Cryptocurrency Highlights Of The Week

Bitcoin Miners and Core developers have reached consensus on Bitcoin’s block size limit. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 7:

  • Bitcoin miners had already aligned previously, and have now reached consensus with members of Bitcoin Core’s development community on the way forward for the digital currency. The new plan sticks with the release of Segregated Witness in April 2016, but adds a hard fork around July 2017 to increase the block size (of what will become non-witness data) to around 2MB (given wide support). Full details on the new agreed plan can be found here. Should other Core developers agree on this plan as well it will ensure a network majority will keep on running Bitcoin Core.

  • The popularity of Bitcoin demanding ransomware skyrocketed in 2015. Up to October 2015, extortionists had already managed to gather an estimated $325 million in Bitcoin ransoms. With even the FBI advising to “pay up and be done with it” should your PC get infected, ransomware continues to thrive in 2016. One of the most recent attacks on the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center resulted in the hospital paying $17,000 worth of Bitcoins to its attackers as it revealed this week. CEO Allen Stefanek stated:

    “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

    The case marks a dangerous escalation in the threat of ransomware, as it happens to concern health data such as patient records and information required by the surgeons in the operating rooms. Patients could be put in serious danger as a result, which signals a significant increase the severity of the ransomware attacks.

  • In the same week, security researchers at PhishMe discovered the latest addition to the Cryptolocker-type ransomware and it’s called “Locky”. The virus is spreading at an alarming rate “infecting anywhere from one to five computers every second” and should therefore be considered a “major cybersecurity incident” according to researcher Kevin Beaumont. In order to prevent successful ransomware attacks, users should make sure to regularly create real backups and not rely on live backup snapshots as their main backup mechanism.

  • Bitnation has launched its Decentralised Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN) Constitution dubbed Bitnation: Pangea using Ethereum. The blockchain-based “Governance 2.0” initiative announced the launch at a public event in Rio de Janeiro. The new platform also has a GitHub page, that mentions:

    “The backbone consists of the ID and Reputation System (The BITNATION Passport), the Dispute Resolution System, the Public Notary and a DIY Governance (D)App Library where others can create, upload, share or sell their own Governance (D)Apps.Additional services includes Marriage, Wills, Childcare Contracts, Birth Certificates, Land Titles, Corporate Incorporation and Equity Trade, Unemployment Insurance, Pensions, Health Care Insurance, Security, and Diplomacy.”

    Janina Lowisz also explained why Bitnation switched from Bitcoin to Ethereum for its new platform:

    “Smart contract capabilities better suit the needs of the coming Pangea platform, and Bitnation users will have a smoother and better user experience”

  • The consensus agreement on Bitcoin’s block size has triggered a rally in the price of the digital currency, causing it to trade more than 13% above last week’s price. The exchange rate is now about $441 per BTC. As Bitcoin rallied, the Ethereum rally finally came to an end. The popular altcoin lost roughly 5% of its value this week, taking the exchange rate to $4.37 per ETH.
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