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Blockchain-based voting systems have potential despite security concerns

A group of experts believe blockchain-based voting systems will be used in future elections once security concerns are resolved….

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The 2020 United States presidential election was met with an increase in mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 concerns. Yet while many Americans stayed away from polling stations this year, postal delays, rejected ballots, and other challenges emerged.

Unsurprisingly, better ways for casting votes during major elections quickly became a hot topic of discussion. This has also led some in the crypto community advocating with renewed vigor for a blockchain-based voting system to be used in the future presidential elections.

While the promises of blockchain include trust, transparency and immutability, a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory pointed out security flaws associated with blockchain voting systems. The researchers published a report on Nov. 6 explaining that online voting is fatally flawed since such systems are vulnerable to large-scale cyber attacks. The report specifically discusses blockchain-based voting systems like Voatz, which has been used in U.S. municipal elections, yet reportedly suffers from data security issues.

Despite security concerns, some still believe that blockchain-based voting systems will be leveraged in major elections moving forward. Maxim Rukinov, head of the Distributed Ledger Technologies Center of St. Petersburg State University, told Cointelegraph that blockchain allows for a system of fair elections to take place within a trusted environment between participants who generally do not trust each other: “With blockchain you can make voting available and increase the transparency of any election. In a perfect scenario, the results of such a vote cannot be faked.”

Rukinov shared that he has been working with a team of researchers to develop an online voting system specifically designed for enterprise use. Known as “CryptoVeche,” Rukinov explained that this particular system stores voting results in a blockchain, which is a type of distributed ledger. As such, the system is highly secure against external and internal hacks.

Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute and a book author, explained this in detail for a New York Times article published in 2018, even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges to light. Tapscott pointed out that in elections, trust is concentrated within government agencies, which are extremely vulnerable to hacks, fraud, and human errors. To put this into perspective, a study released last year shows that local and federal government entities have fallen victim to 443 data breaches since 2014, but those mostly included lost hardware, mailing errors, and paper breaches.

Tapscott noted that a blockchain system relies on distributed network computers to verify transactions. Once verified, results are recorded in blocks that are linked cryptographically to the preceding block. A secure ledger is then formed, which is transparent to all network participants, yet remains immutable and tamper proof. This feature is also important for ensuring that individuals only cast a single vote, as blockchain-based systems are meant to prevent double-spending.

Don Tapscott, well-known author and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute further told Cointelegraph that votes cannot be sent online today because internet-based systems do not work well for such applications:

As such, Tapscott noted that within a blockchain-based system, public trust in the voting process is achieved through cryptography, code, and collaboration among citizens, government agencies, and other stakeholders.

Of course, there is no denying that technical challenges related to blockchain-based voting systems remain. In addition to the security concerns mentioned by MIT researchers in their recent report, Rukinov acknowledged that developing an online voting system is challenging.

Rukinov further explained that with blockchain systems the accuracy of transactions, in this case, voter registration is verified by a consensus mechanism between different members of the network. However, when it comes to voting systems independent observers must also be one of the parties involved with the consensus, meaning they would have to hold several validation nodes.

According to Rukinov, in most cases the number of nodes owned by the network organizer are greater than the number of independent nodes. So in the case of a blockchain-based voting system, an attack may occur when those who control more than half of the resources have the ability to change data at random. Rukinov pointed out that this problem is not the case for all types of consensus mechanisms.

Lior Lamash, Founder and CEO of GK8, a cybersecurity company, also told Cointelegraph that while the immutable nature of blockchain makes it an effective platform to ensure the integrity of the voting process, several vulnerabilities remain. Specifically speaking, Lamash noted that voter identification is problematic when using blockchain-based voting systems:

Moreover, Lamash noted that while each ballot stores a user’s private keys, a hacker could obtain that information and manipulate the entire election process: “This issue is quite similar to the challenge that banks and other financial institutions face when offering blockchain-based services.”

Although challenges remain with blockchain-based voting systems, it’s clear that blockchain has huge potential for use in future elections. Dylan Dewdney, chief executive officer of Kylin, a cross-chain platform designed for Polkadot-based data economy, told Cointelegraph that the trusted outcome of an election must also be taken into consideration. He further determined that blockchain being applied for data validation is highly useful in this case.

According to Dewdney, a decentralized infrastructure could help improve the trusted outcome of an electoral process. Dewdney explained that Kylin has created a data validation process using an oracle node, which serves as an information feed. An arbitration node is then used to judge if that data is valid or not. Dewdney said:

Although Kylin is a solution that can easily be applied in the decentralized finance space, the same concept can be used for voting systems. “Decentralized validation of local electoral results could provide a very powerful tool against some of the problems we are currently seeing.” He further added: “This could easily operate as the linked consensus of the validated API feeds of literally thousands of local election results reported to websites within a Dapp developers premium data sourcing.”

