Shinjiru Strongbolt Offshore Web Hosting Linux Features ...

Things I Considered Before Investing into Sia (very bullish) :)

I wrote this up as a comment to a post regarding a hedgefund manager explaining innovation gaps in the crypto space (though I've done some slight editing). I have been thinking A LOT about Sia from an investment perspective but also on how cool the technology is and how it will benefit the cloud storage industry in the long-term.
I have been in crypto for some time but I have been geeking out on Sia for the past 1.5 months and here are some things I considered while researching Sia before investing into SC and the Obelisk miner (if you see anything that needs correcting, please let me know!):
1) Huge & Growing Market: the cloud storage market is roughly $60 - 75B at the moment and most of the data in the world was created in the past 2-3 years. We are creating more and more data each year and there are plenty of new sources of massive data creation: Internet of Things (IoT), higher-resolution video/images, analytics data, etc. Even if Sia doesn't become the standard method of storing in the future, even taking 10 - 20% of an estimated $100 - 150B market (in 3-5 years) means massive growth for Sia as a whole.
2) Easy to Explain but with a Paradigm Shift: I was fortunate to get into the Ethereum presale with only a very basic understanding of how blockchain tech worked (from Bitcoin) and happened to listen to a friend who told me to put a small chunk in for shits & giggles. As Ethereum grew, I would try to explain to my friends what Ethereum is and truth be told, there is no quick and easy ELI5 for Ethereum, especially to non-technical people. Sia does not have this problem.
Sia and cloud storage is easy to explain because almost anyone who doesn't live in Amish Pennsylvania is storing some amount of data (on the cloud or locally, but they understand the concept of cloud storage). Of course, Sia offers next generation value which takes a true paradigm shift for mass adoption. A decentralized network is something most people have a hard time wrapping their heads around. If you told someone to blindly put all of their data on the Sia network and then after the fact, told them their files were broken down into smaller chunks and stored across many different computers (other people's especially) across the world, they would panic in fear of their data being compromised. As people become more and more comfortable with decentralized and/or blockchain technology, things will start to tilt towards Sia's favor.
3) ~90% Reduction in Cost of Storage: the targeted price according to the Sia team is $2/TB/month but it will be an open market so ultimately supply&demand will control pricing. Let's assume that the price per TB/month stays consistent around $2. That would mean ~90% reduction in costs as compared to current options (S3 from Amazon, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc). For the average consumer, cost of storage may not play as big of a role in adoption as compared to enterprise companies who must always focus on their bottom line. Either way, cost does play a role for both consumer or enterprise based on the value you're getting. If the value is the same or better (IMO Sia will be a better option), then it's a no-brainer.
4) Path to Mass Adoption: since Sia is an open-sourced network, no one technically owns it. Of course, the Sia team is leading the way in terms of development but there are several developers who work on Sia for fun or to build their dev chops but no single party owns Sia as a whole. The Sia CEO, David Vorick, has mentioned that he anticipates mass adoption through APIs and more of a backend connection as opposed to having a front-end product like Dropbox/Box/S3. Since those products are already built out, it would be an uphill battle for the Sia team to compete and have a front-end product. Rather, what can be seen as valuable to the cloud storage giants is to move all of their customers' data storage to the Sia network for purely the cost-reduction. Of course, this is a big if but I see it as a clear potential path to mass adoption.
Since Sia is focused on enterprise cloud storage, security and speed will be two critical pieces and the Sia team has made this a big part of their roadmap (the Obelisk ASIC is a step up from GPU mining but nowhere near perfect). It's also extremely refreshing having worked in software startups for some time to see an actual product roadmap (rarity in the crypto world).
5) Solid Devs: in these days of ICOs and people getting burned left and right, it's incredibly refreshing to see a team that has both the skill set to build out this vision & the transparency needed to build trust with early adopters. I have been following many subreddits for several cryptos and nothing compares to the level of engagement from the Sia CEO, David, and their VP of Ops, Zach.
Do not take this for granted as it's a rarity in this space. I urge every newcomer to take a deep look into all available resources (the SiaWiki, whitepaper, FAQs, etc), download the Sia Wallet and play around with it. After doing so, ask questions to the community as many will be more than happy to answer questions (but doing your own research first is greatly appreciated). You'll most likely get a response from the Sia CEO, David, if you tag him in a post (his username is u/Taek42), too (thanks David - your engagement with the community is greatly appreciated!!!).
6) Needed Security & Privacy: more and more, we see headlines of ransomware, DDOS and other malicious cyber attacks. Especially now that the NSA's tools are out in the open, it's becoming a scary world to protect yourself and your data. Sia (at fully built-out product) provides a much higher level of security than your current options. Your files are split into many chunks and split across many hosting nodes, making an attack on any one node pointless since you would need to piece together all of the other chunks from other nodes. This makes the incentive decrease & the difficulty increase for a malicious attacker to attempt to steal or compromise your data. I recently saw a quick documentary (let's be real, advertisement) by Norton regarding bulletproof hosting and thought of Sia almost the whole time. They talked about a decentralized approach is way better than a bunker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CashAq5RToM).
It's also interesting to note that if you store your data on Dropbox let's say, you are trusting that Dropbox is purely storing your data and nothing more. There's very little stopping current cloud storage companies from accessing your data if they saw a reason for it. Of course, if it came out in public that had happened, consumer trust in Dropbox would diminish and it would not be good for their business. But still, it's important to understand that you are really at the will of these cloud storage companies when you trust them with your data. With Sia, you are the only one with the private key, meaning you are the only one who can piece all of the aforementioned chunks back together to access and view your data. This is a huge improvement for the consumer.
Hope this was helpful to you!
submitted by slugmg12 to siacoin [link] [comments]

Privacy Coin Review & Introduction to the Web of Trust

The Danger of Transparent Blockchains for Individuals and Businesses
Transparent blockchains do not only affect those who use cryptocurrencies in the black market, but also those who work within the confines of the law. That is, any individual persons and/or legal businesses are also affected by lack of privacy. Furthermore, anyone associated with a person or entity that operates using a transparent blockchain is also affected.
