data is now a fundamental basis of several emerging technologies including the IoT, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, deep learning, and augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It has moved beyond elemental data into more sophisticated areas such as image recognition and correlation, and natural language querying systems such as AI-based personal assistants.

The Big Data category is evolving so rapidly it’s difficult to say where it will be at year’s end but strong trends are evident. 10Fold has a dedicated Big Data team that has been driving and closely tracking its evolution, and below is a short list of some of the important trends we see for 2017.

Data Democratization

Delivering ease of use and understandable analytics to people who are not data engineers or scientists is evidence of the industry’s maturity, a key to its growth, and increases ROI via simplification. Improvements in data processing and cloud apps and services, including BDaaS and STaaS, have delivered simple and sometimes free tools that make Big Data results easier to access. The cloud is now the main means of implementing most Big Data initiatives, allowing users to specify the needed storage and compute by spinning up databases for apps and data warehouses in mere minutes, at minimal cost, and without the all the previous physical hassles of configuration. This year and the coming decade will see more from the next level of data democratization, and one that is born of Big Data itself, with VR- and AR-based data interaction capabilities providing an immersive and further simplified experience.

IoT, Big Data – and Blockchain?

IoT perfectly exemplifies Big Data, delivering constant generation of unstructured data from a variety of sources. IoT is hot, but it also expands the attack surface among a variety of new vectors. Interestingly, media and analysts alike see blockchain technology growing beyond its financial origins to impact Big Data and as a potential remedy for IoT’s security issues. Blockchain’s relevance comes from its distributed ledger capabilities that hasten communications, its encryption, and from its unalterable nature. If these capabilities can be successfully applied to IoT and across other distributed Big Data systems, then not only will they speed and improve performance, but will greatly reduce risks.

AI Continues Learning

According to IDC’s 2017 predictions, “by 2019, 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives and 100 percent of IoT initiatives will be supported by AI capabilities.” AI provides timely analytics from Big Data and is especially useful with unstructured data by rapidly sifting through and identifying which data are most relevant for specific use cases. AI has morphed into a variety of new applications including machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, cognitive computing, image recognition, speech recognition and natural language processing just to name a few.

Feeding Big Data’s analytic output back into the system so the database learns from itself creates an iterative process that is the main tenet of machine learning, with AI hastening that process. Cognitive solutions that leverage AI are particularly useful by providing explanations, recommendations, and informing future actions or outcomes via their predictive nature.

While the predictive nature of these solutions positively impacts a variety of industries, it is especially useful in the most critical area to us all—healthcare. Using AI and other learning technologies to harness Big Data sources such as genomic sequencing, imaging analytics, medical devices (IoT), and data from medical records can deliver decision support capabilities enabling: health risk predictions; prevention of hospital readmissions; and faster decisions for improved patient outcomes. As proof of its importance, industry giants including Microsoft, SAP, Dell Services, IBM, Google and others have invested heavily in healthcare with the goal of applying machine learning strategies to complex problems such as cancer research.

Better Than Humans and Accelerating

Recently published results from experiments at Google’s Brain and DeepMind artificial intelligence research groups, OpenAI, MIT and UC Berkeley indicate AI software can design machine-learning systems with better results than those designed by humans. This has powerful implications such as: reducing market demand/stress for AI engineers that are in low supply; accelerating the pace at which machine-learning software is deployed; and reducing the amount of required data consumed for a system to perform (learn) a task well—with the last two further accelerating the pace of machine-learning’s evolution.

The pace of innovation enabled by Big Data and its various intelligent and self-learning spawn is so rapid and widespread that its outcomes may be impossible for mere humans to predict, though perhaps AI and the learning systems themselves will have an answer soon. One thing is for sure, at this pace we won’t have to wait long for the results.