Rukinov believes that the ideal blockchain-based voting system must cater to voter eligibility, verifiability, and immutability. He mentioned that these features can be achieved in the future through cryptographic protocols including digital signatures, zero-knowledge proofs, and homomorphic encryption: “In order to achieve additional benefits, it’s necessary to add the possibility of cancelling the registration; observers being able to detect the facts of falsification; and the permanence of the register change history.”

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-based-voting-systems-have-potential-despite-security-concerns

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Cointelegraph

Binance Coin reaches 37% of Ethereum’s market cap: 3 reasons why BNB is soaring

Binance Coin (BNB), the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain, has been rallying after seeing an uptick in transaction volume.

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Binance Coin, the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain, has been surging with a massive uptick in transaction volume.

Binance Coin reaches 37% of Ethereum’s market cap: 3 reasons why BNB is soaring

Binance Coin (BNB), the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain and top digital asset exchange Binance, is starting to close in on Ethereum (ETH) in market capitalization.

As of April 12, BNB is valued at $87 billion at the price of just under $600. The valuation of Ethereum is hovering at around $246 billion, which is 2.8 fold larger than that of Binance Coin.

— Joe Grech (@JoeBGrech) April 12, 2021

The technical momentum of BNB has been so strong that it briefly surpassed the volume of the BTC/USDT pair on Binance.

This trend is significant because USDT is the biggest stablecoin in the global market and the BTC/USDT pair is one of the most liquid trading pairs in crypto.

Why is Binance Coin surging so hard?

Binance Coin has been rising due to the three key reasons: an overall uptick in the popularity of Binance Smart Chain, strong technical momentum, and the gap between BSC and Ethereum projects.

Binance Smart Chain transaction volume. Source: BSCScan.io

In recent weeks, the transaction volume on Binance Smart Chain has tripled the volume of the Ethereum blockchain.

Particularly in Southeast Asia, the usage of Binance Smart Chain has been rising, according to Coin98, the biggest venture capital firm in Vietnam that is building a DeFi ecosystem targeted at Asia.

Considering that the price of BNB was much lower than Ethereum until late March, this discrepancy between BNB and ETH likely made BNB a compelling trade.

There is also a big gap in valuations between the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem and Binance Smart Chain, which has been fueling a large portion of the demand for BSC projects.

This has caused the value of BNB to rapidly rise over the past two weeks while ETH has been relatively stable at just over $2,000.

A journalist who covers crypto in China known as “Wu Blockchain” explained:

“BNB broke through an astonishing $600, but Ethereum’s Fees fell to its lowest point in a month. Although the transaction volume of BSC is 3x that of Ethereum, the two are not in a competitive relationship. The top 10 addresses of BNB hold more than 88%, and Eth is 20%. The future of Ethereum depends on the upgrade of EIP-1559 and 2.0. The only two things Binance needs to worry about are the government suppression and hackers.”

Traders foresee BNB to undergo a more explosive rally in the foreseeable future if it breaks out against Bitcoin.

Kaleo, a pseudonymous cryptocurrency trader, said:

“$BNB breaking above this level on the $BTC pair could lead to the type of explosive momentum needed to actually close in on $1,000.”BSC/BTC 1-day price chart (Binance). Source: TradingView.com, KaleoWill the capital rotate back into Ethereum?

However, Kelvin Koh, the managing partner at Spartan Group, one of the largest DeFi-focused funds in Asia, said that for now, he expects the capital to rotate back into Ethereum as BSC projects near the valuation of ETH equivalents.

He emphasized that there is a huge valuation gap between BSC and ETH projects. This gap could be making BSC projects compelling to the market. He said:

“BSC is having its own DeFi summer….so much alpha to be discovered in BSC ($XVS, $CAKE). If you are wondering why Ethereum DeFi coins are lacklustre, its because of the huge valuation gap that still exists between the BSC coins and ETH equivalents. Until this gap closes, money isn’t rotating back to ETH DeFi coins.”

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-coin-reaches-37-of-ethereum-s-market-cap-3-reasons-why-bnb-is-soaring

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Cointelegraph

Our Man in Shanghai: Scandal as $45M of stolen government funds lost using 100X leverage

A blockchain security company’s future is in doubt after its CMO allegedly lost $45M betting on Bitcoin; Chinese netizens turn the other cheek to Peter Thiel’s warnings, and more

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The Chief Marketing Officer a blockchain security company has been charged with embezzlement; Peter Thiel calls Bitcoin a ‘weapon’ of China (but no one cares), and CZ’s net worth rises to $1.9 billion.