When receiving funds in your personal life- via a transparent blockchain, your employer information and your friends and family connections are readily known to attackers. In like manner, your business associations- like suppliers- are readily available to your competitors.
Your expenses are also transparent, making your spending habits predictable. You may easily become a target for your political and religious affiliations. Payments to health specialists with transparent cryptos will also lead you to reveal personal information about your medical well-being that you might prefer to keep private.
Your balance of your transparent blockchain wallet is also readily available to anyone in the world. Attackers can precisely target attacks to wealthy individuals and companies with large enough savings, with full knowledge as to what money the victims have at hand.
Transparent balances make your business susceptible for competitors to undermine your business. Privacy is necessary for businesses to have a competitive advantage.
Transparency has huge implications for businesses and people even within legal frameworks. Privacy offers individuals and businesses advantages within the legal system. Transparent blockchains threatened those advantages.
Optional Privacy Coins: Zcash & PIVX
In the context of our portfolio, the coins with optional privacy are those that incorporate technologies such as Mixers, Tumblers, or zkSNARKs. These technologies are incorporated as portions of the network, they are not the entire network. That is, these technologies are currently only used for optional privacy.
In order to use these optional private technologies, users need to opt-in and pay extra funds to use the optional privacy features. On top of this, users must be competent in knowing how to use these privacy alternatives effectively. Not everyone has the competency to use these privacy features correctly. Things get even more complicated for users that want to use these optional privacy features because not all wallets provide optional privacy features for these coins. These hurdles lessen the probability for these technologies to be used widely.
Zcash and PIVX are examples of coins with optional privacy. The sending of coins between the privacy options/portion and the transparent default mode lessens your anonymity. The privacy options of these coins are useless if the user does not use them properly. You will definitely get more privacy in a blockchain of optional privacy over one of complete transparency. The problem with these optional privacy systems is that they are very complicated. There is an enormous list of conditions for you to be assured of your privacy. Beware of using optional privacy features, for if you use it wrong you could be leaking a lot of metadata throughout the process. Generally, people do not know how to use these privacy tools properly and these optional privacy features are not completely supported by the network.
At TDV, we will continue to refer to these coins as “optional privacy coins” because that is what they truly are. They are definitely not privacy coins, in the full extent of the term. If you want privacy, we do not recommend that you use cryptocurrencies with optional privacy- unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Zcash
Zcash has upgraded its privacy features with its Sapling update. Right before this upgrade, a study concluded that Zcash patterns of usage are easily mapped out via blockchain analysis. Before Sapling, only 6.3% of Zcash users utilized its shielded address privacy features. Overall, the study demonstrated how many of these 6.3% of privacy users were putting other users in jeopardy for using the shielded address features incorrectly. We hope that the Sapling upgrade makes the use of shielded transactions easier to use.
The Sapling upgrade is geared towards greater integration of shielded transactions for exchanges, mobile wallets, and vendor point of sales solutions. This upgrade also allows you to construct the private z-addresses in a matter of seconds with 40 megabytes of memory. Sapling makes shielded transactions up to 100 times lighter and 6 times faster.
Sapling also allows for there to be hardware separation between the hardware that constructs the zero-knowledge proof and the hardware that signs the transaction. On top of all of this, Sapling allows users to have less exposure in private key management when using shielded transactions.
PIVX
PIVX is still the only blockchain implementation we are aware of that has zero knowledge proofs as a PoS cryptocurrency. Ethereum aims to compete with PIVX in this position upon upgrading to scale via zk-SNARKS, as recently proposed. zPIV is the zero knowledge proof integration of PIVX. zPIV automatically privatizes 10% of the holdings in your wallet. You then have the option of spending from your 10% privacy coins or your 90% transparent coins.
Like Zcash, PIVX is also not private by default. This is the main issue we find with PIVX. Not being completely private by default opens up all users of PIVX to blockchain analysis and further exposure via the metadata gathered via the transparency of the PIVX blockchain.
PIVX’s implementation of zero knowledge proofs is the reason we categorize it as an optional privacy coin. PIVX is still a young coin. We hope that they increase their privacy features further to mandatory privacy by default.
PIVX recently announced that around 20% of its network is private via its zPIV- Zero Knowledge proof implementation. This is a good thing. However, we have noticed that PIVX is has been marketing itself as an anonymous coin. It is important to point out that as long as they are optional in privacy, they are not truly anonymous.
PIVX is set to soon have a mobile wallet on iOS. The PIVX team is also putting out a decentralized exchange known as zDEX. This exchange extends the privacy features found in PIVX to individuals using the exchange by means of an IOU called a PIV. This exchange is still in its Alpha stage and it is available to all Bitcoin code-based coins.
Monero (XMR): Default On-Chain Privacy
It is not enough for a privacy solution to be mandatory. It is most important that any mandatory privacy solution be a good solution. The Monero community’s understanding of privacy is that privacy is an ongoing endeavor that must continue to improve, and never ends.
Privacy is not an on/off switch. That is, privacy is not a binary feature that you just turn on. The Monero community views privacy as goal to be aimed at, which exists within a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum we have full transparency, on the other end of this spectrum we have complete privacy.
There is never perfect privacy or perfect transparency
The Monero community understands that they will never truly achieve either extreme. To be completely transparent you need to be perfectly accessible. Similarly, perfect privacy would be nearly inaccessible, or totally inaccessible. Perfect privacy is not possible. What is possible is to be private enough at the present moment.
Privacy is not a thing that you achieve, it is a constant cat and mouse battle — ’Fluffypony’ Riccardo Spagni, Monero core developer
The striving for privacy is one in which we continuously adopt better systems. Privacy will never be something we will simply implement and be done with. Attackers will continually get better at attacking and deciphering privacy systems. It is important for there to be a hive-mind awareness of this important reality. The Monero community has become the quintessential decentralized privacy-conscious community of the world.
