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How to Protect Data at Rest with Amazon EC2 Instance Store …

Note: By default, an instance type that includes an NVMe instance store encrypts data at rest using an XTS-AES-256 block cipher. See this FAQ about NVMe-supported instance types. If youre using an NVMw instance type, then data at rest is encrypted by default, and this post doesnt apply to your situation.

Encrypting data at rest is vital for regulatory compliance to ensure that sensitive data saved on disks is not readable by any user or application without a valid key. Some compliance regulations such as PCI DSS and HIPAA require that data at rest be encrypted throughout the data lifecycle. To this end, AWS provides data-at-rest options and key management to support the encryption process. For example, you can encrypt Amazon EBS volumes and configure Amazon S3 buckets for server-side encryption (SSE) using AES-256 encryption. Additionally, Amazon RDS supports Transparent Data Encryption (TDE).

Instance storage provides temporary block-level storage for Amazon EC2 instances. This storage is located on disks attached physically to a host computer. Instance storage is ideal for temporary storage of information that frequently changes, such as buffers, caches, and scratch data. By default, files stored on these disks are not encrypted.

In this blog post, I show a method for encrypting data on Linux EC2 instance stores by using Linux built-in libraries. This method encrypts files transparently, which protects confidential data. As a result, applications that process the data are unaware of the disk-level encryption.

First, though, I will provide some background information required for this solution.

You can use two methods to encrypt files on instance stores. The first method is disk encryption, in which the entire disk or block within the disk is encrypted by using one or more encryption keys. Disk encryption operates below the file-system level, is operating-system agnostic, and hides directory and file information such as name and size. Encrypting File System, for example, is a Microsoft extension to the Windows NT operating systems New Technology File System (NTFS) that provides disk encryption.

The second method is file-system-level encryption. Files and directories are encrypted, but not the entire disk or partition. File-system-level encryption operates on top of the file system and is portable across operating systems.

Dm-crypt is a Linux kernel-level encryption mechanism that allows users to mount an encrypted file system. Mounting a file system is the process in which a file system is attached to a directory (mount point), making it available to the operating system. After mounting, all files in the file system are available to applications without any additional interaction; however, these files are encrypted when stored on disk.

Device mapper is an infrastructure in the Linux 2.6 and 3.x kernel that provides a generic way to create virtual layers of block devices. The device mapper crypt target provides transparent encryption of block devices using the kernel crypto API. The solution in this post uses dm-crypt in conjunction with a disk-backed file system mapped to a logical volume by the Logical Volume Manager (LVM). LVM provides logical volume management for the Linux kernel.

The following diagram depicts the relationship between an application, file system, and dm-crypt. Dm-crypt sits between the physical disk and the file system, and data written from the operating system to the disk is encrypted. The application is unaware of such disk-level encryption. Applications use a specific mount point in order to store and retrieve files, and these files are encrypted when stored to disk. If the disk is lost or stolen, the data on the disk is useless.

In this post, I create a new file system called secretfs. This file system is encrypted using dm-crypt. This example uses LVM and Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS) to encrypt a file system. The encrypted file system sits on the EC2 instance store disk. Note that the internal store file system is not encrypted but rather a newly created file system.

The following diagram shows how the newly encrypted file system resides in the EC2 internal store disk. Applications that need to save sensitive data temporarily will use the secretfs mount point (/mnt/secretfs) directory to store temporary or scratch files.

This solution has three requirements for the solution to work. First, you need to configure the related items on boot using EC2 launch configuration because the encrypted file system is created at boot time. An administrator should have full control over every step and should be able to grant and revoke the encrypted file system creation or access to keys. Second, you must enable logging for every encryption or decryption request by using AWS CloudTrail. In particular, logging is critical when the keys are created and when an EC2 instance requests password decryption to unlock an encrypted file system. Lastly, you should integrate the solution with other AWS services, as described in the next section.

I use the following AWS services in this solution:

The following high-level architectural diagram illustrates the solution proposed in order to enable EC2 instance store encrypting. A detailed implementation plan follows in the next section.

In this architectural diagram:

First, you create a bucket for storing the file that holds the encrypted password. This password (key) will be used to encrypt the file system. Each EC2 instance upon boot copies the file, reads the encrypted password, decrypts the password, and retrieves the plaintext password, which is used to encrypt the file system on the instance store disk.

In this step, you create the S3 bucket that stores the encrypted password file, and apply the necessary permissions. If you are using an Amazon VPC endpoint for Amazon S3, you also need to add permissions to the bucket to allow access from the endpoint. (For a detailed example, see Example Bucket Policies for VPC Endpoints for Amazon S3.)

