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DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is …

Enlarge / US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivers remarks at the 65th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Just two days after the FBI said it could not get into the Sutherland Springs shooter’s seized iPhone, Politico Pro published a lengthy interview with a top Department of Justice official who has become the “governments unexpected encryption warrior.”

According to the interview, which was summarized and published in transcript form on Thursday for subscribers of the website, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein indicated that the showdown between the DOJ and Silicon Valley is quietly intensifying.

“We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas,” he told Politico Pro. “There’s some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They’re moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption.”

While the battle against encryption has been going on within federal law enforcement circles since at least the early 1990s, Rosenstein has been the most outspoken DOJ official on this issue in recent months.

The DOJ’s number two has given multiple public speeches in which he has called for “responsible encryption.” The interview with Politico Pro represents the clearest articulation of the DOJs position on this issue, and it suggests that a redux of the 2016 FBI v. Apple showdown is inevitable in the near future.

“I want our prosecutors to know that, if there’s a case where they believe they have an appropriate need for information and there is a legal avenue to get it, they should not be reluctant to pursue it,” Rosenstein said. “I wouldn’t say we’re searching for a case. I’d say were receptive, if a case arises, that we would litigate.”

What Rosenstein didn’t note, however, is that the DOJ and its related agencies, including the FBI, are not taking encryption lying down.

The FBI maintains an office, known as the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center(NDCAC), which actively provides technical assistance to local law enforcement in high profile cases.

In its most recently published minutes from May 2017, the NDCAC said that one of its goals is to make such commercial tools, like Cellebrite’s services, “more widely available” to state and local law enforcement. Earlier this year, the NDCAC provided money to Miami authorities to pay Cellebrite to successfully get into a seized iPhone in a local sextortion case.

In the interview, Rosenstein also said he “favors strong encryption.”

“I favor strong encryption, because the stronger the encryption, the more secure data is against criminals who are trying to commit fraud,” he explained. “And I’m in favor of that, because that means less business for us prosecuting cases of people who have stolen data and hacked into computer networks and done all sorts of damage. So I’m in favor of strong encryption.”

“This is, obviously, a related issue, but it’s distinct, which is, what about cases where people are using electronic media to commit crimes? Having access to those devices is going to be critical to have evidence that we can present in court to prove the crime. I understand why some people merge the issues. I understand that they’re related. But I think logically, we have to look at these differently. People want to secure their houses, but they still need to get in and out. Same issue here.”

He later added that the claim that the “absolutist position” that strong encryption should be by definition, unbreakable, is “unreasonable.”

“And I think it’s necessary to weigh law enforcement equities in appropriate cases against the interest in security,” he said.

The DOJ’s position runs counter to the consensus of information security experts, who say that it is impossible to build the strongest encryption system possible that would also allow the government access under certain conditions.

“Of course, criminals and terrorists have used, are using, and will use encryption to hide their planning from the authorities, just as they will use many aspects of society’s capabilities and infrastructure: cars, restaurants, telecommunications,” Bruce Schneier, a well-known cryptographer, wrote last year.

“In general, we recognize that such things can be used by both honest and dishonest people. Society thrives nonetheless because the honest so outnumber the dishonest. Compare this with the tactic of secretly poisoning all the food at a restaurant. Yes, we might get lucky and poison a terrorist before he strikes, but we’ll harm all the innocent customers in the process. Weakening encryption for everyone is harmful in exactly the same way.”

Rosenstein closed his interview by noting that he understands re-engineering encryption to accommodate government may make it weaker.

“And I think that’s a legitimate issue that we can debatehow much risk are we willing to take in return for the reward?” he said.

“My point is simply that I think somebody needs to consider what’s on the other side of the balance. There is a cost to having impregnable security, and we’ve talked about some of the aspects of that. The cost is that criminals are going to be able to get away with stuff, and that’s going to prevent us in law enforcement from holding them accountable.”

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FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone

Getty Images | Peter Dazeley

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has not been able to break the encryption on the phone owned by a gunman who killed 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday.

“We are unable to get into that phone,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said in a press conference yesterday (see video).

Combs declined to say what kind of phone was used by gunman Devin Kelley, who killed himself after the mass shooting.”I’m not going to describe what phone it is because I don’t want to tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy, to harass our efforts on trying to find justice here,” Combs said.

The phone is an iPhone,The Washington Post reported today:

After the FBI said it was dealing with a phone it couldnt open, Apple reached out to the bureau to learn if the phone was an iPhone and if the FBI was seeking assistance. Late Tuesday an FBI official responded, saying it was an iPhone but the agency was not asking anything of the company at this point. Thats because experts at the FBIs lab in Quantico, Va., are trying to determine if there are other methods to access the phones data, such as through cloud storage backups or linked laptops, these people said.

The US government has been calling on phone makers to weaken their devices’ security, but companies have refused to do so.Last year, Apple refused to help the government unlock and decrypt the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone, but the FBI ended up paying hackers for a vulnerability that it used to access data on the device.

