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| February 19, 2019

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The state and local tax deduction cap probably isn’t going away — despite Trump’s comments

February 16, 2019 |

President Trump again indicated this week he might be open to revisiting the controversial new limit on state and local tax deductions that hits many middle-income residents hard in California and other high-tax, Democratic states.

Even so, don’t count on any changes to the Republican tax bill…


L.A. Times – Business

Boy, 13, Found Dead 5 Days After He Ran Away From Home

January 29, 2019 |

A nightmare ending to the story of a 13-year-old Iowa boy who ran away from home: Corey Brown was found dead Sunday morning. He ran away after a “disciplinary discussion” with his parents Tuesday night during which his phone was taken away, police say, though the police chief tells the…
Newser

18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’

January 18, 2019 |

The Lightning Network has been touted as the solution to the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network’s scalability problem for years now. Over the last few months, the Lightning Network has shown growth but there are still significant concerns about centralization, routing issues, and creating a usable mainstream-friendly interface. The ongoing joke that the network is “18 months away” continues, and on Wednesday researchers published a topological analysis of the network which highlights how the project is “structurally weak against rational adversaries.”

Also Read: Embracing Utility in 2019: Unreliable Crypto Networks Will Lose to Hyperbitcoinization

‘A Small Central Clique and a Loosely Connected Periphery’

At the Breaking Bitcoin conference on Sept. 9, 2017, when an audience member asked how much longer the Lightning Network (LN) will be, the ultimate answer was still “18 months.” Ever since then that timeline has been an inside joke to both LN defectors and even proponents. A recent study stemming from members of Eötvös Loránd University explains that there are still significant issues with the LN protocol. In order to review the LN, researchers Seres Istvan Andras, Laszlo Gulyas, Daniel A. Nagy, and Peter Bur published a seven-page topological analysis of the network on Wednesday.

18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’
The researchers from Eötvös Loránd University believe topological studies are needed to better understand the Lightning Network.

A topological analysis uses applied mathematics and data from topological extraction, and many analysts believe many computational networks should be researched in this manner. Seres Istvan Andras shared the pre-print study with his followers on Twitter and explained the paper is a work in progress in which the researchers quantify the structural properties of the LN.

In a series of tweets, Istvan Andras explained how the research shows people’s prior intuitions toward the LN becoming centralized “were not rigorously proven,” but the team’s study shows that “the intuition is correct and it can have effects on LN.” The paper says the LN exhibits high clustering with short paths and this can be seen with entities like Lnbig.com. There was also the time that Andreas Brekken’s single node captured a large portion of the LN’s capacity. Section two of the topological study states:

LN’s local clustering coefficient distribution suggestively captures that LN is essentially comprised of a small central clique and a loosely connected periphery.

18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’
The majority of nodes have very few payment channels and a few hubs control a large portion of the network. One single entity operates a large portion of nodes and controls more than half of total LN capacity on Jan. 15, 2019.

‘Extremely Harmful Attack Vectors’

The paper continues to explain the LN’s degree distribution and one metric suggests the LN could exhibit scale-free properties. However, at the moment the study emphasizes that the majority of nodes have very few payment channels and a few hubs control a large portion of the network. The paper also says that the network has improved when it comes to random failures. The network is not so resilient against targeted attacks like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). The study shows that the LN saw a node loss of 20 percent on March 21, 2018, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are very probable by flooding Hashed Timelock Contracts (HTLCs).

“These attack vectors are extremely harmful, especially if they are coordinated well,” the study details. “One might expect that not only state-sponsored attackers will have the resources to attack a small network like LN.”

Altogether the removal of the 30 largest hubs incurs LN to collapse into 424 components, although most of these are isolated vertices — This symptom can be explained by the experienced disassortativity, namely hubs tend to be at the periphery.

18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’
Istvan Andras says, “Targeted attacks are not far from reality, especially in the face of high centralization. Unfortunately targeted attacks also affect average short path lengths in the graph.”

Lots of Reports Conclude Lightning Is Far From Ready

The topological study from members of Eötvös Loránd University also follows the recent report from business management technology company Scipio ERP that explains the second-layer protocol is still a long way away from fixing BTC’s scalability issues. Scipio ERP did, in fact, have issues with random failures. “We have been operating the system for four months and crashes can and will happen all the time Transaction channels can close or may not have enough peers at any time,” the company’s study details. “There are no push notifications for these events, so you won’t know until a new transaction is placed and fails.”

18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’
“LN is surprisingly resilient against random failures, however, it is not quite robust against targeted attacks, where one removes high-degree or high-betweenness centrality nodes one-by-one,” explained Istvan Andras on Twitter.
18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’
Who needs scalability? There’s still the Lightning hat store

Reports over the last year have proved the LN is far from ready and still to this day not even close to being 18 months away from solving any significant scalability problems. If the same traction that occurred in 2017 happens this year with the expensive fee market and congested mempool, the Lightning Network will likely not be ready.

The researchers of the topological analysis report explained that they have some concepts in mind to help the LN become more robust. Istvan Andras told his Twitter followers that a better understanding of LN’s topology is essential and he wholeheartedly believes network resilience depends on topology. At the moment “high-level depictions of LN’s topology, convey a false sense of security and robustness,” Istvan Andras added.

What do you think about this topological study done by the researchers at Eötvös Loránd University? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Images via Shutterstock and the Topological Analysis of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network report.