To create a new bucket:

When an EC2 instance boots, it must read the encrypted password file from S3 and then decrypt the password using KMS. In this section, I configure an IAM policy that allows the EC2 instance to assume a role with the right access permissions to the S3 bucket. The following policy grants the correct access permissions, in which your-bucket-name is the S3 bucket that stores the encrypted password file.

To create and configure the IAM policy:

The preceding policy grants read access to the bucket where the encrypted password is stored. This policy is used by the EC2 instance, which requires you to configure an IAM role. You will configure KMS permissions later in this post.

You now should have a new IAM role listed on the Roles page. ChooseRoles to list all roles in your account and then select the role you just created as shown in the following screenshot.

Next, you use KMS to encrypt a secret password. To encrypt text by using KMS, you must use AWS CLI. AWS CLI is installed by default on EC2 Amazon Linux instances and you caninstallit on Linux, Windows, or Mac computers.

To encrypt a secret password with KMS and store it in the S3 bucket:

The preceding commands encrypt the password (Base64 is used to decode the cipher text). The command outputs the results to a file called LuksInternalStorageKey. It also creates a key alias (key name) that makes it easy to identify different keys; the alias is called EncFSForEC2InternalStorageKey. The file is then copied to the S3 bucket I created earlier in this post.

Next, you grant the role access to the key you just created with KMS:

In this section, you launch a new EC2 instance with the new IAM role and a bootstrap script that executes the steps to encrypt the file system, as described earlier in the Architectural overview section:

You can list the encrypted file systems status. First, SSH to the EC2 instance using the key pair you used to launch the EC2 instance. (For more information about logging in to an EC2 instance using a key pair, see Getting Started with Amazon EC2 Linux Instances.) Then, run the following command as root.

As the commands results should show, the file system is encrypted with AES-256 using XTS mode. XTS is a configuration method that allows ciphers to work with large data streams, without the risk of compromising the provided security.

This blog post shows you how to encrypt a file system on EC2 instance storage by using built-in Linux libraries and drivers with LVM and LUKS, in conjunction with AWS services such as S3 and KMS. If your applications need temporary storage, you can use an EC2 internal disk that is physically attached to the host computer. The data on instance stores persists only during the lifetime of its associated instance. However, instance store volumes are not encrypted. This post provides a simple solution that balances between the speed and availability of instance stores and the need for encryption at rest when dealing with sensitive data.

If you have comments about this blog post, submit them in the Comments section below. If you have implementation questions about the solution in this post, please start a new thread on the EC2 forum.

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Is Cryptocurrency Dead for Good? | Investopedia

Since it was created, nearly a decade ago, bitcoinand the cryptocurrency market it spawnedhavefaced a constant stream of doomsayers declaring the coin dead or headed for obsolescence. Even so, ten years later, a singlebitcoin is worth fourfigures, and it appears to have found some stability in tandem with its growing maturity. The same cant be said for the sector which now includes thousands of coins and tokens, each of which exhibits varying degrees of success.

Moreover, for all theirpromise,cryptocurrenciesstill can’t seem tobreak into the mainstream. There are still very few merchants that accept crypto payments, and most financial services continue to be settled in fiat currencies. Critics saycrypto may have been a flash in the pan. For supporters, though, the signs are clear that even with the current culling of the crypto ranks, the sector will emerge stronger.

The real question is, which group is right?

As of August 2018, the number of cryptocurrencies on the market liessomewhereabove 2,000. This should be a clear signal that the sector is booming, but the numbers are deceptive. A report issued in July of this year found that more than 800 of those are essentially dead, that isworth less than one cent. This comes on the heels of reports of rampant scams and fraud in the initial coin offering (ICO) market, and other signs of trouble for the sector.

The trouble starts with bitcoin itself, as the cryptocurrency faced substantial difficulty in 2018. After reaching stratospheric heights with a near-$20,000 valuation in December 2017, bitcoin prices came crashing down in January, and have struggled to reach last years’ heights. Additionally, the value of crypto transactions carried out, which was astronomical in the first quarter of the year, collapsed by nearly 75% during the second quarter. The number of transactions fell from nearly 360,000in late 2017 to roughly 230,000 by September of this year.

The lack of acceptance, especially in the investment arena can partially be attributed to the US SECs denial of more than a dozen applications to list bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). More importantly, the leeway and freedom cryptocurrenciesenjoyed as unregulated commodities is rapidly coming to an end. 2018 has witnesseda drastic upswingin regulatory efforts, with countries across the globe taking a more serious and deliberate stance. This, many skeptics say, could be yet another nail in the coffin, stifling growth and limiting the sectors true potential as a disintermediating force.

