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Facebook releases Osquery Security Tool for Windows

The Hacker News -

OSquery, an open-source framework created by Facebook that allows organizations to look for potential malware or malicious activity on their networks, was available for Mac OS X and Linux environments until today. But now the social network has announced that the company has developed a Windows version of its osquery tool, too. When Facebook engineers want to monitor thousands of Apple Mac

Understanding Soft Forks: A Core Developer’s View on Network Monopoly

Bitcoin Magazine -

Since the beginning of the development of Segregated Witness, an increasing number of alternative Bitcoin hard fork supporters have criticized the implementation process of soft forks on Bitcoin Core, claiming that Core developers have a complete monopoly over the process.

Former Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin particularly stated that proposed soft forks have to undergo a majority consensus among Bitcoin Core developers that ultimately decide whether a soft fork becomes implemented into the BItcoin network.

“Soft forks very specifically, from an average user point of view, cannot be considered opt-in because the entire network is locked into the new consensus rule, regardless or not,” said Garzik in a Bitcoin Status Report on the OnChain Scaling Conference on August 30.

Buterin further emphasized that soft forks involve various political issues as they limit and restrict the possibility of building and launching innovative projects and networks like ZCash.

Essentially, Garzik and Buterin believe that soft fork implementations fail to reflect the view of the open source community of Bitcoin, since soft forks are verified, accepted, and implemented by the Bitcoin Core developers, instead of miners and node operators in the industry.

However, Bitcoin Core developer and Ciphrex CEO Eric Lombrozo opposes the claims of Garzik and Buterin, stating that Core developers verify Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) ideas prior to their write-up only to confirm their technical aspects and applicability to Bitcoin Core software. In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Lombrozo elaborated on the reasons why he thinks that decentralization is strong, and how the role of miners and node operators is key.

Lombrozo explained that at the very first stage, a BIP idea is submitted to the mailing list, where the author, developers and Bitcoin technical community members briefly discuss the soft fork and assign it a BIP number. Once added to the repository, anyone can view, comment, and evaluate the proposal. The entire process takes place publicly giving the opportunity for different people to weigh in.

In the Bitcoin network, all node operators and miners have the authority to run whichever software or BIPs they wish to run. They can even refuse to run Bitcoin Core and choose to implement alternative Bitcoin software. When a soft fork is deployed on the network, every miner and node operator can choose to update their nodes to support the proposed BIP. If they disagree with the technical concept of the proposal, they can simply choose not to run the updated node. Thus, neither the Core Developers nor the author of the BIP are forcing anyone to implement the newly drafted proposal.

“The BIP editor's responsibility is to make sure the BIP repository is properly maintained and that all the BIPs that get merged into it follow procedure and have the proper format. The BIP editor does not decide whether the soft fork will activate nor even if the code for it will get merged into Bitcoin Core,” said Lombrozo.

Once a soft fork proposal is drafted and submitted to the repository, the code authoring and review process begin. Bitcoin Core developers and community members either choose to ACK (approve) or NACK (disapprove) the code of the BIP. Upon the confirmation of the BIP’s code, the code merging and release process begin for further tests and evaluation.

“The BIP author is responsible for also submitting code to implement the BIP. This code is then reviewed on Github in a public process open to the entire community. If Bitcoin Core maintainers feel the code has been sufficiently well-reviewed, tested and ACKed, and there are no outstanding NACKs with good reasoning, the code is merged and now there's the release process. It gets further tested, then once everyone feels the code is ready for release, it gets put into a release branch, which will eventually become the next version of Bitcoin Core,” explained Lombrozo.

At this stage, the soft fork is still far from being activated. For the soft fork to be activated in Bitcoin Core, it requires at least 95 percent of hashpower from miners to active it.

This 95 percent threshold means that, in contrast to Garzik and Buterin’s comments, neither Bitcoin Core developers nor the author of the BIP can coax the majority of the network to accept the proposal. If miners perceive the BIP to be genuine and applicable to Bitcoin Core software, the activation process begins. The Bitcoin Core software gives miners the explicit choice of whether to signal support.

However, Lombrozo emphatically notes that the 95 percent activation process does not work for hard forks.

“Hard forks, unlike soft forks, are not guaranteed to converge to a single chain. Even with a hashpower supermajority, multiple blockchains with different incompatible histories can result,” said Lombrozo.

It is also important to note that anyone in the community can participate in the verification and approval process of the BIP, even during the technical code review.

Thus, Bitcoin Core developers don’t benefit from a monopoly over the Bitcoin network in the soft fork implementation process. The verification process in the drafting stage of the BIP is merely designed for developers to confirm its technical aspects. Even if a soft fork passes the Core developer verification stage, without the support from the community, it will not be integrated into Bitcoin Core.

If over 5 percent of miners refuse to run the soft fork, then the network doesn’t activate the proposal and nothing changes. If the soft fork is not activated before a deadline, it becomes permanently deactivated. If 95 percent of the network hashpower approves the soft fork within that deadline, the remaining miners and node operators have sufficient time to upgrade before the soft fork comes into effect.

From the submission phase to the implementation stage, says Lombrozo, Bitcoin community members or anyone in the Bitcoin open source community can collaborate with Core developers in integrating a soft fork into the Bitcoin network. This process ensures that neither miners nor developers have the ability to unilaterally impose a soft fork.

The post Understanding Soft Forks: A Core Developer’s View on Network Monopoly appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Germany Bans Facebook From Collecting WhatsApp Data

The Hacker News -

Just last month, the most popular messaging app WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and T&Cs to start sharing its user data with its parent company, and now both the companies are in trouble, at least in Germany and India. Both Facebook, as well as WhatsApp, have been told to immediately stop collecting and storing data on roughly 35 Million WhatsApp users in Germany. The Hamburg

Beyond Sniffles and Sexism, What the Hell Was the Debate About?

