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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

blockchain-based-voting-systems-have-potential-despite-security-concerns

Cointelegraph

Chainalysis raises $100M in Series E funding led by Coatue

Chainalysis secures its second $100 million investment round in three months.

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Chainalysis has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in the second quarter as venture firms allocate more resources to the emerging blockchain sector.

Chainalysis raises $100M in Series E funding led by Coatue

Blockchain analytics company Chainalysis has secured $100 million in Series E financing, bringing its total valuation to a staggering $4.2 billion and highlighting once again the tremendous growth of the cryptocurrency industry.

The round was led by global investment manager Coatue, with additional participation from 9Yards Capital, Altimeter, Blackstone, GIC, Pictet, Sequoia Heritage and SVB Capital, Chainalysis announced Thursday.

Chainalysis said the funds will go toward expanding its blockchain data capabilities, which includes investing in new data tools, software and APIs.

“We believe blockchain data is the asset that can help public and private sector organizations understand the risks and opportunities surrounding this asset class and promote its adoption safely and successfully,” the company said.

Chainalysis’ valuation has more than doubled in the last quarter thanks to several strategic investments. As Cointelegraph reported, the company closed out a $100 million Series D round in March led by Paradigm, a crypto-focused investment firm. At the time, Chainalysis’ director of communications Maddie Kennedy told Cointelegraph that the funds will be used to expand the company’s enterprise data offering.

Related: Crypto-finance company Amber Group valued at $1B following $100M raise

Mega-million-dollar funding rounds have become commonplace in the cryptocurrency industry over the last six months. Venture firms have poured billions into crypto startups this year alone, with the likes of Andreessen Horowitz going a step further by announcing a new $2.2 billion crypto venture fund.

What’s more, dealmaking seems to be happening irrespective of current market conditions, which marks an important evolution from the 2017 bull market that saw venture funding dry up once the initial coin offering mania faded.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/chainalysis-raises-100m-in-series-e-funding-led-by-coatue

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Crypto miners eye cheap power in Texas, but fears aired over impact on the grid

Can Texas meet the electricity demands of migrating Chinese Bitcoin miners?

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The recent crackdown on crypto mining in China has seen concerns expressed over the potential impact a hashrate migration could have on Texas’ unreliable electricity market, as an increasing number of dislocated miners eye the Lone Star State.

Texas’ abundant sources of renewable energy and highly deregulated power grid make the state an obvious choice for migrating miners from China and elsewhere, with 20% of Texan electricity being generated by wind as of 2019.

Speaking to CNBC, Brandon Arvanaghi, a former security engineer at crypto exchange Gemini, predicted Texas will see “a dramatic shift over the next few months” as miners look to set up shop.

“We have governors like Greg Abbott in Texas who are promoting mining. It is going to become a real industry in the United States, which is going to be incredible,” he said, adding:

“Texas not only has the cheapest electricity in the U.S. but some of the cheapest in the globe.”

Castle Island Ventures’ founding partner, Nic Carter told CNBC that half of the world’s hashing power could ultimately exit China’s borders and will need new homes, stating:

“Every Western mining host I know has had their phones ringing off the hook. Chinese miners or miners that were domiciled in China are looking to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Northern Europe.”

Global hash rate has fallen by one-third since early May following reports that China’s mining industry would be subjected to stricter supervision.

But is the Texan power grid up to the challenge of providing power for an influx of more crypto miners? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has just requested that Texans curb their electricity usage amid the recent heatwave that saw many residents turning up their air conditioners earlier this week.

Roughly 12,000 megawatts of generation capacity was offline as of Monday — enough to power 2.5 million homes. ERCOT described the scale of forced outages as “very concerning.”

The regulator warned that a failure to heed the request could result in a repeat of the widespread winter power failures that left 69% of Texans without electricity, and roughly half without water in February. According to Buzzfeed, February’s outages could have resulted in up to 700 deaths in the state.

Angela Walch, a Texas research associate at University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies, tweeted her concerns regarding the share of Texas’ electricity being devoted to Bitcoin mining, emphasizing that her family has been “asked to reduce our air conditioning use, not run washing machines & dryers, etc.”

Obviously, Bitcoin is not the sole cause of this cluster*^% that our poor political leadership in Texas has caused.