For example, people once thought bitcoin was private enough until blockchain analysis came along and turned the bitcoin blockchain completely transparent. Monero updated via hard fork on October 18, 2018. During this hard fork, many innovations were introduced.
Ring signatures in Monero have changed throughout time from 3, to 5, to 7, and now to 11. During this last upgrade, ring signatures were updated to 11 mandatory ring signatures per transaction. This mandatory ring size of 11 does away with the problem of distinguishability.
In the past, individuals would recuringly use the same distinctive ring size- of say like number “71”- which would make them to be distinguishable targets for attackers. It is the belief of the Monero community that all transactions should look as identical as possible to prevent distinguishability.
Bulletproofs were also introduced into the Monero infrastructure. Bulletproofs are a new mathematical system for verifiable masked transaction amounts, which replaced the zero-knowledge range proof that Monero’s confidential transactions relied on.
This innovation decreased the size of confidential transactions by over 80%, which drastically reduced fees. That is, bulletproofs made Monero transactions a lot smaller and a lot cheaper. It now costs less than 1 cent to send a normal XMR transaction, regardless of the amount.
The Importance of Fungibility
Monero is the only true fungible major cryptocurrency starting 2019. Fungibility is the monetary feature that pertains to the interchangeability of units within a currency.
Fungibility is a fundamental property of currencies.
Fungibility is evermore so important in decentralized cryptocurrencies because of there not being a centralized authority enforcing the actual fungibility. That is, fungibility must be inherent to the cryptocurrency at the protocol level. A cryptocurrency is fungible when it is indistinguishable in its interchangeability.
In order for coins to be indistinguishable, you must not be able to find out any information about their past history. Therefore, on-chain privacy by default is a necessary prerequisite for fungibility in cryptocurrencies.
It is our opinion at TDV that awareness of privacy and fungibility will grow in importance throughout 2019. We believe that users of cryptocurrencies will begin to realize that fungibility is a necessary component for good money in a free market. For this reason alone, we are extremely bullish on Monero. Other privacy projects are important too; however it is imperative to point out how far ahead Monero is from the pack. Monero is the privacy coin standard.
Throughout 2019, we aim on educating our subscribers on how to use Monero and cryptography more effectively.
Building the TDV Web of Trust in 2019
As you know, without encryption there is no cryptocurrency. We find it extremely important for our community to become competent in using cryptography not just for their cryptocurrency, but also for their daily communication. It is important for us to take the privacy of our communication seriously as the surveillance mechanisms ramp up around us.
As 2019 gets going, we will be emphasizing cryptographic security measures for your online communication with more tutorials and product suggestions. As stated above, the only way to be safe is to stay ahead of the evesdroppers.
We recommend that you never use the text messages on your phone. Please use Telegram and/or Signal. Wickr and Wire are also incredible options. Also, please become acquainted with encrypted email services such as ProtonMail and Tutanota. When the time comes we will have to move beyond a p2p systems of communication like Telegram and Signal. We are going to have to move unto friend-2-friend systems, where we physically verify one another’s cryptographic signatures. This physical verifying of one another’s digital cryptographic signature is known as a Key Signing Party. It is one of our goals for 2019 that we would like to lead our subscribers in becoming cryptographically savvy enough to host their own key signing parties. We aim that by next year, during Anarchapulco 2020, our community would have the skills necessary to spontaneously verify one another’s cryptographic signatures when meeting in person.
These “parties” are to occur by friend-2-friend invite only. The goal here is on high trust. You invite individuals of whom you need verification of their cryptographic identity. That is, you invite people to verify their digital signatures personally to make sure that the corresponding signature actually belongs to that given individual. The more people enjoin in this practice, the more we grow what will eventually become our own TDV web of trust (WOT).
Remember, you could be interacting within an encrypted medium- but still be talking to the wrong person. Feel free to copy/paste this idea of key signing party to and pass it along. Our goal for 2019 is that you become ever more safe online.
Happy New Year!
by Rafael LaVerde
Source (PDF)
submitted by 2012ronpaul2012 to C_S_T [link] [comments]

Privacy Coin Review & Introduction to the Web of Trust

The Danger of Transparent Blockchains for Individuals and Businesses
Transparent blockchains do not only affect those who use cryptocurrencies in the black market, but also those who work within the confines of the law. That is, any individual persons and/or legal businesses are also affected by lack of privacy. Furthermore, anyone associated with a person or entity that operates using a transparent blockchain is also affected.
When receiving funds in your personal life- via a transparent blockchain, your employer information and your friends and family connections are readily known to attackers. In like manner, your business associations- like suppliers- are readily available to your competitors.
Your expenses are also transparent, making your spending habits predictable. You may easily become a target for your political and religious affiliations. Payments to health specialists with transparent cryptos will also lead you to reveal personal information about your medical well-being that you might prefer to keep private.
Your balance of your transparent blockchain wallet is also readily available to anyone in the world. Attackers can precisely target attacks to wealthy individuals and companies with large enough savings, with full knowledge as to what money the victims have at hand.
Transparent balances make your business susceptible for competitors to undermine your business. Privacy is necessary for businesses to have a competitive advantage.
Transparency has huge implications for businesses and people even within legal frameworks. Privacy offers individuals and businesses advantages within the legal system. Transparent blockchains threatened those advantages.
Optional Privacy Coins: Zcash & PIVX
In the context of our portfolio, the coins with optional privacy are those that incorporate technologies such as Mixers, Tumblers, or zkSNARKs. These technologies are incorporated as portions of the network, they are not the entire network. That is, these technologies are currently only used for optional privacy.
In order to use these optional private technologies, users need to opt-in and pay extra funds to use the optional privacy features. On top of this, users must be competent in knowing how to use these privacy alternatives effectively. Not everyone has the competency to use these privacy features correctly. Things get even more complicated for users that want to use these optional privacy features because not all wallets provide optional privacy features for these coins. These hurdles lessen the probability for these technologies to be used widely.