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Our Man in Shanghai: Scandal as $45M of stolen government funds lost using 100X leverage

Blockchain security company Beosin has been the focus of a major scandal after its Chief Marketing Officer Gao Ziyang was taken into custody and charged with embezzlement of state-owned assets. He is alleged to have been using government funds to unsuccessfully short BTC, resulting in a massive liquidation of over 300 million renminbi, or $45 million dollars.

Beosin, also known as Lianan Tech, had a working relationship with Chinese authorities and was helping them investigate fraudulent fundraising schemes. After the seizure of funds back in 2020, Beosin was tasked with storing and selling the assets, to be later returned to the state treasury. Instead of selling the assets, CMO Gao Ziyang allegedly opened a short position in late August, hoping to increase the size of the positions for personal gain. At the time, BTC was trading around $12,000.

Authorities say that records obtained from OKEx show the position began using 10x leverage, before increasing to 100x, and eventually ended up in liquidation. They began to ask about the whereabouts of the funds, before finally realizing that the assets were no longer in the wallet. Online, people have marveled at the age of Gao Ziyang, who was described as in his twenties. The future of Beosin, which was once regarded as a credible blockchain security company in China, is now in serious doubt.

Peter Thiel’s Bitcoin claims ignored

On Wednesday, PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel warned that the Chinese government may be using Bitcoin as a “financial weapon” to undermine the stability of the U.S. Dollar. The reaction was quite muted, as only 30 comments responded to the story on Sina Finance, a social media account with over 23 million followers. One of the top comments simply pointed out that “Bitcoin wasn’t invented by China” while another comment simply stated “Impossible”.

Binance billionaire

On Thursday, Binance founder Zhao Changpeng, better known as CZ, appeared as #1664 on Forbes’s annual billionaire list. His net worth is now listed at $1.9 billion, an increase of $700 million from the last list in 2020.

Nanjing Ribensi bought by US company

US Company Future FinTech announced earlier this week that they had agreed to a deal to acquire China-based mining company Nanjing Ribensi Electronic Technology Co. Nanjing Ribensi operates a mining farm that can handle up to 30,000 Bitcoin mining machines. The deal was worth approximately $9.1 million dollars and stipulates that the mining company must generate no less than approximately $2.3 million dollars in 2021.

Blockchain standards accelerated

China’s National Development and Reform Commission called for the accelerated implementation of blockchain standards in a new plan released on April 1. The plan was jointly issued by 28 government departments and also included technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, and big data.

This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/our-man-in-shanghai-scandal-as-45m-of-stolen-government-funds-lost-using-100x-leverage

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Cointelegraph

CoinMarketCap removes South Korea crypto exchanges from Bitcoin price tracker

The crypto analytics provider also removed South Korean exchanges from the price calculations of cryptocurrencies in 2018 “due to the extreme divergence in prices.”

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“If the prices on South Korean exchanges stabilize, then we will add the data back in, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said a CoinMarketCap spokesperson.

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CoinMarketCap removes South Korea crypto exchanges from Bitcoin price tracker

Crypto price trackin website CoinMarketCap has removed many South Korean exchanges from its calculations for the price of Bitcoin as the coin dipped under $58,000 again.

As of today, CoinMarketCap’s Bitcoin price tracker shows no data from major South Korean crypto exchanges including Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit. The website uses data from many exchanges to estimate the average price for cryptocurrencies. At the time of publication, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) is $57,721, having fallen more than 2% this morning.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, CoinMarketCap content manager Molly Jane Zuckerman said the removal was due to the premium observed on crypto exchanges based in South Korea. The crypto analytics provider estimates the BTC price to be roughly 6% higher than that on other exchanges.

“If the prices on South Korean exchanges stabilize, then we will add the data back in, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Zuckerman.

The last time the price tracking website took similar action was in 2018, when CoinMarketCap announced it had “excluded some South Korean exchanges in price calculations due to the extreme divergence in prices from the rest of the world and limited arbitrage opportunity.”

During roughly the same time three years ago, the price of XRP was falling significantly after reaching an all-time high of $2.96 on Jan. 2. However, the token is looking bullish today, having briefly surpassed $1.00 for the first time since 2018 after it rose more than 20% in the last 24 hours. The price has since fallen to $0.9694 at the time of publication.

CoinMarketCap said only its Bitcoin price index was affected today, given the large volume of the crypto asset on South Korean exchanges. Last month, the volume of transactions in the South Korean digital currency market — driven in part by the price of BTC reaching an all-time — briefly exceeded the daily average transaction amount of the country’s stock market.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinmarketcap-removes-south-korea-crypto-exchanges-from-bitcoin-price-tracker

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