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Biotech And Industrial Metals Top Penny Stocks To Watch For August

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Leading market benchmarks hit new highs in July, generating interest in small-cap stocks and low-priced securities for August, according to the Investopedia penny stocks to watch for August.

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Suffering sectors like industrial metals and brick-and-mortar retailers also perked up, driving swing traders and bottom feeders into the market. Such developments bode well for penny stocks in the near-term, even though traders have to recognize higher than average risk.

Biotech stocks performed well during the month as major sector funds broke out of basing patterns set in 2015. The strength of biotechs signals the start of secular uptrends that should support rallies at all capitalization levels in the next few months.

Four of this month’s stocks return from the previous two months while the balance are newcomers.

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1. ImmunoGen Inc. (IMGN)

Source: Investopedia

ImmunoGen, Inc. has grown by more than 70% since it joined the penny stock watch list in June, raising odds for double digit growth.

Immunogen, a provider of antibody-drug conjugates for the treatment of cancer, leads the top penny stocks for the second straight month after joining the list in June as the number four top stock to watch.

The stock posted a 12-year high at $20.25 in 2013 and sold off to $5.34 in December 2014. A recovery in 2015 stalled less than a point below the prior peak, creating a decline that continued into an 18-year low at $1.51 in November 2016.

The stock reached a 14-month high above $8.00 in early July. A mid-month pullback dropped the stock into intermediate support at the 50-day EMA, creating a healthy bounce that could now test the prior high, pushing into double digits.

ImmunoGen creates targeted cancer therapeutics. The company’s candidate, mirvetuximab soravtansine, is in a Phase 3 trial for an ovarian cancer, and is in Phase 1b/2 testing in combination regimens for an earlier-stage disease.

The technology is used in Roche’s Kadcyla, in three other clinical-stage ImmunoGen product candidates, and in programs in development by Amgen, Bayer, Biotest, CytomX, Lilly, Novartis, Sanofi and Takeda.

2. RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA)

Source: Investopedia

RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA), a defense electronics system of advanced electronic systems for airborne and land applications, rose from number 7 in July’s top penny stocks to watch to number two in August.

The stock fell into a multi-decade decline after it joined Nasdaq in the 1990s. It ground out a series of lower highs and lows through January 2016’s all-time 54-cent low. The stock spent 16 months moving sideways in a narrow basing pattern before turning higher in May 2017 and rallying back to 2016 resistance at $1.78. The bullish activity completed a cup and handle breakout pattern that could point to a fast rally into the August 2015 gap between $3.70 and $2.50.

The stock continues to gain strength, targeting the August 2015 gap at $4.24

Revenues totaled $4.7 million in the 2017 first quarter, up 91% compared to revenues of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Gross profit totaled $1.7 million in the first 2017 quarter of 2017, a gross margin of 35.7%, compared to gross profit of $6,000 (gross margin of 0.2%) in the 2016 first quarter.

Operating income was $0.4 million in the first 2017 quarter compared to an operating loss of $1 million in the 2016 first quarter.

Net income attributable to RADA’s shareholders in the 2017 first quarter was $0.4 million, $0.02 per share, versus a net loss of $1.8 million, or $0.23 per share, in the 2016 first quarter.

3. 22nd Century Group, Inc. (XXII)

Source: Investopedia

22nd Century Group, Inc., a plant biotechnology company that is a provider of tobacco harm reduction and development of proprietary hemp/cannabis strains, rose from the number five spot in July’s top penny stocks to watch to number three in August.

The stock broke out above multi-year resistance near $1.50 in 2013, rallying to a record high a few months later at $6.36. It then began a persistent decline through August 2015 before finding support at 56 cents, followed by a bounce to $1.75.

The stock traded within those boundaries for 22-months, bouncing at support three times and reversing at resistance in equal measure. The price returned to that level a fourth time, improving odds for a breakout that could double the price in the year’s second half.

