27 December 2014

Safello Co-Founder Moves to Tokyo to Start New Bitcoin Security Firm

WizSec Founding Team: Kim Nilsson, J. Maurice, Emil Oldenburg WizSec Founding Team: Kim Nilsson, J. Maurice, Emil Oldenburg

The co-founder of Swedish exchange Safello has left the company to join a team of bitcoin security experts in establishing a new Tokyo-based consulting firm.

The move should also see him assisting the investigation into Mt Gox's missing bitcoins.

Emil Oldenburg, who was also Safello's chief technology officer, left Sweden just last month and is now an official co-founder at WizSec, a new startup that has been performing unofficial analysis of Gox's transaction records.

Oldenburg told CoinDesk he was looking for something different after launching Safello in August 2013. A love of Japanese pop culture and a desire to return to his infosec roots drove him to make a quick decision on a chance offer.

He said:

"I saw an opportunity in Japan and decided I needed to act now, as it wouldn't be there forever."

Oldenburg met Wizsec's chief hacking officer J. Maurice at the Tokyo Bitcoin Meetup while on vacation in spring. The two got talking about security issues, and Oldenburg received an offer almost immediately.

Maurice said the engineer, who had racked up more than two years as a systems security specialist at NASDAQ in Europe, was a catch for his fledgling company.

"Our goal is to recruit the most elite hackers from all over the world, so we're honored to have Emil come join us to co-found our bitcoin security firm."

Safello in Europe

Safello operates a Europe-wide exchange serving all countries of the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland, leveraging Swedish banks' comparatively liberal attitude towards cryptocurrency businesses, and Europe's SOFORT instant payments system to serve its clients.

The company received its initial $600,000 backing from bitcoin veterans Erik Voorhees, Roger Ver and Blockchain CEO Nicolas Cary. A further $250,000 investment came in July via Barry Silbert's Bitcoin Opportunity Corp.

Seeing Japan up close

Despite the long-distance relocation, Oldenburg remains a shareholder in Safello and still has a keen interest in the exchange business.

A manga and Japanophile since his teenage years, Oldenburg had helped organize Japan-themed conventions in his native land, festivals that attracted thousands of cosplaying Swedes to peruse Japanese merchandise, games, and other cultural exports.

"I'd studied the language in school and wanted to learn the language for real," Oldenburg added.

WizSec and the Gox connection

In November, San Francisco-based Kraken launched its local Japanese exchange, announcing immediately after that it had been selected by bankruptcy trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi to assist him and the Tokyo Metropolitan police in their investigation into what became of Mt Gox's 650,000 still unaccounted-for bitcoins.

WizSec has since signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Kraken, which prevents the company from discussing its current work, though it can be assumed it will involve Mt Gox somehow.

The founding team, which then consisted of Maurice and colleague Kim Nilsson, earlier this year took the personal challenge of analyzing the "ticker-tape" of Gox transaction information that had become publicly available through hacks, leaks and IRC chats.

This was despite the fact that the Japanese police were keeping all official Mt Gox transaction and customer data behind closed doors, unavailable for public examination.

Rising demand for bitcoin security

WizSec, which spun off from existing IT firm Wiz Technologies to focus exclusively on bitcoin business, used its reconstructed Gox data to form new theories on what may have happened to the funds.

While the Mt Gox investigation looks likely to be WizSec's primary task, the company is also busy signing up other clients for security-related jobs involving audits and pen-testing.

Maurice, who also played a part in battling Roger Ver's would-be hacker/blackmailer in May, said these incidents had all led to a big increase in demand for security consulting in the cryptocurrency field.

"As Mt Gox taught us, the most important thing in bitcoin is to not get hacked, or to build systems that don't require such trust in the first place, and that's what our firm will help new bitcoin startups with."

"We're building secure infrastructure from the beginning, so we can prevent another epic failure like Gox from ever happening again," he said.

