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Daily Byte: Friday, December 14, 2018




A stablecoin shuts down, crypto scammers resort to bomb threats, crypto users are horrible with passwords, and "blockchain developer" is top-growing job. Plus, there are more ID-verified crypto users this year.

Crypto Scammers Target Schools, Hospitals with Bomb Threats

Multiple outlets are reporting a series of bomb threats being made to businesses, schools, hospitals, and other public places across North America, Australia, and New Zealand. All the threats seem to be hoaxes and appear to be part of an extortion scheme to get bitcoin.

Offices are receiving emails like this one, which a user posted to Twitter, demanding $20,000 be transferred in BTC to a bitcoin address. "You must solve problems [sic] with the transaction by the end of the working day, if you are late with the money explosive will explode," the posted letter reads.

"Please be advised - there is an email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment," the New York Police Department said in a public advisory. "While this email has been sent to numerous locations, searches have been conducted and NO DEVICES have been found."

Bomb threats are generally felonies in the US. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center on Thursday recommended that any recipient of a bomb threat report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center or an FBI field office. (See our full story.)

Basis Stablecoin to Shut Down

Basis, which raised $133 million earlier this year in venture capital funding to release a stablecoin, is shutting down. Per a post on its website, it is returning all monies to investors, including GV, the investing arm of Google's parent company Alphabet.

In a blog post, Basis cited regulatory problems as the reason for closing shop:

"Eighteen months ago, we set out with the ambitious goal of creating a better monetary system: one that would be resistant to hyperinflation, free from centralized control, and more stable and robust than the monetary systems that came before it. Unfortunately, having to apply US securities regulation to the system had a serious negative impact on our ability to launch Basis."

Basis' status as an unregistered security, fear that future regulations would define Basis as a security, and the possible reliance on a centralized whitelist all went into Basis' decision. While Basis attempted to bring its company into compliance, it eventually decided to give up than further damage its original vision.

A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency backed by a real-world asset, typically a fiat currency. Basis was backed by a complicated crypto scheme that took into consideration both the value of the US dollar and the current liquidity of the crypto market.

Crypto Investors Terrible at Password Management, Says Report

A new report from security management firm Dashline argues that crypto investors are among the worst when it comes to passwords. "Passwords are the first line of defense against cyberattacks," said Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of Dashlane, per the report, its third annual list of "Worst Password Offenders.". "Weak passwords, reused passwords, and poor organizational password management can easily put sensitive information as risk."

The average Internet user has over 200 digital password-protected accounts – with that number likely to double in the next five years – meaning poor password habits could unintentionally develop. Crypto investors ranked third on the list, behind the Pentagon and above Nutella. 

"As the value of cryptocurrencies reached record levels at the beginning of the year, scores of crypto owners had the potential to cash out – if they could remember their passwords," the blog post read. "The news cycle was rife with reports of people resorting to desperate measures (including hiring hypnotists) to attempt to recover/remember the forgotten passwords to their digital wallets."

Number of ID-Verified Crypto Users Doubled from 2017

Despite the bearish status of the crypto markets, a recent study has found that the number of crypto users with verified accounts has doubled from 2017. According to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge, there were "at least 35 million identity-verified users" as of September 2018.

The rise may be due to the 2017 bitcoin price spike, which started in earnest in September 2017. At its height – on December 17, 2017 – bitcoin sold at $19,659.60, only to drop more than 80 percent in the successive months.

The current passivity of the accounts reflects the current state of the market: "Only 38 per cent of all users can be considered active, although definitions and criteria of activity levels vary significantly across service providers."

Most exchanges and managed wallet providers require identification verification to comply with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering (KYC/AML) regulations. This typically involves submitting scans of one's identification and a selfie of the person holding said ID.

"Blockchain Developer" Leads LinkedIn's "2018's Top Five Emerging Jobs"

LinkedIn's 2018 US Emerging Jobs report finds that "blockchain developer" is the most rapidly growing emerging job in the United States. Based on data from its Economic Graph, the report found that the role has increased 33-fold in job searches in the past 12 months.

This likely reflects the increasing integration of blockchain in corporate logistic strategies. It has been reported that as many of 84 percent of all businesses have implemented, are implementing, or are considering adding blockchain technology to their operations. The cities with the highest demand for blockchain developers are San Francisco, New York, and Atlanta.

Be fast, be clever, be wise. Most importantly, be here Monday for your Daily Byte.

Frederick Reese

Frederick Reese is a politics and cryptocurrency reporter based in New York. He is also a former teacher, an early adopter of bitcoin and Litecoin, and an enthusiast of all things geeky and nerdy.

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