The stock found support near 70 cents in the second half of the year, testing that level three times ahead of a March 2017 uptick that has now reached ranged resistance. A breakout over $2 should draw strong buying interest favoring a high percentage rally back to its 3-year high.

The stock joined the Russell Microcap Index two months ago, when FTSE Russell reconstituted its U.S. and global equity indexes.

Membership in the Russell Microcap Index signifies automatic inclusion in the value style indexes. FTSE Russell determines membership for its Russell indexes primarily by objective, market-capitalization rankings and style attributes.

22nd Century Group focuses on genetic engineering and plant breeding that allows the increase or decrease of nicotine levels in tobacco plants and cannabinoids levels in cannabis plants. Its primary goal for tobacco is to lessen the harm caused by smoking. The primary goal for cannabis is to develop proprietary hemp/cannabis strains for new medicines and agricultural crops.

4. Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP)

Source: Investopedia

Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP), a provider of clean energy products that reduce customer costs and risks, and helps customers solve challenges in their fuel cell programs, rose from the number 10 spot in the July penny stocks to watch to the number four spot in August.

The stock reached an all-time high at $144.95 in 2000 before falling for more than 12 years, reaching an all-time low at 56 cents. A 2013 uptrend continued through 2014, reaching an 8-year high at $8.38, followed by a correction that returned to 2015 resistance at $3.10.

The recovery wave reached new resistance in April 2017, generating a 3-month symmetrical triangle pattern that could yield an uptrend into the prior high.

Total revenue was $22.7 million in the last quarter, an increase of 39% from growth in both power products and technology solutions.

Gross margin was 42% in the quarter, an improvement of 22 points due to a shift in product mix toward higher margin technology solutions and a heavy duty motive for the China market, including the establishment of a production line in Yunfu, China for the manufacture and assembly of FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stacks.

Cash operating costs were $10 million in the quarter, a 6% increase due to higher research and product development expenditures as well as a stronger Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, since a significant amount of cost is denominated in Canadian dollars.

Low-priced biotech stocks have risen following a long slumber, with steady buying interest likely to continue. This group should offer a variety of profitable penny stock plays during the quiet summer trading season, while low-priced stocks in other sectors move into narrow trading ranges.

5. Trilogy Metals, Inc. (TMQ)

Source: Investopedia

Trilogy Metals Inc., which engages in the development and exploration of mineral properties, joins the top penny stocks to watch list this month at number 5. The Vancouver, Canada-based company went public on the U.S. exchanges in April 2012 at $3.20, beginning an immediate downtrend to an all-time low at 15 cents in January 2016. A recovery wave mounted the 200-day EMA at 60 cents that stalled three months later, yielding a narrow basing pattern into a July 2017 recovery that has reached a 2-year high at $1.22.

A pullback to new support in the 80- to 85-cent price range should mark a low-risk buying opportunity, as the upside that could reach $2.

Trilogy Metals Inc. reported a strong working capital position of $20.1 million in the second quarter, with cash on hand of $14.5 million.

For the three months ending May 31, 2017, the company reported a net loss of $2.4 million compared to a net loss of $1.6 million for the corresponding period in 2016. This variance was primarily due to the size of the field programs at the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects in 2017 as well as the timing of the program.

An increase of $840,000 of mineral property expenses occurred during the three months ended May 31, 2017 compared to the three months ended May 31, 2016. In 2017, the field program at Arctic and Bornite began with drilling by early June compared to 2016 where the field program kicked off in early July. This earlier start resulted in an increased mineral property expense during the second quarter of 2017. Additionally, an increased level of ongoing technical studies was occurring during the three months ended May 31, 2017 compared to the corresponding period in 2016.

The company announced a financial partnership with South32 Limited for an option to form a 50/50 joint venture for a minimum investment of $150 million. South32 is required to fund a minimum of $10 million per year for up to three years to keep the option in good standing. The first $10 million has been advanced to the company and will be spent on a 12,000-meter exploration drill program at the Bornite deposit, which is already underway.

