Blockstream Proof-of-Reserves Tool for Authenticating Exchanges’ Liquidity

Blockstream Proof-of-Reserves Tool for Authenticating Exchanges’ Liquidity

Blockchain tech company Blockstream introduces an open-source tool, granting cryptocurrency exchanges a more efficient way to prove to auditors they have adequate liquidity

Called ‘Proof-of-Reserves’, the Blockstream tool lets exchanges demonstrate the number of bitcoins they can afford to spend, minus the need to prompt a ‘live’ transaction or go through the risks associated with the shifting of funds. It aims to improve transparency by creating proof of reserves for auditor verification, as stated on the company’s blog post.

Blockstream’s Proof of Reserves tool iterates upon tried-and-tested methods already used within the industry, rather than attempt to build a brand new, ‘fancy’ solution from scratch.

Blockstream, Standardizing Bitcoin Proof of Reserves

Incipiently, the tool was tailored to outfit Blockstream’s own Liquid Network. But as developers continued to research the project, they found that current methods ‘for Bitcoin reserves’ used by various exchanges ‘had room for improvement.’ Furthermore, the software can potentially be applied on a broader scope, far and wide the bitcoin network, beyond Liquid.

Doubts on the Liquidity of Exchange Platforms Streaming the Crypto Sector

The most recent exchange questioned about its liquidity is QuadrigaCX. The Canadian exchange applied for creditor protection due to losing access to its digital wallet. Some critics challenge this, alleging QuadrigaCX does not have the funds which they claim are inaccessible.

On November 2018, crypto exchange platform Bitfinex also encountered doubts on its liquidity.

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Bitcoin Accounts for 95% of Cryptocurrency Crime, Says AnalystBitcoin logojwieczner

Despite the proliferation of more than 2000 cryptocurrencies, including harder-to-track privacy coins, the overwhelming majority of criminals still prefer Bitcoin for illicit activity. “Bitcoin is by far the favorite,” Jonathan Levin, co-founder and COO of Chainalysis, tells Fortune on the latest episode of “Balancing the Ledger.” Chainalysis makes software that helps cryptocurrency firms and law enforcement trace the public ledger of transactions recorded on 10 different blockchains. That number includes four new cryptocurrencies Chainalysis added on Wednesday, all of which are stablecoins: Tether; Gemini Dollar; USD Coin; Binance Coin. As for Bitcoin, which is currently trading at just under $5,500, Levin says it accounts for 95% of the cryptocurrency cases law enforcement investigates. The same reasons that have made Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, the top digital coin on the market have also made it criminals’ cryptocurrency of choice: It’s the most valuable and also has the highest transaction volume of any of its peers, making it easier to trade and spend. Many of the opioid busts in the U.S. in recent months stemmed from blockchain analysis, allowing authorities to trace illegal purchases of fentanyl and other drugs paid for in cryptocurrency, Levin adds. “What we've seen is that there is the ability to tie some of those cryptocurrency transactions either to the pharmacies in China or to the services that people are using to distribute fentanyl,” he says. “Homeland Security and the DEA have actually become really good at apprehending those people.” One ongoing case that Chainalysis has not been quite as successful in cracking is that of QuadrigaCX, the Canadian cryptocurrency exchange that earlier this year said it had lost access to $190 million worth of customer funds following the death of its CEO. When Chainalysis attempted to track the money that was supposedly trapped in in wallets only the late CEO could access, it discovered a potentially more sinister explanation. “What we found very quickly was that Quadriga as an exchange actually didn't have those customer funds that were reported in the media to be now lost--those funds actually never existed,” Levin explains. What Quadriga really did with the money that customers gave it to buy Bitcoin remains a mystery.
Fortune

FBI fielded roughly $2.7 billion worth of Internet crime complaints in 2018

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received nearly 352,000 complaints related to cybercrime activity that collectively was responsible for $2.7 billion in losses, according to the agency’s 2018 Internet Crime Report. The three most commonly reported internet crimes last year were non-payment/non-delivery scams (i.e. the scammer never pays for or never ships ordered merchandise), extortion, and personal data breaches. Crimes that couldn’t be categorized due to incomplete complaints were next most common, followed by phishing scams (plus related crimes such as smishing), Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC) campaigns, and confidence fraud/romance scams. Despite being only the sixth most commonly reported cybercrime in 2018, BEC/EAC campaigns was the top crime with the highest reported loss total: nearly $1.3 billion. In particular, the IC3 took note of an increase in the number of these scams that used spoofed emails, texts or phone calls to trick victims into thinking a superior or authority figure asked them to purchase gift cards. To combat the growing BEC plague, IC3 last year launched its Recovery Asset Team, which “works within the Domestic Financial Fraud Kill Chain (DFFKC) to recover fraudulent funds wired by victims,” the annual report explains. “The DFFKC is a partnership between law enforcement and financial entities. In 2018, the IC3 RAT notified 56 field offices and 12 legal attachés of 1,061 DFFKCs totaling $257,096,992, a recovery rate of 75 percent.” The nine next most financially costly crimes, in order, were confidence fraud/romance scams, investment schemes, non-payment/non-delivery scams, real estate/rental fraud, personal data breaches, corporate data breaches, identity theft, advanced fee schemes and credit card fraud. The report also noted some standout or emerging trends from the past year. These included: Payroll diversion scams, in which cybercriminals use phishing emails to capture employees’ login credentials in order to access their payroll accounts and redirect their direct deposit payments to an attacker-controlled account. The IC3 received about 100 such complaints, which were responsible for about $100 million of losses.Extortion. The report noted a 242 percent increase in extortion-related complaints since 2017, with adjusted losses of over $83 million.Tech support fraud. The FBI tracked a 161 percent year-over-year increase in losses resulting from such crimes. Altogether, victims from 48 countries lodged 14,408 complaints, with losses amounting to nearly $39 million. The over-60 population represented the largest share of complaints and total losses. Outside of the U.S., the foreign country with the most reported victims was India (4,556), followed by the UK (3,970) and Canada (2,880). The IC3 says its received a total of roughly 4.42 million complaints since its inception in 2000. Last year, the agency also provided 123 referrals to 13 Cyber Task Forces based on 1192 victim complaints whose lesses totalled roughly $28.1 million for smaller cases not under federal jurisdiction. 18 investigations were opened in 2018 due to Operation Wellspring, which is designed tocollaborate with state and local law enforcement. Other new force it opened. The post FBI fielded roughly $2.7 billion worth of Internet crime complaints in 2018 appeared first on SC Media.
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