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Bitcoin news roundup, July 22, 2017

This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:

New developments:

BIP 91 has locked in with 84.7% support, but Bitcoin isn’t scaled yet

Bitcoin’s scaling debate may finally be over, as Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) 91 has locked in with 84.7% support from miners who signaled for the proposal during 269 blocks, according to data from Coin.Dance. This allows Bitcoin to be one step closer to scaling the first part of the SegWit2x proposal, that intends to first activate SegWit, and then add a 2 MB limit to blocks, effectively increasing the data that can be stored on blocks and the transaction structure.

Even though BIP 91 locked in and Bitcoin’s price promptly surged as a response, the cryptocurrency isn’t scaled yet. As CoinDesk puts it, there still needs to be a 336-block period in which miners prepare for activation. BIP 91 is expected to activate at block 477,120 and mining pools will then reject blocks that don’t support SegWit (BIP 141), effectively forcing the network to be in sync so miners don’t miss out on rewards. Then, SegWit could lock in during the next 2016 blocks, or in about two weeks.

If some of the miners aren’t running the correct software, SegWit might not actually be implemented, but this is, as some put it, improbable.

Various Bitcoin exchanges to halt transactions on August 1

Given that there is still a possibility that there will be a network fork on August 1, various Bitcoin exchanges and wallets have decided to suspend transactions during a short period in order to guarantee users’ coins are safe. Most exchanges are to resume deposits, withdrawals, and trading when the risk of a network fork is gone, meaning that these are going to resume when the situation is once again stable. Some have warned that they will not support a forked version of Bitcoin and that as such, users looking for these tokens should remove their coins from their platforms. A list of exchanges and their contingency plans can be found on Bitcoin.com.

A Parity Wallet vulnerability allowed hackers to steal $32 million

On July 19, a vulnerability affecting users who created multi-signature wallets – wallets that need multiple private keys to activate – using Parity 1.5 or later was discovered. Parity Technologies quickly urged users to move their funds into another wallet that wasn’t created with the exploit, but couldn’t avoid the damage from being done.

A wallet belonging to a bad actor was discovered. In it, approximately 153,000 Ether (roughly $32 million) he had drained from other wallets thanks to the vulnerability. Soon, the White Hat Group announced it found the vulnerability and started draining as many wallets as possible to prevent hackers from taking advantage of the exploit. It drained roughly 377,000 Ether, worth $85 million.

Blockchain data shows that the hacker then moved 70,000 Ether out of his main address. About 400 Ether, at the time worth $90,000, were cashed out through cryptocurrency exchange service Changelly. The exchange claimed that it has now blacklisted the address, and that the hacker used Tor to access it, so no data or IP addresses are available.

World Affairs:

Both AlphaBay and Hansa were taken down by a globally coordinated operation

As DeepDotWeb recently revealed, a globally coordinated operation took down two of darknet’s biggest markets. Various law enforcement agencies took down AlphaBay and arrested its admin – Canadian national Alexander Cazes – in Thailand after raiding servers in Canada and the U.S. Cazes was later found dead in his cell. Users then went to other markets, including Hansa, who’s user registrations went from about 1,000 per day to 8,000, according to authorities.

In an unexpected turn, Dutch police recently revealed that Hansa had been under its control since June 20. It had arrested two of the market’s admins in Germany, seized its server in Lithuania, and was now running it. They gathered identifiable information on users who did not use PGP encryption for their name and address, so more arrests are expected to follow. Authorities seized cryptocurrencies worth over $2,700,000 from Hansa, and about $8,000,000 from AlphaBay. Various news outlets have been reporting that President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to go after criminal organizations like darknet markets.

Bank of Albania issued a warning to Bitcoin investors

Albania’s central bank, Bank of Albania, issued a warning against investing in digital currencies such as Bitcoin this week, in which it states five risks associated with investing in cryptocurrencies. These are: volatility, lack of regulations, potential security risks, and the fact that anonymity could facilitate illegal activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing. The bank further stated:

  • “We appeal the Albanian public to be cautious and responsible when administering the savings or liquidity they own. It should direct the investments towards financial products and instruments provided by institutions that are licensed and supervised by the Bank of Albania and the Financial Supervisory Authority.”

Financial:

Bitcoin’s price is close ti its all-time high as the scaling debate is seemingly over

BIP 91 is now locked in and even though the cryptocurrency hasn’t scaled yet, the scaling debate is seemingly over. As such, the cryptocurrency’s value surged this week, as one Bitcoin is now worth $2,849.76, and Bitcoin’s market cap is now at $46.9 billion. Its dominance is at 48.5% at press time.

Bitcoin helped lift the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as its price surged triggered a rally across multiple currencies and now the total market cap is at $98 billion. Last week, it was at $73 billion.

Ethereum at $225.84, despite this week’s events

Ethereum has recovered from last week’s $183.78, despite a major vulnerability being discovered, allowing hackers to steal over $30 million. The currency’s price flickered, but didn’t crash. Ethereum’s total market cap is now at $21.1 billion, and at press time one Ether is worth $225.84, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

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