6. Antares Pharma, Inc. (ATRS)

Source: Investopedia

Antares Pharma, Inc., which focuses on self-administered parenteral pharmaceutical products, caught fire after suffering an all-time low at 29 cents in January 2009, then delivering a strong uptrend continuing into the July 2012 all-time high at $5.58. The stock then fell in multiple selling waves that ended at a 6-year low in March 2016.

The subsequent recovery has now completed a round trip into the April 2015 high, retracing half of the multi-year decline. The price has consolidated above $3 for the past three months, establishing the final stage of a 2-year cup and handle pattern targeting the multi-year high.

The company recently reported operating and financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017. The company reported revenue of $13.4 million and a net loss per share of $0.02 for the three months ended June 30, 2017.

Revenue for the three months ending June 30, 2017 was $13.4 million, compared to $12.2 million for the comparable period in 2016. For the six months ended June 30, 2017, total revenue was $25.4 million, versus total revenue of $24.5 million for the six months ended June 30, 2016.

Product sales were $7.3 million for the three months ended June 30, 2017, compared to $8.7 million for the comparable period in 2016, totaling $17.4 million for the six months ended June 30, 2017 compared to $19.5 million in the same period of 2016.

The decrease for the period was primarily driven by a reduction in sales of pre-launch auto injector devices for use with Teva’s generic epinephrine product and reduced sumatriptan product shipments to Teva partially offset by increased sales of OTREXUP.

The company also completed a non-dilutive, 5-year debt financing with Hercules Capital, providing Antares the ability to draw up to $35 million, with the first tranche of $25 million funded upon execution of the agreement.

7. Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. (CVRS)

Source: Investopedia

Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. topped out near $4.60 in 2015 and began a steep decline in January 2017 when it posted a multi-year low at 40 cents. The stock rebounded on strong volume one month later, marking an uptrend that reached an 18-month high at $2.25 in early July. The stock has been consolidating at new support for the last three weeks, settling on the 50-day EMA while its on-balance volume holds near the rally high. The bullish configuration favors continuing upside that could reach 2015 resistance at $3.

Second quarter revenue was $2.3 million compared to $0.5 million for the same period in the prior year. The increase is due mainly to CorPath GRX Systems and capital upgrade sales.

The company installed three new CorPath GRX Systems in the second quarter, increasing the installed base to 16 systems and the total installed base to 51 systems. The installed base of 16 systems accounted for almost 90% of all CorPath cassettes shipped for revenue in the second quarter.

Gross profit was $58,000 for the second quarter, compared to a loss of $0.6 million for the second quarter of 2016. The cost of revenues for the second quarter continued to include the effect of under-utilization of production facilities as well as the cost of CorPath GRX system upgrades installed pursuant to contractual service arrangements with no corresponding revenue in the period.

Selling, general and administrative expenses were $5.9 million, compared to $4.4 million in the second quarter of 2016. The increase is primarily due to higher compensation and travel expenses associated with incremental sales headcount, investment in medical education and international sales initiatives, and incremental non-cash stock-based compensation expense related to the CEO and commercial leadership transitions during 2016.

8. Medical Transcription Billing Corp. (MTBC)

Source: Investopedia

Medical Transcription Billing Corp., a healthcare information technology company that provides proprietary web-based solutions, together with related business services, to healthcare providers practicing in ambulatory care settings, went public at $4.28 in July 2014 and entered a downtrend that continued to the April 2017 all-time low at 29 cents. The stock recovered two sessions later in reaction to positive sales news and topped out at $3.84 in mid-May.

A subsequent pullback has now since reached support at the 200-day EMA near $1.20, with a rally from this level generating buying signals favoring ongoing upside into the second quarter high.

Revenues for second quarter 2017 were $7.8 million, an increase of 49% versus $5.2 million in the same period last year. The increase was mainly due to the MediGain acquisition.

