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Zcash: A Cryptocurrency More Secure and Anonymous Than Bitcoin?

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When MT Gox, bitcoin’s biggest exchange at the time, suddenly announced during February 2014 that they had “lost” almost $1 billion worth of bitcoins, some took to the blockchain to see what had happened. Their analysis led, in just a few days, to the second biggest news of that year: MT Gox still held 200,000 bitcoins, then worth $200 million, they appeared to be hiding.

Initially, there was some public debate with Gregory Maxwell, a bitcoin developer, disputing the findings, but all was confirmed when MT Gox publicly stated they had forgotten about $200 million.

The event revealed what is now widely accepted: Bitcoin provides very little privacy. All transactions are public and can be seen by everyone as bitcoin’s public blockchain operates in effect similar to a bank statement which does not show names or addresses, but does show bank account numbers and all transactions from and to that specific bank account.

It can, therefore, be very easy, if ownership of a bitcoin address is known, to see what exactly happened, at what time and between who. To provide an added level of privacy, mixers and tumblers were invented which shuffle transactions between different bitcoin addresses to obfuscate origin and amount. However, Kathryn Haun, Assistant Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco and lecturer on digital currencies at Stanford Law School, recently stated that tumblers and mixers do not work as “some of the time,” it is possible to “unscramble” transactions.

Monero, a new digital currency that incorporates mixing at the protocol level, tried to improve public blockchain privacy, but like bitcoin, it too shows what address is transacting with who and in what amount. Although it obfuscates such information, complex analysis can, potentially, “unscramble” transactions. Monero, therefore, while providing added privacy in comparison to bitcoin, does not have strong privacy guarantees.

Does Zcash?

Zcash is a new digital currency created by an impeccable team of developers. Many of them, such as Matthew Green and Zooko Wilcox, are worldwide recognized cryptographic experts, joined by numerous other scientists holding positions at John Hopkins University, MIT and Tel Aviv University.

In the past four years, they have invented a new cryptographic scheme, zero-knowledge Succinct Non-interactive Arguments of Knowledge (zk-SNARKs) or zero knowledge proofs. According to the peer reviewed whitepaper, this allows “users to directly pay each other privately: the corresponding transaction hides the payment’s origin, destination, and transferred amount.”

However, due to a bug in Zcash, private transactions, called z-addr transactions, are currently not possible, but, in theory, a zcash private transaction should look as in the image below:

A Theoretical Private Zcash Transaction

A Theoretical Private Zcash Transaction. Image courtesy: BlockchainHub

Rather than a public address, a hash is shown on the left side which is comparable to, say, a reddit nickname being turned into random number and letters, preventing us, therefore, from knowing the pseudonym. The same applies to the right side. That is all we can see. No amount is shown, no public address, therefore there is no way to gain any information whatever from this transaction. An incredibly strong privacy guarantee as it allows no tracking, making Zcash, arguably, more private than paper money.

Does Zcash Really Provide Anonymity?

However, Zcash’s technology is very new and unproven. The cryptography behind Zcash, zk-SNARKs, was invented only a few years ago. It has not yet been battle tested, leaving open the possibility that clever methods to de-anonymize zcash transactions can be discovered, but, the caliber of Zcash developers instills confidence. Many of them have contributed to bitcoin development for years with Zooko Wilcox participating in the now famous thread where Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin whitepaper. As such, if full privacy for digital currency transactions is possible, it seems unlikely there is any better team to make it a reality.

On the security front, there have been a number of audits, but, fundamentally, the entire network has just been born. As such, it is difficult to say Zcash is more secure than bitcoin. Bugs, set-backs and other battle testing events should be expected as Bitcoin itself had a number of them in its early days, including transaction malleability which slightly contributed towards MT Gox’s downfall.

On the other hand, Zcash is built on top of Bitcoin. It is likely, therefore, to have around the same level of security, but unlike bitcoin, the new currency continues the quest for one of the holy grails in the blockchain space: full privacy, promised by Bitcoin, Monero, as well as tumblers and mixers, without much success.