On the other hand, these are not necessarily new critiques of the crypto sector. While it is true that bitcoin pricesand by extension most other cryptocurrenciescrashed in early2018, the volatility that once defined the market appears to be gradually fading. While this is bad news for speculators, it is excellent news for institutional investorswhomany believe are the key to unlocking cryptos future.

More relevantly, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain in general, are starting to garner more mainstream adoption. While merchants remain wary ofdigital currencies, banks, major tech firms, and other corporations have already started employing them.

As Ceek VR CEO and founder Mary Spio noted, cryptocurrency is nowhere near dead, its just scratching the tip of the iceberg toward mainstream adoption, when companies offer purposeful real life value and integration of cryptocurrencies, we will begin to see the next wave and resurgence of cryptocurrency. Its all about creating more natural demand and less speculation and hype. Indeed, it seems many of the cryptocurrencies that have fadedwere those based on hype and little else.

Even though 2018 has seen a downturn in the market following the bull run in 2017, we are convinced that the future holds a rebound, driven by institutional capital flowing into crypto assets. Within crypto assets, the wealth distribution will shift away from utility tokens towards Bitcoin and likely security tokens, said Agada Nameri from iCapital, an iAngels subsidiary dedicated to blockchain opportunities.

It seems that while many have shot down the idea that bitcoin and the crypto market are mainstream, the sector is determined to prove them wrong. While cryptocurrencies may still not be a standard for payments and value exchanges, the technology that underlies themblockchainis quickly becoming a standard in a variety of sectors and industries. Perhaps more crucially, the services that these tools provide are all based on, and powered by, cryptocurrencies and tokens. As companies continue to fix pain points and uncover new frictionless solutions to old problems with blockchain, crypto will flex its muscles even further.

Despite its many doubters and doomsayers, the crypto market has continued to plug along and thrive. Although prices have fluctuated wildlyand in some cases enormously to the downsidethe sector is finally starting to stabilize and increasingly appears to be leaving its infancy behind.

As more companies discover uses for crypto and blockchain, and more users accept themas a way to simplify their lives, theywill remain a central point of conversation in technology. More interestingly, as it better demonstrates its value in a variety of situationsfrom banking to buying coffeethe technology will further ingrain itself. Coins may come and go, and many cryptocurrencies are indeed likely to fail, but the sector will continue to forge ahead unabated.

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Cryptocurrency scammers dupe Singaporeans out of $78,000 in …

Singaporeans have lost $78,000 to cryptocurrency investment scams in the last three months, after authorities uncovered a wave of fraudulent marketing campaigns.

Cryptocurrency con-artists have duped citizens with phony articles featuring well-known Singaporean personalities to garner credibility, local media reports.

The advertisements falsely claim local celebrities earned huge returns on their Bitcoin investments made with fake companies. These lies eventually lured unsuspecting members of the public into sending in their cash, receiving nothing in return.

Police explained individuals who provided contact details normally received calls from supposed representatives, in a bid to legitimize the scams.

According to reports, these schemes originate from countries outside of Singapore. This unfortunately means they are not subject to the authority ofSingapores top financial watchdogs.

But even if these businesses were locally based, those regulators wouldnt be capable of doing anything at all. Singapores government does not actively regulate cryptocurrency. This means it is not able to impose any safeguards to protect local digital asset investors.

Surprisingly similar reports have surfaced in other parts of the world. A string of fake news articles recently hit New Zealand falsely starring local television host Daniel Faitaua.

The bogus ads claimed Faitaua doubled his money almost instantly, after buying a small amount of Bitcoin through a sham investment business in a televised interview.

He was eventuallyforced to make an on-air statement, clarifying he has no connection with the business, and had never bought any Bitcoin. Even more damning, the advertised interview never even happened. Go figure.

Published December 5, 2018 15:15 UTC

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Next Generation Encryption – blogs.cisco.com

A transition in cryptographic technologies is underway. New algorithms for encryption, authentication, digital signatures, and key exchange are needed to meet escalating security and performance requirements. Many of the algorithms that are in extensive use today cannot scale well to meet these needs. RSA signatures and DH key exchange are increasingly inefficient as security levels rise, and CBC encryption performs poorly at high data rates. An encryption system such as an IPsec Virtual Private Network uses many different component algorithms, and the level of security that it provides is limited by the lowest security level of each of those components. What we need is a complete algorithm suite in which each component provides a consistently high level of security and can scale well to high throughput and high numbers of connections. The next generation of encryption technologies meets this need by using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) to replace RSA and DH, and using Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cipher for high-speed authenticated encryption. More on these algorithms below, but first, some good news: the new ISR Integrated Services Module brings these next-generation encryption (NGE) technologies to IPsec Virtual Private Networks, providing a security level of 128 bits or more. These technologies are future proof: the use of NGE enables a system to meet the security requirements of the next decade, and to interoperate with future products that leverage NGE to meet scalability requirements. NGE is based on IETF standards, and meets the government requirements for cryptography stipulated in FIPS-140.