The second quarter 2017 GAAP net loss was $1.7 million, or 22% of revenue, an improvement of $1 million compared to a net loss of $2.7 million in the first quarter 2017. The GAAP net loss in the second quarter 2017 was mostly a result of non-cash amortization and depreciation expenses of $1.5 million.

The second quarter 2017 GAAP operating loss was $1.4 million, or 18% of revenue, which represents an improvement of $1 million or 43% from the $2.4 million operating loss in the prior quarter.

As of June 30, 2017, the company had $5.8 million in cash and a working capital deficiency of approximately $4.1 million.

The company raised gross proceeds of $2.3 million from a registered direct offering of its common stock priced at the market on May 10, 2017. MTBC issued 1 million registered shares of common stock to a healthcare institutional investor at a purchase price of $2.30 per share. Concurrently in a private placement, MTBC issued warrants to purchase up to 2 million shares of its common stock, with an exercise price of $5 per share, which are exercisable through May 15, 2018, and would deliver potential gross proceeds of up to $10 million if exercised.

In addition, the company raised gross proceeds of $7.4 million from the sale of about 295,000 additional shares of its non-convertible Series A Preferred Stock on June 23, 2017.

9. Intrepid Potash, Inc. (IPI)

Source: Investopedia

Intrepid Potash, Inc., the only U.S. producer of muriate of potash, sold off to 2008 support at $13.80 in 2014. Two years later, the stock began a decline that reached an all-time low at 65 cents in March 2016. The stock rose above $1.50 in June before settling in a sideways pattern ahead of a December 2016 breakout that soon stalled at $3.04.

The stock spent the last eight months consolidating its gains and is now testing the rally high. A breakout could generate an uptrend reaching 200-week EMA resistance between $6 and $8.

Intrepid generated a second quarter net loss of $5.9 million, or $0.05 per share, delivering a first half net loss of $19.6 million, or $0.19 per share. This marked an improvement over the net losses of $13.4 million, or $0.18 per share, and $31.8 million or $0.42 per share, in the second quarter and the first half of 2016, respectively.
Improvements in year-over-year net loss per share were driven in part by a gain in outstanding shares from a March 2017 secondary offering.

Consolidated gross margin advanced to $3.7 million and $0.8 million in the second quarter and the first half of 2017, respectively, against the prior year. Improvements were due to lower cost solar potash production and higher average net realized potash pricing that offset lower average net realized sales prices for the product, Trio.

Cash provided by operating activities rose year-over-year to $9.7 million and $11.5 million for the second quarter and the first half of 2017, respectively. Increased cash flow was due to strong spring demand, increased potash prices, and the elimination of costlier conventionally mined potash from the production profile.

10. Tantech Holdings, Ltd. (TANH)

Source: Investopedia

Tantech Holdings, Ltd., a manufacturer bamboo-based charcoal products for industrial energy applications and household cooking, heating, purification, agricultural and cleaning uses, went public at $6.00 in March 2015 and began an uptrend that topped out at $33.97 five months later. In the next three months, the stock relinquished more than 90% of its value. Bears maintained control into the April 2017 all-time low at $1, followed by a recovery that reached a 10-month high in July.

Pricing has tested resistance at the September 2016 breakdown through the October 2015 low, with a buying surge setting the stage for upside in the $6 range.

For the six months ended December 31, 2016, revenues were $24.88 million and net earnings were $2.77 million, according to a June 2017 financial report.

Gross margins widened from 25.02% to 30.33% compared to the same period last year, with EBITDA operating margins 18.28% compared to 18.64% the prior year. Year-on-year change in operating cash flow was 32.02%, about the same as the change in earnings.

Penny stocks require investors to make some guesses about the future. Very few such stocks have a sufficient track record to indicate they will prosper. At the same time, the stocks on this list are in significant industries and have the potential to be vital players in those industries.

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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Analysis

Music: One Overlooked Use Case

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So far in this year, Ethereum has been the crypto star appreciating over 80% to a recent record of $1402. All this suggests that more and more applications are being created. We know this by the demand for Ether, the gas that drives the Ethereum network.