Deliberately weakening the security of consumer devices would help criminals target innocent people who rely on encryption to ensure their digital safety, Apple and others have said.

“With the advance of the technology in the phones and the encryptions, law enforcement, whether it’s at the state, local, or the federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Combs said yesterday.

Combs said he has no idea how long it will take before the FBI can break the encryption.”I can assure you we are working very hard to get into the phone, and that will continue until we find an answer,” he said. The FBI is also examining “other digital media” related to the gunman, he said.

There are currently “thousands of seized devices sit[ting] in storage, impervious to search warrants,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said last month.

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DOJ Fires Up New War With Apple Over Encryption

The DOJ and FBI have been in a bit of a cold war with Apple and the tech community ever since the controversy in 2015 over unlocking the San Bernardino shooters iPhone. This week, the war heated up again with the FBI and Apple exchanging words about encryption, and on Thursday, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States stepped into the fray.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation apparently missed a key window in which they could have sought

The FBI is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting of 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooter, Devin Kelley, is dead, so law enforcement has had to work with what evidence hes left behind. On Tuesday, FBI special agent Christopher Combs gave a press conference in which he lamented the fact that the FBI has, so far, been unable to unlock Kelleys phone. On Wednesday, Apple let the world know that it may have been able to help, but the FBI waited more than 48 hours to inform Apple or the public that it was trying to unlock an iPhone. At a minimum, Apple said that it couldve suggested trying the Touch ID feature in that 48 hours, but its too late now.

That could have been the end of the story. Until today, neither the FBI nor Apple has seemed to want to jump back into the heated debate on encryption that occurred in 2015. People from the FBI and DOJ have continued to make comments that they need a backdoor into encryption, but without a major case like San Bernardino to win over public sentiment, they havent made a huge public deal out of it. And Apple has been happy to walk away from that incident without being forced to create future backdoors for the US government. It would appear that Apples statement on Wednesday was an effort to nip a new uproar in the bud. But on Thursday, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein brought the subject up once again. Rosenstein (conveniently) did not mention that Apple publicly shamed the FBI for not even attempting to approach the company for help.

At a breakfast for business leaders in Maryland, Rosenstein gave a wide-ranging speech that touched on the importance of law before politics, the increasing problem of cybercrime, and once again, how much hed love to be able to get into anyones phone whenever he has an investigation. Rosenstein is clearly being either willfully ignorant or hes gassing the public when he makes statements like, nobody has a legitimate expectation of privacy in that phone, referring to the shooters phone. The suspect is deceased, and even if he were alive, it would be legal for police and prosecutors to find out what is [on] the phone, he explained.

The FBI, and other government agencies around the world, tend to make their case for a backdoor into encryption based on either the need to protect the public or some sort of fine legal argument about warrants. Rosenstein went with both. When you shoot dozens of American citizens, we want law enforcement to investigate you, he told the attendees. There are things we need to know.

As always in this argument, the issue is that no ones talking about the privacy of a dead man, or the constitutionality of a search warrant for the phone, or even anyones physical safety. Opponents of governmental backdoors are talking about the privacy and safety of everyone who uses technology and the internet. Good encryption means no one can have a backdoor. If theres a backdoor, someone will end up being able to open it. Rosenstein, in a matter of a few sentences, was able to jump from rattling off dire warnings and statistics about cybercrime to suggesting a great way to make cybercrime a lot worse.

Even when Apple said most recently that it offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us, it was only referring to offering training and technical assistance. It wasnt saying that it could crack the phones encryption. Apples official position is that it builds products so that the user is the only one with the key. The fact that the FBI was able to pay some hackers $900,000 to unlock the San Bernardino shooters phone means that Apple has not done a bulletproof job at building that encryption. But still, as far as we know, the goal is realto build a phone without backdoors because thats the safest way to do it.

Rosenstein and his colleagues act as if companies like Apple are protecting criminals, and dodging legal warrants. In fact, companies like Apple are protecting Rosenstein and his colleagues, because they most certainly use technology every day. Warrants dont apply here because the tech is designed so that no one can be ordered to open it up. Before smartphones and laptops existed, FBI agents werent demanding that a neurologist autopsy a dead suspects brain to try and find some phone numbers of people they were in contact with. If there was a phone book in the suspects house, a warrant allowed them to find it. That hasnt changed today. Law enforcement needs to start thinking of a locked and encrypted phone as a dead brain. If they can hire some Frankenstein hacker to bring it back to life, fine. But otherwise, just do the police work the old-fashioned way.

If the past few days are any indication, this could turn into another prolonged war of words. Rosenstein and the FBI probably see a political opportunity with public and political sentiment turning against the tech world. Tech needs to do a lot of things better, but one of those things is making encryption more impervious to the FBI.

