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Deputy for Management Development and Resources at the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology Iran looks into blockchain to help grow their economy. Recognized mining as an industry. Will develop a national cryptocurrency.

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Will Crypto Save Iran from a Financial Crisis?

Iran is inching closer towards the financial crisis due to sanctions, but the country might still turn to cryptocurrencies for help. Iran is in a bad place right now, as the US officials state that the country’s finances might be in a worse situation than they believed. The country’s damaged economy has been sparking protests for a while now, and Iran is moving closer and closer to a financial crisis. After the sanctions put a stop to Tehran’s oil exports, some major losses were felt throughout Iran. Since then, the country tried to evade the sanctions, which softened the blow somewhat, although it did not do it much good in the long run. Right now, Iran’s government is using the last of its foreign-exchange reserves, indicating that any control that the government might have over importing supplies and equipment might soon be lost. Soon enough, Iran is likely to find itself in a more dire situation than it was six years ago, when President Hassan Rouhani and his government were pressured into nuclear negotiations. For now, it is difficult to predict what might happen to Iran’s economy in the future, as there are many unknown factors that could still change. Further, some intelligence that the US has received from its allies suggests that Iran might have some off-book income that could help it through difficult periods such as this. Alternatively, the country could simply turn to smuggle its oil and bring in supplies, although US officials doubt that the effect of the sanctions can be offset by smuggling. As this is likely correct, another option for Iran is to turn to cryptocurrencies for help. Iran might find a way out through crypto Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are known for a number of qualities, such as their borderless nature, achieved through decentralization. This form of digital money is not under anyone’s control, meaning that the US cannot do much to stop Iran from using Bitcoin and other coins and tokens. Several days ago, Bloomberg reported that Iran plans to manufacture $11 billion worth of various products in the next two years, in order to replace imports and find a way to deal with US-led sanctions. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that US officials believe Iran to be in a state of panicked aggression. This statement refers to several reports of assault against energy supplies, which Iran denied. Still, the problem lies with money, as the currency reserves of Iran are estimated to be at $86 million- 20% below the level reported in 2013. With a situation like that, US officials believe that Iran will either have to return to the negotiating table or burn through even more of its reserves. Despite this, a Bitcoinist report from earlier this year believes that Iranian companies could exploit the anonymity of cryptocurrency and bypass the American restrictions. In fact, threats of US sanctions was historically more than enough to control Iran, until anonymous payments in digital currencies became a possibility. The US Treasury seems to be well aware of this, as it warned digital marketplaces against trading Bitcoin with Iran-based firms and individuals. Some trading sites even started blocking buyers that were confirmed to be from Iran, while some even went as far as to confiscate Iranian clients’ funds. However, these are believed to be isolated incidents, as cryptocurrencies’ very nature makes them extremely difficult to control, or even monitor. There is simply no way to duplicate banking sanctions when it comes to crypto, which is why the Iranian government might come to rely on digital assets to bypass the current restrictions and find a way to survive US sanctions. What do you think about Iran’s chances to bypass sanctions with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below. Images via Shutterstock The post Will Crypto Save Iran from a Financial Crisis? appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.
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Iran’s APT33 Hacking Unit Targets Industrial Control Systems

For quite some time now, there have been claims as to how Iran has state-funded hacking groups under its control. Those rumors will only be reinforced following a string of recent attacks against industrial control systems executed by APT33. It would appear a new group of state-sponsored Iranian hackers is making its impact felt. Is APT33 Really a Threat? Recent attacks against roughly 2,000 organizations per month have Microsoft researchers concerned. The new group is known as APT33, but they also use other names such as Refined Kitten, Elfin, and Holmium. Their method of approach used be how the use of password-spraying attacks against thousands of organizations. Many people use simple passwords for a wide range of services, including accounts linked to their work.  In recent months, APT33 has narrowed its focus significantly yet they seem to increase the number of accounts per organization being targeted. What is even more worrisome is how a lot of targets are suppliers, manufacturers, and maintainers of industrial control system hardware. Despite evidence to back up these claims, the researchers remain unclear what APT33 aims to achieve exactly by maintaining this focus.  This Iranian hacking unit has been on the radar of researchers for quite some time. Years ago, the group used to specialize in reconnaisance or espionage, both of which are less “harmful” compared to what is going on as of late.  There are those, such as Adam Meyers, who isn’t too bothered by what APT33 has been up to as of late. Instead, he claims little has changed for the hacker collective, even though it is worth paying attention to what is going on exactly. Image(s): Shutterstock.com The post Iran’s APT33 Hacking Unit Targets Industrial Control Systems appeared first on NullTX.
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Iran’s Internet Shutdown Emphasizes Need for Decentralized Mesh Networks