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The post 18 Months Away? Latest Lightning Network Study Calls System a ‘Small Central Clique’ appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Cellphone carriers back away from selling location data as calls for investigation persist

January 12, 2019 |

Major cellphone carriers have been selling real-time data about their customers’ locations, and that information has been ending up in the wrong hands, a report said this week — leading lawmakers to sharply demand an investigation and several carriers to say they are distancing themselves from…


L.A. Times – Business

SoftBank Vision Fund shies away from WeWork. Alarm bells are ringing

January 9, 2019 |

The tech bubble’s financial backer of last resort, the $ 100-billion SoftBank Vision Fund, seems to be having second thoughts about its role as booster-in-chief of very expensive and very unprofitable start-ups. That’s healthy for the fund. But it must be troubling for the various companies and…


L.A. Times – Business

This Awesome Shot of Earth Was Taken From 70M Miles Away

January 9, 2019 |

An asteroid-circling spacecraft has captured a cool snapshot of home. NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft took the picture days before going into orbit around asteroid Bennu on New Year’s Eve, the AP reports. The tiny asteroid—barely one-third of a mile across—appears as a big bright blob in the long-exposure photo…
Newser

TMZ

Wrestler Andrew Johnson Can’t Reattach Dreadlocks Because Hair Was Thrown Away

December 29, 2018 |

The brutal decision wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced to make didn’t have to end the way it did, because dreadlocks can be reattached … but not in his case, because we’ve learned all the hair that was cut off was thrown in a dumpster.…

TMZ.com

Inmate Walks Away From San Quentin

December 27, 2018 |

California authorities were on a manhunt Thursday for an inmate who walked away from San Quentin State Prison and is believed to have carjacked a vehicle overnight, the AP reports. Shalom Mendoza, 21, was last seen at the prison before 6pm Wednesday and reported missing after 9:30pm Wednesday. He…
Newser

Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web Giants

December 25, 2018 |

Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web Giants

Consumers and enterprises are exiting centralized web platforms amid growing concerns over unwarranted data sharing. Loss of privacy and data leakage are the primary drivers leading users away from web giants such as Google and Facebook. In some cases, disaffected users are seeking out decentralized alternatives that facilitate personal data ownership.

Also read: Feed 7 Different Species at the River Forest Farm’s ‘Bitcoin Cash Zoo’

Facebook and Google Keep Leaking Data

The opaque data sharing practices of internet oligarchs such as Google and Facebook, which wield huge power over billions of web users, have attracted significant attention throughout 2018. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the more recent revelations that Facebook shared users’ private messages with privileged partners, the disclosures have kept coming.

Minds.com, disillusioned by the current state of affairs, has vowed to boycott the web monopolies altogether. On Dec. 19, the company explained its stance, writing of Google, Facebook and other closed-source networks’ unfair practices, which include “excessive surveillance, data mining, algorithm manipulation, subjective bans, inconsistent enforcement of terms and even complete de-platforming.” It concluded:

In response, Minds is suspending our support of all Google and Facebook products until the above mentioned items are resolved.

The Quest for Decentralized, Censorship-Resistant Platforms

Platforms as multifaceted as Google are not easily replaced like for like. However, there are alternatives for users who desire more privacy, full sovereignty over their data and reassurance that they will not suddenly be suspended without warning for supposed infringements. In its blog post on Dec. 19, Minds.com wrote of privacy-focused alternatives such as Duckduckgo and Brave that are championing the flight towards less data-hungry platforms.

While the web’s largest companies have caught flak for their data handling practices and their propensity to ban users with little provocation, it’s not just Facebook and Google that have been guilty of this. Patreon, under pressure from payment processors, has been merrily deplatforming users, while online services such as Slack have been exiling users on the grounds of Iranian heritage under fear of U.S. sanctions. The spate of perma-bans, data leaks and privacy scandals has been a boon for decentralized platforms that are oriented around personal ownership of data.

New Data Storage Solutions Are Coming Online

Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web GiantsDoc.com is a cryptocurrency-powered service with a series of health apps that facilitate free medical and psychological consultations. It’s taken the distributed data storage route. “Because we handle extremely sensitive healthcare data,” explained CEO Charles Nader, “we knew that following the centralized model Google and Facebook have was not the best idea.” Nader spoke of using cryptographic protocols, including blockchain technology, to store data and ensure it is only accessed by authorized parties. “This way we give control back to our users,” he finished.

Other projects that have launched decentralized data storage frameworks this year include Essentia and Inrupt, the latter led by internet godfather Tim Berners-Lee. The project speaks of “decentralizing the power that’s currently centralized in the hands of a few” which it proposes to achieve through an open source protocol called Solid. For now, the vast majority of the web is hostage to the likes of Google and Facebook, and is too deeply embedded in their ecosystem to contemplate an escape. The tide is slowly turning, however, and with each new entity excluded from the web’s dominant platforms, the case for decentralized alternatives strengthens.

Do you think decentralized platforms will see mainstream adoption, or are they destined to remain the preserve of privacy purists? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, and Doc.com.


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The post Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web Giants appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Dr. Drew urges Pete Davidson to stay away from ex-fiancée Ariana Grande: ‘Pete has special issues’

December 21, 2018 |

Pete Davidson needs to take time to heal following his split from Ariana Grande, says Dr. Drew Pinsky.
FOX News