But, I am curious to know the portion of the grid it uses. Maybe Bitcoin miners are the first to be shut down in times of grid stress.

— Angela Walch (@angela_walch) June 15, 2021

However Tierion CEO Wayne Vaughan responded by asserting that much of the electricity used to power Texan mining operations comprised stranded resources that “would never be able to reach your home to power your appliances.”

Others argued that wholesale Bitcoin mining operations could actually alleviate Texas’ power issues, with Texas’ seasonal surges in electricity demand incentivizing miners to sell power back to the state’s grid that otherwise go uncaptured.

In September 2020, the Peter Thiel-backed crypto miner Layer1 in West Texas reported it had reaped profits exceeding 700% by selling renewable electricity back to the grid amid surging summer demand.

While up-to-date data for global hashrate distribution is not available, the Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (BECI) estimates that China represented 65% of the world’s hashing power as of April 2020.

Earlier this month, district regulators in Western Xinjiang and Yunnan issued notices mandating the suspension of virtual currency mining enterprises. BECI estimates the two regions account for 40% of the country’s hash rate.

Castle Island Ventures’ founding partner, Nic Carter told CNBC that half of the world’s hashing power could ultimately exit China’s borders and will need new homes, stating:

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/crypto-miners-eye-cheap-power-in-texas-but-fears-aired-over-impact-on-the-grid

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Bitcoin price hits $40K as Paul Tudor Jones slams Fed inflation claims

Bitcoin price action is back at $40,000 as Paul Tudor Jones recommends a 5% BTC portfolio.

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Bitcoin (BTC) passed $40,000 on June 14 as a consolidation period snapped to unleash a solid breakout.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingViewBTC price breaks out past $40,000

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed BTC/USD gaining 3% in under an hour, reaching $40,500 on Bitstamp.

The largest cryptocurrency capitalized on upside which resulted from a new positive tweet from Elon Musk over possible acceptance by Tesla in the future.

Earlier, Cointelegraph reported on traders betting on a leg up to around $47,000 before a correction.

A look at buy and sell positions on major exchange Binance showed support at $38,000, wit resistance at $40,500 the next hurdle for bulls.

Buy and sell levels on Binance as of June 14. Source: Material Indicators/TwitterTudor Jones advocates 5% BTC allocation

Bitcoin reached a $2 trillion market cap because of a “dichotomy” in Federal Reserve policy which “questions” its credibility, says famous trader Paul Tudor Jones.

In an interview with CNBC on June 14, the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation sounded the alarm over advancing inflation.

After last week’s consumer price index (CPI) report showed that U.S. inflation had hit a 13-year high, Bitcoin’s deflationary nature has rarely looked so appealing.

For Tudor Jones, the idea that higher inflation is just temporary due to recent events, as suggested by the Fed and central banks in general, is a myth.

“It’s somewhat disingenuous to say, for them to say, that inflation is transitory,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box segment.

Today’s environment is entirely different to that which saw episodes of inflation in the past, such as 2013, and as such, there is little sense in the Fed applying the same forecasts.

CPI was much lower then, Tudor Jones noted, while now, unemployment and jobs also roughly equal each other.

Related: Paul Tudor Jones says Bitcoin is ‘like investing early in Apple or Google’

Meanwhile, gold and Bitcoin have provided a refuge for many. Despite the precious metal vastly underperforming Bitcoin in terms of gains, it remains near record highs.

“When you look at the Fed today and the Fed back then, you wonder how can you have such wildly different policy views on what constitutes the right levels for employment, the right levels for inflation,” he continued.

“How can you have that with an eight-year timeframe? It’s almost like a split personality and you wonder why Bitcoin has a $2 trillion market cap and gold’s at $1,865 an ounce. And the reason why is you have this dichotomy in policy that again questions — questions — the institutional credibility of something.”

Ultimately, a 5% Bitcoin allocation is one of the only things he advocates to those seeking portfolio advice.

“I say, ‘OK, listen, the only thing I know for certain is I want to have 5% in gold, 5% in Bitcoin, 5% in cash, 5% in commodities at this point in time,'” he added.

A look at buy and sell positions on major exchange Binance showed support at $38,000, wit resistance at $40,500 the next hurdle for bulls.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-price-hits-40k-as-paul-tudor-jones-slams-fed-inflation-claims

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