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The reason behind the explosion of Ether demand was confirmed by Ethereum co founder Steven Nerayoff in a CNBC interview where he claimed the number of Ethereum projects today is more than 10 times year ago levels.

One of those areas is the music business and there are several names appearing on the ICO list to add to your research agenda.

Why The Music Business Needs Help

Music may live forever but the business side has been in trouble for a long while. Over the last decade there have been only three years when the global value of music sales increased. The combination of digital music and outright pirating through peer-to-peer sharing has much to do with the long-term trend.

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Throughout the world there are 69 copyright and royalty societies given the responsibility of documenting, collecting and distributing music royalties. That means collecting a few pennies whenever a song is played on the radio, Internet or anywhere else. Four of the largest of these is in the US, followed by Japan, Germany and Britain. Their operations are truly byzantine.

Experts in the music-publishing field confirm the time between music usage and royalty payment can run close to 24 months. Even then not all royalties are distributed. According to my sources, there are often millions of dollars collected by royalty authorities everywhere that never make it to the entitled recipients. That sort of practice borders on criminal behavior but copyright and royalty societies operate in a sub-rosa manner making it difficult to understand their policies.

In the past just 4 major record labels controlled over 80% of the industry. These giants could afford a full time legal department to pursue royalty issues dominated the music industry. Today, however, independent labels represent almost one-third of the market. This means less democracy in the business with the young independent artist at a particular disadvantage.

Of course, musicians aren’t the only group of artists loosing out on their pay. There are writers, poets and painters that go largely unprotected.

The music business is just easier to track because it has more data. Yet in spite of all the information, the music industry is widely recognized for its lack of transparency. Blockchain technology has the ability to disrupt long-standing industry practices.

ICOs To The Rescue

The number of Ethereum based white knights is starting to appear on the horizon promising to rattle the industry and hopefully restore some democracy on behalf of the independent artist.

One simple business model comes from a startup SingularDTV who is attempting to build their ecosystem on top of Ethereum. Here is the basic value added proposal.

SingularDTV tokenizes the artist work. In doing so the artist is turning their music into a financial asset. Anyone who buys into an artist’s token owns a share of the creation and its income stream. The more people consume an artist creation, the higher goes the token price.

Only time will show if SingularDTV succeeds with this model. The consequence of this model is how it eliminates many of the middlemen and nefarious influences in the industry. Instead of singing on a street corner for bread, an artist could raise money upfront without relying on an advance from a record label.

According to SingularDTV, distributing content via blockchain would allow artists to skirt streaming platforms like Spotify to earn royalties on their own terms. Now that is true democracy.

SingularDTV may stand out a bit in the news due its recent ICO success in raising $8 million but they aren’t the only player in the music game. Names like Voise recently raised $1 million as well as Soundchain, Blokur and Opus to name a few.

I am no longer a registered investment advisor, which means I don’t go around making investment recommendations. So I will only suggest this group to put on your list of late night reading. Next time, I will take a closer look at more of these names.

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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Why You Must Buy The Brand Names

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No matter if you are a developer with deep knowledge of technology or a prospective first time investor, your choices are pretty mind-boggling. This year started with 1384 cryptocurrencies. More are coming every week.

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Literally billions are being made but how to choose the right one. If it means spending you life buried in complex technical blogs trying to understand both the obtuse technical language and then the writers jargon, you may decide to bail.

Putting Perspective on The Technology

There are loads of folks who understand the different technology between bitcoin and Litecoin or between Ethereum and Cardano. My perspective comes from analyzing dozens of businesses over more than four decades and cryptocurrencies is one of the most promising yet.

Simple Solution

Here is a solution that will help you cut through the complexity. Buy the best brand name. Classic investment risk management dictates a completely different strategy. Every certified investment advisor will recommend risk diversification and clearly cryptocurrencies are about as risky as you can find.

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However, after digging through all 1384 cryptocurrencies, you will be fully diversified by owning just two brands. The couple that we are talking about is bitcoin and Ethereum.