[The Hill, The Washington Examiner, Baltimore Sun]

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‘$300m in cryptocurrency’ accidentally lost forever due to bug …

More than $300m of cryptocurrency has been lost after a series of bugs in a popular digital wallet service led one curious developer to accidentally take control of and then lock up the funds, according to reports.

Unlike most cryptocurrency hacks, however, the money wasnt deliberately taken: it was effectively destroyed by accident. The lost money was in the form of Ether, the tradable currency that fuels the Ethereum distributed app platform, and was kept in digital multi-signature wallets built by a developer called Parity. These wallets require more than one user to enter their key before funds can be transferred.

On Tuesday Parity revealed that, while fixing a bug that let hackers steal $32m out of few multi-signature wallets, it had inadvertently left a second flaw in its systems that allowed one user to become the sole owner of every single multi-signature wallet.

A cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset, created through a canny combination of encryption and peer-to-peer networking.

Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, is part of a decentralised payment network. If you own a bitcoin, you control a secret digital key which you can use to prove to anyone on the network that a certain amount of bitcoin is yours.

If you spend that bitcoin, you tell the entire network that you’ve transferred ownership of it, and use the same key to prove that you’re telling the truth. Over time, the history of all those transactions becomes a lasting record of who owns what: that record is called the blockchain.

After bitcoin’s creation in 2009, a number of other cryptocurrencies sought to replicate its success but taking its free, public code and tweaking it for different purposes.

Some, such as Filecoin, have a very defined goal. It aims to produce a sort of decentralised file storage system: as well as simply telling the network that you have some Filecoins, you can tell the network to store some encrypted data and pay Filecoins to whoever stores it on their computer.

Others are more nebulous. Ethereum, using the Ether token, is now the second biggest cryptocurrency after bitcoin and essentially a cryptocurrency for making cryptocurrencies. Users can write “smart contracts”, which are effectively programs that can be run on the computer of any user of the network if they’re paid enough Ether.

Of course, to many, the purpose is secondary. The only really important thing is that the value of an Ether token increased 2,500% over 2017, meaning some are hoping to jump on the bandwagon and get rich. Bubble or boom? That’s the $28bn question.

The user, devops199, triggered the flaw apparently by accident. When they realised what they had done, they attempted to undo the damage by deleting the code which had transferred ownership of the funds. Rather than returning the money, however, that simply locked all the funds in those multisignature wallets permanently, with no way to access them.

This means that currently no funds can be moved out of the multi-sig wallets, Parity says in a security advisory.

Effectively, a user accidentally stole hundreds of wallets simultaneously, and then set them on fire in a panic while trying to give them back.

We are analysing the situation and will release an update with further details shortly, Parity told users.

Some are pushing for a hard fork of Ethereum, which would undo the damage by effectively asking 51% of the currencys users to agree to pretend that it had never happened in the first place. That would require a change to the code that controls ethereum, and then that change to be adopted by the majority of the user base. The risk is that some of the community refuses to accept the change, resulting in a split into two parallel groups.

Such an act isnt unheard of: another hack, two years ago, of an Ethereum app called the DAO resulted in $150m being stolen. The hard fork was successful then, but the money stolen represented a much larger portion of the entire Ethereum market than the $300m lost to Parity.

The lost $300m follows the discovery of bug in July that led to the theft of $32m in ether from just three multisignature wallets. A marathon coding and hacking effort was required to secure another $208m against theft. Patching that bug led to the flaw in Paritys system that devops199 triggered by accident.

Parity says that it is unable to confirm the actual amount lost, but that the $300m figure is purely speculative. The company also disputes that the currency is lost, arguing that frozen is more accurate. But if it is frozen, it appears that no-one has the ability to unfreeze the funds.

The Parity vulnerability was the result of an incorrectly coded smart contract used by the Parity wallet to store tokens on the Ethereum network, said Dominic Williams, founder of blockchain firm DFINITY. The vulnerability made it possible for anyone to freeze the tokens held by that smart contract, making them immovable. At this time, the only method we are aware of to unfreeze tokens held by the vulnerable smart contract would be to create a new hard fork Ethereum client that deploys a fix. This would require every full node on the Ethereum network to upgrade by the date of the hard fork to stay in sync, including all miners, wallets, exchanges, etc.

Ethereum has rapidly become the second most important cryptocurrency, after Bitcoin, with its price increasing more than 2,500% over the past year. One token of Ether is now worth a little over $285, up from $8 in January.

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Amazon might want in on cryptocurrency – mashable.com

Image: Jakub Kaczmarczyk/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Amazon is not-so quietly shaping the future around its ever-expanding business, so it makes sense they’d want to get in on cryptocurrency, too.

The company wants to build a fleet of package-delivering drones. They maybe want to build giant drone hives in a city near you. They’ve got grocery stores and devices you can ask to set a timer or play a song. Now, according to Whois data, an Amazon subsidiary registered amazoncryptocurrencies.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazonethereum.com on Oct. 31.