Zcash and PIVX are examples of coins with optional privacy. The sending of coins between the privacy options/portion and the transparent default mode lessens your anonymity. The privacy options of these coins are useless if the user does not use them properly. You will definitely get more privacy in a blockchain of optional privacy over one of complete transparency. The problem with these optional privacy systems is that they are very complicated. There is an enormous list of conditions for you to be assured of your privacy. Beware of using optional privacy features, for if you use it wrong you could be leaking a lot of metadata throughout the process. Generally, people do not know how to use these privacy tools properly and these optional privacy features are not completely supported by the network.
At TDV, we will continue to refer to these coins as “optional privacy coins” because that is what they truly are. They are definitely not privacy coins, in the full extent of the term. If you want privacy, we do not recommend that you use cryptocurrencies with optional privacy- unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Zcash
Zcash has upgraded its privacy features with its Sapling update. Right before this upgrade, a study concluded that Zcash patterns of usage are easily mapped out via blockchain analysis. Before Sapling, only 6.3% of Zcash users utilized its shielded address privacy features. Overall, the study demonstrated how many of these 6.3% of privacy users were putting other users in jeopardy for using the shielded address features incorrectly. We hope that the Sapling upgrade makes the use of shielded transactions easier to use.
The Sapling upgrade is geared towards greater integration of shielded transactions for exchanges, mobile wallets, and vendor point of sales solutions. This upgrade also allows you to construct the private z-addresses in a matter of seconds with 40 megabytes of memory. Sapling makes shielded transactions up to 100 times lighter and 6 times faster.
Sapling also allows for there to be hardware separation between the hardware that constructs the zero-knowledge proof and the hardware that signs the transaction. On top of all of this, Sapling allows users to have less exposure in private key management when using shielded transactions.
PIVX
PIVX is still the only blockchain implementation we are aware of that has zero knowledge proofs as a PoS cryptocurrency. Ethereum aims to compete with PIVX in this position upon upgrading to scale via zk-SNARKS, as recently proposed. zPIV is the zero knowledge proof integration of PIVX. zPIV automatically privatizes 10% of the holdings in your wallet. You then have the option of spending from your 10% privacy coins or your 90% transparent coins.
Like Zcash, PIVX is also not private by default. This is the main issue we find with PIVX. Not being completely private by default opens up all users of PIVX to blockchain analysis and further exposure via the metadata gathered via the transparency of the PIVX blockchain.
PIVX’s implementation of zero knowledge proofs is the reason we categorize it as an optional privacy coin. PIVX is still a young coin. We hope that they increase their privacy features further to mandatory privacy by default.
PIVX recently announced that around 20% of its network is private via its zPIV- Zero Knowledge proof implementation. This is a good thing. However, we have noticed that PIVX is has been marketing itself as an anonymous coin. It is important to point out that as long as they are optional in privacy, they are not truly anonymous.
PIVX is set to soon have a mobile wallet on iOS. The PIVX team is also putting out a decentralized exchange known as zDEX. This exchange extends the privacy features found in PIVX to individuals using the exchange by means of an IOU called a PIV. This exchange is still in its Alpha stage and it is available to all Bitcoin code-based coins.
Monero (XMR): Default On-Chain Privacy
It is not enough for a privacy solution to be mandatory. It is most important that any mandatory privacy solution be a good solution. The Monero community’s understanding of privacy is that privacy is an ongoing endeavor that must continue to improve, and never ends.
Privacy is not an on/off switch. That is, privacy is not a binary feature that you just turn on. The Monero community views privacy as goal to be aimed at, which exists within a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum we have full transparency, on the other end of this spectrum we have complete privacy.
There is never perfect privacy or perfect transparency
The Monero community understands that they will never truly achieve either extreme. To be completely transparent you need to be perfectly accessible. Similarly, perfect privacy would be nearly inaccessible, or totally inaccessible. Perfect privacy is not possible. What is possible is to be private enough at the present moment.
Privacy is not a thing that you achieve, it is a constant cat and mouse battle — ’Fluffypony’ Riccardo Spagni, Monero core developer
The striving for privacy is one in which we continuously adopt better systems. Privacy will never be something we will simply implement and be done with. Attackers will continually get better at attacking and deciphering privacy systems. It is important for there to be a hive-mind awareness of this important reality. The Monero community has become the quintessential decentralized privacy-conscious community of the world.
For example, people once thought bitcoin was private enough until blockchain analysis came along and turned the bitcoin blockchain completely transparent. Monero updated via hard fork on October 18, 2018. During this hard fork, many innovations were introduced.
Ring signatures in Monero have changed throughout time from 3, to 5, to 7, and now to 11. During this last upgrade, ring signatures were updated to 11 mandatory ring signatures per transaction. This mandatory ring size of 11 does away with the problem of distinguishability.
In the past, individuals would recuringly use the same distinctive ring size- of say like number “71”- which would make them to be distinguishable targets for attackers. It is the belief of the Monero community that all transactions should look as identical as possible to prevent distinguishability.
Bulletproofs were also introduced into the Monero infrastructure. Bulletproofs are a new mathematical system for verifiable masked transaction amounts, which replaced the zero-knowledge range proof that Monero’s confidential transactions relied on.
This innovation decreased the size of confidential transactions by over 80%, which drastically reduced fees. That is, bulletproofs made Monero transactions a lot smaller and a lot cheaper. It now costs less than 1 cent to send a normal XMR transaction, regardless of the amount.
The Importance of Fungibility
Monero is the only true fungible major cryptocurrency starting 2019. Fungibility is the monetary feature that pertains to the interchangeability of units within a currency.
Fungibility is a fundamental property of currencies.
Fungibility is evermore so important in decentralized cryptocurrencies because of there not being a centralized authority enforcing the actual fungibility. That is, fungibility must be inherent to the cryptocurrency at the protocol level. A cryptocurrency is fungible when it is indistinguishable in its interchangeability.