There are other choices in the top ten like Ripple, bitcoin Cash, Cardano and Litecoin. Each brand is worth researching but none offer all the combined benefits of bitcoin and the Ethereum Network.

ICOs Don’t Need To Be Confusing: Look To Ethereum

 In the past year some huge returns have been chalked up by initial coin offerings. Here we are talking about companies seeing their value go from fractions of a penny to dollar multiples in no time. The challenge is how to choose the right one.

Consider what you are dealing with. Initial coin offerings allow companies that are at pre-venture capital stage to get started. So the risks here are higher than investing in a blind pool venture capital fund.

The accepted formula by VCs is to aim for a success rate of 2%-5%. This means that 95% of the companies that are much further developed than most ICOs will fail. With your chances of finding the dream ICO generously placed at 1%-2%, why bother.

In 2017 more than 1,000 ICOs raised about $4 billion. According to ICO Watch List, 78.7% of those used the Ethereum platform. So if you want to play the ICO game, why not simply own the gas the powers the network: Ether.

 The Ethereum Brand: Think Microsoft Corp

In a recent CNBC interview Ethereum co founder Steven Nerayoff made the comparison of Ethereum with the early stages of Microsoft Windows. Along with Bill Gates, Microsoft is one the world’s most ubiquitous brands. Side note: Microsoft didn’t reach Ethereum’s present value until after ten years of Windows.

Nerayoff cites billions of dollars being poured into as many as ten times the number of projects in 2018 over the previous year. From his vantage point these projects include a wide breadth of industries starting from financial tech, oil & gas, gaming, travel/resorts, government and various creative areas.

According to Jeremy Millar, cofounder of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), CEOs across the world are clamoring for blockchain technology. Millar believes most CEOs require a heavy dose of education about the new technology and that means there will be a natural demand for the largest supplier with the biggest brand- Ethereum.

A key to Ethereum’s brand leadership started last February when the EEA to connect Fortune 500 companies with Ethereum experts. Now with almost a year under their belt membership has grown to over 300. This is brand leadership in the most important market for Ethereum. Nobody else is close.

The Bitcoin Brand

Think of bitcoin as a brand like MasterCard, Visa, American Express or even Crest toothpaste. Each of these names enjoys instant consumer recognition thanks to million invested in advertising, marketing and image development. Bitcoin is unique in the sense that not a single bitcoin has been spent to advertise its usefulness.

One source claims there are well over 10,000 merchants that accept payment in bitcoin. Headliners include Microsoft Corp, Subway, Whole Foods, Intuit, Expedia, Bloomberg, Dish Network and Overstocked.

Ask First Data, Fiserv or any other payments processing company and they will attest to the difficulties of changing client habits in accepting payments. Any newbie attempting to enter the payments business will have to answer the dual questions: what makes you better, faster and cheaper then bitcoin and do you have greater consumer acceptance? Right now, bitcoin has a lead of at least two year and they aren’t sitting still.

The Bitcoin Moat Is Being Built

 Bitcoin is the king of digital currencies but the king is not perfect. There are those shortcomings like volatility and slow speed.

The start of a bitcoin futures market began on December 18. The CME and CBOE are giving everyone the ability to hedge. The prospect of reduced price volatility will attract additional mainstream retailers.

No more than a few days after futures trading began on the CME, one of the largest luxury used car dealers in Japan announced the acceptance of bitcoin. Since then the giant investment bank Goldman Sachs has created a research team and issued a glowing report on the cryptocurrency outlook. The tipping point for bitcoin has taken place.

The bitcoin moat is being built even wider by Bitcoin Lightning Network, which was released this week both increasing speed and resulting in dramatically lower fees.

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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Breaches

The Lessons Of Meltdown And Spectre

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The discovery of the twin flaws Meltdown and Spectre and the events related to the information leak that followed carry a huge message: we all need to do something to regain control of our digital identity. Blockchain technology is the most compelling option.

