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The Biggest Leaks Revealed by Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden Leaks

When 2013 began, the general public had no idea who Edward Joseph Snowden was, but by the end of the year, everyone knew his name. Snowden, a former CIA employee who spent time working with the NSA, decided to share highly classified information with several leading journalists, who then broke the news to the world. […]

The Biggest Leaks Revealed by Edward Snowden was originally found on Blokt – Privacy, Tech, Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency.

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When 2013 began, the general public had no idea who Edward Joseph Snowden was, but by the end of the year, everyone knew his name. Snowden, a former CIA employee who spent time working with the NSA, decided to share highly classified information with several leading journalists, who then broke the news to the world.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Snowden’s astonishing revelations have changed the world as we know it, shedding damning light on intelligence agencies and systems all over the world and making countless people think long and hard about their own privacy, anonymity, and security.

“We had a cyber Pearl Harbor. His name was Edward Snowden.”Ashton Carter, Former Secretary of Defense

Countless stories have been written, and debates have raged in the years since the leak began, and everyone has their view on Snowden and the mind-blowing information he shared with the world. His actions even led to the development of the USA Freedom Act, which was designed to limit the amount and type of data that could be monitored and recorded.

However, the fact of the matter, as Snowden’s leaks revealed, is that there’s a whole lot of spying and secret data-gathering going on behind-the-scenes of our lives. There’s still probably plenty that we don’t even know, but Snowden’s info helped to blow the whole thing open. Here are some breakdowns of some of the biggest and most important revelations he shared.

The NSA Can Demand Call Records And Data From Telephone Companies

This was actually one of the first major stories to come out in the wake of the Snowden leaks, but it’s still one of the most important. The initial story showed that Verizon, one of the biggest telephone companies around, was forced to provide the NSA with data and records for almost all of its customers.

Later on, we saw that Verizon wasn’t the only company involved in this sort of thing. Other major telephone companies like Sprint and AT&T were also handing over phone records and info to the intelligence agency without customers having any idea what was going on.

This revelation was enormous and generated significant debate at the time, with many of those debates still ongoing to this day. Then-President Barack Obama announced plans to overhaul the NSA’s data collection programs in what would eventually lead to the development of the USA Freedom Act.

Triggering A Wave Of Privacy Concerns

“When you give up your privacy, you give up your power.” – Thor Benson, Journalist
This first major leak from Snowden also had a big effect on public views about surveillance and privacy. Before then, many people had laughed off the thought of the NSA spying on their phone calls and taking their data behind their backs.

The whole notion seemed like something out of a conspiracy theory, but Snowden’s leaks proved that it was very real. From there, the public began to put more focus on protecting their mobile privacy in any way possible, as well as thinking more deeply about privacy and anonymity online through the increased use of VPNs.

The Power Of Smurfs

Sticking with the phone theme, Snowden’s leaks also taught us that the GCHQ, which is essentially the British version of the NSA, has the terrifying ability to actually control people’s phones, even when they’re switched off. To do this, they make use of a series of tools named after Smurfs, the little blue cartoon characters first created in an old Belgian comic series.

The Smurfs And What They Do

“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.’”Philip K. Dick, Author

Snowden revealed that the GCHQ had a whole list of Smurf tools, each with its own use and purpose. Here are some examples:

  • Dreamy Smurf – Has the ability to turn phones on or off remotely
  • Nosey Smurf – Has the ability to make use of the phone’s microphone to listen to conversations and noise in the local area
  • Tracker Smurf – Has the ability to precisely track your position
  • Paranoid Smurf – Works to hide the activities of the other Smurfs to prevent detection

As we can see, the power of these ‘Smurfs’ is quite terrifying. Naturally, these tools and software programs are only designed to be used against criminals and suspected terrorists, but the very fact that such technology exists was enough to send a shiver down the spine of many members of the general public.

PRISM

“The government doesn’t want any system of transmitting information to remain unbroken unless it’s under its own control.”Isaac Asimov, Tales of the Black Widowers

By far, one of the scariest revelations for the American public was the existence of PRISM. PRISM was the code name given to an NSA program in which the agency could effectively demand data from major tech and internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple.

