Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bitcoin and Blockchain: solutions looking for a problem

A week that could shake the world Australian Business Review

 Public servants have pleaded for their right to free speech on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms as part of the review into rules governing federal bureaucrats' online behaviour.
Most of the Commonwealth workers who responded to a call for submissions from the Public Service Commissioner said they wanted the same level of free-speech available to all citizens 'Muzzled': Public servants rage against Facebook gag

Via Politico: “This afternoon, the European Commission was subject to a cyberattack (denial of service) which resulted in the saturation of our Internet connection.”

Among the tricks Mr Woodruff has pulled there’s setting up fake .eu versions of company sites and asking employees to log in, tailgating into an office with a group of smokers then walking around dropping tainted USBs and sticking up official looking QR codes at business conferences which infect smartphones with malware.
And movies rarely show one of the fastest-growing forms of cyber attack – ransomware, where a hacker locks down all the files on anything from a laptop to an entire company or steals extensive information and demands money to release or return everything.
Moty Cristal, professional negotiator and chief executive of NEST Negotiation Strategies, recalls one banking client receiving an e-mail stuffed with very confidential customer information. Two minutes later, he received a WhatsApp message demanding $120,000.
Mr Cristal adds: “When you’re facing this crisis, it is the human factor that needs to be managed. Making connections and negotiating are essential.” 
Although, to be fair, The Negotiator is a whole different movie. Looks like hackers can get into almost everything What hackers are REALLY like 
PRNewswire – “Resilient, an IBM Company and the Ponemon Institute unveiled the results of the annual Cyber Resilient Organization study, which found that only 32 percent of IT and security professionals say their organization has a high level of Cyber Resilience – down slightly from 35 percent in 2015
Bitcoin and blockchain seem more and more like solutions looking for a problem Quartz (Richard Smith). I’ve said this sort of thing to Richard privately….wish I’d had enough trust in my gut (based on looking a lot of whiz-bang tech deals that never developed a product customers would buy) to have said that officially. But the Mighty Wurlitzer of Hype can seem very convincing. But I have said repeatedly that I think the bitcoin/blockchain advocates are looking for it to replace existing products and services (like bitcoin replacing existing payment systems), which was the same mistake microwave oven manufacturers made. They spent the better part of two decades pushing it as a substitute for conventional ovens, when it was clearly inferior (you can’t brown meats or bake with a microwave, for starters). Only when they figured out its best use was as a dedicated rapid heating device did it find a receptive market

TaxGrrrl,IRS Wants Court Authority To Identify Bitcoin Users & Transactions At Coinbase:

In his declaration to the court in support of the summons, IRS Senior Revenue Agent David Utzke noted that his investigations included two taxpayers with annual revenues in the millions who “admitted disguising the amount they spent purchasing the bitcoins as deductions for technology expenses on their tax returns.”

Renaissance is unique, even among hedge funds, for the genius—and eccentricities—of its people. Peter Brown, who co-heads the firm, usually sleeps on a Murphy bed in his office. His counterpart, Robert Mercer, rarely speaks; you’re more likely to catch him  whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy in meetings than to hear his voice. Screaming battles seem to help a pair of identical twins, both of them Ph.D. string theorists, produce some of their best work 

Excellent piece that raises many questions such as, Is finance really the best use for two string theorists? And if you think the answer to that question is obvious you may need to 
learn more string theory
Ireland Revenue announces new clampdown on offshore tax evasion

Ireland Revenue to gain access to vast amount of data on offshore assets  

Councils are increasing the pressure on tax dodging companies

Theresa May to match Donald Trump's tax cuts

HACKING GOT A little too real this year. Hundreds of millions of online accounts were compromised in corporate data breaches, the US presidential election process was plagued by cyber-meddling, internet infrastructure companies faced massive digital attacks that disrupted web connectivity for millions of people, and Apple faced off with the FBI in an epic privacy battle. When reality is more terrifying than a movie could ever be, perhaps it’s time to retreat into the fictional for awhile and enjoy the fascinating world of cybersecurity from the safety of your living room for a change. Here are some favorite movies and television shows from 2016 that will let you get a taste of the hacker underworld over the holidays—hopefully without consigning you to a permanent state of digital dread Hack of stories