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A few days back we wrote about the computer chip flaws named Meltdown and Spectre found largely in Intel and AMD products. The discovery of these flaws leaked into public hands leading to a possible public relations mess if not disaster for the worlds largest chip fabricators as well as Microsoft.

The PR Template

The history of public relations has formulated a strategy that calls for the affected company CEO to issue an apology and offer the promise of a quick and reliable solution.

On Monday January 7 Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced an update all of Intel’s products within a week covering 90% or more with the balance available by month end. This sounds reassuring until you get a closer look. After that everything quickly breaks down.

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Limited Coverage

The updates only cover products introduced in the past five years. What about the rest of the user base? There are uncountable data centers in existence with equipment dating back to 2013 and before. My still totally awesome iMac was build in 2011.Five years is not all that long.

The Meltdown and Sprectre flaws affect every computer, server and mobile devices since the dawn of the digital age. Since there is no known fix for Spectre, we must assume the update only covers Meltdown.

Opening The Door

Krzanich stuck to the company line that the updates would not drastically affect computer performance for the average user. The operative word here is “average user”. But even this claim contradicts Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who warned their Meltdown fix would result in processing speeds 20%-30% slower than normal.

Before updates and security fixes are in place, bad actors have some valuable time to do their deeds. The Intel release insures that every hacker will have his or her very own guide to both Meltdown and Spectre.

Intel even attached the security researchers released documentation of critical vulnerabilities of Meltdown and Spectre. Only GPS could have been better.

Protecting Your Digital Identity

Just for fun, I opened the Apple Store and into the search window I typed “Passwords”. Immediately I was presented with 10 different categories so I picked “Password Manager”. There were no fewer than 75 apps to hide your passwords.

In addition there is Apples own Keychain and Google Passwords so we are getting closer to 80 in total. Conclusion: if anyone was all that good there would hardly be a need for this many.

Can All 80 Apps Be Wrong?

It didn’t take long to realize the “raison d’ etre” for so many password managers offered nothing to do with superior performance. They just created another layer of usernames and passwords. These days when we forget a password it sets in motion a whole chain reaction that includes changing and manually resetting everything in the password manager.

We have all been through this massively frustrating process that never seems to change. Is our personal data safer with almost 80 password managers to choose from? Obviously not just look at the data breech at Equifax or Target Corp.

The answer as to why nothing has basically changed since the days of the dialup Internet is that the possession and control has shifted from over 315 million Americans and billions more elsewhere to a handful of corporate controllers.

Frequent and well-publicized breeches prove that the controllers of our identity never really protected our privacy. They simply did a good job convincing us they had our backs.

Guarded By The Phantom

This phantom layer of security was breaking down long ago when data storage companies began popping up across the country. But in many cases they kept data spread over several different locations.

This is until the birth of cloud storage when two things changed. The entirety of corporate data could be centralized making it rich bounty for hackers. Then for server efficiency multiple corporate client data was loaded onto a single server. Yum, this is like a Thanksgiving feast.

Weaknesses from centralization of data go beyond cloud storage. Look no further than the security vulnerabilities in Meltdown and Spectre.

Regaining Control

If ever there was a good reason for government to protect its citizens, this is one of them. Unfortunately the problem is too big for a mere regulation or two to do the full job.

Using blockchain technology for digital identity holds the power to regain ownership of our data. It has the power to create a new model of online data management. The fact that it frees companies from the liability of data ownership should make for a receptive audience. And of course the cost savings is an added bonus.

The Benefits of Ownership

When the ownership of our digital identity returns to the hands of individuals, you will have the power to decide who has access, under what conditions and for how long. Proponents of this idea believe it creates an incorruptible digital record and can be used for virtually any peer-to-peer transfer of any asset.

Pronouncing anything incorruptible or totally secure is foolish especially given overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Security has always and will always be a comparative state. There are no absolutes. It is true however that the decentralized architecture of blockchains make for much less interesting prey for hackers compared to those big cloud storage facilities.

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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