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| July 18, 2019

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Secretive Company Musk Has Sunk $100M Into Opens Up

July 17, 2019 |

“We want this burden of stealth mode off of us so that we can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers.” And with that, Neuralink shrugged off the secrecy that has surrounded it since its 2017 launch . On Tuesday it went public with the progress…
Newser

This Hawthorne company finds security in border protection

July 6, 2019 |

The man who forever altered airport security checks is an unassuming type who likes to chat up TSA officers in his spare time.

“When I have to fly, I try to get there a little early and I talk to the screeners,” said Deepak Chopra, an engineer who shares a name with the holistic living guru. “I…


L.A. Times – Business

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

June 25, 2019 |

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

A current or former Chainalysis employee has gone rogue and conducted an AMA on r/Bitcoin in which he disclosed sensitive information about the company’s blockchain forensics capabilities. The whistleblower then appears to have had a change of heart and deleted all their comments. Thankfully, the internet never forgets. The comments remain archived on Removeddit.com and they provide a fascinating insight into one of the most hated companies in crypto.

Also read: Tony Hawk Foundation Added to Bitpay’s 100 Crypto Supporting Nonprofits

Chainalysis Has Its Dirty Secrets Aired in Public

As a company that works hand in glove with law enforcement, governments, defense contractors and other three-letter agencies, Chainalysis is secretive about the sauce that makes up its proprietary tech. The company was dismayed, therefore, to discover that an anonymous employee was conducting an ask me anything (AMA) on Reddit on June 24 without their permission. Users of r/Bitcoin proceeded to ask a series of probing questions about Chainalysis’ forensic capabilities, which the anon was only too happy to answer.

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

Twelve hours later, perhaps after sobering up, or after management tracked down the rogue employee and placed pressure on them, the comments were deleted, but an archived version remains. When asked about the company’s take on BTC mixing tools such as Coinjoin, Wasabi and Samourai Whirlpool, for instance, the anon began: “I personally love it. The company management hates it, of course. Things like that destroy the need for our/their software. It can make the software completely irrelevant.”

Simple Preventative Measures Can Make Blockchain Forensics Obsolete

Many cryptocurrency users feel that they are powerless to attain a reasonable measure of privacy in the face of such well-funded and well-equipped adversaries. As the Chainalysis anon’s AMA shows, however, forensics tools aren’t nearly as powerful as they’re made out to be, and simple obfuscation measures can thwart them. (Having recently spoken to a Chainalysis employee at a blockchain conference, in which a similar sentiment was expressed, news.Bitcoin.com can attest to this.) When quizzed about the ability of coin mixing and other privacy tools to make Chainalysis obsolete, the anon replied:

Even just privacy coins are more than anyone can handle right now, but throw in anonymization techniques, and forensic tracking utilities are done for. They might still have a niche purpose, but it will be small.

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

Commenting on Chainalysis’ most hated adversarial tool, the anon ventured that it was probably Wasabi, a privacy-oriented BTC wallet that used Coinjoin. While conceding that bitcoin mixers are “still bad” for forensics firms, the anon asserted that “Wassabi is enemy number one. There is no way to de-anonymize it, and I don’t see how the government can legally take Wassabi down, so it will probably persist. Put it this way, if everyone used Wassabi, Chainalysis would go out of business.”

While observing that “running your own node and electrum server is a great way to not get your IP tracked” by Chainalysis software, he countered that mobile wallets are bad for privacy. As for the five likeliest things to have your bitcoin transaction flagged as suspicious, the answer came: “Being stolen funds (like from a hacking type incident), coming from a dnm, coming from a mixer, coming from terrorist financing, and coming from ransomware payout addresses.”

An Unethical Company or an Innovative Startup Fighting the Bad Guys?

To say that Chainalysis and similar companies are controversial within the bitcoin space would be an understatement. On the one hand, their software can generate useful research reports into on-chain activities, including UTXOs, “hodler waves,” and lost coins. It can also be used to follow the flow of hacked funds from exchanges. But on the other hand, many people believe Chainalysis goes against the spirit of bitcoin, and that its software will be sold to despotic regimes who will use it to surveil and persecute cryptocurrency users, leading to a financial system that is even less inclusive than the one Bitcoin was designed to replace.

When quizzed on the most unethical thing Chainalysis has done, the anon responded: “1. Transparency. 2. Defeating the purpose of a system that was designed for anonymity, thereby reducing the interest and market for crypto. And pushing people into other crypto platforms, away from what we/they are able to track.”

“[Chainalysis] definitely think they are the good guys,” he commented. “They are definitely team government, which doesn’t sit right with me, personally. Self-righteous would be a good way to describe the attitude of some of them … Not a single person in the company has displayed any sort of concern over the ethics of our software except for one person being concerned that law enforcement would use our software and abuse their authority … He left.”

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

According to the anon, the government agencies using Chainalysis software include HSI, FBI and IRS (they “seem to have the most licenses, or are, at least, the most active in using our software, since their names come up constantly.”) In addition, “ATF, DEA, SEC, Secret Service, CIA (through In Q Tel), and most of the other federal law enforcement agencies are running the software. Only really large police departments are running the software (it isn’t cheap) like NYPD. I know some district attorney offices have software licenses too, but I don’t know which ones. Oh and RCMP uses the software too. And Europol. The national police (NCA) in the UK, as well.”

Other gems from the now deleted AMA include confirmation that Chainalysis runs its own Electrum nodes (at one point it was responsible for 10% of all BTC nodes) and discussion of whether Chainalysis creates dusting attacks for tracking purposes: “It has been discussed a few times, but no one has ever admitted to it. It doesn’t seem like there is much utility in it, because if the address exists on the blockchain, it can already be tracked. And if it doesn’t, a single payment to it will make it appear in the software, so no need for dusting. It wouldn’t improve IP tracking capabilities.”

