What is Slur.io?
Slur will operate over the Tor network. Both buyers and sellers are fully anonymous, and there are no restrictions on the data that is auctioned.
Sellers will auction secret information to the highest bidder, who will receive exclusive access to the decryption key.
The tweets from WikiLeaks:
Wikileaks evolving in response to the opportunity represented by blockchain based decentralized networks is no surprise; we first suggested this was going to be a broad trend in Ethereum’s Brave New World. The technology they’ve selected and the scenarios they describe are raising eyebrows across the full spectrum of individuals who would normally support Wikileaks at least in principle, if not directly.
@_cypherpunks_ immediately jumped in with this criticism, but there is an older, larger issue behind this one-line critique.
Jeremy Hammond is currently serving a ten year prison sentence for the Stratfor intrusion and Barrett Brown awaits sentencing on January 22nd for the brutal crime of sharing a link to Stratfor content, which had been publicly posted by someone else, in an IRC chat room. Wikileaks now offers The Global Intelligence Files as a free, searchable product, but they came under enormous criticism for attempting to monetize the content while Hammond faced prison for having liberated it.
The introduction to Slur shows what appears to be a lack of mastery on the topic of blockchains. The developers appear to hold the idea that Bitcoin transactions are anonymous. This will be a feature of next generation blockchains, but it’s not true today, and this is easily demonstrable with their own fundraising wallet.
“Slur is an open source, decentralized and anonymous marketplace for the selling of secret information in exchange for bitcoin. Slur is written in C and operates over the Tor network with bitcoin transactions through libbitcoin. Both buyers and sellers are fully anonymous, and there are no restrictions on the data that is auctioned. There is no charge to buy or sell on the Slur marketplace except in the case of a dispute, where a token sum is paid to volunteers.”
Crimes, Conspiracies & Implications
Reading the Slur Implications in one window while having Cornell’s Legal Information Institute reference open to Title 18, the following are some obvious, glaring issues:
Stolen databases. Corporations will no longer be able to get away with an apology when they fail to secure their customers confidential data. They will have to pay the market value to suppress it.
Depending on who the victim is, this is likely a violation of Title 18 Chapter 41 Extortion and Threats.
Military intelligence relevant to real-time conflicts.
This is de facto espionage. The motivation would be whistleblowing if the conflict were a war of choice, like Iraq was for the U.S., rather than the war of necessity we faced in Afghanistan. While it depends on circumstances, this is likely a violation of Title 18 Chapter 37 Espionage & Censorship.
Zero day exploits. For the market defined value rather than a price determined by the corporations under the guise of a bounty with the veiled threat of legal action should the researcher choose to sell elsewhere.
It is unthinkable that Wikileaks is unaware of @thegrugq, the world’s top broker of 0day exploits. This market already exists, and corporate bounties have little teeth.
Unflattering celebrity photos and videos.
This is the most puzzling item in there – Wikileaks has been about government corruption from its inception, and now it wants to be a paparazzi/revenge porn operation? There are many states with statutes against this sort of thing, but there isn’t anything specific in Title 18 yet.
Slur’s Curious Origin
Julian Assange has been a de facto political prisoner, living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012. This lengthy physical isolation has been deleterious to his health, and such level of isolation, with police camped outside his door waiting to arrest him, has limited chances for networking. It is interesting to see that the selection of Slur seems to have been initiated by a Twitter cold call from @theu99group six weeks prior to the Wikileaks announcement, rather than by personal networking.
The Twitter account’s avatar is a simple yellow submarine silhouette combined with the name provides an immediate clue for World War II history buffs. The U99 was a German submarine which sank thirty-eight allied vessels, damaged five others, and took one Estonian vessel as a prize, only to later have it mistakenly sunk by the Luftwaffe. The crew of the U99 escaped death at the end of an incredible eighth war patrol by scuttling their damaged boat and surrendering to the pair of British destroyers that were hunting them.
Conclusions & Speculation
What are we to make of Slur at this point?
The concept of a decentralized market for leaks is a good one, but there are many worrying gaps in what Slur is offering. Their proposed solution seems in want of some skeptical oversight, particularly in that it plans to do this business via the Bitcoin blockchain, rather than one of the new, more secure offerings like Ethereum.
The scenarios offered are … cheeky. An unnamed, unclaimed decentralized autonomous organization MIGHT be able to get away with what Slur suggest, but one would not want to admit authorship for fear of conspiracy charges. Money changing hands really squashes any potential to claim whistleblower status.
Wikileaks is not the only anti-corruption entity facing financial and operational travails. The recent Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg did much to take the heat out of Torgate, but it’s unlikely that leak oriented organizations are going to have a similar event. They are simply always in opposition to the man.
If you’re law enforcement in an industrialized country you might be smiling at the rough patch Wikileaks is facing. Don’t be too smug. There are always going to be leaks; just imagine the hazards we would be facing if Edward Snowden had quietly sold his leak rather than ensuring proper journalists got hold of it.
Images from u99 Group.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop
It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.
Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum
Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.
The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.
A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.
Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.
Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market
The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.
Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.
Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.
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