Software Companies Leaving UK Because of Government’s Surveillance Plans

The company that runs the open-source blog platform called Ghost is moving out its premium service from within the UK’s bounds because of Governmental plans to weaken protection for privacy and freedom of expression.

The founder of Ghost, John O’Nolan released online that the company is changing the default location from the UK to DigitalOcean’s Amsterdam datacenter.

He wrote that he was particularly worried by the UK government’s plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, which he said enshrines key rights such as “respect for your private and family life” and “freedom of expression.” The Netherlands, by contrast, has “some of the strongest privacy laws in the world, with real precedents of hosting companies successfully rejecting government requests for data without full and legal paperwork”

A few weeks after hearing this news another company, this time Eris Industries decided they were going to react to the new UK plans. The company’s move was prompted by the threat that new laws could require backdoors in its encryption technology, of which the software heavily relies on.

The Ceo of Eris explained in a post:

“With immediate effect, we have temporarily moved our corporate headquarters to New York City, where open-source cryptography is firmly established as protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” with further news to state that the move will be become permanent if the Snooper’s Charter is enacted with rules that require back doors to be in crypto software.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Telegraph

New Crypto Dooms Open Smart Grid

It has been three years since the invention of the Open Smart Grid Protocol, and in that time it has found its way into over four million smart meters and devices worldwide.

It’s very similar to its brethren as it is full of security issues. Two researchers, Philipp Jovanovic of the University of Passau in Germany and Samuel Neves of the University of Coimbra in Portugal, published a paper exposing encryption weaknesses in the protocol.

The paper explains how the encryption scheme used in the OSGP is open to several attacks, the paper only demonstrates a few that can be exploited with minimal effort.

“This function has been found to be extremely weak, and cannot be assumed to provide any authenticity guarantee whatsoever,” the researchers wrote.

Adam Crain, a security researcher said the home made function is a “big red flag”.“Protocol designers should stick to known good algorithms or even the ‘NIST-approved’ short list”

The weaknesses discovered by Jovanovic and Neves enabled them to recover private keys with relative ease: 13 queries to an OMA digest oracle and negligible time complexity in one attack, and another in just four queries and 2^25 time complexity” “A different approach only requires one arbitrary valid plaintext-tag pair, and recovers the key in an average of 144 message verification queries, or one ciphertext-tag pair and 168 ciphertext verification queries” 

Sounds like this is quite a nasty vulnerability!

Thank you to ThreatPost for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of WPA

Butterfly Labs Mining Rigs “Useful Only As Room Heaters”

Butteryfly Labs Monarch

Butterfly Labs, a Missouri based system builder who design and sell computers for mining Bitcoin, have landed themselves in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Butterfly Labs have been charging firms a total of up to $50m (around £30m) for systems and services that were so late they were useless and in some cases, they didn’t deliver the goods at all!

The FTC is saying that Butterfly have been selling Bitcoin mining machines, some of which cost up to $29,899 that are a complete waste of money. The FTC say these systems are only good as “room heaters”; ouch!

Butterfly claim their Monarch system, which only launched last August, is the fastest Bitcoin miner so far and with a price that went well into the thousands, people have been putting money down for the new systems and so far, not one customer has been supplied with one of the new systems.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said: “We often see that when a new and little-understood opportunity like Bitcoin presents itself, scammers will find ways to capitalise on the public’s excitement and interest.”

“It appears the FTC has decided to go to war on Bitcoin overall and is starting with Butterfly Labs.” said a Butterfly representative. “Butterfly Labs is being portrayed by the FTC as a bogus and fake company. To the contrary, Butterfly Labs is very real. As pointed out in court filings Butterfly Labs made last night, Butterfly Labs has shipped more than $33m (£20m) in products to customers and voluntarily granted refunds approximating $17m (£10m) to customers for cancelled orders.” they added.

Butterfly Labs will have a chance to state their case in court this Monday and while the company make a lot of big claims, I’m not so certain they’re going to have much luck. Their systems have been deemed worthless by FTC investigators, the mining boom is over and there are a lot of angry consumers who have given them money, but failed to receive any goods; long story short, don’t order a Butterfly Labs system any time soon, just to be safe.

Thank you Sky News for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Butterfly Labs.

Overclockers UK Now Accepting Bitcoins

Whilst cyptocurrencies are not as widely spoken about today as they were only a few months back, the biggest currency of them all, Bitcoin, is still making its mark on the modern world, with more businesses recognising its value and how they can in turn make a profit by offering to accept Bitcoins in exchange for products or services.

The latest name in the tech industry to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon is Overclockers UK, with full support now rolled out across their site for users to buy the latest and greatest hardware (as well as anything else that they chose) and pay with Bitcoins instead of money out of the bank.

