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The Washington Post to Encrypt the News

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Bezos Encrypt The NewsThe Washington Post has begun encrypting sections of its news website. The first major news outlet to take such an act acknowledges they may see a fall in ad sales as a result. This comes in addition to UK’s GCHQ expressing concern about the increasing spread of encryption.

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Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. His decision to change how news is delivered to consumers flies in the face of government security agencies. Last November, Robert Hannigan a GCHQ director, criticized social-media sites that would encrypt the news for frustrating the efforts of GCHQ tracking programs.

We can locate, collect, exploit (in real time where appropriate) high value mobile devices & services in a fully converged target centric manner, a GCHQ document from 2011 states.

ISIS terrorists, he states, use messaging and social media services to communicate. They abuse hash tags to inject their messages to wider news feeds. There is no need for jihadists to seek out restricted websites or private services. They are completely comfortable with mainstream services. He called the web “a terrorist’s command-and-control network of choice.”

HTTPS acts like a padlock, a separate key exists for each user to unlock content. The Washington Post’s traffic will appear as digitally scrambled noise to eavesdroppers listening in on the transmission across the wire. Without the key to unlock the padlock data remains scrambled.

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Also Read: GCHQ Spies Given License to Hack

Limiting spy organizations’ ability to monitor what people are reading is not the only advantage of encryption. HTTPS prevents governments from censoring or editing content. Users’ traffic browsing HTTPS enabled sites only reveal the domain, not specific page, they visit. Countries would be forced to block entire sites, not specific content.

Some ad platforms are not compatible with HTTPS. For now, the security measure is deployed to the site’s front page. In the upcoming months it is expected to roll out to the remainder of the site. By then every third party must be HTTPS-compliant or throw a security warning in the browser.

Images from Shutterstock and Flickr.

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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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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