Iran’s government shutdown internet access across the country in response to widespread protests. Iranians have taken to mesh networks to regain some access, emphasizing the need for a more decentralized alternative to the internet. Protests broke out across major cities in Iran after the country’s government began raising the prices for gasoline. Although prices remain lower than the rest of the world, it is another injustice among a growing list. So far the protests have resulted in more than 1,000 arrests, several injuries, and a few deaths. The government responded to these protests by staging an internet black out, blocking protestors from communication with one another or with anyone outside of the country. Iran’s Internet Blackout Shortly after Iranians began reporting poor Internet connectivity, NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors Internet accessibility around the world, confirmed that “Iran is in the midst of a near-total national Internet shutdown.” NetBlocks also added:  “The ongoing disruption is the most severe recorded in Iran since President Rouhani came to power, and the most severe disconnection tracked by NetBlocks in any country in terms of its technical complexity and breadth.“ The blackout includes all social media services, such as WhatsApp and Instagram. For protestors looking to organize events and spread information, the Internet disruption has been a major obstacle. There are also concerns that without the ability to share and document the events happening throughout the country, it would be difficult to implicate the Iranian government of wrongdoing. (Source: NetBlocks) When citizens attempted to connect to the Internet via their mobile devices, they were met with a recorded message from the National Security Council indicating that connectivity had been disconnected. To get a better understanding of how this is possible for a country with a population of 80 million, it is necessary to dig into changes Iran has been making to its telecommunications services. The country’s leaders have been battling with similar economic protests in Iran since 2017. As such, the government has taken steps to gain more control over typically decentralized networks. In 2005 officialss first began work on a “national Internet,” sometimes called the “clean Internet,” and sought to distinguish the Iranian Internet experience from the rest of the world through censorship. This was accomplished through agreements between private companies and the government, as well as technical solutions. Much of the same is happening in countries like Russia, Ethiopia, North Korea, and Venezuela. Similarly, China built its national Internet with such controls implemented from the beginning.  Since these adjustments have been in place, Iran has been able to bring Internet connectivity to five or seven percent of its typical levels. At the same time, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, continued to post on Twitter.  Forming a Peer-to-Peer Internet In response to the shutdown, citizens turned to alternatives to bypass the intranet and communicate with one another. A local service called Toosheh, previously used to hack satellite televisions and stream “bundles” of typically censored content, has been gaining traction.  The NetFreedom Pioneers, a group of American and Iranian activists behind the project said that “It can’t be censored…it comes from the sky. Our users just get a big folder of content, and there’s no trace of it on the Internet.”  Now, with the protests in Iran in full swing, Toosheh is doing a lot more than just streaming videos. Hacker News, a popular forum for all things tech, hosted a conversation from Nov. 17, 2019 around Iran’s Internet blackout. One person wrote:  “I live in Iran and I am lucky enough to have a connected link right now, but this is the last link among the others I lost in the previous hours. I was wondering is there any stable solution like satellite Internet or something without direct affiliation with government for people like me, desperate enough to ask questions like this.“ A fellow Iranian responded with a link to Toosheh adding, “install Toosheh while you can.” The conversation on Hacker News also cited the use of mesh networks and “a decentralized, blockchain-based DNS” to instantiate a truly “free” Internet. Scanning the crypto space over the past few years, such visions are not uncommon. GoTenna, for instance, is a device about the size of a USB key which, when paired with other devices, can create a local network. Participants can pass encrypted messages and hop between other users without the use of the Internet. The technology has been welcomed by the cryptocurrency community with developers combining the two services to oust not just banking services, but other tech conglomerates from spying on participants’ activity.  Similar services like Locha Mesh, SmartMesh, and New Kind of Network (NKN), are all pursuing similar ends. Each outlines an alternative view of the Internet, some of which also use cryptographic tokens. Instead of an internet dominated by centralized providers, which are often beholden to local governments, the groups building these mesh networks are executing on the idea of a ‘free’ internet. This idea isn’t new. Early proponents like John Perry Barlow had a vision for an unencumbered internet in the nineties. In his most famous work, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” Barlow wrote in 1996, “governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.“ Written in 1996, nearly a decade before the launch of Facebook, the 2008 financial crisis, and more than twenty years before the protests in Iran, one can only wonder what Barlow would make of the Internet experience in 2019. The post Iran’s Internet Shutdown Emphasizes Need for Decentralized Mesh Networks appeared first on Crypto Briefing.
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SEC Approves Bitcoin Futures Fund