PRISM, it turned out, has been a major source of intelligence for NSA reports, and it was a terrifying thing for the general public to learn about. People did respond, however, through protests, debates, and demonstrations, as well as encouraging each another to start focusing more strongly on protecting privacy and anonymity online.

The sorts of content the NSA could collect included search histories, downloads, emails, and more. The focus of the program was to track potential terrorism suspects, but the system effectively allowed for the data of almost any internet user to be taken, making it a huge threat to people’s privacy.

The NSA Can Intercept Packages Before They Reach Your Home

An astonishing report published in the German newspaper ‘Der Spiegel’ revealed that the NSA has a whole list of scary surveillance systems and methods in place to keep their eyes everywhere and spy on people without them being any the wiser.

The report showed that the NSA was able to intercept package deliveries that were on their way to a person’s home. From there, intelligence agents could open up the packages and see what was inside, as well as adding their own espionage tools and software programs.

That way, they could effectively find packages that were going into suspects’ homes, add bugs and traces to the items inside, and monitor what the suspect was using the equipment for and what was going on behind closed doors.

The ANT Catalog

Der Spiegel’s report went on to highlight some of the tools that could be used, comparing the list to a ‘mail-order catalog.’ The tools were all grouped under the acronym ANT, which stands for Advanced Network Technology. Each tool has its own codename and product listing in the ‘catalog,’ which describes its functions and uses.

ANT Tool Examples:

  • SURLYSPAWN – Able to log keystrokes on a computer and transmit them wirelessly, even when the computer isn’t connected to the internet
  • CANDYGRAM – Able to imitate a GSM cell phone tower to monitor cell communications
  • FIREWALK – Designed to look just like a regular RJ45 internet socket, this tool can inject and monitor device data via radio waves
  • MONKEYCALENDAR – Able to transmit a cell phone’s geolocation via a secret text message
  • COTTONMOUTH – Designed to look like USB and Ethernet connectors, these tools can hack into computers and provide remote access

Again, just like the Smurf tools used by the GCHQ in the United Kingdom, these code named espionage tools and pieces of equipment were very scary to learn about for many people as they proved that NSA agents had access to gear that could make surveillance incredibly easy for them and almost entirely undetectable for their targets.

The NSA Can Even Hack Tech Giants

An article in The Washington Post stated that the NSA had actually hacked into data centers of major tech giants Google and Yahoo in order to monitor communications and traffic at these centers.

This was a particularly scary revelation for members of the general public as it proved that there were almost no limits to what the NSA’s spy tools were capable of. If even the biggest internet companies on the planet could be hacked with such apparent ease, was anyone really safe?

It was also shocking for people to see that the NSA was prepared to use its wealth of hacking tools against big American companies. Google and Yahoo both released statements to deny any awareness of the surveillance and express their shock and dismay, with Yahoo even taking action to encrypt its connections.

The former CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Meyer, stated that Yahoo would not provide the NSA with any access to its data centers and never had in the past. This helped to reassure many members of the public and general internet users, but a lot of people still worried that big companies were making shady deals behind their backs.

Britain’s NSA Spies On Fiber Optic Connections All Over The Globe

The GCHQ, Britain’s NSA equivalent, was also revealed to use various surveillance tools to hack into fiber optic cables and connections all over the globe. This is all done under the code name ‘Tempora,’ which is a surveillance system that has been running since 2011.

This system essentially involved the GCHQ placing interceptors on several hundred fiber optic cables going in and out of the United Kingdom. These interceptors could seize data directly from the cables, with intelligence agents then closely observing and analyzing that data for anything that they might deem interesting or worthy of further investigation.

According to Snowden’s leaks, the information gathered by GCHQ via Tempora could also be shared with the NSA, with hundreds of thousands of NSA contractors being able to look at this data.

The NSA Collects Contact Lists

“There has never been a time in human history where so many people routinely carry recording and surveillance devices.”Steven Magee, Author

Part of the NSA’s surveillance and anti-terrorism measures also include the collection of countless email and contact lists from internet and smartphone users. Snowden’s leaks showed that up to 250 million of these contact lists could be taken each year.