The news was first reported by DomainNameWire, and, as they wrote, Amazon might just be buying up the names so nobody else can profit off a feigned association with their brand. Coindesk pointed out that Amazon registered amazonbitcoin.com four years ago, and that just redirects to the company’s regular homepage.

Or maybe Jeff Bezos recently spent some time reading about how Bitcoin is doing better than ever, and decided to jump into the cryptocurrency pool.

We reached out to Amazon for more information, but didn’t immediately hear back.

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Quantum computing – news.microsoft.com

A full stackWith Mundies backing, Freedman set up a lab in Santa Barbara, California, and began recruiting some of the worlds pre-eminent condensed-matter and theoretical physicists, materials scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists to work on building the topological qubit. That team now boasts many leading quantum experts who have joined Microsoft as employees in the past year, including Leo Kouwenhoven, Charles Marcus, David Reilly and Matthias Troyer.

To create the infrastructure for a full computing platform, Microsoft has simultaneously worked on building hardware, software and programming languages for topological quantum computing.

At Ignite on Monday, Microsoft announced the latest milestone in its effort to build a full stack: A new programming language that is designed for developers to create apps to debug on quantum simulators today and run on an actual topological quantum computer in the future.

The same code that youre running today in simulation you can run tomorrow on our quantum computer, Svore said.

Svore said the new tools are designed for developers who are interested in being on the cutting-edge of computer advances the same type of people who were early adopters of machine learning and other artificial intelligence advances.

You dont have to be a quantum physicist to use them. The new programming language is deeply integrated into Visual Studio, and it includes the kinds of tools that developers rely on for classical computing, such as debugging and auto complete.

It shouldnt look too different from the things theyre already doing, Svore said.

The system, which will be available as a free preview by the end of the year, also includes libraries and tutorials so developers can familiarize themselves with quantum computing. Its designed to work at a higher level of abstraction, so that developers without quantum expertise can actually call quantum subroutines, or write sequences of programming instructions, working up to writing a complete quantum program. Developers can sign up to participate today.

The system is designed so that individual users can simulate problems that require up to 30 logical qubits of power on their own personal computers, and select enterprise customers, using Azure, can simulate more than 40 qubits of computational power.

In quantum computing, the power grows exponentially with the number of logical qubits. A logical qubit is the qubit at the level of the algorithm. At that hardware level, each logical qubit is represented in hardware by a number of physical qubits to enable protection of the logical information. Microsofts approach takes fewer topological qubits to develop one logical qubit, making it far easier to scale.

Svore said one key advantage to having a programming language that works in a simulation environment is that it will help people interested in using quantum computers to solve problems get a better sense of how to harness quantum power for different types of problems. That will accelerate their ability to take advantage of quantum computing when its available.

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Cisco and Google Find Mutual Interest in Cloud Computing …

Cisco has also faced stiffening competition from rivals like the software maker VMware, which announced a partnership with Amazon last year.

Cisco and Google executives vowed to offer something different. They said companies have been struggling with the fact that they need separate tools to manage software on their own premises and those running in the cloud, a situation that sometimes causes security problems. By combining Google programming technology and Cisco networking and security software, they said, tech managers can create and manage software that can run securely in or outside their companies data centers.

The idea, said Urs Hlzle, Googles senior vice president for technical infrastructure, is to close those security gaps.

Cloud computing has been roiling the strategies of older tech companies for much of the past decade. The concept, besides letting customers sidestep the costs of buying hardware and software, can let companies deploy computing resources more quickly and flexibly.

Amazon Web Services pioneered the concept. Synergy Research Group, a market research firm, said in July that A.W.S. accounted for 34 percent of the roughly $11 billion spent on such cloud services in the second quarter, compared with 11 percent for Microsoft, 8 percent for IBM and 5 percent for Google. Amazon and Microsoft are expected to highlight progress in their cloud businesses when they report quarterly earnings on Thursday.

Google has moved aggressively to catch up. In late 2015, the company gave the job of running its cloud business to Diane Greene, a widely respected Silicon Valley entrepreneur who helped make VMwares technology a mainstay at many corporations.

She made a series of organizational changes, recruited new talent and introduced new technology features. In one important move, Google in September 2016 bought the start-up Apigee Corporation for $625 million, adding capabilities to help customers connect their operations with online services operated by others.

More mature technology companies have taken different tacks to try to hold on to customers. Some, like IBM and Oracle, offer their own cloud services. Others, like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell Technologies, have shied away from engaging in a spending war in data centers against deep-pocketed internet giants.

So has Cisco. The company, based in San Jose, Calif., promoted a concept called intercloud that amounted to coordinating a federation of cloud services operated by partners.

But Cisco dropped that approach last year, choosing instead to help customers manage hybrid cloud arrangements industry parlance for using a blend of operations in a companys own data centers and those operated by a growing number of cloud services.

We think we are one of the few companies that can navigate this multi-cloud world, said David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of Ciscos networking and security business.

The company has broadly signaled plans to rely more on software and services than on sales of networking hardware, aided frequently by acquisitions. On Monday, for example, Cisco said it would pay $1.9 billion for BroadSoft, which sells online communications services.

