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Keeping a Level Head When Things Get Twitchy, Topsy, Turvy

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Cyber security can be an embarrassing job. Something as simple as a failure to update a patch on time, or in worse cases, to release a patch on time, can cost a company millions and turn into click bait articles scattered across the web.

The recent incident with Lenovo serves as a great example of this. Already staunchly anti-Lenovo netizens took the opportunity to add fuel to a fire already raging because the company had confessed to pre-loading adware and bloatware on its hardware. The Lizard Squad was admittedly attacking Lenovo for this very reason and used its signature DNS-jacking tactic to take over Lenovo.com for all of four hours. The story remained in the media for days afterward, all the same.

Lazy Gamers Twitch Out

Twitch, the gamer video service acquired by Amazon last August, last month had a serious breach as well. Far more serious than a simple DNS jacking, their user database was breached and they were forced to reset all customer passwords. In a sensible move, they also required users to have longer passwords. The current wisdom on passwords is that 12 or more characters is the way to go, and never have a dictionary word. The Twitch team was going for something along these lines, demanding users have longer passwords with a more thorough audit at password generation time. Users took to social media in revolt, saying that Twitch was too demanding of their time. Security be damned, they were saying. The very antithesis of the cyber security professional’s efforts, that.

Also read: Lizard Squad Claims Lenovo DNS Attack

But the Twitch team capitulated, reducing the requirement back to eight characters. Surely this decision didn’t come from anyone in the cyber security department, whose implementations were likely faulted for the server breach in the first place. This came from customer relations, no doubt, people who have no business meddling in the affairs of the cyber security administrators. In its blog, Twitch wrote:

In order to create a secure password, we suggest you use a long random character string with a mix of character types (letters, numbers, symbols). To make it easy to remember, feel free to use words from the dictionary with multiple uncommon string substitutions. [Good and password examples.]

Edit #2: We’ve heard your concerns about overly-restrictive password requirements, and have reduced them to an 8 character minimum. Best practices regarding password security remain true.

This is a blunder that you can avoid by starting with strong password requirements. Then you won’t have a base of users who expect to be able to login with grandp4gr3at, and you won’t have a backlash when you are forced to up the requirements inevitably. The whole episode spelled out a pretty good lesson for security professionals: stick to your guns. When you know you’re right, just know that, and if decisions are made outside of you, well, consider your career options. It has to be kept in mind, and can’t be overstressed here, that the very people who were making these demands for higher security passwords were also the ones held responsible for the breach that initiated them. If bad security is going to be allowed at any level of the organization, the security department needs a good political stance to prove that they were ahead of this particular fireball, and their job should not be called into question as a result.

Security Important for Governmental Compliance

The United Kingdom recently announced new rules for cyber security compliance for firms who want to work on government projects. They include the following:

  • Access control and privilege management
  • Malware protection
  • Secure configuration
  • Installing boundary firewalls and Internet gateways
  • Patch management

It’s only a matter of time before password best practices are added to lists like these. The US government has become far more serious about cyber security in recent months as well, a good sign for private firms who specialize in as much. New standards will soon apply to private firms contracting with the federal government, a market share that cannot be understated.

As the password paradigm ages into obsolescence, it’s getting to the point where some system administrators want to require new passwords every month along with two-factor authentication wherever possible. Companies that fail to implement strong security could be losing out on valuable government contracts and worse, regular consumer clients. So when it comes time to up the security standard, as Nike said, just do it.

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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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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Uber: $120 Billion IPO?

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Uber Technologies Inc., the global ride-hailing giant, is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) worth as much as $120 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, the IPO could take place early next year, giving investors ample time to prepare.

More Valuable than the Auto Giants

The $120 billion value proposal was delivered to Uber last month by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS), two of Wall Street’s largest banks. The banks were presumably advising Uber on how to position stock offerings to potential investors before underwriting the IPO.

The new valuation far exceeds the one Uber received from Toyota Motors Co (TYO), which priced the ride-sharing service at %72 billion.

At $120 billion, Uber would be worth more than the General Motors Co (GM), Ford Motor Co (F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) combined. The Detroit auto giants have seen their valuations rise in the wake of the financial crisis, buoyed by a prolonged recovery and increased appetite for automobiles. However, their growth has paled in comparison to Uber’s, which was founded in 2009.

Uber’s expansion hasn’t been without growing pains. The company has been mired by regulatory bottlenecks, workplace scandals and the alleged theft of trade secrets from Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Google’s parent company.

It is not entirely clear what metrics the Wall Street banks used to evaluate Uber’s potential value. The company reportedly told Morgan Stanley it won’t be profitable for at least another three years, though annual revenues are expected to reach up to $11 billion this year. That’s a marked rise over the $7.78 billion generated in 2017.

While there’s no guarantee that Uber will go public in the proposed timeframe, it must issue a public offering by the end of 2019, according to WSJ sources. That’s the agreement it has in place with investor SoftBank Group Corp.

Uber by the Numbers

Uber’s startling growth over the past nine years can be represented by a few statistics. As of May 8, 2018, the company had 19,000 employees. This doesn’t include the more than 3 million drivers who are getting paid through the ride-hailing service. Since inception, Uber drivers have completed some 10 billion rides. This averages out to about 15 million rides each day. Gross bookings in 2016 alone amounted to $20 billion.

