A US federal judge has ordered an alleged hacker to pay the equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail. The man was charged with hacking video game company Electronic Arts (EA), obtaining in-game currency used to buy and sell in-game items, and selling access to online games though black-market websites.
Judge Orders Bail Payment in Crypto
Federal Judge Jacqueline Corley has ordered a “hacker charged with illegally accessing computer network of [a] Bay Area company” to pay bail in cryptocurrency, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week.
Martin Marsich, a 25-year-old Serbian and Italian national whose last known residence was in Udine, Italy, was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport on August 8 while boarding a flight to Serbia. At the federal court in San Francisco where he made his first appearance the next day, the DOJ described:
Magistrate Judge Corley ordered Marsich released to a half-way house on the condition that he post the equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail.
Judge Corley was frequently in the news last November for ruling in favor of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Coinbase. She ordered the crypto exchange to turn over information about U.S. taxpayers who conducted crypto transactions during the years 2013 to 2015.
The Case and FBI Complaint
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent filed an affidavit in connection with the criminal complaint against Marsich on March 25. It states that “a video-game company headquartered in the Bay Area discovered that an individual had illegally accessed its internal computer network and granted access to parts of the company’s systems,” the Justice Department conveyed. “The intruder, later identified as Marsich, gained access to 25,000 accounts that allow customers to purchase items for use in video games.”
Furthermore, the FBI complaint outlines that “Marsich allegedly used some of the information he obtained from the computer system to obtain in-game currency, used to buy and sell in-game items.” He was also accused of selling “access to the on-line game on black-market websites.”
According to the Daily Post, the Bay Area company is Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), a well-known American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California. “After making the discovery of the intrusion, the company allegedly closed the stolen accounts and suffered a loss of approximately $324,000,” the DOJ further revealed, adding:
The complaint charges Marsich with intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain…and accessing a protected computer to defraud and obtain anything of value.
While clarifying that “a complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed,” the agency noted that “If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate for each violation.”
Why Did the Judge Order Payment in Crypto?
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe was quoted by the Daily Post saying that he “had never heard of anyone bailing out of jail with cryptocurrency in any courtroom.” While acknowledging that cryptocurrency is now acceptable in a federal court, he believes that “a cryptocurrency bail would fly in San Mateo County Superior Court.”
Although the DOJ’s announcement does not specify the reason for bail payment in crypto, U.S. Assistant District Attorney Abraham Simmons explained that “judges can order many kinds of bail, including real estate owned by another person,” the publication conveyed and quoted him describing:
The judge could order just about anything…It really is quite broad…What the objective is is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later.
Simmons also said he was “certain” that if the value of the cryptocurrency were to fluctuate dramatically, either party could file a motion to change the bail amount. “I would imagine that either side would alert the court of an extreme change in the value of the asset, but it doesn’t mean that the court would care one way or the other.”
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Blockchain development firm Nchain has announced the company’s plans to launch a new Bitcoin Cash full node client called ‘Bitcoin SV.’ Lead developer Daniel Connolly has published the specifications for re-enabling old opcodes for the November 2018 BCH upgrade. So far the unpublished codebase has seen vocal support from the mining pool Coingeek, but right now some members of the BCH community are concerned that if no other miners switch to Bitcoin SV, the proposed upgrade could cause incompatibilities.
Will Bitcoin SV’s Proposal be Compatible With Bitcoin ABC?
On Thursday, August 16 the firm Nchain revealed they are releasing a new BCH full node client that’s claimed to be based on Bitcoin ABC v0.17.2, but with a few different upgrade changes added. Bitcoin SV will include restoring more Satoshi opcodes, removing the opcode per script limit, and raising the block size to 128MB. Further, the leading BCH mining pool Coingeek have stated they will be backing the new client. However, since this announcement, some BCH supporters are concerned about the upgrade coming this November. Issues could occur if groups of miners choose Bitcoin SV’s finalized consensus change proposals, which could be entirely different than the finalized Bitcoin ABC 0.18.0 version. Moreover, depending on the upgrade releases stemming from Bitcoin Unlimited, and other implementations, the Bitcoin SV client could be incompatible with any one of them.
So far the Bitcoin ABC team hasn’t responded to the latest Nchain announcement, and the ABC client release for testing hasn’t arrived. According to the ABC roadmap, after they announced the client’s upgrade changes the codebase was supposed to be delivered by August 15. Instead, the team published an article on the benefits of canonical transaction ordering with help from articles written by the Bitcoin Cash miner Jonathan Toomim, and Joannes Vermorel’s study on the process. So at the time of writing the latest 0.18.0 Bitcoin ABC version is two days late. Furthermore, if v0.18.0 contains canonical transaction ordering, the enforcement of minimum transaction size, and the activation of OP_CHECKDATASIG and OP_CHECKDATASIGVERIFY, it will not be compatible with SV’s framework for November.
Bitcoin SV’s Lead Developer Publishes Re-Enabling Old Opcode Specs
The Bitcoin SV client’s lead developer, Daniel Connolly, has published a document of specifications concerning the SV clients’ re-enabling old opcodes. The Bitcoin SV version 1.0 document details that in May of 2018 a few disabled opcodes were re-added to the Bitcoin Cash scripting engine, and this November SV will introduce four more opcodes.