Other companies also have embraced the hybrid cloud concept. Microsoft, for example, has longtime ties with corporate software buyers and has come up with ways to run new cloud applications in its data centers or on customers premises, said Al Gillen, an analyst at the research firm IDC.

We see other vendors doing things to compete since what we have is so strong and so unique, said Julia White, a corporate vice president with Microsofts Azure cloud business.

VMware, a subsidiary of Dell, was first known for software technology called virtualization that allows more efficient use of servers but now competes with Cisco with networking software. Russ Currie, a vice president of enterprise strategy at the network monitoring specialist NetScout Systems, said VMware was effectively using its cloud alliance with A.W.S. to court customers. Pat Gelsinger, VMwares chief executive, called the announcement from Google and Cisco a validation of his own companys vision.

Cisco also cooperates in various ways with A.W.S. and Microsoft in cloud computing. But Mr. Goeckeler said that the Google relationship was particularly potent because of the technological specialties of each company.

We are both users of each others products, said Mr. Hlzle of Google. But in this case, this is about working together to give their customers the technology they want, he said.

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How to Invest in Cloud Computing — The Motley Fool

Thereare several angles you can take if you want to add a few cloud computing stocks to your portfolio. But if you want to bet on the leaders in the business, you should start with Amazon.com, Microsoft, and Alphabet.

Research firm Gartner predicts that the public cloud services market will be worth $383.3 billion by 2020, a massive opportunity that makes it crystal clear why these three key players are in the middle of a fierce battle for dominance. There are plenty of smaller players in this segment, all offering varying types of services, but let’s focus on the giants and how they plan to compete in this space.

Company

Market Cap

% of Public Cloud Market

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN)

$474 billion

40%

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

$598 billion

11%

$687 billion

6%

Data source: Yahoo Finance and Business Insider.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not exactly sure what cloud computing is. The term can actually refer to several different types of cloud services, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Microsoft’s Office 365 is one of the best examples of SaaS, while PaaS includes things like Google’s App Engine tools, which allow developers to build their own products and services. Meanwhile, IaaS involves things like networking features, virtual machines, andactual data storage — which Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all offer.

In this article, we’ll use the general “cloud computing” term to refer to a combination of all of these services, because each of the big three players offers SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear leader right now with 40% of the public cloud computing market, according to Synergy Research Group.So investors accustomed to thinking about it as an e-commerce play should look closer. Sure, sales from the company’s retail platform in North America accounted for nearly 59% of Amazon’s revenue in the second quarter, but AWS generates far more of the profit. Amazon’s North American e-commerce sales brought in $436 million in operating income in the second quarter of this year, while AWS hit $916 million.

AWS is the real breadwinner because of its hefty 25% margins and its stellar growth. Its revenue jumped by 70% in 2015 and 55% in 2016.

Amazon isn’t a pure play in the segment, but it’s already proved that it can do both e-commerce and cloud computing very well — and at the same time. AWS revenuegrew by 58% year over year in Q2, and it’s likely to continue growing as a key contributor to the company’s top and bottom lines.

Image source: Getty Images.

Microsoft may be known for its software prowess, but its Azure Cloud Services unit currently holds the No. 2 spot in public cloud computing with an 11% market share.

The cloud computing segment brought in $18.9 billion in fiscal 2017 — a 56% year-over-year increase — and it’s on track to hit $20 billion annually by the end of fiscal 2018.It’s worth pointing out that Microsoft lumps all of its cloud computing revenue (including Office 365 software) into one segment, which pushes its cloud revenue higher than Amazon’s.

Image source: Getty Images.

Azure is important to Microsoft because it helps lock the company’s enterprise customers into its other services like Windows Server. Without Azure, Microsoft could easily lose Windows Server clients and forfeit significant yearly sales. For example, Microsoft said in its fiscal fourth quarter that server products and cloud services revenue jumped by 15%, which was “driven by Azure revenue growth.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said back in 2014 that the company would take a “mobile first, cloud first” approach, and so far it has implemented the last part of that strategy quite well. Microsoft may trail Amazon, but it’s still far ahead of its next closest competitor, Alphabet. And the company’s long enterprise experience should help keep it solidly in that No. 2 spot.

It’s a bit unusual to have occasion to describe Alphabet as anything other than a leader, but in cloud computing, it’s still a relatively small player. Google started selling its first cloud services back in 2008, and currently, holds about 6% of the market.

But just because it’s the smallest player on this list doesn’t mean it should be counted out. In typical Google fashion, it’s building out its cloud presence by offering software like its TensorFlow machine learning algorithms for free to developers.

TensorFlow is the magic behind the Google Photos function that automatically categorizes images for you, for example, and its machine learning makes the results of your Google searches more relevant. The company started giving TensorFlow away to developers a couple of years ago as part of its efforts to woo them to the company’s cloud platform.

