The FBI Received Over 2,600 Ransomware Complaints in 2016 – CoinDesk

The FBI received more than 2,600 complaints about ransomware last year, according to a new report.

Published yesterday, the annual review of cybersecurity threats from the law enforcement agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) outlined a range of statistics, including the number of submissions it received regarding ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts an infected computer’s data, demanding a payment – usually in bitcoin – in return for the information being unlocked.

More at: The FBI Received Over 2,600 Ransomware Complaints in 2016 – CoinDesk

Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright and the Bitcoin mystery – The Australian

Ten men raided a house in Gordon, a north shore suburb of Sydney, at 1.30pm on December 9, 2015. Some of the federal agents wore shirts that said Computer Forensics; one carried a search warrant. They were looking for a man named Craig Steven Wright (pictured above, last year), who lived with his wife, Ramona, in St Johns ­Avenue. The warrant was issued at the behest of the tax office. Wright, a computer ­scientist and businessman, headed a group of companies ­associated with crypto-currency and online ­security. But he and his wife were gone, and the agents entered the house by force.

As one set of agents scoured his cupboards and emptied out his garage, another entered Wright’s main company HQ in nearby North Ryde. They were looking for originals or copies of material held on hard drives and computers; they wanted bank statements, mobile phone records, research papers and photographs. The warrant listed ­dozens of companies whose papers were to be scrutinised, and 32 individuals. The name “Satoshi Nakamoto” appeared sixth from the bottom.

Some of the Wrights’ neighbours say Ramona was friendly but her husband was weird — to one he was “Cold-Shoulder Craig” — and their landlord wondered why they needed so much extra power: Wright had what appeared to be a whole room full of generators at the back of the property. This fed a rack of computers he called his “toys”; he had taken them away the day before the raid. A reporter had turned up at the house and Wright, alarmed, had phoned ­Stefan, the man advising them on what he and Ramona were ­calling “the deal”. Stefan immediately moved the couple into a luxury apartment in Sydney’s CBD. They would soon be ­moving to England anyway, and all parties agreed it was best to hide out for now.

On December 9, after their first night in the new apartment, Wright woke to the news that two articles, one on the website Gizmodo, the other in the tech magazine Wired, had come out overnight fingering him as the person behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who in 2008 had published a paper describing a “peer-to-peer ­electronic cash system” — a technology Satoshi went on to develop as Bitcoin. Reading the articles on his laptop, Wright knew his old life was over.

More at: Satoshi Nakamoto, Craig Wright and the Bitcoin mystery – The Australian

Coin Center: US Senate’s Digital Currency Bill Is ‘Counterproductive’ – CoinDesk

An anti-money laundering bill before the US Senate and focused in part on digital currencies “could upset years of policy and compliance work”, according to Washington, DC, advocacy group Coin Center.

A new blog post penned by Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito dives into the specifics of the bill, arguing that the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 – introduced in late May by a group of influential senators – largely replicates rules put in place by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which first issued guidance on digital currency activities in 2013 and later 2014.

According to Brito, the Senate bill’s approach as written is “counterproductive” to its intended goal of countering illegal activities.

More at: Coin Center: US Senate’s Digital Currency Bill Is ‘Counterproductive’ – CoinDesk

Visa Shows its B2B Payments Blockchain Platform at Money20/20 – Finance Magnates

Visa is working with blockchain outfit Chain to build the new platform.

At Money20/20 conference, Visa Inc. will preview and show off details of its B2B Connect project, a new platform that the card giant is developing to give financial institutions a fast and secure way to process B2B payments globally.

Visa is working with blockchain outfit Chain to build the new platform using Chain Core, a blockchain infrastructure that facilitates financial transactions on private blockchain networks.

Visa B2B Connect, which competes with interbank funds transfer networks such as Swift and Ripple, is designed to improve business-to-business payments by providing a near real-time notification and finality of payment combined with an immutable system of record over a permissioned private blockchain.

More at: Visa Shows its B2B Payments Blockchain Platform at Money20/20 – Finance Magnates

Princeton-Trained Computer Scientists Are Building a New Internet That Brings Privacy and Property Rights to Cyberspace – Reason.com

Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea are the co-founders of Blockstack, a project to rebuild the internet using blockchain technology so that individuals can reclaim direct control over their own identities, contacts, and data. The goal is to bring the property rights we enjoy in the physical world to cyberspace.

These two Princeton-trained computer scientists—Ali completed his Ph.D. last month with a speciality in distributed systems—believe that today’s internet is fundamentally broken. Users are forced to trust companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook to maintain our online identities and personal information. They store our files in giant data centers that are increasingly vulnerable to hackers. And the Snowden leaks revealed that the National Security Agency has strong armed these tech giants into handing over users’ personal data without bothering to obtain court-issued warrants.

“Google has this saying, ‘don’t be evil,'” says Ali. “Maybe a company shouldn’t be powerful enough that they’re sitting there thinking, ‘should I be evil or not?'”

More at: Princeton-Trained Computer Scientists Are Building a New Internet That Brings Privacy and Property Rights to Cyberspace – Reason.com

Why chat app Kik is jumping into the digital token game – Yahoo! Finance

Facebook’s global head of sales, Carolyn Everson, revealed on CNBC this week that Instagram Stories now boasts 250 million daily active users. That number means Instagram Stories is crushing Snapchat Stories, the feature it directly copied, which has 160 million daily active users. Instagram Stories first surpassed Snapchat Stories in April, just four months after it launched, and now, six months after launch, it has extended its lead.

That’s bad news for other small tech startups—even those that aren’t direct competitors to Snapchat and Instagram. It’s proof that big, powerful tech giants like Facebook can copy a hot feature or broad strategy from a small competitor and quickly scale and outdo them thanks to their massive built-in user base. Google did it to its search predecessors. Google and Apple have been doing it to each other in smartphones for years. Amazon did it to brick-and-mortar bookstores.

“Copied and crushed,” as Ted Livingston, CEO of Kik Messenger, puts it. Copied and crushed, indeed. And Kik, an early text messaging app that amassed 300 million users, desperately wants to avoid being the next victim. So it’s turning… to cryptocurrency.

More at: Why chat app Kik is jumping into the digital token game – Yahoo! Finance

What’s Blockchain? HSBC Survey Finds 59% of Consumers Don’t Know – CoinDesk

A recent survey suggests that ordinary consumers are still largely in the dark about blockchain.

According to the survey, published in May by UK-based bank HSBC, 59% of consumers polled said they’d never heard of blockchain technology. Furthermore, 80% of those who have heard of the tech said they don’t understand what that is.

The results came from a poll conducted during March and April that focused on consumer confidence and understanding in financial technology. The survey involved 2,000 people from the UK, as well as 1,000 consumers in each of the following countries: Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Singapore, the UAE and the US.

More at: What’s Blockchain? HSBC Survey Finds 59% of Consumers Don’t Know – CoinDesk