Zcash, perhaps, can deliver where others have failed. If it manages to do so, it uniquely promises full privacy from the public while at the same time allowing regulators, employees, customers, or anyone else, to see transparently any transaction, solving a very serious problem with much market demand.

But, whether it actually succeeds in its aim remains to be seen as the new cryptographic method and the overall network, which has already faced a bug delaying the practical launch of private zec transactions, is audited and pen tested by the brightest minds across the world keen to hack the most valued digital currency which currently trades at more than $1,000 per coin.

Images from Shutterstock and Zcash.

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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Altcoins

Crypto Market Cap Falls Below $200 for the First Time Since November Amid ICO Backlash

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Cryptocurrencies extended their selloff overnight Tuesday, as the total market capitalization pierced below $200 billion for the first time since November. The decline was far-reaching and severe, with 78 of the top 80 altcoins recording double-digit percentage losses.

Crypto Market Update

Roughly $26 billion was wiped from the cryptocurrency market overnight, a sign that the bears were firmly in control and not giving up their position anytime soon. The market bottomed at $189.6 billion late Monday and has since recovered to around $193 billion. Twenty-four hours ago, coins were collectively worth more than $217 billion.

Below are two snapshots of the crypto top-50, as reported by CoinMarketCap.

Although the declines were largely concentrated in altcoins, bitcoin also experienced a tumultuous overnight session, with prices coming within $100 of a new yearly low. The bitcoin price bottomed at $5,858.60 on Bitfinex but has since recovered above $6,100.

Ethereum’s downward spiral intensified Tuesday, with prices crashing to fresh 14-month lows. At press time, ether was down 16.6% at $267. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap has shed more than 35% over the past seven days.

The Market’s Next Move

The rout in altcoins has left bitcoin with a 54.1% share of the total cryptocurrency market – the highest since December. Although this gives bitcoin a stronger gravitational pull on other digital assets, it’s also an indicator that investors are shifting their portfolios away from more speculative altcoins and tokens.

As Bloomberg pointed out on Monday, Ethereum’s massive decline could be a sign that ICOs are cashing out. If this is true, ether could face a deeper short-term correction as token offerings fizzle out.

Biswa Das, the head of quantitative hedge fund BloomWater Capital, said the following of ICOs:

“These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market. It was fine last year but right now the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure.”

The cryptocurrency market has lost a staggering $140 billion since June 1, and a look at bitcoin’s technical chart suggests more pain could be on the way. The bitcoin price faces a critical support test at $5,800; a break below that level could expose the digital currency, and the broader market, to new yearly lows as early as this week.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 544 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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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Price Stabilizes Above $6,000 as Altcoins Get Rearranged

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Bitcoin has emerged as the victor from the bloody chaos of the past week, but perhaps only by default. The 5% losses incurred by BTC in the past seven days would be considered a poor week at the markets in a different climate; but within the current context BTC looks positively bullish in comparison to its nearest competitors.

Bitcoin Stabilizes Above $6,000

Bitcoin’s fall over the last 24 hours didn’t come quite so fast or as hard as that of the altcoins, although it did eventually drop below $6,000 at one point during the night. At around 03:00 UTC the BTC coin price sunk to the $5,970 range, but by the time people were waking up for breakfast the $5,000’s had been rejected and BTC was back up above $6,000.

With just under 18% of BTC trades coming against USDT Tether, it seems the price dip was more a case of cautious hands taking refuge in USDT for the night while the storm cleared. After a 40% drop off in volume overnight, BTC is now starting to gear up for more, as the daily volume has grown from $4.1 billion to $5.3 billion in the last six hours.

A quick glance at the market cap beyond Bitcoin is enough to justify the most dramatic of language, and once again one of the worst periods in recent times has fallen on ‘Monday Bloody Monday’.