The Intercept -

The first presidential debate was a head-scratcher, raising profound questions like: What is that man doing there? Why is no one telling him to shut up? What is he talking about? And why is he sniffling?

In the few brief moments in which a scowling Donald Trump was not engaged in free association about himself, not interrupting Hillary Clinton, and not sniffling, a few matters of substance emerged. That’s what The Intercept staff mostly focused on during our live-blogging of the event. We went beyond fact-checking the event to add some much-needed context.

There was some unexpected news: Trump endorsed a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons, something neither Clinton nor President Obama are willing to do.

Our reviews of the moderator, Lester Holt, were profoundly negative, especially about his refusal to control Trump and his decision not to ask the most important questions.

The sexist view certain male pundits have of Clinton was on full display before and after.

And don’t miss Jeremy Scahill on the hard-partying surfer turned master assassin who is Trump’s guest at the debate.

See below for what we posted, categorized by topic. Did the debate go as you expected? What did we miss? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter.

Moderator

Sexism

The Issues

Fact-checking

Debate politics

Donors and sponsors

Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.

The post Beyond Sniffles and Sexism, What the Hell Was the Debate About? appeared first on The Intercept.

Bitcoin Takes on Eastern Europe as Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Lands in Kiev

Bitcoin Magazine -

Ukraine is one of these countries where people require no explanation about the value of hard money. As war in the east of the post-Soviet country helped put its economy into a recession, the Ukrainian national currency — the hryvnia — lost some 70 percent of its value over the past two years. Perhaps that’s why demand for bitcoin has increased significantly in that country.

And also why the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference in Kiev on September 23 attracted a large and engaged audience.

The Bitcoin Alternative

Early in the morning, at the start of the conference, Cubits COO Max Krupyshev addressed a packed Rookie Hall, one of the three spacious conference rooms. Going over the basics of blocks, Bitcoin-addresses and proof-of-work in his native Ukrainian, Krupyshev faced a crowd full of questions and requests for details.

“The audience engagement at this conference is really impressive,” Krupyshev told Bitcoin Magazine after his talk. “People here are really curious about Bitcoin and blockchain technology. They’re not passive or bored listeners. [They] actually want to know how it works and what it does, asking questions accordingly.”

Krupyshev believes Ukrainians may be looking at technologies like Bitcoin, blockchain and other distributed ledgers as a potential alternative to their current economic situation.

“Ukraine has fallen on tough times, economically and financially. Many people may be considering Bitcoin as a potential way out, maybe as a hedge against inflation, but perhaps also to hide money, or to send money abroad, or as an investment — or as a job opportunity. Wages in this country are low. Among the few people making good money are programmers. If you live here and learn to understand this upcoming technology, it may present an opportunity to improve your style of life.”

The Conference

The Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference in Kiev is one of a series of four in Eastern Europe in 2016. Conference organizer Smile Expo also hosts events in Prague, St. Petersburg and Moscow, with the next edition in the Russian capital on November 10th.

Last Friday’s conference was the third annual edition in Kiev. And as Eastern European interest in Bitcoin and blockchain technology keeps on growing, so does the conference in Ukraine.

Pavel Likhomanov is coordinator of the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Likhomanov explained:

“Bitcoin, blockchain and fintech is gaining popularity in Eastern Europe in general, and in Ukraine in particular. We can see this increasing interest at the conference as well. Last year we had some 400 visitors; now we’re up to almost 600.”

The conference in Kiev is mostly targeted at locals, with most speakers addressing their audience in Ukrainian. English speakers are few and far between, and have translators to help them get their message out to the attendees in Kiev.

Topics in the conference rooms, meanwhile, are as diverse as you’ll find them in this industry. They include advanced explanations of the proposed Casper proof-of-stake consensus mechanism for Ethereum; the value proposition of bitcoin as part of an investment portfolio; and the importance of cold storage.

Likhomanov explained:

“Visitors of the conference come for different reasons, and we aim to satisfy all interests. As such, the topics discussed here are diverse as well. This is why we have three distinct tracks: the Professional Hall, targeted at business professionals; the Developer Hall that covers the really technical side of things; and the Rookie Hall, where new people can come and learn about these technologies.”

Ukraine’s International Contribution

Despite the growing interest, most bitcoiners will probably not identify Ukraine as an international powerhouse of the industry.

Notably absent from the conference in Kiev is Ghash.IO  and its mother company CEX.IO. Once Bitcoin’s biggest mining pool and an industry leader, this business with Ukrainian roots is today incorporated in the United Kingdom.

And Krupyshev, while the original founder of the Ukrainian Bitcoin Foundation, moved to Berlin to work for Cubits over a year ago. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, he explained that his departure may be a bit of a trend.

“Ukrainians are clever. There are plenty of talented developers with coding skills and entrepreneurs with good ideas,” he said. “But unfortunately, Ukrainian venture capitalists still live in the old world. While Twitter is valued at one billion US dollars, investors here still want to see tangible products. It’s crazy. On top of that, the legal situation is murky. Bitcoin is not illegal...but it’s not necessarily legal either. No one really knows. This uncertainty and lack of investment is driving Ukrainian developers and companies abroad.”

Indeed, several of the Ukrainian speakers and sponsors in Kiev do represent familiar names in the Bitcoin and blockchain industry, like Ambisafeether.camp or Bitmain Warranty.

“We have a bigger footprint in the industry than, I think, many people probably realize,” said Krupyshev. “But the real activity is hidden, working for or even disguised as foreign outfits. If you look more closely you’ll find there’s a lot of Ukrainian developers and executives working abroad — at least officially.”

The post Bitcoin Takes on Eastern Europe as Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Lands in Kiev appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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