WizSec team image by Jon Southurst


December 27, 2014 at 02:42PM

24 December 2014

Bitcoin Is (Still) Not Doomed

by John Light

Washington Post columnist Henry Farrell has just added himself to the Nakamoto Institute’s running list of skeptics making bold assertions about the certain demise of Bitcoin. In a post entitled “Bitcoin’s financial network is doomed,” Mr. Farrell demonstrates his short-sightedness in the face of Bitcoin’s subtlety and allure, perhaps as a cunning-though-not-so-original means of acquiring cheap coins for himself. Regardless of his motivations, I couldn’t resist a full rebuttal, if only to reassure the weak hands among us that no, Bitcoin is still not doomed, and yes, Mr. Farrell is in for a rude awakening if he really believes the poor arguments he makes in his Post article. Without further adieu, a rebuttal to Mr. Henry Farrell, Bitcoin Skeptic:

“There is a reason why you have to “comply with hundreds of pages of regulations” to use the Visa network that goes beyond Visa’s selfish corporate interests. That reason is government.”

No, the reason you have to comply with hundreds of pages of regulations is that those networks are run by centralized entities that reside in a particular legal jurisdiction and are therefore vulnerable to attacks by the government and other powerful adversaries. The centralization of the networks precedes their vulnerability. Without this vulnerability, government regulation is as effective and enforceable as a law against breathing. See: Bitcoin.

“Governments regulate payment networks very heavily, for a wide variety of reasons, which include making sure that people don’t use these networks to support activities that governments don’t like. They use financial intermediaries as ‘points of control’ that allow them to control who does business with whom.”

Yes, and politically marginalized journalists and businesses are great examples of how this power is abused. And Bitcoin is a great example of how this power becomes irrelevant.

Quoting Obama administration official David Cohen, “Carefully designed and customized to maximize pressure, [economic sanctions] have impeded Iran’s ability to acquire material for its nuclear program, isolated it from the international financial system, drastically slashed its oil exports, and deprived it of access to a sizeable portion of its oil revenues and foreign reserves.”

This sounds like a great argument for Iranians to convert their oil into electricity to mine bitcoins, which can then be sold locally, exported to be sold abroad, or sent anywhere in the world to buy whatever they need directly for bitcoin.

Continuing the quote from David Cohen, “Not surprisingly, the impact on Iran’s economy has been dramatic: its budget deficit and inflation have spiked, the value of its currency has sharply declined, foreign investment has all but dried up, and overall economic activity has stagnated.”

Collectively punishing an entire population of millions of innocent, peaceful people for the actions of political leaders that are forced on them doesn’t sound like something to brag about. But like Madeline Albricht before him, I’m sure Mr. Cohen would say that the Iranian people’s suffering is “worth it.

Continuing the quote, “Put simply, financial institutions everywhere need dollars to serve their customers, and thus require access to U.S. banks through correspondent accounts to settle their customers’ transactions.”

They need dollars, until they don’t. And with many fiat currencies growing weaker by the day, people may elect to do an end-run around their rulers and choose a politically-neutral option like bitcoin instead of trusting their government not to mess up the next attempt at fiat currency.

“Now, imagine the likely response of the U.S. (and the E.U., and, for that matter, China) to a payment network which is designed from the ground up to be decentralized, so that it is impossible for any specific intermediaries to really control payment flows from one actor to another.”

I imagine it looks something like the nation-state equivalent of a young child throwing a tantrum because their parent didn’t buy them a particular toy at the store. Baseless threats. Pounding fists. Bargaining. And, finally, acquiescence.

“Such a network would be impossible for states to control.”

Yes, and that is a good thing.

“While Bitcoin allows consumers to buy illegal drugs on Tor Hidden Services sites like Agora and Evolution, they don’t do so on a sufficiently large scale to really cause enormous alarm.”

‘They’re just subverting a decades-old policy of prohibition out in the open, no big deal.’ Keep downplaying bitcoin’s revolutionary effects, it just makes the rest of the arguments look even more absurd. In reality, politicians probably learned after the first “enormous alarm” that they raised about this capability that they should just shut up and let law enforcement do their job rather than draw too much attention to the fact that people can easily go online and buy “any drug imaginable” using bitcoin.

“But if Bitcoin were ever to threaten to become a truly decentralized payments network, owned by no one, and with no one e.g. capable of implementing Know Your Customer rules…”

In case you didn’t notice, Bitcoin already is a “truly decentralized payments network, owned by no one…”

“If Tim Lee and other Bitcoin fans want to make the case that Bitcoin can become a major payment network, they need to do one of two things.”

Bitcoiners don’t need to “make the case.” Bitcoin is.