In order for coins to be indistinguishable, you must not be able to find out any information about their past history. Therefore, on-chain privacy by default is a necessary prerequisite for fungibility in cryptocurrencies.
It is our opinion at TDV that awareness of privacy and fungibility will grow in importance throughout 2019. We believe that users of cryptocurrencies will begin to realize that fungibility is a necessary component for good money in a free market. For this reason alone, we are extremely bullish on Monero. Other privacy projects are important too; however it is imperative to point out how far ahead Monero is from the pack. Monero is the privacy coin standard.
Throughout 2019, we aim on educating our subscribers on how to use Monero and cryptography more effectively.
Building the TDV Web of Trust in 2019
As you know, without encryption there is no cryptocurrency. We find it extremely important for our community to become competent in using cryptography not just for their cryptocurrency, but also for their daily communication. It is important for us to take the privacy of our communication seriously as the surveillance mechanisms ramp up around us.
As 2019 gets going, we will be emphasizing cryptographic security measures for your online communication with more tutorials and product suggestions. As stated above, the only way to be safe is to stay ahead of the evesdroppers.
We recommend that you never use the text messages on your phone. Please use Telegram and/or Signal. Wickr and Wire are also incredible options. Also, please become acquainted with encrypted email services such as ProtonMail and Tutanota. When the time comes we will have to move beyond a p2p systems of communication like Telegram and Signal. We are going to have to move unto friend-2-friend systems, where we physically verify one another’s cryptographic signatures. This physical verifying of one another’s digital cryptographic signature is known as a Key Signing Party. It is one of our goals for 2019 that we would like to lead our subscribers in becoming cryptographically savvy enough to host their own key signing parties. We aim that by next year, during Anarchapulco 2020, our community would have the skills necessary to spontaneously verify one another’s cryptographic signatures when meeting in person.
These “parties” are to occur by friend-2-friend invite only. The goal here is on high trust. You invite individuals of whom you need verification of their cryptographic identity. That is, you invite people to verify their digital signatures personally to make sure that the corresponding signature actually belongs to that given individual. The more people enjoin in this practice, the more we grow what will eventually become our own TDV web of trust (WOT).
Remember, you could be interacting within an encrypted medium- but still be talking to the wrong person. Feel free to copy/paste this idea of key signing party to and pass it along. Our goal for 2019 is that you become ever more safe online.
Happy New Year!
by Rafael LaVerde
Source (PDF)
submitted by 2012ronpaul2012 to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Privacy Coin Review & Introduction to the Web of Trust

The Danger of Transparent Blockchains for Individuals and Businesses
Transparent blockchains do not only affect those who use cryptocurrencies in the black market, but also those who work within the confines of the law. That is, any individual persons and/or legal businesses are also affected by lack of privacy. Furthermore, anyone associated with a person or entity that operates using a transparent blockchain is also affected.
When receiving funds in your personal life- via a transparent blockchain, your employer information and your friends and family connections are readily known to attackers. In like manner, your business associations- like suppliers- are readily available to your competitors.
Your expenses are also transparent, making your spending habits predictable. You may easily become a target for your political and religious affiliations. Payments to health specialists with transparent cryptos will also lead you to reveal personal information about your medical well-being that you might prefer to keep private.
Your balance of your transparent blockchain wallet is also readily available to anyone in the world. Attackers can precisely target attacks to wealthy individuals and companies with large enough savings, with full knowledge as to what money the victims have at hand.
Transparent balances make your business susceptible for competitors to undermine your business. Privacy is necessary for businesses to have a competitive advantage.
Transparency has huge implications for businesses and people even within legal frameworks. Privacy offers individuals and businesses advantages within the legal system. Transparent blockchains threatened those advantages.
Optional Privacy Coins: Zcash & PIVX
In the context of our portfolio, the coins with optional privacy are those that incorporate technologies such as Mixers, Tumblers, or zkSNARKs. These technologies are incorporated as portions of the network, they are not the entire network. That is, these technologies are currently only used for optional privacy.
In order to use these optional private technologies, users need to opt-in and pay extra funds to use the optional privacy features. On top of this, users must be competent in knowing how to use these privacy alternatives effectively. Not everyone has the competency to use these privacy features correctly. Things get even more complicated for users that want to use these optional privacy features because not all wallets provide optional privacy features for these coins. These hurdles lessen the probability for these technologies to be used widely.
Zcash and PIVX are examples of coins with optional privacy. The sending of coins between the privacy options/portion and the transparent default mode lessens your anonymity. The privacy options of these coins are useless if the user does not use them properly. You will definitely get more privacy in a blockchain of optional privacy over one of complete transparency. The problem with these optional privacy systems is that they are very complicated. There is an enormous list of conditions for you to be assured of your privacy. Beware of using optional privacy features, for if you use it wrong you could be leaking a lot of metadata throughout the process. Generally, people do not know how to use these privacy tools properly and these optional privacy features are not completely supported by the network.
At TDV, we will continue to refer to these coins as “optional privacy coins” because that is what they truly are. They are definitely not privacy coins, in the full extent of the term. If you want privacy, we do not recommend that you use cryptocurrencies with optional privacy- unless you know exactly what you are doing.
Zcash
Zcash has upgraded its privacy features with its Sapling update. Right before this upgrade, a study concluded that Zcash patterns of usage are easily mapped out via blockchain analysis. Before Sapling, only 6.3% of Zcash users utilized its shielded address privacy features. Overall, the study demonstrated how many of these 6.3% of privacy users were putting other users in jeopardy for using the shielded address features incorrectly. We hope that the Sapling upgrade makes the use of shielded transactions easier to use.
The Sapling upgrade is geared towards greater integration of shielded transactions for exchanges, mobile wallets, and vendor point of sales solutions. This upgrade also allows you to construct the private z-addresses in a matter of seconds with 40 megabytes of memory. Sapling makes shielded transactions up to 100 times lighter and 6 times faster.