A recentMIT Technology Review article said that TensorFlow is “becoming the clear leader among programmers building new things with machine learning” and that “the software’s popularity is helping Google fight for a bigger share” of the cloud market because it’s easier to use on Google’s cloud than AWS or Azure.

That strategy may seem like an odd way to build a cloud business, but TensorFlow has made Amazon and Microsoft nervous enough that they’ve teamed up to release a competing machine learning software product.

The head of Google Cloud, Urs Holzle, has said that he wants revenue from Google Cloud services to overtake the company’s advertising sales by 2020. Considering that the tech giant earns nearly 90%of its top line from advertising, that timeline sounds optimistic, to say the least.

Google doesn’t break out its cloud platform revenue (nor any other segment’s sales, for that matter) but that doesn’t mean investors should overlook the potential for Alphabet here. It became a key cloud services player in a short period of time, and now offers important software that developers find very useful. And Microsoft and Amazon appear to be a little worried about Google Cloud’s rapid rise, which by itself should make it clear that it’s shaping up to be a formidable player in the space.

The cloud computing sector is like any other when it comes to investing: You need to have a long-term perspective when buying shares in any of these companies. None of these tech giants are cloud computing pure plays, which means that many other factors — like Amazon’s retail sales, Google’s advertising dollars, and Microsoft’s software sales — will affect their share prices.

But investors should keep in mind that we’re not that far into our cloud computing journey, and the gains these companies could make from these technologies the coming years could be far greater. So be patient, consider the other businesses these companies are in when building your investment thesis, and then sit back and wait for this market to mature.

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How to Invest in Cloud Computing — The Motley Fool

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What is Cryptocurrency – earnlite.com

Everything You Need To Know about What is Cryptocurrency [Ultimate Guide]

Cryptocurrency has now become one of the most crucial digital terms.

It wont be wrong to state that all the financial institutes such as banks, central authorities, and accounting firms have conducted an extensive research on the working Cryptocurrency and how it aims to provide benefits to the parties involved in the money transaction process.

You must be thinking that what is Cryptocurrency and why financial institutes are so concerned about its working?

Cryptocurrency is a virtually encrypted currency which is backed by the security of cryptography.

The basic purpose of Cryptocurrency is to facilitate the easy transaction of money from one party to another and to keep a keen eye on the generation of currency units.

Cryptocurrency is one of those financial terms which aims to reduce the involvement of financial institutes in the transaction process.

You all must be aware of the fact that banks and financial intermediaries charge a huge amount of money before conducting any sort of monetary transaction. Cryptocurrency was introduced to solve the very similar problem.

It wont be wrong to state that originators of Cryptocurrency are still widely unknown however, some sources believe that foundations of cryptocurrency were established by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.

Now if we talk about the need of Cryptocurrency and how it aims to facilitate its users then, it is quite interesting to see that origin of cryptocurrency is directly connected with the digital cash system.

Since many years, a number of banks were trying to introduce the facility like cryptocurrency however, they failed to do so because of the system limitations and keys encryption process.

It is interesting to see that initially Satoshi and his group also focused on the centralized digital cash system and because of the very same reason they failed to establish the appropriate foundations of the digital cash system.

Soon after his first try, he realized that a viable digital cash system cannot be operated under the centralized system. Though it is true that decentralization of the digital cash system decreases its overall security, however, this problem is relatively solve-able in nature and can be corrected with the proper encryption of public and private keys.

As online money has become one of the most things, therefore, it was highly crucial to introduce a technology which is capable of storing and transferring the money digitally in a secure manner.

Though it is true that many banks still facilitate the online payment process, however, the steep fees charged by banks are capable of eating up the entire share.

Cryptocurrency was launched with the vision of providing less expensive yet highly secure transaction platform to those individuals who are interested in the working of digital currency and its attached units.

As cryptocurrency is the digital currency system, therefore, it does not consist of any sort of physical money. All the transactions of cryptocurrency are done on the basis of coins, which are transferred and even stored in the virtual wallets.

The worth of cryptocurrency units is determined with the help of baseline. Normally, the US dollar is treated as the baseline and is used to compare the value of the other currencies.

Once the accurate value of the currency is identified then, next step is all about the creation of cryptocurrency units during the transaction process which is further backed by cryptography.

It is highly important to understand that the word cryptocurrency itself is a huge phenomenon, which is further divided into different units.

For getting information about some of the key concepts of cryptocurrency, continue to read on.

In literal terms, cryptography is basically the way of writing computer based codes, however, when it comes to the contextual meaning then, cryptography refers to the process of key encryption (public and private) which is used to monitor the procedure of coin creation and their transaction verification of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency ledgers is basically a database, which is also called as transaction block chains in the language of Bitcoin are used to update and store the identities of those people who are making the confirmed unit transactions.

It is important to understand that the records of the transaction makers are properly encrypted, however, the records of the transactions are publicly shared with all the users for the proper verification process. The basic purpose of cryptocurrency ledgers is to keep a check on the balance of the digital wallets and identify a number of coins that can be spent.