It’s important to note that this system was only used overseas and aimed at non-US citizens, but the fact of the matter is that when literally hundreds of thousands of these lists are being collected all over the globe, and a lot of Americans also happen to be traveling in foreign places, it’s inevitable that their data is also going to be at risk.

Boundless Informant Proved That The NSA Spied On Americans

Boundless Informant (or BOUNDLESSINFORMANT) is the code name given to a big data analysis tool used by the NSA. This tool basically tracks all of the metadata collected by the NSA around the world and makes a kind of ‘heatmap’ of that data to show where it came from and which countries are targeted most frequently.

The tool showed that billions of pieces of information were being collected every single month, and it also showed that several billion pieces were being taken from citizens of the United States. This was despite the fact that the NSA had specifically stated to Congress that it did not gather data on millions of American citizens and didn’t even have the capacity to do so.

XKeyScore Allows The NSA To Track Anyone’s Online Activity

“You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.”

That’s how Edward Snowden describes the power of XKeyScore, which is perhaps the most powerful NSA internet espionage tool of them all. Also known as XKS, this computer system is designed to search through and analyze internet data from users all over the globe, and huge amounts of that data are being collected each and every day.

What’s more, all of that data can then be shared with other intelligence agencies as part of the ‘Five Eyes‘ and ‘Fourteen Eyes’ alliances, so agencies like the GCHQ in the United Kingdom or the Defense Intelligence Headquarters of Japan could also get access to information on a person’s browsing habits, search history, and general internet usage.

Fighting Back Against Internet Surveillance

With so many harrowing revelations coming out of the Snowden leaks, especially in regard to internet surveillance through systems like XKeyScore, many people want to take action to be safer online and keep their data private.

That’s why statistics are showing a big leap in the number of people making use of virtual private networks (VPNs). VPN providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN are essentially able to encrypt your internet connections and hide your presence online, meaning that even if attempts were made to track your activity, they wouldn’t be successful.

Other VPNs Worth Checking Out:

Pros And Cons Of Using A VPN

Pros Cons
Hide your online presence and encrypt your connections for total anonymity Monthly/Annual subscription fees
Stay safe from hackers and malicious software. Connection speeds can sometimes vary, depending on the VPN you choose
Access region-locked or restricted content and services like Netflix
Enjoy total security when traveling.

The NSA Spies On Global Leaders

We’ve seen that giant tech companies like Google and Apple aren’t safe from the NSA’s spy tools, and the same can be said for world leaders like presidents and prime ministers. Many documents from Snowden’s files have revealed that the NSA has targeted over 120 different global leaders over the years, spying on their communications and actually listening in on their phone conversations.

Examples Of Leaders Who Have Been Hacked:

The likes of former Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all been victims of the NSA’s surveillance. The NSA was even able to spy on meetings between multiple world leaders at the likes of the G8 and G20 summits.

The Knock-On Effect

This sort of surveillance doesn’t directly affect the average member of the general public, but the revelations have already led to rising tensions between the United States and several other countries around the world. For example, when Snowden revealed that the NSA had been spying on China, the relationship between the two countries was dealt a big blow.

The NSA Actively Works Against Internet Encryption

Again, we can see another scary revelation for internet users all over the world as Snowden’s leaks also revealed that the NSA had teams of agents tasked with breaking down widely-used encryption and security measures used online.

A document from the GCHQ stated: “For the past decade, NSA has led an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used internet encryption technologies… Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable”.

This NSA program was nicknamed Bullrun and made use of different hacking tools like brute-force attacks in order to break through standard encryption systems like HTTPS and SSL, which are used all over the internet for systems like online banking and purchases.

The NSA Has Its Own ‘Special Forces’ Team Of Hackers

As well as having a myriad of remarkably powerful hacking tools and systems at its disposal, the NSA can also call on the services of the “Tailored Access Operations” team. Abbreviated to TAO, this team is made up of elite hackers who can make use of various tools (like those seen in the ANT catalog, above) in order to hack into computers with astonishing ease.