NGE uses new crypto algorithms because they will scale better going forward. This is analogous to the way that jets replaced propeller planes; incremental improvements in propeller-driven aircraft are always possible, but it was necessary to adopt turbojets to achieve significant advances in speed and efficiency.

The community that needs a new technology most leads its adoption. For instance, the transition from propellers to jet engines happened for military applications before jets were adopted for commercial use. Similarly, governments are leading the transition to next generation encryption. The U.S. government selected and recommended a set of cryptographic standards, called Suite B because it provides a complete suite of algorithms that are designed to meet future security needs. Suite B has been approved for protecting classified information at both the SECRET and TOP SECRET levels. Suite B sets a good direction for the future of network security, and the Suite B algorithms have been incorporated into many standards. (Cisco supported the development of some of these standards, including GCM authenticated encryption and implementation methods for ECC.) NGE uses the Suite B algorithms for two different reasons. First, it enables government customers to conform to the Suite B requirements. Second, Suite B offers the best technologies for future-proof cryptography, and is setting the trend for the industry. These are the best standards that one can implement today if the goal is to meet the security and scalability requirements ten years hence, or to interoperate with the crypto that will be deployed in that timescale.

A network encryption system must meet the networks requirements for high throughput, high numbers of connections, and low latency, while providing protection against sophisticated attacks. Cryptographic algorithms and key sizes are designed to make it economically infeasible for an attacker to break a cryptosystem. In principle, all algorithms are vulnerable to an exhaustive key search. In practice, this vulnerability holds only if an attacker can afford enough computing power to try every possible key. Encryption systems are designed to make exhaustive search too costly for an attacker, while also keeping down the cost of encryption. The same is true for all of the cryptographic components that are used to secure communications digital signatures, key establishment, and cryptographic hashing are all engineered so that attackers cant afford the computing resources that would be needed to break the system.

Every year, advances in computing lower the cost of processing and storage. These advances in computing accrue over the years and make it imperative to periodically move to larger key sizes. Because of Moores law, and a similar empirical law for storage costs, symmetric cryptographic keys need to grow by a bit every 18 months. In order for an encryption system to have a useful shelf life, and be able to securely interoperate with other devices throughout its operational lifespan, it should provide security ten or more years into the future. The use of good cryptography is more important now than ever before, due to the threat of well-funded and knowledgeable attackers.

A complete crypto suite includes algorithms for authenticated encryption, digital signatures, key establishment, cryptographic hashing. I touch on each of these below, to explain the need for technology changes. The Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithms for encryption and digital signatures are less efficient at higher security levels, as is the integer-based Diffie-Hellman (DH). In technical terms, there are sub-exponential attacks that can be used against these algorithms, and thus their key sizes must be substantially increased to compensate for this fact. In practice, this means that RSA and DH are becoming less efficient every year.

Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) replaces RSA signatures with the ECDSA algorithm, and replaces the DH key exchange with ECDH. ECDSA is an elliptic curve variant of the DSA algorithm, which has been a standard since 1994. ECDH is an elliptic curve variant of the classic Diffie-Hellman key exchange. DH and DSA are both based on the mathematical group of integers modulo a large prime number. The ECC variants replace that group with a different mathematical group that is defined by an elliptic curve. The advantage of ECC is that there are no sub-exponential attacks that work against ECC, which means that ECC can provide higher security at lower computational cost. The efficiency gain is especially pronounced as one turns the security knob up.

The AES block cipher is widely used today; it is efficient and provides a good security level. However, the Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) mode of operation for AES, which is commonly used for encryption, contains serialized operations that make it impossible to pipeline. Additionally, it does not provide authentication, and thus the data encrypted by CBC must also be authenticated using a message authentication code like HMAC. NGE improves on the combination of CBC and HMAC by using AES in the Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) of operation.