Altcoin Top-Ten Rearranged

Everything looks different in the top ten this morning, with several pieces of altcoin furniture having been rearranged during the night’s turmoil. All of a sudden Stellar (XLM) finds itself in 5th spot, while EOS has been kicked down to 6th spot for the first time since its ICO ramped up to completion in early 2018. EOS has incurred 17.8% losses in the last 24 hours, descending to a coin price of $4.27 at the lowest point of the night.

Further down the pack, USDT Tether has jumped into 8th spot and is battling it out with Cardano (ADA), which plunged 24% today before stabilizing at net losses of 19%. ADA coins dipped to levels not seen since early November 2017 when they reached a value of $0.086 this morning, although they’ve since rebounded to the $0.09 range at the time of writing.

Further down still and IOTA was temporarily kicked down to 12th spot, behind TRON, as it recorded 24% losses for the day alone. TRON isn’t much better off, with losses similarly approaching the 24% mark.

While Ethereum won’t be displaced any time soon, it has been shaken as bad as any coin in the top ten today, with 20% losses coming as ETH falls to a coin price not seen since September 2017 at $256.58. Despite a rebound to $264 at the time of writing, Ethereum is still down nearly 40% over the last seven days.

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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4.4 stars on average, based on 38 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Analysis

Crypto Update: Altcoin Crash Continues, Ethereum Hits $250 as Bitcoin Holds Up

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The cryptocurrency segment endured another ugly overnight session, with the major altcoins plunging by double digits across the board yet again. The total value of the market is now handily below the $200 billion mark after the latest selloff, and despite the deeply oversold momentum readings, there is still no sign of even a short-term bottom, and our trend model continues to flash red too.

While Liteocin and Monero provided a glimmer of hope for bulls during the initial phases of the current leg lower, the coins that are among the laggards from a long-term perspective followed the broader market below support later on. With no bullish leadership forming, the strong downtrend is still dominant and traders should still remain defensive, despite the already heavy losses in the segment.

That said, in time, a more durable bottom is likely close, thanks to the negative sentiment and the oversold environment, but percentage-wise, further steep losses could be ahead.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ethereum is still in the epicenter of the decline, with a more than 15% daily decline, as the coin quickly got below the $275 level just after violating the $300 support, and even touched 4250 in early trading. The second largest coin fell through key zones without even a blink, and that points to forced liquidations in the market.

The coin is still on sell signals on both time-frames and traders still shouldn’t enter new positions. Support is now found at $260 and $230, while resistance is ahead between $275 and $280, and near $300.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

While sellers have been trying to push Bitcoin below the $6000 level amid the altcoin rout, the coin always managed to bounce back so far, and it continues to hold up clearly above the structurally important $5850 level.

The coin is still in a bullish secular trend and while the long-term picture is overwhelmingly bearish in the segment, the strength of the largest coin might be the basis of a coming recovery.  That said, the short-term downtrend is clearly negative in the BTC, and traders shouldn’t enter new positions. Resistance is still ahead at $6275, $6500, $6750, and $7000, while initial support is at $6000, while further support is found between $5000 and $5100.

Relentless Selling in Altcoins

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Ripple still resembles a falling knife, similarly to most of the majors, and the coin continues to slide lower, as last week’s break-down led to a series of support breaches. The coin is now down by 40% in a bit more than a week, and it is currently testing the strong support zone near $0.26 after spiking briefly below it overnight. Should XRP hold above the spike low, traders could be looking for signs of a bottom, but for the coin is still on a clear sell signal.

XMR/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

With the smaller coins also being hammered lower, there is no real hiding place beside BTC in the segment, and yesterday’s slightly strong coins also broke down overnight. Monero violated the key long-term support near $80, which served as a base for the late-2017 run-up, and the coin is trying to hold its ground above that after the spike lower. While the downtrend is clearly intact, and the short- and long-term sell signals are in place, a recovery above $90, could point to the exhaustion of sellers.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The analyst owns cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but doesn’t engage in short-term or day-trading, nor does he hold short positions on any of the coins.

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 317 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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