With an arsenal of hacking systems and devices to choose from, the TAO team is able to break into computers regardless of whether they’re online or offline. From there, they can monitor location, internet activity, keystrokes, communications, and more, as well as infecting the device with Trojan horses and other forms of malware.

Intelligence Agencies Can Even Spy On You Through Angry Birds

It might sound too crazy to be true, but the reports and leaks have also stated that intelligence agencies like the NSA or the British GCHQ can actually make use of flaws in the designs of certain apps, including popular mobile games like Angry Birds, to spy on smartphone users. These apps are nicknamed ‘leaky apps,’ and there are millions of examples out there.

Just by opening a simple game, the sort of thing that millions of people are doing every single day while riding the train to work or taking a quick coffee break, you could be providing intelligence agencies with personal data like your age, sex, name, email address, and even your current location.

How Does It Happen?

These information ‘leaks’ are all down to the fact that many apps often demand access to some of your personal information in order to provide additional functionality like social media integration and the ability to share your high scores or play with friends. These apps aren’t being made by security experts, so they can come with a few little holes for intelligence agencies or malicious hackers to exploit.

The extent to which intelligence agencies can use apps to obtain information about a user isn’t fully clear, but it is believed that as well as basic info and current location, agents could also use apps to learn about your political alignment, sexual orientation, income, marital status, education level, and more!

Leaky App Examples:

  • Twitter
  • Google Maps
  • Flickr
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
BitStarz Player Wins Record-Breaking $2,459,124! Could you be next to win big? >>>

Blokt is a leading independent privacy resource that maintains the highest possible professional and ethical journalistic standards.

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Source: https://blokt.com/guides/edward-snowden-leaks

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Sotheby’s Closes $12.9M Banksy Auction, First Paid in Crypto

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Celebrated auction house Sotheby’s has accepted payment in cryptocurrency for the first time.

According to a recent tweet, Sotheby’s sold Banksy’s “Love is in the Air” for $12.9 million. The auction took place over 14 minutes between four different prospective buyers. This is the first artwork purchased with crypto since Sotheby’s announced it would be accepting bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) as payment.

However, it was not revealed which cryptocurrency was used as payment in the auction. In a poll on Twitter, 35% believed the winners used ethereum to buy the Banksy piece, followed closely by bitcoin.

The art world accepting crypto

This event marks another milestone in the increasing integration of cryptocurrencies into the art world. Although this auction was for a physical piece of art, auction houses have been increasingly taken with non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Last month, Sotheby’s hosted its first NFT auction. Over the course of three days, it sold the work of digital artist Pak for $16.8 million. The collection, known as “The Fungible,” was sold through NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway. The sale achieved at least two records, including the most number of bids for an auction item on Nifty Gateway.

Meanwhile, rival auction house Christie’s sold its first NFT artwork in March. The auction house sold digital artist Beeple’s NFT collection for a substantial $69 million. This sale made it the first auction house to close on an NFT. More recently, Christie’s sold nine NFTs from the CryptoPunks series for a total of nearly $17 million.

eBay also recently announced that the online retailer would allow the sales of NFTs on its platform. This would include trading cards, images, or video clips. Although not technically an auction house, eBay pioneered the online auction platform. This came days after eBay CEO Jamie Iannone included cryptocurrencies among the new payments platforms the company is exploring.  

Despite rising stratospherically in the first quarter of this year, recent data suggest that NFT mania is leveling off. This clearly hasn’t stopped continued interest from auction and retailer platforms. 

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/sothebys-closes-12-9m-banksy-auction-crypto/

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BTC On-Chain Analysis: HODL Waves Show Medium-Term Sellers

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BeInCrypto takes a look at on-chain BTC data, more specifically the HODL wave and Spent Output Age Bands, in order to determine the age of the bitcoins that are currently being transacted.

Both these indicators show that the majority of selling this year has been done by short and medium-term holders.

BTC HODL waves

The HODL wave is used to show the percentage of BTC that has moved in a specific time period.

The color settings are:

  • Warm colors represent BTC that have been transacted recently – Red, Orange, Yellow
  • Cold colors represent BTC that have not been transacted recently – Light Yellow, Green, Blue

From the beginning of the year, the biggest change in bands has occurred in the one month-three month (orange) and three month-six month (light orange) bands.