Fifteen years ago, it was considered a truism that encryption could not keep up with the fastest networks. Ten years ago, it was realized that the counter mode of operation (CTR) could keep up, but that did not resolve the need for data authentication. GCM solves this problem by incorporating an efficient authentication method, based on arithmetic over finite fields. GCM is an authenticated encryption algorithm; it provides both confidentiality and authenticity. Combing both these security services into a single algorithm improves both security and performance. (For instance, it prevents subtle attacks that exploit unauthenticated encryption, such as the recent BEAST attack against the TLS/SSL protocol and similar attacks.) AES-GCM is efficient even at very high data rates, because its design enables the use of full data pipelines and parallelism. Its efficiency is showcased by its use in the IEEE MACsec protocol, where it has kept up with 802.1 data rates of 10, 40, and even 100 gigabits per second without adding significant latency.

NGE follows Suite B and uses the SHA-2 family of hash functions. These functions replace the ubiquitous SHA-1 hash with SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512. SHA-1 only targets an 80-bit security level, and has been shown to not meet that goal. If you are still using SHA-1, you should transition to SHA-256, which provides a 128-bit security level.

For more information about Ciscos offering for faster next-generation encryption, see the Cisco VPN Internal Service Module for the ISR G2 page.

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Bitcoin Crypto-Economics Index – coindesk.com

Blockchain 101 Bitcoin What is Bitcoin? How Can I Buy Bitcoin? How Does Bitcoin Mining Work? How Do Bitcoin Transactions Work? How Can I Sell Bitcoin? Blockchain What is Blockchain Technology? How Does Blockchain Technology Work? What Can a Blockchain Do? What is a Distributed Ledger? Why Use a Blockchain? Ethereum What is Ethereum? How Do I Use Ethereum? How Does Ethereum Work? What is a Decentralized Application? How Do Smart Contracts Work? Technology Bitcoin Ethereum Other Public Protocols Distributed Ledger Technology Reviews Markets Investments Venture Capital Initial Coin Offerings Markets Bitcoin Ethereum Exchanges Other Public Protocols Business Use Cases & Verticals Payments Capital Markets Banking Insurance Supply Chain Security Identity Healthcare Energy Internet of Things Merchants Startups Legal Regulation Central Banking Tax Crime US & Canada Asia-Pacific Europe Data & Research Crypto-Economics Explorer Bitcoin Price Index Ethereum Price Data Analysis Bitcoin Calculator Blockchain Venture Capital ICO Tracker ICO Calendar About the BPI Bitcoin Legality Map Bitcoin Price Ticker Widget CoinDesk API Industry Research State of Blockchain Q2 2018 State of Blockchain Q1 2018 State of Blockchain Q4 2017 State of Blockchain Q3 2017 State of Blockchain Q2 2017 State of Blockchain Q1 2017 Consensus Consensus 2019 Consensus: Invest 2018 Consensus: Singapore 2018 Consensus 2018 Invest 2017 Consensus 2017 Construct 2017 Consensus 2016 Event Schedule Webinars Search Top nav Blockchain 101 Bitcoin What is Bitcoin? How Can I Buy Bitcoin? How Does Bitcoin Mining Work? How Do Bitcoin Transactions Work? How Can I Sell Bitcoin? Blockchain What is Blockchain Technology? How Does Blockchain Technology Work? What Can a Blockchain Do? What is a Distributed Ledger? Why Use a Blockchain? Ethereum What is Ethereum? How Do I Use Ethereum? How Does Ethereum Work? What is a Decentralized Application? How Do Smart Contracts Work? Technology Bitcoin Ethereum Other Public Protocols Distributed Ledger Technology Reviews Markets Investments Venture Capital Initial Coin Offerings Markets Bitcoin Ethereum Exchanges Other Public Protocols Business Use Cases & Verticals Payments Capital Markets Banking Insurance Supply Chain Security Identity Healthcare Energy Internet of Things Merchants Startups Legal Regulation Central Banking Tax Crime US & Canada Asia-Pacific Europe Data & Research Data Bitcoin Price Index Ethereum Price Data Analysis Bitcoin Calculator Blockchain Venture Capital ICO Tracker ICO Calendar About the BPI Bitcoin Legality Map Bitcoin Price Ticker Widget CoinDesk API Industry Research State of Blockchain Q2 2018 State of Blockchain Q1 2018 State of Blockchain Q4 2017 State of Blockchain Q3 2017 State of Blockchain Q2 2017 State of Blockchain Q1 2017 Consensus Consensus: Invest 2018 Consensus: Singapore 2018 Consensus 2018 Invest 2017 Consensus 2017 Construct 2017 Consensus 2016 Event Schedule Webinars Announcing: CoinDesk’s Crypto-Economics ExplorerRelated ArticlesIranian Bitcoin Users Are Already Being Affected By New US SanctionsBitcoin Sees Biggest Single-Day Price Gain Since AprilPricing NewsBitcoin Price Eyes Double Bottom Reversal After $4K DefenseXRP Nears Longest Stretch as Worlds Second-Largest CryptocurrencyBitcoin Likely to Close Below Key Price Support in First Since 2015ICE Founder: Were Kind of Agnostic on Bitcoins PriceEmployees Say Startup Civil Hyped Crypto Returns, But Failed to PaySEC Chair Clayton: Crypto ETF Needs Exchanges Free From ManipulationNasdaq, VanEck Partner to Launch Crypto 2.0 Futures ContractsBack Over $4K: Bitcoins Price Bounce is Gathering PaceFeatured NewsWATCH: SEC Chairman Jay Claytons Full Consensus: Invest InterviewBelow $4k: Bitcoins Price Drops to a 420-Day LowHash Power Favors Craig Wright Camp in Looming Bitcoin Cash ForkSexual Assault Survivor Uses Crypto to Crowdfund Anonymously About Press Events Editorial policy Comments policy Terms & Conditions Privacy policy Jobs Advertising Newsletters

