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Apple Tells Court Not To Force Them To Undermine iPhone Security

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Apple on Thursday filed a motion to vacate the order compelling it to assist the government in the search of an iPhone seized from a terrorist in the San Bernardino attack. The company filed the motion in the U.S. District Court Central District of California Eastern Division.

On Feb. 16, 2016, the government asked the court to compel Apple to assist in the investigation. The court granted the request, thereby compelling the company to create new software to enable the government to hack into an iPhone 5c used by one of the attackers.

Apple, in its motion, said the case is not about an isolated phone but about the government seeking a dangerous power to force companies to undermine the privacy and basic security interests of hundreds of millions worldwide.

Back Door Will Undermine Security

Apple said the government demands that it create a back door to defeat the encryption on the phone, which would make confidential and personal information vulnerable to identity thieves, hackers, foreign agents and unwarranted government surveillance. It states the All Writs Act of 1789, on which the government bases its case, does not give the court a “roving commission” to command Apple in this manner.

Apple said no court has ever authorized what the government is trying to do, and no law authorizes such “sweeping use of judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.”

In the face of hacking threats, Apple said it is dedicated to enhancing its devices’ security, so when customers use an iPhone, they can be confident their private personal information is safe. “To this end, Apple uses encryption to protect its customers from cyber-attack and works hard to improve security with every software release because the threats are becoming more frequent and sophisticated.”

Apple: Government Evades Congress

The two important interests in the case are the personal safety interests of the public and the needs of law enforcement, the motion noted. The government had the chance to amend the existing law and to ask Congress to adopt the position the government wants. But instead of seeking new legislation, the government has moved away from Congress and approached the courts, which Apple calls ill suited to address the “myriad competing interests, potential ramifications, and unintended consequences presented by the government’s unprecedented demand.”

By invoking terrorism, the government wants Apple to create a new operating system (OS), a “back door” to the phone which Apple considers too dangerous to build. Creating this OS would force Apple to develop new software with the ability to remove security features and create a capability to the operating system to undermine iPhone encryption.

Such software would allow a passcode to be input electronically, making it easier to unlock the iPhone by “brute force” by attempting to use thousands or millions of passcode combinations using the speed of a modern computer.

Vulnerable To Criminals

Once the process has been developed, it will offer a way for criminals and foreign agents to have access to millions of iPhones. “And once developed for our government, it is only a matter of time before foreign governments demand the same tool.”

The company noted that local and state officials have already declared their intent to use the proposed OS to open hundreds of other seized devices, including cases that have nothing to do with terrorism. “Once the floodgates open, they cannot be closed, and the device security that Apple has worked so tirelessly to achieve will be unwound without so much as a congressional vote.”

Apple said no legal principle would limit the technology to domestic terrorism. And even if it could, the technology would only drive adversaries further underground using encryption technology developed by foreign companies that cannot be conscripted into U.S. government service.

The FBI’s warnings that terrorists and criminals can “go dark” behind encryption methods proves this point, the motion noted.

Also read: Bill Gates backs FBI demand for Apple iPhone Backdoor

New Government Powers

Lastly, considering the government’s “boundless interpretation of the All Writs Act,” Apple said it is hard to conceive of any limits on government edicts the government could obtain in the future. As an example, if the government can compel Apple to write code in this case and to bypass security features, what will stop the government form requiring Apple to write code and turn on the microphone in support of government surveillance, activate the video camera, surreptitiously record conversations or activate location services to track the phone’s user? Nothing, according to Apple.

By ordering Apple to take this action, the government is not contributing to the debate but seeking to avoid it, the company claimed.

Apple said it strongly supports efforts of law enforcement to seek justice against criminals and terrorists. But the “unprecedented” order the government has requested is not supported in the law and would violate the Constitution. The order would harm society, civil liberties and national security. It would also preempt decisions that should be left to laws that Congress passes and the President signs.

The company said that it provided data it possessed relating to the attackers’ accounts that the FBI asked for. The company participated in teleconferences, gave technical assistance and answered questions and suggested alternative ways for the government to get the data from the iPhone.