The shopping  experience with OcUK has not changed one bit and users will not need to access any special hidden areas of the site in order to use Bitcoins, instead all they need to do is chuck everything in their basket as normal and at the checkout select Bitcoin as the desired payment method. A cryptokey for the payment provider BitPay is then provided and after users have sent the equivalent value of Bitcoins to BitPay, OcUK then receive proper money in exchange so that they can ship your goddie (and Haribo) out to you as normal.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdcDjNv6fGs[/youtube]

There are one or two terms that need to be taken into account however. If paying by Bitcoin and you need to send an item back for refund, you will get your funds back in Bitcoins, but at the exchange rate that was present at the point of refund – any variances in exchange rates are not covered by OcUK and there is no option to have any reimbursement make in GBP to a bank account as the refund process is taken care of by BitPay.

If you need any more information on the Bitcoin payment system at Overclockers, or you’ve not got a clue why Bitcoin is, head over to OcUK’s information page, where all the information that you need is ready and waiting.

Source: Press Release

30,000 Seized Silk Road Bitcoins to be Auctioned

When the illegal online market place Silk Road was taken down by the United States government, nearly 30,000 Bitcoins were seized. It was long suspected the the Government would simply cash them in and well… they are.

The huge haul of crypto-currency is set to be auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals Service, bidders will need to register by June 23rd and make a refundable $200,000 wire transfer to a government bank. Which is another way of saying “no time wasters”.

The auction will be set to sell nine blocks of 3000 coins, followed by one more block of 2657 coins, and with a current market value of $650 each, the U.S. government could be set to haul in around $20 million in profits.

“All the bitcoins that were held in an FBI wallet have been transferred to two U.S. Marshals wallets. One wallet is being used for this auction, and the other wallet is being used to hold the remaining approximate 144,342 bitcoins that are part of the civil forfeiture and criminal action brought against Ross Ulbricht and the assets of Silk Road.” said the U.S. Marshal’s Service in a recent press release.

With Ulbricht now in prison and awaiting trial for attempted murder and no doubt a string of other charges, it looks like the Silk Road story is far from over.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

BitCoin Slot Machine Now Available from BetCoin

Online gambling is big business, with millions of players on many major websites everyday wagering through huge amounts of money, but big things are about to happen to gambling as one site is now letting your spin the reals using a Bitcoin wager.

Online gambling site BetCoin has revealed that their latest slot machine called BetCoin Reels will accept the digital currency. The 5-line slot is said to by “provably fair”, which is obviously a very important factor in any gambling system. This will no doubt put the hairs on the back of a few politicians necks up, especially with many governments being worried about cryptocurrency money laundering. With the gambling community now taking note, it looks like the future of Bitcoin and other coins like it is still pretty bright.

“The company is not resting on its laurels, however, and new games and new features are already in development,” noted BetCoin officials.

BetCoin now has four online betcoin-themed products that offer instant payouts, 3D graphics and other such attractions that prove popular with online gamblers, with a growing number of site now accepting BitCoins, it will be interesting to see what else crops up for the currency in the near future.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Dogecoin, Such Sponsorship, So NASCAR, WOW!

NASCAR is an expensive sport to take part in, although I guess the same can be true of any sport that requires a high-powered racing car and support team, those things just don’t come for free. Josh Wise, the driver of the No. 98 car in the Sprint Cup Series has been competing without a sponsor and racing without funding is no easy task.

Of course this is the internet and we can’t just sit back and let such an injustice happen! So there has been a bit of a whip around for spare Doge coins and so for the folks over at Reddit have raised a staggering 76,611.16648323 Dogecoins, which is unfortunately not as much as it sounds, it’s not even $70.

Reddit are going to have to raise $55,000 to be able to sponsor the car, but to add to the fun we’ve now heard that Josh Wise now knows about the campaign and is promoting it to get a Doge sponsored car.

Wow thanks for the support! Let’s make it happen RT @Denis_Pavel: @Josh_Wise The Dogecoin Community and I are fundraising to sponsor you! — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise)

On top of that there is a paint job contest for what the car will look like should the succeed, I guess the design could be anything, but we all know it’s going to be covered in a giant Doge saying “such racing, much laps, wow!” or something to that effect.

Thank you SBNation for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of SBNation.

Bitcoin Soars Past $1,000 At Mt.Gox Exchange

Bitcoin has been going crazy this last few weeks, with prices soaring and crashing, but for the most part rising on average. Now the digital currency sets a new record as the coins reach an all time high, passing the $1,000 mark.

Mt.Gox is one of the largest exchanges for Bitcoin, and at time of writing the coins were worth a tidy $1,073, not bad given that they were worth a few hundred dollars this time last month!

The last few days have been great, those with saving in Bitcoins will no doubt be celebrating, or cashing in then celebrating. Perhaps the guy who forgot he had 5000 Bitcoins is happy that his forgotten fortune just keeps on growing.

Mining coins is a hard job these days, but that doesn’t mean one cannot simply invest in the coins by simply buying some. I know I’m kicking myself for not having bought more a few months ago! However, be warned, a big rise is often followed by a crash and we expect the value is a little too high at the moment as people buy into the trend.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information.