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Were Close to a Universal Quantum Computer, Heres Where We’re At

Quantum computers are just on the horizon as both tech giants and startups are working to kickstart the next computing revolution.

U.S. Nuclear Missiles Are Still Controlled By Floppy Disks – https://youtu.be/Y8OOp5_G-R4

Read More:Quantum Computing and the New Space Racehttp://nationalinterest.org/feature/q…In January 2017, Chinese scientists officially began experiments using the worlds first quantum-enabled satellite, which will carry out a series of tests aimed at investigating space-based quantum communications over the course of the next two years.

Quantum Leap in Computer Simulationhttps://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articl…Ultimately it will help us understand and test the sorts of problems an eventually scaled-up quantum computer will be used for, as the quantum hardware is developed over the next decade or so.

How Quantum Computing Will Change Your Lifehttps://www.seeker.com/quantum-comput… The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics kicked off a new season of live-streamed public lectures featuring quantum information expert Michele Mosca.

Sign Up For The Seeker Newsletter Here – http://bit.ly/1UO1PxI

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Invest in Cryptocurrency With Spare Change – Black Enterprise

Dmitri Love pitchedBundilan app that takes your spare change and invests in cryptocurrencyon Season 10 of Shark Tank. Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc..) and the blockchain technology that powers it, has created new opportunities for investors, startups, and professionals in a variety of industries.

Musician and philanthropist, Akon created his own: Akoin.PatientoryCEO Chrissa McFarlane raised millions for her blockchain startup with an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), and online communities like Wacoinda have developed to share news and financial information about the cryptocurrency market. Knowledge is power but wading through the deluge of news about digital assets can make investing in the speculative asset class daunting.

Thats why Dmitri Love created Bundil, to make it easier for everyday investors to add cryptocurrency to their portfolio. After his appearance on Shark Tank, Black Enterprise contributor Brandon Andrews sat down with Love for an interview about the show and his business.

BUNDIL CEO Dmitri Love on Shark Tank (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Give us a quick overview of the crypto landscape. What is it and how does it work?

Thats a pretty loaded question. The crypto world is an ever-evolving space filled with prowess and ingenuity.Lets start with bitcoins because they are so well known. Bitcoin is like regular money and in a small way, stocks.Its like money in that it has value and you can use it to buy goods and services. Its also like stock because the value fluctuates based on supply and demand. Bitcoin operates on technology called blockchain. Other crypto, like Ethereum, are using that same blockchain technology to allow people to rent out (and make money with) part of their computing power when they arent using it. Its an exciting space thats still in its infancy.

Why should I invest my spare change in crypto instead of saving it or using it for another opportunity?

You should do both! We always advocate diversifying your portfolio. Save some, invest some, repeat. We are actually in the works of adding a savings feature to our platform in coming weeks.

How did you build the Bundil app? What was your biggest challenge in the development process?

Well, lots of code and late nights, haha. We knew who we wanted to help build the system. I had some software friends in my hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who are absolutely brilliant. I cant express enough how much we value them and what they have done for Bundil. The biggest challenge for us was mitigating risk management in the roundup investment process. We knew traditional roundups may provide poor monthly investments for those who dont use their debit/credit cards often enough. We came up with the idea to add different round-up options so users can choose how much to round up based on their spending habits.

Bundil App (enjoybundil.com)

You appeared on Season 10 of Shark Tank! How did you connect with the show? Tell us the story.