Moreover, these public ledgers are also used to avoid the chances of any sort of scam because they tend to keep a check on the new transaction and the units of coins involved, in respective with the digital wallets.

Transaction process can be called as the initiator of exchange, which facilitates the transfer of coins in between the digital wallets.

Before the confirmation of transfer, the data is posted on the public ledgers to perform the basic tasks such as verification of accounts, and a number of coins requested.

It is interesting to see that all the data posted on public ledgers can be reviewed with the help of hex editor (the binary file reader) however, if you are interested in viewing all the technical data such as transaction history, acceptance procedure and monitoring of the current rate through a more viable source then, it is recommended to use blockchain browser.

Once all the data is properly stored in the public ledgers then, next step is all about waiting for the confirmation. During the confirmation process, the digital wallets start the encryption process with the help of cryptography, which consists of the mathematical signatures of the transaction maker.

The purpose of encryption or mathematical signatures is to ensure that transaction is made by the valid owner and they consist a spend-able amount of coins in their digital wallets.

Once the encryption process is done (normally takes 10-15 mints) then, next step is linked with the mining of public ledgers.

It is important to note that there is a huge difference between the transaction process and confirmation of the transaction.

When any coin owner starts the transaction then, public ledgers are used to perform the work of scrutiny and once its done then, next step leads to the confirmation and extraction of coins from the digital wallets.

If you are thinking that mining process is similar or confirmation process is all about just accepting the transaction requests then, you are wrong.

When an owner requests the transfer of coins or posting on the digital wallets then, certain mathematical algorithms are needed to be solved by the miner.

It is interesting to see that mathematical algorithms are highly complex in nature and their complexity tends to increase in a rapid speed. These algorithms are basically the strong mathematical computations and are designed to increase the security of the coins.

As mining is open for everyone, therefore, the algorithms are used to ensure that not every miner is capable of adding the blocks in the blockchain for the confirmation process. Moreover, this process also aims to ensure the fact that not all coins belong to the one miner.

Once the miner successfully solves the puzzle then, next step is all about the updating of the ledger.

If miner become successful in updating the ledger and transferring the blocks then, small amount of is provided to the miner, which is further backed by the subsidy (on the creation of new coins)

It is important to understand that mining is not an easy task because its basic purpose is to minimize the chances of double spending and to keep an eye on those users who are trying to double use the invested coins.

Mining is one of the most crucial parts of cryptocurrency because this process is actually responsible for giving value to the generated coins. The entire mining process is backed by the proof of the work.

The two major players of proof of work system are known as blocks header and the target. If you become successful in dragging the value to the target or even lower the header then, peer network will start accepting the transactions.

However, the working of proof of system is not easy as it seems because this entire processing is revolving around the concept of probability and if you are interested in hitting the right number then, you are no doubt supposed to play around a hundred of times for the desired results.

You must be thinking that whats the right away of understanding the difficulty level of mining and how it impacts the rate of block creation.

Well, cryptocurrency is all about using your brain and then, following the past trends for predicting the future.

If you are interested in gaining information about the difficulty level then, you need to look for the past transactions in the public ledger. For instance, you can identify the difficulty level after 2016 blocks had been placed.

According to the cryptocurrency researchers, the giants players like Bitcoin tend to change the difficulty level after 2016 blocks and it can be measured by applying the formula on the hash value and the target to be achieved.

The target which is needed to be achieved is usually based on the 256-bit numbers, however, this number is dependent on the joining of miners. For instance, if more miners are trying to perform the mining for the same transaction then, block generation rate will eventually go up thus making it difficult for individuals to hit the target.

It is important to understand that the calculated value of difficulty might not be very accurate in nature however, it can be used for generating the rough idea about the upcoming requirements of the blockchain.

If you are worried about the miners with malicious intents then, you need to understand the fact that working of cryptocurrency is backed by the proper network.

When one miner with malicious intents try to hit the difficulty and become successful then, all of his efforts are rejected by the peer network thus making the process zero. This system makes it pretty evident that each and every miner is supposed to full fill the requirements before starting the mining process.

Before Starting the discussion about the reward, I would like to highlight the fact that there are basically two parties involved in the process of the blockchain.

The first person is the one who is responsible for identifying the block in the blockchain. That person is called as the discoverer.

However, the person who is mining the block is different from the discoverer and his rewards are also different.

As discussed above, the miner is rewarded with the subsidy for solving the puzzle and the processing fees.

However, it is interesting to note that the fees of miners are dependent on the number of blocks they launch. For instance, if they become successful in mining more blocks then, their fee will automatically go up.

On the other hand, if the block is successfully discovered by the discoverer then, a certain amount of coins are provided to the discoverer on their success. The current amount of coins are provided are 12.5 bitcoins, however, it is important to note that this number might also vary with the change in difficulty level.

You must be thinking that whats the reason behind rewarding the discoverer when the complex task is being performed by the miner?