The former went from 17.5% to 32.3% (represented by the black vertical lines) while the latter from 7.29% to 20.35% (represented by the white vertical lines).

Relative to the beginning of the year, long-term holders (one year+) are doing less selling.

Therefore, the majority of the BTC selling this year has been done by short and medium-term holders.

RHODL Wave
BTC HODL Wave Chart By Glassnode

Spent output age bands

Spent Output Age Bands work in a similar way. They show bands with similar colors in order to show the age of each output that is created when a bitcoin is transacted. 

Since the all-time high price was reached on April 13, there have been three distinct upward spikes, which occurred within the age bands of:

  • one day-one week (light orange)
  • one week-one month (orange)
  • one month-three month (dark orange)
  • three month-six month (light red)
  • six month-12 month (red)

Therefore, since the all-time high, the drops were caused by the selling of short and medium-term holders. The first two spikes were mainly from outputs up until three months, while the third and final spike also showed selling from the three month-12 month bands.

Spent Output Age Bands
Spent Outage Age Bands Chart By Glassnode

While the one year-seven year bands also had spikes, they were significantly lower than those in March. Therefore, long-term holders are not yet taking profits in the same way that they did in March.

Spent Output Age Bands
Spent Outage Age Bands Chart By Glassnode

Bitcoin RHODL ratio

The Realized HODL Ratio (RHODL Ratio) is used to indicate whether the discrepancy between short and long-term selling signals a top.

The indicator is created by the rate between the one week-one month and one year-two year bands. A high number (above 40,000 ) indicates that the market is approaching a potential top.

The RHODL ratio is currently at 9,800. This is considerably lower than it was in February 2021 when it reached a yearly high of 14,707. 

Furthermore, the value is nowhere close to the previous cycle tops, which all occurred above 80,000.

RHODL Ratio
Realized HODL Ratio Chart By Glassnode

Conclusion

Spent Output Age Bands and the HODL wave show that the majority of the BTC selling in 2021 has been made by holders of up to six months. 

The RHODL ratio indicates that the market is likely not yet close to reaching a top.

For BeInCrypto’s latest bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

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All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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Valdrin is a cryptocurrency enthusiast and financial trader. After obtaining a masters degree in Financial Markets at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics he began working at the Ministry of Economic Development in his native country of Kosovo.
In 2019, he decided to focus full-time on cryptocurrencies and trading.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/btc-on-chain-analysis-hodl-waves-medium-term-sellers/

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Crypto Community Reacts to Tesla Dropping Bitcoin Payments

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The crypto community at large has reacted in a variety of ways to Tesla dropping bitcoin payments.

Earlier, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin as payment. The change of heart comes just two months after the electric car company started accepting bitcoin for vehicle payments. This followed Tesla’s influential purchase of $1.5 billion in BTC in February.

In a message embedded in the tweet, Musk said that Tesla is concerned about the increasing use of fossil fuels. He later added another tweet citing Cambridge University showing Bitcoin’s energy usage trend over the past few months. But in the first tweet, he said that Tesla would retain its bitcoin holdings. He added that the company intends to reintroduce BTC payments “as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.”

Bitcoin’s transition to renewable energy

This turnaround comes as a shock to many who believed in Musk’s bullishness on bitcoin. However, his optimism that the Bitcoin network will transition to a more sustainable track is consistent with earlier statements of his. 

Last month, in partnership with Ark Invest, Square released a whitepaper detailing how Bitcoin would lead to incentivizing renewable energy. When Square CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted this, Musk simply responded “True.” Although he’s confident this will occur, Musk clearly feels that Bitcoin is not there yet.

The crypto community responds

However, in response to the announcement, a slew of tweets from the crypto community seem to take issue with that notion. MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor called the move, “Ironic because no incremental energy is used in a #bitcoin transaction.” Sardonically, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said, “Elon probably did not research how much energy is required to run other (non crypto) currencies that Tesla accepts.” 