Its actually pretty crazy. We were contacted by a Shark Tank producer within two days of launching the initial iOS app back in April. My co-founder and I didnt believe it at first, but after doing some research we learned that it was real. We were asked to send in a pitch video and shortly after I was flown out to LA to film. Its still a little surreal.

You took the Sharks to crypto school, with a chalkboard and everything, how was that experience?

Comfortable. I thought I would be intimidated pitching our tiny startup to the Sharks, but once the pitch started, I felt like I was educating and explaining my business just like I would to anyone else. I used the chalkboard to show how complicated investing in Bitcoin and other crypto can be without using the Bundil app. I felt comfortable throughout the interaction.

Give us an update, what have you been working on since being on the show?

Weve been working on scaling up and adding new features. We know that Bundils an amazing tool for the old and new members of the crypto community and we want to make sure we exceed our users expectations.

BUNDIL CEO Dmtri Love on Shark Tank (ABC/Eric McCandless)

How do you plan to grow the business in 2018 and beyond?

The exposure from the show is going to give us great visibility, which is a good start. We want to show the world that crypto is nothing to be afraid of. I think our efforts in providing a secure, safe, and easy platform to invest in crypto will speak for itself. We also plan to continue engaging the investment community. In the coming weeks, we will provide other features to skyrocket their portfolios, and show them that investing is fun!

Why should African Americans be interested in crypto? Are their specific opportunities for black investors?

There are definitely opportunities for black investors. I think a lot of African Americans feel intimidated by investing in crypto or any other asset, because we often dont have the same financial opportunities. We want to bridge that gap with Bundil. We also want to empower black investors with knowledge. You can invest no matter your background or economic status. Thats the core of why we built Bundil. To engage the people that dont know where to start, and provide an easy and fun way to participate. No matter where theyre from, what their economic status is, or what they look like.

Brandon Andrews is a senior consultant at Values Partnerships. He leads a nationwide casting tour for ABC’s Shark Tank. He writes about business, politics, and crowdfunding. Website – http://www.brandonandrews.me Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/brandontalk IG – http://www.instagram.com/yesbrandon Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/mr.brandonandrews Snap – @brandontalk

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What is Mining Cryptocurrency? What you need to know…

Mining cryptocurrency can be a lucrative endeavor with enough computing power

Mining cryptocurrency is in the news a lot lately. People are finding their computers have been compromised by malware and are mining, or in some cases entire botnets are mining. But what does that mean?

This isnt mining in the traditional sense. There are no pick axes or canaries involved. Instead. its more about trying to win a blockchain lottery to earn the reward at the end.

What does that all mean? Lets hash it out.

To begin a discussion of mining cryptocurrency we need to start with what cryptocurrency is. Cryptocurrency is a digital form of currency with a cryptographic underpinning that is used as a secure medium of exchange. There are literally hundreds of different cryptocurrencies with varying real-world values. Many believe its the future of currency.

The most popular cryptocurrency is bitcoin, you may have heard of others like Etherium, too. While cryptocurrencies may differ in terms of the algorithms and encryption they use, they all share one similiarity: blockchain. And thats what we need to talk about next.

Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is impossible to alter. It uses hashing and a concept similar to salting to continuously complete blocks of information that chain to form an immutable ledger.

Hashing is the act of mapping data of any length to a fixed-length output. When cryptography is involved its a one-way function. The most popular hashing algorithm is SHA-256, which outputs at a length of 256 bits. Every hash value is unique. Even the tiniest alteration to the data being hashed caused the entire value to change.

Hashing is considered one-way because of the amount of computing power it would take to reverse-hash it. For a 256-bit output, calculate 2 to the power of 256 (2 X 2 X 2 256 times). Your odds of finding the correct value are 1 in the product of that equation. Those are astronomical odds. It would take a supercomputer thousands of years to compute that.

Now lets fit it all together. With a cryptocurrency blockchain, as transactions occur they are broadcast and added to various private ledgers. Each one of these transactions is digitally signed for the sake of authenticity. On the other end, there are people or groups collecting these transactions and building ledgers. They are also computing to find a value that when hashed along with the ledger, produces a set number of 0s at the beginning of the hash value. Thats the portion thats similar to salting.

So lets say that for our example cryptocurrency, weve set the total to 10 0s. That means the first 10 spots of the 256-character hash value should all be 0s.

When the correct value is found, the block is closed, its broadcast officially and added to everyones blockchain, then the hash of the old block is put atop the new ledger and the process begins again. This is how blocks are created in the chain.

The act of computing the correct value to satisfy the hash function in blockchain is called mining. When it comes to cryptocurrency, a reward is provided to whoever solves for the correct value. That makes it lucrative to compute the correct value, though it takes quite a bit of power to accomplish that.