Sapling also allows for there to be hardware separation between the hardware that constructs the zero-knowledge proof and the hardware that signs the transaction. On top of all of this, Sapling allows users to have less exposure in private key management when using shielded transactions.
PIVX
PIVX is still the only blockchain implementation we are aware of that has zero knowledge proofs as a PoS cryptocurrency. Ethereum aims to compete with PIVX in this position upon upgrading to scale via zk-SNARKS, as recently proposed. zPIV is the zero knowledge proof integration of PIVX. zPIV automatically privatizes 10% of the holdings in your wallet. You then have the option of spending from your 10% privacy coins or your 90% transparent coins.
Like Zcash, PIVX is also not private by default. This is the main issue we find with PIVX. Not being completely private by default opens up all users of PIVX to blockchain analysis and further exposure via the metadata gathered via the transparency of the PIVX blockchain.
PIVX’s implementation of zero knowledge proofs is the reason we categorize it as an optional privacy coin. PIVX is still a young coin. We hope that they increase their privacy features further to mandatory privacy by default.
PIVX recently announced that around 20% of its network is private via its zPIV- Zero Knowledge proof implementation. This is a good thing. However, we have noticed that PIVX is has been marketing itself as an anonymous coin. It is important to point out that as long as they are optional in privacy, they are not truly anonymous.
PIVX is set to soon have a mobile wallet on iOS. The PIVX team is also putting out a decentralized exchange known as zDEX. This exchange extends the privacy features found in PIVX to individuals using the exchange by means of an IOU called a PIV. This exchange is still in its Alpha stage and it is available to all Bitcoin code-based coins.
Monero (XMR): Default On-Chain Privacy
It is not enough for a privacy solution to be mandatory. It is most important that any mandatory privacy solution be a good solution. The Monero community’s understanding of privacy is that privacy is an ongoing endeavor that must continue to improve, and never ends.
Privacy is not an on/off switch. That is, privacy is not a binary feature that you just turn on. The Monero community views privacy as goal to be aimed at, which exists within a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum we have full transparency, on the other end of this spectrum we have complete privacy.
There is never perfect privacy or perfect transparency
The Monero community understands that they will never truly achieve either extreme. To be completely transparent you need to be perfectly accessible. Similarly, perfect privacy would be nearly inaccessible, or totally inaccessible. Perfect privacy is not possible. What is possible is to be private enough at the present moment.
Privacy is not a thing that you achieve, it is a constant cat and mouse battle — ’Fluffypony’ Riccardo Spagni, Monero core developer
The striving for privacy is one in which we continuously adopt better systems. Privacy will never be something we will simply implement and be done with. Attackers will continually get better at attacking and deciphering privacy systems. It is important for there to be a hive-mind awareness of this important reality. The Monero community has become the quintessential decentralized privacy-conscious community of the world.
For example, people once thought bitcoin was private enough until blockchain analysis came along and turned the bitcoin blockchain completely transparent. Monero updated via hard fork on October 18, 2018. During this hard fork, many innovations were introduced.
Ring signatures in Monero have changed throughout time from 3, to 5, to 7, and now to 11. During this last upgrade, ring signatures were updated to 11 mandatory ring signatures per transaction. This mandatory ring size of 11 does away with the problem of distinguishability.
In the past, individuals would recuringly use the same distinctive ring size- of say like number “71”- which would make them to be distinguishable targets for attackers. It is the belief of the Monero community that all transactions should look as identical as possible to prevent distinguishability.
Bulletproofs were also introduced into the Monero infrastructure. Bulletproofs are a new mathematical system for verifiable masked transaction amounts, which replaced the zero-knowledge range proof that Monero’s confidential transactions relied on.
This innovation decreased the size of confidential transactions by over 80%, which drastically reduced fees. That is, bulletproofs made Monero transactions a lot smaller and a lot cheaper. It now costs less than 1 cent to send a normal XMR transaction, regardless of the amount.
The Importance of Fungibility
Monero is the only true fungible major cryptocurrency starting 2019. Fungibility is the monetary feature that pertains to the interchangeability of units within a currency.
Fungibility is a fundamental property of currencies.
Fungibility is evermore so important in decentralized cryptocurrencies because of there not being a centralized authority enforcing the actual fungibility. That is, fungibility must be inherent to the cryptocurrency at the protocol level. A cryptocurrency is fungible when it is indistinguishable in its interchangeability.
In order for coins to be indistinguishable, you must not be able to find out any information about their past history. Therefore, on-chain privacy by default is a necessary prerequisite for fungibility in cryptocurrencies.
It is our opinion at TDV that awareness of privacy and fungibility will grow in importance throughout 2019. We believe that users of cryptocurrencies will begin to realize that fungibility is a necessary component for good money in a free market. For this reason alone, we are extremely bullish on Monero. Other privacy projects are important too; however it is imperative to point out how far ahead Monero is from the pack. Monero is the privacy coin standard.
Throughout 2019, we aim on educating our subscribers on how to use Monero and cryptography more effectively.
Building the TDV Web of Trust in 2019
As you know, without encryption there is no cryptocurrency. We find it extremely important for our community to become competent in using cryptography not just for their cryptocurrency, but also for their daily communication. It is important for us to take the privacy of our communication seriously as the surveillance mechanisms ramp up around us.
As 2019 gets going, we will be emphasizing cryptographic security measures for your online communication with more tutorials and product suggestions. As stated above, the only way to be safe is to stay ahead of the evesdroppers.
We recommend that you never use the text messages on your phone. Please use Telegram and/or Signal. Wickr and Wire are also incredible options. Also, please become acquainted with encrypted email services such as ProtonMail and Tutanota. When the time comes we will have to move beyond a p2p systems of communication like Telegram and Signal. We are going to have to move unto friend-2-friend systems, where we physically verify one another’s cryptographic signatures. This physical verifying of one another’s digital cryptographic signature is known as a Key Signing Party. It is one of our goals for 2019 that we would like to lead our subscribers in becoming cryptographically savvy enough to host their own key signing parties. We aim that by next year, during Anarchapulco 2020, our community would have the skills necessary to spontaneously verify one another’s cryptographic signatures when meeting in person.