Billionaire Mark Cuban affirmed that his NBA team would still be accepting cryptocurrencies, “because we know that replacing Gold as a store of value will help the environment.” Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz commended Musk for using his influence to make Bitcoin more sustainable. “He cares about the environment and he is using his considerable influence to push BTC mining towards a greener future,” Novogratz tweeted. 

Meanwhile, others see the market dip that followed as a good buying opportunity. “This may be the selloff that sets Bitcoin up for new all-time highs,” said David Grider of Fundstrat Global Advisors. “We think the news is overblown and wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla is signaling plans to make crypto ‘greener.’”

Co-founder of U.S.-based Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, Cameron Winklevoss, seemed to second the idea. “In retrospect, it was a great buying opportunity,” he tweeted.

Disclaimer

All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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Source: https://beincrypto.com/crypto-community-reacts-to-tesla-dropping-bitcoin-payments/

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ZenGo Wallet Review: Multi Crypto Wallet Solution

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One of the pain points in cryptocurrencies is getting people to understand how to properly set up and use wallets. Now a lot of that pain is removed by the ZenGo wallet, which is the first keyless, non-custodial crypto wallet that gives users excellent security for their funds without sacrificing convenience.

It’s a win-win situation that also comes with a large slate of added features that makes using cryptocurrencies nearly mainstream.

👉 Enter this code to claim your reward: ZENFJO6W

The ZenGo wallet is available for all iOS devices from the iPhone 6 onwards, and for most Android devices, so it is basically available for nearly anyone who owns a mobile device.

ZenGo Overview

Zengo Brings Keyless Crypto. Image via ZenGo

It has support for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and most of the major cryptocurrencies. Not only that, but users can buy and sell cryptocurrencies right within the app.

Keep reading to learn about the multiparty computation that forms the base of security for the ZenGo, as well as all the other features, both working and planned.

The ZenGo Team

The ZenGo team is made up of nearly 20 talented and devoted professionals, all of whom are focused on creating a wallet that makes cryptocurrency storage and usage as safe and easy as possible.

The team is led by the three founding members of ZenGo – Ouriel Ohayon, Tal Be’ery, and Omer Schlomovits.

ZenGo Team

The founding members of the ZenGo wallet. Image via ZenGo.com

Ouriel Ohayon is the CEO of ZenGo and a serial entrepreneur. Prior to the founding of ZenGo he was also a co-founder of ISAI Gestion, an early stage angel fund, and AppsFire which is a native advertising network and technology for mobile.

Tal Be’ery is the VP of research and development and prior to that he was the head of security for the firm. He also works as a journalist and writes a bi-weekly column on computer and network security. Prior to co-founding ZenGo Tal worked as a cyber-security consultant.

Omer Schlomovits is the VP of research for ZenGo. He also runs ZenGo X, which is the research community attached to ZenGo, with over 500 members. He also co-founded MPC-Alliance, a consortium of 50+ companies collaborating to advance MPC technology.

Currently he serves as a board-member and head of the technical committee. Prior to that he co-founded Zero-Knowledge TLV, a 750+ members applied cryptography community in Israel. This community is now part of ZK-Global.

Multiparty Computation & Threshold Signatures

The thing with most crypto wallets is that they make the user choose between asset control and convenience.

You can either maintain full control over your assets (non-custodial wallets), but suffer inconveniences in the setup and use of the wallet, or you can enjoy greater convenience in the usage of the wallet, but need to give up control over your digital assets (custodial wallets).

However ZenGo is using multiparty computation and threshold signatures to give users both convenience and control. Users are able to enjoy high levels of security and convenience in a non-custodial wallet.

It does this by replacing the typical private key used in the creation of most wallets with a pair of independently created secret shares. One of these is stored on the users device, while the other is securely stored on the ZenGo servers.

In order to complete a transaction both parts need to interact. That means ZenGo never has access to your funds, but you also get the same convenience of a custodial wallet.

ZenGo Backup

The ZenGo wallet improves on security and backup. Image via ZenGo.com

When you sign up for ZenGo and create a wallet for the first time (which only takes 19 seconds, by the way), the wallet app scans your face and stores that scan as an encrypted 3D biometric face map so it can be used in the future if you ever lose the device your wallet is on, or if you inadvertently delete the wallet from your device.