Oftentimes people pool their computing power together and split the reward if they solve for the correct value. In other cases, hackers have been known to co-opt others computers and use some of their computing power behind the scenes to mine cryptocurrency. There are entire botnets doing nothing but mining.

Really, solving for the correct value is like winning the lotto. There are countless people and botnets attempting to find the value and whoever finds it first gets the reward.

Of course, if you can accumulate enough computing power you could solve for the value enough of the time that you could accrue a substantial amount of cryptocurrency.

When someone says mining cryptocurrency what theyre referring to is the act of trying to compute a specific hash value by producing a set value that, when hashed along with the block ledger, produces a specific result. This requires considerable computing power, but considering the rewards its well worth it.

Heres what we covered in todays discussion:

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Saudi Arabia Will Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency in 2019 …

Various countries mull creating their own cryptocurrencies. That is not an easy feat, as many different aspects need to be considered. In Saudi Arabia, such a new currency will be finalized in mid-2019. This currency will have the backing of the Saudi central bank. Despite this timeline, the working group behind this project is still evaluating the potential impact of such a currency.

The success of Bitcoin hasnt gone by unnoticed. Despite falling prices, the currency highlights some interesting potential. Digital cash is something a lot of consumers and corporations seem to favor at this time. This means governments and central banks need to cater to this demand. Creating a native cryptocurrency seems to fit this will quite well in that regard.

In Saudi Arabia, such a currency is being developed. It is a venture between the country itself and the United Arab Emirates. Not too much is known about the currency at this time. It has no official name, and its potential success remains unclear. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority is still investigating the feasibility of such a currency. Transforming finance in Saudi Arabia will not be without potential risks.

It is expected this new currency will come to market in mid-2019. More importantly, it will be supported by a limited number of banks. The central bank of Saudi Arabia wants to improve upon cross-border payments. Which banks will support this currency from day one, has not been officially communicated as of yet. This somewhat cautious approach to digital currency shows a lot of questions remain unanswered.

It is not the first time a country mulls creating a native cryptocurrency. To date, none of those regions have put any plans in motion to do so. It appears Saudi Arabia is leading the pack in terms of exploring the opportunities. Making cross-border payments more efficient is a worthy goal. It is something that can benefit consumers and corporations alike.

This news comes at a bit of an odd time. Ripple, the company developing xRapid and the XRP asset, has begun making inroads in Saudi Arabia. The countrys National Commercial Bank is a member of RippleNet. This move is also part of streamlining cross-border payments to and from the Kingdom. Additionally, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority conducted a Ripple-oriented pilot earlier in 2018.

Putting all of ones eggs in the same basket is never a smart idea. Diversification is key, especially in the financial industry. For banks, exploring different technologies and implementations will often yield the best results. This also confirms Ripple and a central bank-issued digital currency can potentially co-exist in the same country.

Do you think more countries will begin to consider issuing national cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Saudi Arabia Will Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency in 2019 …

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3 Different Data Encryption Methods – DataShield blog

Its no secret that we at DataShield are large proponents of data security. Not only are data breaches incredibly expensive, but there are also laws regarding data securitythat need to be followed if businesses want to avoid large fines.

And while we are obviously advocates of shredding hard drivesonce its time to get rid of your computer, doing that only guarantees the safety of your data once its time for new hard drives. So what about all the time in between?

Enter data encryption: a highly recommended way to keep your data out of the wrong hands the entire time its on your computer.

Encryption is a technique for transforming informationon a computer in such a way that it becomes unreadable. So, even if someone is able to gain access to a computer with personal data on it, they likely wont be able to do anything with the data unless they have complicated, expensive software or the original data key.

The basic function of encryption is essentially to translate normal text into ciphertext. Encryption can help ensure that data doesnt get read by the wrong people, but can also ensure that data isnt altered in transit, and verify the identity of the sender.

There are three different basic encryption methods, each with their own advantages (list courtesy of Wisegeek):

Any of these methods would likely prove sufficient for proper data security, and a quick Google search will reveal the multitude of software available for data encryption. Data encryption is a necessity (both for legal reasons and otherwise) when transmitting information like PHI, so no matter what method you choose, make sure youre doing everything you can to protect data.

Dont just stop with encryption, though. DataShield offers compliance consultingto ensure that all of your business data and policies are up-to-spec for local and federal laws.

Contact us today for more information on how DataShield can help your data stay safe through its entire life cycle, from its conception to its destruction, when your computer is finally thrown out.

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3 Different Data Encryption Methods – DataShield blog

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