The FBI Mishandled The Phone

The company noted that the FBI, without consulting Apple or reviewing its public iOS guidance, changed the iCloud password connected to one of the attacker’s accounts, thereby foreclosing the chance of the phone executing an automatic iCloud backup of its data to the Wi-Fi network. Such an action, had it succeeded, would have obviated the need to unlock the phone and for the “extraordinary order” the government now seeks.

The creation, design, deployment and validation of the software would likely require six to 10 engineers and employees dedicating a “very substantial” portion of their time for at least two weeks, and as many as four weeks, the company noted.

Once created, the OS would have to go through Apple’s security and quality assurance testing process. Changing one feature of an OS often has unanticipated consequences. Thus, security testing and quality assurance would require that the new OS be tested on multiple devices and validated before deployment.

Apple Cites Legal Issues

The motion takes issue with the legality of the government’s order.

An order pursuant to the All Writs Act “must not adversely affect the basic interests of the third party or impose an undue burden,” Apple noted. The government order violates both requirements by conscripting Apple to create software that does not exist and that Apple has a compelling interest in not developing.

Apple has an interest in protecting its data protection systems that ensure the security of customers who depend on and store confidential data on their iPhones.

An order compelling the company to create software that defeats such safeguards undermines those systems and adversely affects the company’s interests and those of iPhone users around the globe.

Responding to these demands would require the company to create full-time positions in a new “hacking” department to service government requests and to create new versions of the back door software every time iOS changes. It would further require company engineers to testify about this back door as government witnesses at trial.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Bitcoin

BlockState Interview Part One: Institutional Investment Framework Story

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The mainstream media narrative has shown an uncompromisingly negative bias towards institutional crypto investment of late and it only seemed fair that we got in touch with some people who have professional expertise in the field.

BlockState is a platform that aims to deliver a modular blockchain-based legal and technological infrastructure for financial institutions which combats the low interest and return rates offered by traditional asset classes.

We spoke to the three co-founders: Paul Claudius, Michael Weber and Samuel Brack regarding the nature of the project. In addition to how they met and how it all started, their current status, and their plans for the future.

BlockState in Brief

On their website, the BlockChain team states that their intention is to provide “a technological and legal bridge between blockchain technology and financial markets.”.

It is an infrastructural platform upon which organisations within these sectors build or inform their own solutions – and is unashamedly focused towards providing products for the institutional investment crowd.

On the One Hand…

When asked about the ethics, technological approach and modus operandi of BlockState, Managing Director Paul Claudius was eager to provide a comprehensive, dichotomised summary.

“On the one hand we are creating the basis for institutional investors to access the digital assets markets.

“Investment banks can’t simply open a wallet on their phone and start buying crypto-assets. They need a range of services and processes in place to make sure that they abide by regulation and their internal requirements.”

The BlockState consensus is that there are insufficient frameworks in place to mitigate the obstacles faced by companies unfamiliar with the many intricacies of the crypto-space at present.

This is not to mention the prohibitive nature of the past progression of technological and regulatory standards, which are largely non-standardized.

… And On the Other

The ‘other hand’ to which Paul refers to is the lack of blockchain or cryptocurrency integration at product or service levels within the institutional market.

For this reason: BlockState posits the second half of its service as an offering to:

“help institutions leverage blockchain to improve their existing processes… helping them tokenize financial products and using smart contracts to govern their execution… [to] save massive amount of resources while making their systems more transparent and efficient.”

In theory all transactions will be immutably recorded on the blockchain, which will ensure that all parties involved can access this data and that all transactions will be processed quickly.

Performance can distinguish a winning cryptocurrency from a useless dud.

The Three Musketeers

In addition to Paul Claudius, we got the opportunity to speak to fellow founding members Michael Weber and Samuel Brack.

Paul specialises in Strategy and Business Development, whilst Michael’s role is to take the lead on Product Development and Project Management duties. Their specialisms are Strategy and Business Development, and Product Development / Project Management (respectively).

Samuel Brack is the cryptocurrency brains of the operation and performs something of a hands-on position, donning the title of Chief Technology Officer. He sits in a more hands-on position, acting as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for BlockState.

Before BlockState

Paul recalls that the executive leadership team had “all already knew each other” before the BlockState project even began.