That’s so much easier than writing down a list of 20 words and then storing them in case you need to restore your wallet.

Note that with this system there’s no single point of failure, ensuring that if something happens to one of the secret shares your crypto remains protected and safe.

Plus these security measures are implemented in a simple, user-friendly wallet interface that is a pleasure to use. Signing up is straight-forward and amazingly quick, with no need for additional documents. Sending and receiving crypto is easy, as is buying and selling crypto right from the wallet.

ZenGo Chill Storage

Now I know some of you are thinking to yourselves that this all sounds great, but what happens if the ZenGo servers are inaccessible, or go permanently offline.

The team at ZenGo thought of that as well and created Chill Storage as a solution. With this solution even if ZenGo fails and the company ceases operations, you’ll still be able to access your crypto easily.

ZenGo Recovery Mode

There’s always a way to recover your crypto with ZenGo. Image via Zengo.com

Chill storage is the guaranteed recovery process created by the ZenGo team. With it they have created a master encryption key and a master decryption key. The master decryption key has been placed in escrow, and a law office has been named as trustee of the escrow.

The trustee is responsible for monitoring ZenGo to verify the company and its servers are still operational. If they ever find that the ZenGo servers are non-operational they can request the decryption key from the escrow company. This is the start of Recovery Mode.

The trustee will then post the decryption key to a dedicated GitHub account. This process is run by humans with multiple safeguards and checks to avoid wrong signals.

ZenGo, the mobile app installed by our customers, constantly monitors this repository and if a valid key is released, it enters recovery mode.

ZenGo Account Recovery

Always recover your account, even if ZenGo ceases to exist as a company. Image via Zengo.com

Upon entering recovery mode, the app is able to decrypt the Server Key and recreate the private keys for all the associated coins and addresses.

These private keys can then be loaded to other wallets. That way, users are free to move their funds without relying upon ZenGo servers.

ZenGo Savings

One of the nice additional features included in the ZenGo wallet is the Savings feature. Savings is in its own separate tab in the wallet and it allows you to earn yield by lending or staking certain cryptocurrencies.

Currently the wallet has support for earning yield by lending Bitcoin through the Nexo platform, or by providing Compound to a liquidity pool. In addition, the wallet also supports U.S. dollar Tether (USDT), Dai (DAI), and U.S. dollar Coin (USDC).

The documentation included in the wallet indicates that 0x and Basic Attention Token are also supported for savings, but we did not see these options in the Savings area of the wallet during our test.

When contacting support they confirmed that you will see the available savings options in the wallet, but didn’t elaborate so I can only assume that the available options change and the documentation hasn’t been updated, or the available options may be based on your geographical location.

ZenGo Savings

Don’t just hold your crypto, earn interest on it too. Image via Zengo.com

The ZenGo wallet also supports staking Tezos (XTZ) tokens, which means users are able to act as validators to help secure the Tezos network and will receive a return of roughly 5.5% on their staked XTZ. It should be noted that when staking XTZ the first rewards are not received for 33 days.

It’s been indicated that the wallet will also add support for staking Ethereum in the future, but as of May 2021 we are still waiting for that functionality to be added.

Perhaps with the recent $20 million in funding received by the project they will be able to add support for Ethereum staking.

ZenGo Trading

ZenGo introduced crypto trading directly from the wallet in June 2020, however it still isn’t available globally. For example, U.S. users will not be able to trade using the wallet, even though the Trade button is still present in the wallet.

But for those who have access to trading from within the wallet it is brilliant. Just a few taps and you are able to exchange a variety of cryptocurrencies without needing to leave the wallet and navigate the confusing landscape of a crypto exchange.

ZenGo allows for trading in any of the assets supported by the wallet, and uses its integration with Fox.Exchange to make the trades work.

ZenGo Swap

Crypto trading right within the wallet. Image via Zengo.com

The great thing is you can make instant trades using your wallet without going through the sometimes complicated process involved in signing up with an exchange.

ZenGo doesn’t require any KYC documents. Plus there’s no need to transfer your assets around to make a trade, or worry about trusting your private keys to the exchange.