These “parties” are to occur by friend-2-friend invite only. The goal here is on high trust. You invite individuals of whom you need verification of their cryptographic identity. That is, you invite people to verify their digital signatures personally to make sure that the corresponding signature actually belongs to that given individual. The more people enjoin in this practice, the more we grow what will eventually become our own TDV web of trust (WOT).
Remember, you could be interacting within an encrypted medium- but still be talking to the wrong person. Feel free to copy/paste this idea of key signing party to and pass it along. Our goal for 2019 is that you become ever more safe online.
Happy New Year!
by Rafael LaVerde
Source (PDF)
submitted by 2012ronpaul2012 to conspiracyundone [link] [comments]

Prismed innocent until proven guilty: How I live with NSA Prism

A couple people have asked me details regarding some security tools I use. I figured I'd make a post for people who might be interested. It outlines some technical approaches and tradeoffs I make to retain some semblance of privacy in this modern Internet Age.
Our current administration has made it abundantly clear they could care less about the constitutionality of the Intel community's collection methods. For those who have been living in a cave (and ironically would then have nothing to fear from this), the NSA Prism program in cooperation with the FBI gives the government basically unfettered access to private information you have stored at many of America's major tech players.
The full extent of these programs is slowly being revealed, and the FISA court seems perfectly willing to allow ongoing telecommunication surveillance on American citizens who have done nothing wrong. They collect and store your information in bulk, but hold back on analyzing it. Once they go through the arduous process of legally gaining permission to investigate you, they can retroactively analyze what they have collected. It's a major loophole, but it works.
What's worse is many of the tech giants (Google, Apple, Verizon) have been playing ball silently since 2009, only pretending to care when a national PR embarrassment is thrown in their lap.
So to the point, I've been slowly removing my dependency on Google and other Prism choke points.
There's a great site I discovered from Hacker News: Prism Break. It outlines many solid alternatives for web services and computing tools that are unlikely to cooperate with Prism for a long time (if ever). As with most software, there are trade offs between the ease of use in mature commercial products and their privacy guarantees.
This post is about some of the recent changes I've made with respect to Prism-Break and my own research on Hacker News, Reddit, and general insider knowledge gained from working with smart technical people over the years. You'll notice a recurring theme of evaluating ease of use with security, and many of my decisions actually err on the side of usage, despite the tone of this post.
Web Browser:
I recently switched from Google Chrome back to Firefox. I always liked Chrome because of how quickly it rendered pages, particularly Javascript heavy pages, and made tab management easier. The web developer toolbox is second to none. Although I must admit, Mozilla Firefox has stayed very competitive with them. There is a negligible performance drop off, but it's barely noticeable and nothing significant. You can't really trust Chrome unfortunately, even with aggressive privacy settings (no analytics, etc.) . Firefox is not as malware/exploit bulletproof as Chrome, but it is close, and the open source nature makes it a very attractive alternative. I NEVER save passwords through the browser and always tell it never to ask. Both Chrome and Firefox are well know for storing passwords in plain text.
Web Browser Add-ons:
Not exactly a browser add-on, but it does help with security.
I pay $80/year for an OpenVPN subscription to Mullvad, which I discovered reading a comment thread on Reddit. They are based in Sweden and retain absolutely no information about you. They could give a fuck.
The OpenVPN standard encrypts all outbound communication from the originating device using layer 2 SSL. Traffic appears as normal HTTPS. This is different than other VPN technologies that use with IPSEC, the presence of which is easy to detect and thus limits any plausible deniability. It's also different than a simple web proxy that does not necessarily offer encryption to prevent ISP monitoring/throttling, and often only handles HTTP or SOCKS traffic, which is often slower. Mullvad is fast enough that I've just gotten in the habit of leaving it running at all times. Plus it never get old having sites show me geo-aware ads in Swedish.
The trade off is it's a bit more expensive than many of the web proxy providers. However, there are certain fringe benefits to having completely anonymous web traffic. Don't hate the player hate the game.
The fact that traffic is difficult to distinguish between secure web browsing and OpenVPN has made it an attractive countermeasure to the great firewall of China and other censorship technologies. There is a constant leap-frogging battle between those governments and OpenVPN vendors like Mullvad. It's reminiscent of the old PC gaming piracy protection vs. CD burning wars before everyone started using Steam.
Web Search:
I have configured Firefox to use StartPage as my default Search engine. They have a similar don't-give-a-fuck privacy policy to Mullvad (they're in the NE), and route all your searches anonymously through Google. It's not 100% equivalent to US Google, but it has not let me down yet. It's about 95% equivalent from my weeks testing it. There has only been one obscure search for this weird video it couldn't find. Not a big deal. For most of my research, it hits the mark. There is an extra half second of latency in the response, but I can deal with that.
They have a plugin for Firefox, but I've configured it to perform address bar searches by A) opening a new tab B) typing 'about:config' C) Searching for the property 'keyword.url' D) Change it to 'https://www.startpage.com/do/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q='
Maps:
You're basically screwed here. Nothing works like Google Maps. They are echelons past their competitors. I can say that having used OpenLayers and ArcGIS for some technical work in the past. Plus we all remember how good a job Apple did with their iphone 5 maps.
Just make sure you're not logged into your Google Account and preferably running OpenVPN when you do your search.
Instant Messaging:
This is the first example you'll see where I lean more in the ease of use than the security.
When I'm going to run IM, I use encrypted Gtalk over Adium.
Mainly because it would take too much effort to convince all my friends to use to a protocol that allowed true point-to-point encryption that's off the record. I use SSL between my host and the GTalk server, but Google still has access on their servers to the plain text messages (even if it's OTR I suspect, no proof though). Moreover, your chat partner may not be using it, in which case all those messages are still visible downstream in plaintext.