Use Mixers and Monero for Privacy – Don’t Use Mobile Wallets

The anon also explained that Chainalysis keeps its “own database on entities in the crypto space are a known, or believed to be bad actors. Individual people aren’t exactly tracked.” As for cryptocurrency that has passed through a mixer, “Mixed funds are rated as high risk if the mixer is attributed (known about). Same level as dark net markets.” During the AMA, he recommended monero for privacy, but reiterated the need for caution for mobile wallets that don’t incorporate privacy measures.

Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA

Final privacy advice from the current or former Chainalysis employee went as follows: “I would say to avoid mobile wallets, look into Wasabi/Coinjoin and similar efforts, run a VPN/tor at all times, remember that everything you check out on the clear net is being logged by someone.” Shortly after typing those words, Reddit user “chainalysis1” deleted their account.

What are your thoughts on Chainalysis? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.

The post Chainalysis Whistleblower Shares Company Secrets in Explosive AMA appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Hillary Clinton teaming with daughter Chelsea to form Hollywood production company

May 30, 2019 |

Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea are forming a production company to pursue film and television projects, making a foray into Hollywood after decades in the public eye.

The two have spoken to studios about financing a pipeline of programs, said people familiar with the matter. They would…


L.A. Times – Business

Coffee Shop: Big Company Has ‘Ridiculous’ Claim on Word ‘Cat’

May 28, 2019 |

The world of copyright and trademark infringement is a tricky one that often involves David vs. Goliath battles—a truth that a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, Calif., is finding out the hard way. KSBW reports that Cat and Cloud Coffee first received a cease-and-desist order last August from none…
Newser

TMZ

Lil Pump Joins the Weed Business as Face of New Cannabis Company

May 24, 2019 |

Lil Pump already seems very familiar with the weed industry, but now he’s TCOB when it comes to CBD and THC … as the face of a new cannabis company. The “Be Like Me” rapper is adding to his resume by teaming up with the brand, Smoke Unhappy…

TMZ.com

Big company CEOs got a 7% raise last year — worth $800,000

May 24, 2019 |

Did you get a 7% raise last year? Congratulations, yours was in line with what CEOs at the biggest companies got. But for chief executives, that 7% was roughly $ 800,000.

Pay for chief executives at S&P 500 companies rose to a median of $ 12 million last year, including salary, stock and other compensation,…


L.A. Times – Business

Elon Musk company to build underground transit loop for Las Vegas Convention Center

May 23, 2019 |

Billionaire Elon Musk finally has a chance at completing a commercial tunneling project after his Boring Co. secured a $ 48.7-million contract to build a transit system for Las Vegas’ expanding convention center.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s 14-member board approved the contract…


L.A. Times – Business

Elon Musk’s Boring Company lands $48.7M contract for underground “people mover” in Las Vegas

May 23, 2019 |

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling and transportation startup, has landed a $ 48.7 million project to shuttle people in an underground Loop system around the Las Vegas Convention Center.

This is the company’s first commercial contract.

The initial design for the project, dubbed Campus Wide People Mover or CWPM, will focus on the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is currently in the midst of an expansion that is expected to be complete in time for CES 2021. The newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center will span about 200 acres once completed. The LVCVA estimates that people walking the facility would travel two miles from one end to the other, a distance that prompted officials to find a transportation solution.

In March, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recommended that the Boring Company be selected. The board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted Wednesday to approve the contract.

The approval comes with numerous strings and requires The Boring Company to achieve specific milestones, details of which The Guardian published earlier this month. The contract withholds over two-thirds of payments until construction is complete and requires The Boring Company to meet specific ridership goals.

The LVCVA estimated an initial $ 1.2 million outlay to TBC in fiscal year 2019, following by $ 15 million in 2020 and the final $ 32.47 million in 2021.

While the project is limited for now, TBC has said in the past project could someday connect downtown, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Las Vegas Boulevard Resort Corridor and McCarran International Airport.

This underground people mover will involve the construction of twin tunnels for vehicles and one pedestrian tunnel, according to contract documents. The twin tunnels are expected to be less than a mile. There will be three underground stations for passenger loading and unloading and an elevator or escalator system for passenger access to each station.

The people mover, once complete is supposed to whisk people between stops at high speeds in modified electric Tesla vehicles. The contract describes these as autonomous vehicles. (Today, Tesla vehicles are not self driving, and instead have an advanced driver assistance system that handles certain tasks on highways such as lane steering and adaptive cruise control.) Before it opens to the public, the contract dictates that TBC test the system for three months.

As Musk’s Boring Company lands one contract, safety concerns have been raised on the design of another more ambitious Loop system from Washington D.C. to Baltimore.

Details of the 35.3-mile system, which emerged recently in a 505-page draft environmental assessment, reveals a design that fails to meet several key national safety standards. The underground system appears to lack sufficient emergency exits, ignore the latest engineering practices and proposes passenger escape ladders that one fire safety professor calls “the definition of insanity.”

TechCrunch

Harry’s razors company scores a $1.4-billion win for start-ups

May 13, 2019 |

After years of getting nicked by upstart razor brand Harry’s Inc., the maker of Schick shaving products is now paying up to join forces with it.

Edgewell Personal Care Co. announced Thursday that it’s buying Harry’s in a stock-and-cash deal that values the newcomer at $ 1.37 billion. Harry’s founders,…


L.A. Times – Business