Well, here is the logic.

Discoverers are those people who are actually responsible for identifying the blocks based on the transactions. You must understand this concept like, if there are no blocks then, miners basically have no work to perform.

Discovery is the pre-requisite of mining and it should be performed with sheer perfection.

It is important to understand that cryptocurrency is basically a system which works on the principles of scarcity.

For instance, miners are responsible for generating the coins in the system and their scarcity is responsible for changing their value. This theory can easily be understood with a demand for gold in the realistic market.

For example, when golden prices are low in the market then, people start investing their money on it. Due to the low prices, the demand for gold increases which eventually causes the decrease the supply of the material.

Now when demand is boiled up then, producers start charging high amount thus leading to the change in the overall value of gold. It is important to understand that change in the value is not introduced by a single producer, however, the entire market participants in the decision-making and then, change the value of the gold.

Same happens in the market of cryptocurrency, however, instead of physical buying and selling procedure the transactions are made online and posted on the public ledger which is further approved by the entire network of the miners.

In simpler terms, the market of cryptocurrency is just like the foreign exchange and works in a similar manner. The extra units generated are always the reward for those people who are investing their money and expertise in the overall prediction process.

We do understand the fact that initially, it is difficult for people to digest the working process of cryptocurrency, however, once you start learning the basics of the system and start practicing it then, it gets easier with the passage of time.

Now, I would like to talk about some of the mining terms and how they tend to impact the entire mining process.

If you are interested in the working of cryptocurrency work system then, you must have heard about the cryptocurrency hashes and their working mechanism.

Well, if you are still confused about its working then, read on!

Cryptocurrency hashes are basically the computerized mathematical algorithms that aim to extract the data of a certain size as input which is further processed with the help of valid operations and then, a fixed output is generated for the meaningful use.

It is important to understand that the major function of cryptocurrency hashes is to gain information about the passwords and store them accordingly. Because of the very same concept, the working of cryptocurrency hash is not just limited to mathematical algorithms however, it also aims to impact the security of the stored data.

Now if we link the concept of mining with cryptocurrency hashes then, this function is used to determine the overall mining power based on seconds. It is important to understand that every time a miner become successful in solving the block then, new hashes are generated which are further processed for the generation of fixed length output.

This phenomenon is easy for coders to understand because coding is all about breaking or solving a number of hashes for the sake of data extraction. Same sort of formula is used in cryptocurrency hashes and is used by the miners for solving the algorithms for a successful transaction.

However, the transactions or algorithms which are being solved by the miners arenot confirmed in nature. Moreover, some people believe that small change in theoverall value of the hash wont impact its entire output, however, it is important tounderstand that a small change is no doubt capable of altering the proof of workthus resulting in the failure.

If you are interested in less failure attempt backed by the probabilitythen, you should also keep a keen eye on the working of hashes and how they areprocessing the input into fixed output.

Scrypt and SHA are both the valid components of hash function however, theydiffer from each other based on the level of difficulty involved.

As discussed above the entire working of cryptocurrency is dependent on thealgorithms which are responsible for the solving of blocks. Since mining is an opensource task, therefore, the high difficulty level is required to avoid the chances ofany fraud.

According to the cryptocurrency experts, SHA which is also abbreviated as SecureHash Algorithms with series 2, is backed by the highly secure encrypted keysknown as cryptographic functions.

It is important to understand that SHA-2 is designed by the National securityagency and they are operated on the digital data.

This function not only helps in solving of the complex security algorithms,however, it also aims to make the user aware of any changes made in thedownloaded files. For instance, if someone has tried to alter the algorithm filesduring their solving process then, the factor can easily be identified with SHA-2.

Moreover, SHA-S is said to be one of the securest systems because of its inputprocessing system. For instance, only one value is assigned to the single inputwhich is further responsible for the generation of unique hash.

In this way, it is relatively impossible for any person to malicious change thehashes associated with the block codes and use them for causing corruption.

On the other hand, if we talk about Scrypt then, this hash function is not used bythe majority of cryptocurrency however, it is still pretty famous amongst the usersof cryptocurrency.

The working of the Scrypt is basically backed by the password-based system andaccording to a number of researchers, the system of scrypt not highly secure innature, however, it is still capable of consuming a lot of time with money.

It is interesting to see that before the advent of SHA-2, many software companiesused to work on the principles of scrypt because they had no option. However,when SHA-2 was introduced in the market then, companies got the chance ofusing a less expensive coding system and they took the full benefit of theopportunity.

If we look at the entire workability of scrypt then, it is clear that scrypt isnt a badcoding system however, it is important to understand that during the algorithmsolving process, a number of computer intensive programs are running in thebackground and they need the right operations.

When software companies used scrypt, at that time, they faced the difficulty ofmanaging the background programs however, SHA-2 was introduced to solve thevery similar problem and now it is used by a number of cryptocurrencies.

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What is Cryptocurrency – earnlite.com

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