“First, they could show that the U.S. and other major states would not feel threatened by a well-established payment system that they couldn’t control.”

Telling such a story would be lying. The good news: the sooner they assimilate, the less painful it will be.

“Second, they could show that a Bitcoin financial network would survive the opposition of hostile states that have enormous control over the actually-existing financial systems that Bitcoin needs to connect to, as well as regulators, police, etc.”

As former Executive Director of the Bitcoin Foundation Jon Matonis pointed out in Forbes almost two years ago, a ban on bitcoin would “fail miserably.” The only remaining option to curb adoption would be to attack the network itself (as opposed to the endpoints that a ban would target). Given the time and resources required for such an attack, bitcoin adoption could spread to the point that a concerted attack on the network would be too expensive before such an attack would even be feasible. As suggested earlier in this post, it’s not unimaginable that marginalized States (like Iran) would contribute resources to secure and utilize the Bitcoin network. I have already heard rumors that a government in China is converting locally produced coal into electricity to mine bitcoins because it’s not worth exporting the coal itself. Assimilation may be occurring sooner than expected.

Even if a State were to marshal the resources necessary to launch a credible attack against the Bitcoin network, developers could change the code within hours to render an attack impotent, and a game of whack-a-mole would ensue which would likely be a) politically unpopular since, presumably, a lot of people actually want to use bitcoin b) financially draining, since new specialized computers would need to be manufactured for each attack, consuming huge amounts of electricity in the process and c) pointless in the long run, since there are hundreds of alternative cryptocurrencies people could choose to use instead of bitcoin if things got really ugly – good luck trying to attack them all!

“Bitcoin is doomed as a payments network — the very point at which it looks as though it is likely to be widely deployed is the point at which governments, like that of the United States, will crack down on it.”

Even if this were true, it would not render false any of the above arguments in favor of Bitcoin’s survival. Bitcoin can – and would – survive a direct attack.

“US understands the value of its influence over the global financial system, and is demonstrably willing to upset business in order to pursue its strategic aims.”

Yes, and like a bull in a china shop, destroying all that is good in the process – except Bitcoin.

“Moreover, much of this power comes from the fact that any individual payment system, if it is to be effective, needs to be interoperable with other payment systems which, by and large, rest on transactions in US dollars.”

Bitcoin already coexists with fiat payment networks via payment processors such as BitPay, but if hyperbitcoinization were to occur, that wouldn’t even be necessary anymore. Bitcoin would not need to interoperate with other payment systems because it would be THE payment system. And it would not “rest on transactions in US dollars” any more than the auto industry rests on the supply of horse feed. Given sufficient liquidity post-hyperbitcoinization, a bitcoin wallet and an Internet connection is about all that will be needed to conduct commerce of any magnitude with anyone in the world.

“The sorry recent history of financial flows to and from another stateless financial system, Somalia, provide some evidence of how difficult life can get for financial networks that have been targeted by the US state.”

The history provides evidence of how difficult life can get for centralized financial networks! As pointed out at the very beginning of this piece, this is a vulnerability that Bitcoin explicitly by design does not share. For this reason, Bitcoin will survive where others have failed. With this in mind, cue the dramatic music and bring on the doom!

If you or anyone you know would like to learn how to use bitcoin to gain some monetary freedom for yourself, I am running a crowdfunding campaign through New Year’s Day 2015 for an online course and companion e-book entitled “BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank .” This course and book would make a great gift for the bit-curious who haven’t yet found the time or place to learn about bitcoin in an easily accessible format. Even if you can’t contribute, please share the campaign on social media – you might be surprised at who gets turned on to bitcoin when presented with an opportunity to learn!

by John Light

BTC address: 12sJXtV8aQ8orQFhmaqe5KRsKoC7tsRuoT

December 25, 2014 at 01:59AM

21 December 2014

Tatiana Speaks with Martin Davidson of Coin Station

Tati and Martin Davidson

Tatiana sat down with Martin Davidson of Coin Station at the grand opening of the Melbourne Australia Bitcoin Technology Center, MBTC for short! Martin fills us in on his path into Bitcoin and how a Coin Station Vending Machine will help individuals use Bitcoin easily! He has such great enthusiasm, though that doesn’t surprise me! Australia is a hot bed of crypto activity!

