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Is This Blockchain Voting System by NYU Devs the Solution to Russia Election Meddling?

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With lingering concerns over ways in which the 2016 election could have been underhandedly swayed in the favor of President-elect Donald J. Trump after Barack Obama requested a report on the matter, a team of blockchain-minded New York University devs have developed a potential answer after winning first prize in a development challenge.

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Cybersecurity has been a major issue in elections ever since electronic voting machines were deployed in the early 1990s.

Voting had never been less expensive and easier for the electorate. The rise of cybersecurity, on the other hand, has become a major issue for the underpinnings of Democracy.

Donald Trump

It has been alleged that Russian state hackers interfered in this year’s US presidential elections.

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President Barack Obama recently ordered a report on how Russia might have possibly meddled in the US election in the favor of Donald J. Trump.

The world-renowned computer protection firm Kaspersky Lab, along with popular financial magazine The Economist challenged development teams from universities globally to create a system for digital voting to solve problems around cybersecurity in the voting booth, as well as counting the votes themselves.

New York University students Kevin Kirby, Anthony Masi, and Fernando Maymi won first place in the contest with Votebook, a “secure, scalable and consistent with current voter behavior and expectations of privacy.”

“As per the rules of the challenge, Votebook is based on blockchain technology, which creates a distributed, irreversible, incontrovertible public ledger that has been described as double-entry accounting for the digital age,” according to a press release about the hackathons results.

Votebook’s “permissioned blockchain” enables a “central authority” to admit voting machines to a network before an election begins, according to the release issued by NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

“The voting machines act autonomously to build a public, distributed ledger of votes,” according to the press release. “Voters would still register and show up to the polls just as they do in our current system, ensuring minimal disruption of voter expectations.” The ledger data for all voting machines would be released to the public at the election’s conclusion for auditing.

“Each voter could then check to see his or her vote was counted by entering a set of unique values (voter identification, individual ballot identification) that only the voter would know – the values, when cryptographically hashed, match the entry on the ledger that represents that individual’s vote;  no one else would be able to decipher those hashes,” the press release states.

The NYU team was awarded $10,000 for Votebook. All three participants work in an NYU program to produce cybersecurity specialists called ASPIRE. The program is based out of the NYU Center for Cybersecurity (CCS).

“Concerns about ballot stuffing, fraud, and cyber attacks have rattled voter confidence,” Maymi said. “It’s time that the voting system became more transparent, and we have shown that we should and can harness the power of blockchain technology to serve democracy.”

“We are exceedingly proud that our ASPIRE scholars triumphed in this important challenge,” said NYU Tandon Professor of Electrical and Computer Science Ramesh Karri, who co-founded CCS, is “excedingly proud of the program’s scholars.

“Their win is proof that interdisciplinary teams can create exceptionally secure information systems based on a deep understanding of social, behavioral, and public policy implications,” she says. “With digital data becoming more and more essential in every facet of our lives – including the way in which we elect our leaders – their expertise is invaluable.”

The NYU dev team’s win is also proof that distributed ledgers can form the basis of many important business and political operations in the future.

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Bitcoin Hits $100 Billion as Record Rally Continues

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Bitcoin’s epic rally intensified Friday, as the token reached $6,000 for the first time in its history, bringing the total market value above $100 billion.

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Bitcoin’s Fresh Intraday High

BTC/USD touched an intraday high of $6,064.14, bringing its total market cap to $100.8 billion. That’s roughly $85 billion higher than where the market started in January.

At press time, bitcoin was trading around $5,993, up more than 5% on the day. From a technical perspective, the digital currency is considered overbought. However, the technicals are typically less reliable during extreme price movements like we’ve seen in recent weeks. The world’s leading cryptocurrency has added a staggering 520% this year.

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Bitcoin’s rally didn’t really extend to other cryptocurrencies Friday. Ethereum continued to trade just north of $300, while Ripple (XRP) consolidated a hair below 21 U.S. cents.

The cryptocurrency market’s combined market cap is roughly $173.4 billion, which is roughly $3 billion less than the Monday’s peak.

$10,000 Bitcoin?

Bitcoin could be heading north of $10,000 a unit in the not-too-distant future, according to a survey conducted by CNBC. About 49% of the 23,118 people who voted in the CNBC poll said the digital currency will reach the five-figure threshold.

Roughly 16% of respondents said bitcoin prices are heading to between $6,000 and $8,000. About a third selected the Jamie Dimon option by calling bitcoin a fraud.

Though unscientific, the survey clearly shows that the mainstream is paying attention to the rapid acceleration of cryptocurrency. At least a portion of them will investigate the matter further, and likely conclude that digital assets are a welcome addition to their portfolio.

It’s impossible to associate bitcoin’s success with just one catalyst, but it’s clear that institutional support, the allure of the blockchain and favorable regulation in markets like Japan are feeding the rally. An anticipated November hard fork is also helping to shore up price.s

A Day of Milestones

Bullish sentiment also rubbed off on U.S. stocks Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending its rally above 23,000. The blue-chip index climbed tacked on 165 points to close at 23,328.63 after the U.S. Senate passed the 2018 budget by the narrowest of margins.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also set fresh all-time highs, with financials and industrials leading the rally.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Cryptocurrency Analysis: Bitcoin Tests $6000 as Market Settles Down

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Bitcoin is in the center of attention yet again, as the most valuable coin is knocking on the door of the $100 billion level in market capitalization. The coin touched our long-term target at $6000 on several exchanges, but it’s now trading slightly below the historic level.

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While the rest of the market is quiet, BTC is very active, and it could be in for a volatile weekend, as despite the long-term overbought readings, the short-term uptrend is clearly intact. That said, investors should avoid opening new positions here, and consider lowering their exposure further, while traders should only trade with smaller than usual sizes. Support levels are found at $5400, $5000, and near the $4650 level.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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As the rest of the majors are still recovering from the recent correction, the total value of the segment is below its all-time high, with BTC’s dominance now standing at 57%. Most of the largest coins are little changed, with Monero and Liteocin showing considerable strength and IOTA still being the weakest of the majors. With all attention on BTC let’s see how the most traded altcoins look before the weekend.

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Technical Analysis: Coins Recover from Sell-Off as Bulls Remain in Control

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Following yesterday’s brief but deep correction, the major cryptocurrencies seem to be back on the bullish track, as Bitcoin is leading the segment yet again. With the most valuable coin’s dominant currently near 56%, trading in BTC dwarfs the other crypto markets. That said, most of the majors recovered well after yesterday’s rout, while Bitcoin itself reached as high as $5730 today in early trading, only a few percents off its all-time high.

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The short-term setup is encouraging for bulls, as the coin cleared the overbought short-term momentum readings while remaining inside the rising trend. A rally towards the long-term target at $6000 is still likely, despite the stretched long-term picture. Support levels are found near $5400, around the $5000 level and at $4650.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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Ripple settled down somewhat in early trading but it turned volatile again later on, and the coin is still underperforming the broader market, while Ethereum bounced back well above the $300 level, remaining well below its recent highs. The rest of the market is modestly higher today, although NEO and IOTA are slightly lower still showing a negative correlation with the other majors. Let’s see the short-term charts after the short volatile period.

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