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved an investment fund that will invest in bitcoin futures contracts. SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce calls this move “a bit of progress.” The SEC has also revealed why it decided to approve such a fund. Also read: Swiss Licensed Crypto Bank Expanding Into 9 Markets Bitcoin Futures Fund Cleared to Launch The U.S. SEC declared the registration statement filed by Stone Ridge Trust VI for the NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund effective on Monday. The company filed Form N-2 with the SEC on Oct. 2 and amended it twice, on Oct. 16 and Nov. 26. This form is used by closed-end management investment companies to register and offer their shares under the Securities Act. Stone Ridge Asset Management Llc will be the fund’s investment adviser. As of Aug. 30, the company managed approximately $15 billion of assets. The NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund “is a non-diversified, closed-end management investment company that continuously offers its shares,” the filing details, adding: The fund pursues its investment objective primarily by investing in bitcoin futures contracts … The only bitcoin futures in which the fund will invest are cash-settled bitcoin futures traded on commodity exchanges registered with the CFTC. “The fund will not invest in bitcoin or other digital assets directly,” the filing emphasizes. “The fund will seek to purchase a number of bitcoin futures so that the total value of the bitcoin underlying the bitcoin futures held by the fund is as close to 100% of the net assets of the fund.” Its shares are being offered initially at an offering price of $10 per share. Only institutional investors, their clients, and certain eligible investors as specified in the fund’s prospectus can invest in the fund. Currently, CME is the only CFTC-approved exchange offering cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts. The fund has an interval structure; it aims to conduct quarterly share repurchase offers, which it expects to be for a maximum of 5% of the fund’s outstanding shares at net asset value per quarter. The initial quarterly repurchase offer is planned for May 2020. This fund will not be a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), however, as its filing states: The fund’s shares are not listed and the fund does not currently intend to list its shares for trading on any national securities exchange. ‘A Bit of Progress’ At the 2019 ICI Securities Law Developments Conference on Tuesday, Dalia Blass, Director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, talked about cryptocurrency ETFs and the SEC staff’s decision to approve a fund investing in bitcoin futures contracts. “We welcome and value constructive industry engagement regarding new products and novel investment strategies,” she said. “A prime example of such engagement involves registered funds seeking to invest substantially in digital assets and related investments.” Blass explained that she issued a public letter last year calling on the fund industry to discuss issues presented by such investments, elaborating: As a result of this engagement, we are at the point that a registered closed-end interval fund with a bitcoin futures strategy is preparing to launch. To reach this point, the fund first responded to each of the issues identified in the staff letter. Commenting on Blass’ speech, Commissioner Hester Peirce, aka Crypto Mom, tweeted on Wednesday that the agency’s move is “A bit of progress.” Without naming the fund, Blass explained that it expects “to generally value its bitcoin futures holdings at daily settlement prices reflected on a CFTC-registered futures exchange, consistent with the principles of the Investment Company Act of 1940 and U.S. GAAP.” As for custody, the director clarified that since the fund will invest in cash-settled bitcoin futures, it “will not face the challenges presented by direct holdings of digital assets.” In addition, it is a closed-end interval fund which means it “will not offer daily redemptions and will not be subject to potentially large, unexpected liquidity demands over short periods.” Blass further described that “as an unlisted fund, its pricing will not depend on an efficient arbitrage mechanism and the willingness of market makers to make markets in a fund pursuing a digital asset strategy,” noting: The fund also has taken steps to address issues related to potential manipulation in the digital asset markets. “This includes prominent risk disclosures, offering the product only through registered investment advisers, and limiting the size and future growth of the fund, with an initial cap of $25 million,” the director concluded. What do you think of the SEC approving this bitcoin futures fund? Do you think the Commission will approve a bitcoin ETF soon? Let us know in the comments section below. Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. Image credits: Shutterstock and Twitter. Did you know you can buy and sell BCH privately using our noncustodial, peer-to-peer Local Bitcoin Cash trading platform? The local.Bitcoin.com marketplace has thousands of participants from all around the world trading BCH right now. And if you need a bitcoin wallet to securely store your coins, you can download one from us here. The post SEC Approves Bitcoin Futures Fund appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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SEC Requests UK’s Intervention to Force Telegram’s Former Advisor to Testify