Buy and Sell in ZenGo

Another benefit of using ZenGo as your wallet is the ability to easily buy and sell crypto right from within the wallet.

Currently buying crypto is supported globally (188 countries), however selling is only supported for the EU and U.K. The team says support for selling crypto in the U.S. will be added soon.

ZenGo Buy Sell

Buy and sell cryptocurrency right from the wallet. Image via Zengo.com

Buying cryptocurrencies is powered by Moonpay and Coinmama, and can be done using a number of fiat currencies and seven different payment methods:

  • Credit card (Visa and MasterCard)
  • Apple Pay (Visa and MasterCard)
  • Bank transfer (SEPA and Swift)
  • Debit card (Maestro)
  • Google Pay (Mastercard)
  • Samsung Pay (Mastercard)
  • GBP instant bank transfers

There are fees associated with buying and selling crypto through the wallet, and the fee structure differs based on the service used and the payment method. In general the fees are of four different types.

Network fee: Paid to the blockchain network operators. This fee changes over time based on network conditions and is not paid to ZenGo. Note that network fees for ERC20 tokens are paid in ETH.

Processing fee: Paid to the operators of the buying, selling, and trading services. This is a % of the total transaction amount and varies by operator and asset.

Spread: Paid to the operators of the buying, selling, and trading services. This is the difference (usually a few %) between the spot market price and the order price, and is used to cover volatility risk.

Local currency conversion fee: Paid to the operators of the service when you buy cryptocurrency in a local currency other than USD/CAD/AUD/EUR/GBP.

You can see the full fee structure here.

ZenGo Crypto Debit Card

ZenGo announced at the end of November 2020 that they will be releasing a crypto debit card on the Visa network that will allow wallet holders to spend their cryptocurrencies easily anywhere Visa is accepted.

The card is expected to launch first in the U.S. and will then expand to other regions globally.

ZenGo Card

It’s not the first crypto Visa card, but ZenGo promises it will be the best. Image via Zengo.com

ZenGo is all about making cryptocurrency easier for people to use, and this card is just one more step in that direction. Obviously people are very used to paying with credit cards, and if they have a card that makes it just as easy to spend their crypto holdings it should increase adoption greatly.

The cards are expected to be shipped sometime in 2021 and right now you can be put on a waiting list to receive one either from within the wallet itself, or on this webpage.

Free Bitcoin from ZenGo

ZenGo is currently offering $10 in Bitcoin when you make your first deposit into the wallet. To collect your BTC simply follow these five steps:

  1. Download ZenGo using this link;
  2. On the email screen, tap on “Tap here to enter your code” and use the code ZENX0B4G,  then tap Apply;
  3. Make sure you see “Referral code applied” and continue signing up with your email;
  4. Tap on Buyin the app;
  5. Make a purchase of $200 or more.

The BTC will be credited to your account within a few days.

ZenGo Earn

Earn BTC by depositing and referring others to the wallet. Image via Zengo.com

Want to earn even more Bitcoin? Then refer your friends, family, and followers to the ZenGo wallet. You’ll get 50% of the commissions every single time they buy cryptocurrency using the ZenGo wallet. For life. Welcome to passive crypto income.

Conclusion

All things considered ZenGo appears to be an excellent wallet, particularly if you’re looking for all the functionality it offers.

You can hold a large number of cryptocurrencies in the same wallet, trade them with each other (depending on your jurisdiction), and enjoy the security offered by a non-custodial wallet.

We also were impressed with the recovery features of the wallet. That includes both the user recovery via biometric facial recognition, and the server side recovery should the ZenGo servers ever go down permanently.

We also felt that ZenGo has an excellent user interface. It’s uncluttered, and quite intuitive. Ease of use is one of the overriding missions of ZenGo and they certainly hit that right with their UX.

You could do much worse when choosing a wallet, but we don’t think you could do much better than the ZenGo. And when you consider the $20 million in funding they’ve recently received it makes sense to think that even more improvements are on the horizon.

Featured Image via Shutterstock

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.coinbureau.com/review/zengo/

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