Whilst he and Michael Weber had made acquaintance whilst studying together at the ESPC Europe business school, Michael had met up with Samuel Brack as they were co-founding partners on a prior blockchain based project entitled ‘Goodcoins’.

Whilst they have sold their stake in Goodcoins since, Samuel at least considers his time on the project to have equipped him a knowledge which has been brought forth to BlockState.

Beginners Luck?

On a more personal level: Paul Claudius described his first interaction with the world of cryptocurrency as being the moment in 2012 in which a friend had recommended Bitcoin to him as a potential investment.

He has not disclosed exactly how much Bitcoin he purchased in 2012 but if story is true, considering the token’s contemporary value of $13: Paul would have made a profit of a whopping 51614.53% on his investment. No matter the amount invested.

Products, Pains and Peers

Michael Weber (product lead and project management professional) broke down the trio of primary services / product lines that BlockChain focuses on as being “asset management, dept capital, and derivatives” – with a perceived overlap between the three.

This is as well as the ability for tailoring packages for clients from these tested specialisms.

If these products names appear distinctive yet simple, then you would be correct. Of course, this is one of the main objectives of marketing – however it does not help a company to distinguish itself from its peers.

“While most focus on very specific needs, our infrastructure integrates solutions at every level of the financial product lifecycle, from issuance to reporting always with a view to improving current products on the market.”

This isn’t an easy task however, with obstacles to full-automation rearing their heads alongside undesirably long payment clearance times,

“Some of the major pain points specific to the asset management and derivatives markets and resource consuming operations are settlement and clearing, which can take up to 30 days… with manual processes like getting signatures and manual transactions.”

With a Little Help From My Friends

The three musketeers of BlockState with whom we have already spoken are supposed to possess their own unique-yet-compatible inventories of skills and experience. If the team has any luck it will prove a winning combination.

Three men cannot rule an empire alone however and as the popular idiom goes: successful leaders fill the gaps in their expertise by surrounding themselves with knowledgeable advisors. Following this, BlockState boast a roster of advisors who may just fit the bill for now.

They include (according to Paul):

  • “Patrick Storchenegger, co-founder of the Ethereum Foundation in Zug, is our advisor on legal questions. He brings years of experience from blockchain, capital market law and international tax and business consultancy…
  • “Andrea Voinea, who helped to structure the first Gold Exchange Traded Fund, is a seasoned professional from the asset management market…
  • “Ludwig Schrittenloher, who spent nearly six years at Credit Suisse, offers a breadth of knowledge in DCM and structuring…
  • “[and] Martin Schröder, currently a Director in an investment firm, is an expert in derivatives and also very knowledgeable in capital markets and structuring.”

Estimated Time of ETN

Looking not to the past or present, but forward to what the future may hold for BlockState (or at least, what they plan to happen), we asked Paul Claudius some closing questions in an attempt to reach some conclusions on what may come next…

“At the end of September, we will launch the CTF15 Exchange Traded Note, and it will also be listed on a major European Stock Exchange – to be announced soon…”

An Exchange Traded Note (or ETN) is “a type of unsecured, unsubordinated debt security”

Final Words

Perhaps more exciting even is the fact that the team are currently in the process of preparing the launch of an ‘Equity Token Sale’, issued as part of the company’s equity in a public sale.

According to Paul, it will be “one of the first companies ever to tokenize their equity in a fully regulated and compliant manner, driving the adoption of security tokenization in the financial space.”

Paul, Simon and Michael parted our discussion by asking to remind readers of a forthcoming event at which all three will be attending: the Delta Summit in Malta, which takes place from October 3rd to the 5th.

Stay tuned for the second part of this interview coming soon: in which the team will deliver their commentary on recent news, the present situation; and future predictions on the market and industry.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Altcoins

Stellar Acquires Blockchain Startup Chain to Form Interstellar

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The commercial arm of the Stellar Development Corporation has acquired a promising blockchain startup by the name of Chain, paving the way for possibly higher enterprise adoption of distributed ledger technology. The deal adds to Stellar’s credibility as one of the world’s leading blockchain companies.