SEC Requests UK’s Intervention to Force Telegram’s Former Advisor to Testify The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked the High Court of England and Wales to force Telegram’s former chief investment advisor John Hyman to testify in the case over the firm’s Grams tokens offering. Industry news outlet Coindesk reported on Dec. 7 […] Cet article SEC Requests UK’s Intervention to Force Telegram’s Former Advisor to Testify est apparu en premier sur Bitcoin Central.
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Tezos (XTZ) is Flying High, Gains against USD and BTC

XTZ, the native currency of the self-amending smart contract and DApp platform, Tezos, has registered impressive gains against the USD, BTC and ETH. The token is up 11%, 9% and 10% respectively, exciting token holders who expect further gains going forward. Recently, there has been a lot of debate-and expectations- around the Ethereum competitor following the collapse to new lows. Distinct, Tezos’ on-chain governance allows token holders to vote and determine changes of code averting chain splits which can be disastrous to the platform’s valuation and an unwelcomed distraction to the initial vision. Binance Staking Supports Tezos (XTZ) Although specific details around the main bull triggers are scarce, based mostly on oblique remarks, analysts and commentators are pointing fingers at Binance’s staking support announced three days ago. I'm not even 100% sure what tezos does, but I know its going to $100. Why get lost in the weeds? — Jeremy Ross (@jebus911) December 6, 2019 According to Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange by trading volumes and aggressively expanding to cover as many regions as possible, they will support zero fee staking on XTZ. Official support started on Dec 4 but it will complete the first distribution of rewards by the 20th day of the following month. “XTZ rewards will be calculated daily based on live snapshots and distributed monthly. Distributions will be completed before the 20th day of each following month. Starting from 2019/12/04, Binance will begin taking hourly snapshots of user XTZ balances.” Binance supports staking-or locking of coins of particular Proof of Stake network, in exchange for rewards. By locking coins for a specific period, owners receive rewards for bolstering the network’s security. Gendarmerie’s Cybercrime Division (C3N) Using Tezos The announcement was a direct boost for XTZ and comes a few days after the French Armies and Gendarmerie’s Information and Public Relations Center acknowledged that they have been using the blockchain to record and subsequently validate expenses incurred during judicial investigations. Through a press release, the Gendarmerie’s cybercrime division (C3N) said they used a system developed by Nomadic Labs to buy the coin from a Euro-pool allocated fund to cover operations cost. DigiFinex Lists XTZ On Dec 6, DigiFinex exchange announced their official support of XTZ. Deposits and withdrawals will begin starting on Dec 9, while official trading will start on Dec 11. The exchange will initially support the trading of XTZ/BTC and XTZ/USDT pairs. We are listing Tezos (XTZ) @tezos, a self-amending cryptographic ledger. ✦XTZ deposit & withdrawal open: 9 Dec, 2019 10:00 (GMT+8)✦XTZ trade opens: 11 Dec, 2019 10:00✦XTZ trading pairs: XTZ/USDT, XTZ/BTC pic.twitter.com/CawEjB3TJk — DigiFinex Exchange (@DigiFinex) December 6, 2019 The post Tezos (XTZ) is Flying High, Gains against USD and BTC appeared first on Coingape.
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