The only good alternative is just to stop using it so damn much. This is a work in progress for me.
Video VoIP:
Skype sucks. It really does. They haven't been the same since Microsoft acquired them. What's interesting is the tool was built with pretty impressive reverse-engineering countermeasures, and goes through great lengths to circumvent NAT in order to make your calls. Unfortunately there are known backdoors where third parties can ease drop. It is not to be trusted anymore for secure conversations. I don't make video VoIP that frequently anymore, but if I had to I would try out Prism-Break's suggestion for Jitsi. It looks promising.
I would also avoid Facetime like the plague, simply because I think Apple has zero credibility for protecting your privacy (just as Microsoft and Google).
Social Networking:
Not much you can do here if you enjoy the major players like Facebook. Similar to instant messaging, you're limited by the people you want to communicate with. I'm reasonable careful these days about what I post on FB/LinkedIn/Google+ when I use them (which is infrequent). And I don't mean just what is publicly available to my contacts. I mean everything.
I personally don't have a problem with these services and think they add a lot of value. I try to keep really personal stuff off them, but that guarantee is a bit naive. I know I've slipped up a few times, and FB has access to some pretty funny private messages. I mostly enjoy the read-only features of these sites, and rarely contribute, but that's not really good enough.
Just by having an account with some basic information and friend links, they can learn a lot about you. For example, one of my good friends likes to check all of us in on Facebook when we go to a listed restaurant. That's not even something I opted into, but FB gets to learn facts about me based solely on that association. I've met girls who later looked me up through FB friends and sent weird unsolicited PMs. We've all been there. Facebook, and thus the government, has access to all that shit. They even have a whole suite of creepy analytics that can tell if you're gay.
Cloud Storage:
This is one of the more interesting ones. There are so many choices for secure backups, but it's difficult to find a be-all-end-all solution that satisfies everyone.
I personally use per-file encryption on Amazon S3. It's the same storage backend as Dropbox, but I encrypted everything first by hand and don't bother with file sync.
My methods are simple but require quite a bit of micro-mangement. I run each file through a Mac OSX utility named crypt from the command line before I post it to my S3 buckets. The utility defaults to AES-256 bit encryption and is really easy to use. This custom version I modified for OSX cleans up the command entry a bit from the authors original version.
I will say there are very fancy solutions out there for users who demand a bit more.
Dropbox is really slick with file sync and ease of use, but everything is unencrypted on Amazon. Unacceptable.
To counter this, some people supplement Dropbox with a tool named EncFS. It transparently encrypts/decrypts file contents from any directory, which works with Dropbox, but you need to be a bit of power user to set it up. There's also Tarsnap, but it supposedly doesn't handle incremental syncs well and doesn't work on Windows. One interesting solution I looked at was using BitTorrent Sync to do cross-device backups and syncing, but I wanted something that backs up to the cloud, not just my own devices. There really is no easy-to-use solution that efficiently synchronizes files and is secure. Dropbox + EncFS is close, but not exactly easy to use.
Documents:
This one has been difficult. There aren't too many good solutions out there. I have looked at Zoho before and they offer a lot. It's hard to imagine it easier to use than Google Docs though. Prezi is cool for building presentations that don't look like PowerPoint vomit.
I really don't have a good suggestion here. If this became a frequent requirement, I'd probably create a new Google Account with some bogus personal information that wasn't associated with any of my previous Google Accounts. Although they could very easily correlate something written in one of my documents with a best-guess at a related Google account (also based on IP logging). Google's latest terms of service and privacy agreements allows for these types of cross-service analytics.
Media Publishing:
I use Imgur for everything.
Email Services:
Another interesting one. If I use an anonymous service like FastMail, but 70% of my emails go to Gmail recipients, am I really hiding anything from Google?
At the very least I'm not going to make it easy for them. So far I've been impressed with FastMail. The UI feels comfortably like Gmail, except much more responsive. It offers competitive features with Gmail like anti-spam, full text search, achieving, filtering and custom DNS. There are no ads, but it is a pay service.
Email Desktop Clients:
I haven't done this for quite some time. If I had to, I'd probably try Mozilla Thunderbird.
Email Encryption:
I don't bother with this. 99% of people don't want to fool with it. Just like with Dropbox + EncFS for file storage, most encrypted email systems require people who are somewhat technically competent. It's an unreasonable expectation.
Online Transactions:
Sadly I still use PayPal. A lot of people are attacking this problem right now (Stripe, Square, etc.) No one has come out victorious yet as the PayPal killer, but I am waiting anxiously.
BitCoin is a really cool technology that's gaining some traction, but many merchants don't yet accept it, and some of the security around wallet controls leaves a lot to be desired. It's interesting to read about how the currency works from a technical standpoint. It has resisted many attempts at exploitation and bot-mining, but the major weakness appears to be wallet security.
Android:
I dumped the NSA conspirator Verizon in favor of Solavei running over T-Mobile infrastructure. This involved forcefully unlocking my phone and installing a root kit to gain superuser permissions. If you're thinking of switching from Verizon to one of their competitors, don't try to port your phone unless you're prepared for USB debugging, ROM installation and a $15 unlock code (depending on the phone and whether or not you're willing to dig with a HEX editor). I learned a lot, but I wouldn't wish it on other people who just want their phone to work. I run CyanogenMod 7.2 for my Android ROM. I have no outbound encryption through for any of the common apps (Google Maps, Reddit, etc) so this is a weak point for me right now.
Operating System:
I run Mac OSX. It's just too smooth and efficient for technical work. I can't give it up. Linux is nice with respect to production scenarios, but the user-experience of most of the x-windows managers just doesn't compare to OSX. I'm very careful about what updates I perform though, and run Little Snitch so that I can approve and monitor any outbound connections my machine tries to make. It's technically possible Apple has baked some dubious reporting into the core apsd services, but there's not much more I can do without handicapping the machine.
submitted by shazzdeeds to restorethefourth [link] [comments]

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