Chain Acquired

Chain, a San Francisco-based startup pursuing enterprise grade adoption of blockchain technology in finance, has sold to Lightyear in an undisclosed cash agreement. Lightyear, the subsidiary of the Stellar Development Corporation, will be re-named Interstellar, according to official reports. Jed McCaleb, Stellar’s founder, will be the chief technology officer of the newly formed company, which he said should help companies build on the Stellar network. He adds:

“Chain’s team has led the market for enterprise adoption of blockchain technology, which is a critical component of building a future where money and digital assets move over open protocols.”

Interstellar’s new CEO Adam Ludwin explained how the newly merged company will work together:

“Chain has worked from inside the enterprise while Stellar has focused on the network between organizations. As a single team we will have a complete view and set of capabilities to make value-over-IP a reality.”

Chain is said to be a leader in the world of fin-tech, having built enterprise-grade blockchain solutions for Visa, Citigroup and Nasdaq, among others. With the merger, Interstellar will have access to Sequence, Chain’s powerful cloud solution that enables companies to monitor assets moving between private ledgers and the Stellar network.

Previously, Chain had raised more than $43 million across multiple deals. Financiers included Capital One, Citigroup, Pantera Capital and Blockchain Capital.

XLM Price Update

Although the merger between Chain and Lightyear has not had a demonstrably positive effect on XLM’s price, the cryptocurrency continues to outperform leading assets such as Ethereum and bitcoin cash. The XLM price was down 4.4% on Tuesday but has gained 3.2% over the past seven days. By comparison, bitcoin has declined nearly 1% over that period while Cardano has lost more than 10%. Ethereum is trading in positive territory over seven days as prices recovered from 16-month lows.

XLM, which is currently valued at $0.197, has declined roughly 12% over the past month. At current values, it has a market capitalization of $3.7 billion, placing it sixth among active cryptocurrencies. Bitbox is the most active market for XLM traders, accounting for more than 54% of daily transactions.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 614 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Grayscale’s $6 Million Dollar Bet

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Grayscale Investments, the company behind the Bitcoin Investment Trust, has announced plans to back a little-known privacy coin by the name of Zen. The news came mere months after Grayscale put Zen on its “conviction list” of potentially high-impact cryptocurrencies.

Zen Investment Trust

On Thursday, Grayscale announced the creation of the Zen Investment Trust, which gives accredited investors direct access to the cryptocurrency. It is the eighth such fund mandated to hold just one currency, joining a list of products that include bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP and Ethereum Classic.

Although the announcement came as a surprise to some crypto observers, Grayscale said the decision was based on intensive research and due diligence.

“Grayscale conducts unparalleled research and due diligence on their investment products, striving to offer regulated and professionally managed exposure to the digital currency market for institutional and accredited investors worldwide,” said Rob Viglione, Grayscale’s founder and president.

According to Fortune, Grayscale has already purchased $6.3 million worth of Zen tokens and plans to increase its holdings in the future.

Grayscale appears to be increasing its exposure to privacy-focused coins, having recently added Zcash to its list of single-currency investment funds. These assets align with Viglione’s vision of financial privacy, which he believes will be a dominant theme in the future.

Zen Token: An Introduction

Horizen, the company behind Zen token, launched in May 2017 as ZenCash before rebranding this past summer. The company has designed a platform that provides users with complete control of their digital footprint, including private chat and development features. Once scaled to full capacity, Horizen’s side-chain technology will allow anyone to develop privacy-focused applications and generate income from them. Sidechains ensure that Horizon has the bandwidth to process large volumes of transactions without running into scalability issues plaguing other cryptocurrencies.

For users, Horizen’s platform is intended to provide end-to-end encryption of their online activity. The company employs zk-SNARKs, a protocol that can prove possession of certain information without revealing that information and without any interaction between the prover and verifier. This protocol is also employed by zCash.

Valued at $82 million, Zen is currently ranked no. 72 by market capitalization, according to latest available data. Zen was down only 1% on Thursday compared with double-digit losses for the broader market. At press time, Zen was valued at $17.16, according to CoinMarketCap. Trade volumes amounted to $1.8 million, with Binance accounting for more than half the daily turnover.

There are currently less than 4.7 million ZEN tokens in circulation out of a total supply of 21 million.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 614 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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