As of June, 75 million riders were using the Uber app. In the U.S. alone, adult users are projected to reach 48 million by the end of 2018. The Uber app is installed on 21% of U.S. adult Android devices.

Currently, Uber owns up to 87% of the U.S. ride-hailing market. The growth and widespread adoption of the service has opened the door to other competitors, with Lyft being the biggest. Founded in 2012, Lyft is available in about 220 cities across the U.S. as well as in major cities across Asia.

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 647 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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Argo Mining as a Means of Diversification

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Buying Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) is something we talk about a lot, but earning crypto is just as interesting. There are many ways to earn crypto that allow for arbitrage-like opportunities, but the focus of this piece is on mining companies.

More specifically, Argo Mining, which is the first cryptocurrency mining company to IPO. That might not sound like a big deal, but it gives Argo a critical competitive advantage over other companies.

The Mining Industry

One thing is clear right now, the mining industry is still very opaque. Users are constantly worried about being scammed, which is very similar to how it was when trading exchanges were popping up left and right. There are numerous options out there for companies that will help you mine cryptocurrency, but it isn’t always clear what the best choice is.

You can go one of two routes: have a mining application operate on your computer, or pay for a rented service. Honeyminer is an example of a native application that works well and pays out cryptocurrency, and Argo is an example of a “shared service”. Argo operates much like Amazon Web Services does. You pay to rent computational capabilities, but your goals end up being slightly different. The business models are sound, but very different.

Where Argo’s Advantage Comes From

Argo is the first mining company to IPO, which adds a level of trust that no other company can currently command. There are so many potential risks for users that they tend to shy away from these companies. They are worried about their payment information being ripped off, withdrawal of the coins, and the costs being greater than the revenues.

By raising $32 million in their June 11th IPO, Argo has alleviated many of these worries, and added a degree of trust to their brand. They started off mostly mining altcoins such as Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Zcash, but have recently announced Bitcoin mining packages as well.

The overall goal of Argo, as stated by their CEO, Jonathan Bixbay, is to democratize mining so everyone can participate. Right now, most of the mining is done by a select few of the elites, and Argo is enabling the wealth to be spread here.

Can Argo Actually Make You Money?

The big question to answer about Argo is whether you can actually make money doing this. The costs per month could potentially be higher than the value of the crypto you mine. Sure, you don’t have to pay trading fees on them, but it is important to calculate exactly how much you are coming out ahead.

It depends on the package, but you could potentially end up paying more for the fees than you earn. The trick is to remember that the crypto market isn’t like other markets – it isn’t perfectly efficient – and there are always arbitrage opportunities if you look hard enough.

An Alternate Route to Being Long Crypto

With much of crypto mining currently being done by elites because of the massive investment involved, it is clear that Argo has tapped a massive market. The company had a waitlist of 50,000 in September, and with the funds from the IPO, they can finally finance the expansion of their operations in a way that will speed up the number of people they can bring online.

If you believe Bitcoin (or cryptocurrencies in general) is coming out of a rut soon, then this is a good way to diversify into the market. Do your own tests and make sure that you are coming out ahead after the fees, but it should be a simple way to make some extra money in what is currently an inefficient market.

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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4.1 stars on average, based on 40 rated posts




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Crypto Market Development: Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Acquires Crowdfunding Platform

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  • Goldman Sachs-backed Circle has announced it has acquired SeedInvest. The fee has not been disclosed.
  • SeedInvest are a crowdfunding platform. Circle are planning to expand SeedInvest’s offerings to support cryptocurrencies.

The Goldman Sachs funded crypto start up Circle, are really stepping up their dominance within the market. Over the past two days, there has been a couple positive developments from their camp. Firstly, the firm has acquired crowdfunding platform SeedInvest. Elsewhere, they have added a new feature for their app, known as Collections.

Circle Acquires SeedInvest  

Circle Internet Financial is acquiring SeedInvest. Should all be approved by regulators, the company are targeting the strategy of delivering a token marketplace. This will enable businesses as well as individuals to raise capital and interact with investors using open crypto rails and infrastructure. Circle will want to make it easier for startups to issue digital coins. The scope also to facilitate customers to trade a larger variety of digital tokens. A full statement can be observed by their latest blog.

Collections

Another development from Circle, coming in the form of adding a new feature, is “Collections”. This will allow its users to invest in a particular theme. The following themes offered are “Platforms, Payments, and Privacy.” Users will be able to invest in an entire theme, with a single click. Providing a simplified way for investors portfolio be focused on multiple coins. Full coverage was posted within a blog from the company.

Market Review

These developments continue to cement the huge improvements being observed across the market. The sky appears to be the limit, as the digital currency sector does not stop having its infrastructure solidified. Updates such as the announcements from Circle, demonstrate capabilities are not limited. See previous acknowledgement points of the sector taking big legitimizing steps, in a prior Litecoin article, under the section Big Infrastructure Improvement In The Crypto Market’.

The one thing that will likely continue to slowdown the market is regulation. This will have to be the case for the foreseeable future. As revolutionizing as the industry is, regulators must remain cautious for the sake of all parties involved. Their concerns remain about the safety of investors that want to participate in the marketplace as well as ensuring that anti-money laundering protocols are maintained. In the long run, it is in the best interest of all those involved. Besides all of this, there is still remains some way to go for complete a complete solid system, in comparison to the traditional financial system.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 29 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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