For more info on Martin Davidson


December 21, 2014 at 07:13PM

DNotes Cryptocurrency Savings Plans For Children – First of Many Unprecedented Digital Currency Savings Instruments Sponsored by DnotesVault


Bitcoin press release: DNotesVault, a secure web wallet launched just a week ago has reaffirmed its mission to build a large generation of DNotes stakeholders worldwide by offering a family of CR.I.S.Ps. (Cryptocurrency Investment Savings Plans) with 100% deposit guarantees.

Illinois, USA. DNotesVault, launched a week ago, may sound like just another web wallet beginning to pop up in the rapidly emerging world of cryptocurrency. However co founder Alan Yong explained that DNotesVault is much more than a free, secure web wallet with an unprecedented 100% cryptocurrency deposit guarantee:

“It is a strategic vehicle created by the DNotes team in pursuit of mass consumer and merchant adoption, taking full advantage of DNotes being the most stable digital currency.” Says Yong.

DNotes is a Bitcoin alternative digital currency. However, unlike Bitcoin, which has been wildly volatile, DNotes is the most stable digital currency among over 500 competitors listed on CoinMarketcap. Building a stable trustworthy currency has been DNotes’ core mission since launch almost a year ago. With an impressive track record of consistent up trend of higher highs and higher lows, DNotesVault was created to encourage and assist consumers and businesses to participate in the potential high returns of digital currency, by starting with a digital savings account.

According to Yong, being the first among a potentially large family of savings plans, CR.I.S.P. for Kids has been created to help the world’s children and grandchildren develop strong saving habits early, in order to secure their financial future. This is an unstructured and self-directed plan, using DNotes as the investment vehicle. Re-occurring savings, in any amount, may be added at any time.

CR.I.S.P. is the brain-child of Chase, a core team member of CryptoMoms; a community with a dedicated mission to encourage and assist women to participate in the cryptocurrency world currently dominated by men. CryptoMoms.com is a currency neutral site, offering rich content on everything one needs to know about cryptocurrency. It has a very helpful community ready to answer any questions promptly. CryptoMoms was created and fully funded by the DNotes team.

CryptoMoms and the DNotes team are dedicated to help anyone interested in starting a CR.I.S.P. for any child. In order to encourage and reward children for developing strong saving habits, the DNotes team will award prizes, in DNotes, for the top wallets on the list, as well as some randomly chosen participants, during the first two formative years. The team has created a CR.I.S.P. for Kids Rich List that displays, in descending order, the balances in the children’s wallets. To ensure privacy of clients each child will be identified only by a nickname / username.

A large family of CR.I.S.Ps. will be offered in an effort to expand this investment opportunity beyond the early adopters of the emerging Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry. Yong went on to say that there have been a lot of interest to offer additional savings plans for students, employees, charities and others. The beauty about DNotesVault is that additional plans can be added quickly and still be afforded the same security, easy of use, and full deposit guarantee at no cost.

The next savings plan will most likely be CR.I.S.P. for students. There may be little everyday people can do about the current student debt crisis but the CR.I.S.P. team can certainly encourage and assist the next generation to be better prepared. Being born at the time of the digital age, students are more receptive to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as the future of money. Many Universities and Colleges are already offering cryptocurrency classes. DNotes is committed to working with students around the world to give them an early start. The DNotes team encourages interested students and faculty members to contact them at: contact@DNotesCoin.com.

Yong, a well regarded pioneer and visionary in the early generations of portable computers and wireless communication, concluded that cryptocurrency is the greatest technological revolution since the internet which has put fax out of business and postal services struggling for survival. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is even more massive and hugely disruptive to the current financial systems and global payment network, among others. Although there will be serious job losses among affected industries, there will be massive job and wealth creation. For the first time, early adopter small investors might have the chance to gain financial freedom from relatively small investments made on a disciplined and regular basis. With their 100% cryptocurrency deposit guarantee, free giveaways, and secure cryptocurrency storage platform – CR.I.S.P. just made it a lot easier.

For more information please visit: http://ift.tt/1DAedKa

Media contact:

Name: Alan Yong

Organization: DNotesVault

Email: Contact@dnotescoin.com

*This press release is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.


Get your own professional Bitcoin press release:


December 21, 2014 at 07:10PM