“The scope of that change was limited in order to focus developer attention rather than attempting to reintroduce all of the disabled opcodes at once,” explains the Bitcoin SV spec sheet published on August 17.
This specification expands upon that change by reintroducing additional opcodes — The specifications describe the opcodes that will be added in the November 2018 protocol upgrade.
The re-enabled opcodes will include:
- OP_MUL — Multiplies two numbers
- OP_RSHIFT — Right shift b by n bits
- OP_LSHIFT — Left shift b by n bits
- OP_INVERT — Bitwise NOT
The Ultimate Decision Will Be Made With Hashpower
Essentially the ultimate decision making will be in the hands of the miners if they want to upgrade the block space to 128MB, or follow through with ABC’s plans. At the moment there are many different takes on this situation from a wide variety of BCH supporters. Some agree with Coingeek and Nchain and want to raise the space available in blocks, while others believe there isn’t a need for the increase, because current 32MB blocks are not yet being filled. Discussions concerning the matter have increased exponentially on BCH-centric Slack and Telegram channels, Twitter, and Reddit forums.
A lot of BCH supporters believe that ultimately those who have hash power will have the final say in this debate and miners will choose which client they plan to use. Some BCH proponents are not too concerned with the possibility of incompatible clients just yet, because as far as ABC v0.18.0 and SV 1.0 are concerned, neither client has finalized plans for November’s upgrade. As mentioned above the ABC code is not ready yet and the SV 1.0 codebase plans to launch this September.
News.Bitcoin.com briefly spoke with Bitcoin XT developer Tom Harding about the recent Nchain announcement and he explained the XT client will follow the majority hashrate.
“XT hasn’t been a driving force behind any of the forking change proposals this time around — We’ve been focusing on non-consensus 0-conf work,” Harding explains.
Regarding consensus changes, our intention is to support what the majority of hashpower wants to do — We’re also thinking about how best to know what BCH miners actually want.
What do you think about the Bitcoin SV client and the possibility of it being incompatible with Bitcoin ABC’s November upgrade? Which upgrade proposals would you like to see finalized? Let us know your opinion on this subject in the comment section below.
Images via Shutterstock, Coindance, the Nchain Bitcoin SV announcement, and Bitcoin ABC logo.
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Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride in its price, its value reached as high as $20,000 in late 2017 to as low as $6,000 within a time frame of just six months. The highly volatile nature of Bitcoin is certainly a blotch on its reputation and certainly this could be why Goldman Sachs’ head of Global Investment Research, Steve Strongin holds the view that most cryptocurrencies ultimately will not survive in the long run and compares it to the dotcom bubble where only a few companies around that time survived. While Bitcoin’s volatile nature is a ...
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The average cost to develop an ICO project in Russia is hovering around $18,000 USD but the price can go down to as little as $1,500, according to a study that explores the market for such services. The hourly rate for a blockchain developer is averaging a little over $44, the authors found after surveying 60 companies.
Elaborate Projects Can Reach $50,000 USD
If you’ve ever wondered how much it would cost to create a project to raise funds through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a Russian rating agency focused on the web development sector has prepared an estimate that you may find interesting. True, it’s based on what’s currently offered in Russia but in the global village, and especially in the crypto space, outsourcing shouldn’t be a problem.
According to the study conducted by Ratingratingov.ru, the development of an ICO project in Russia costs between 100,000 rubles (~$1,500) and 3.3 million rubles (~$50,000 USD), Insider Pro reported. The agency has contacted 60 companies working in the field to collect and summarize pricing and other data and listed the top 15 firms offering this type of services in the local market.
The researchers found that the average price tag for these orders, the blockchain and web development part, is 1.2 million rubles (almost $18,000), not counting marketing and legal expenses. At the same time, a blockchain programmer makes over 2,990 rubles (~$44 USD) an hour, a wage that far exceeds the remuneration of most Russian employees. The median monthly salary in the country is about 42,000 rubles, or $660 dollars.
The companies in the survey have been ranked using a formula that assesses the size and quality of their portfolio and the experience of their teams. The number of successful projects, team members, and years of market presence are all taken into account.
Size Matters When It Comes to ICO Development in Russia
The compiled data shows that size does matter in this business in Russia. The first two firms in the chart, Smartym Pro and Ruformat, each have between 30 and 50 employees and are operating since 2008 and 2012 respectively. The next two, Zerion and Axioma Group, have hired between 10 and 30 professionals and are in the market since 2016 and 2009.
Companies failing to meet a set of criteria, like those that do not specialize precisely in blockchain development and ICOs, don’t have a portfolio with linked projects published on their website, are not included in the shortlist prepared by the agency.
Ratingratingov’s, well, rating has been published after in July the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (RACIB) announced a whitelist of businesses offering crypto-related products and services. It is available on the association’s website.
RACIB considers crowdfunding through coin offerings a promising industry that can potentially bring substantial foreign capital to Russia. It has been pushing for the adoption of favorable regulations along its efforts to cleanse the sector of fraudulent enterprises. The Russian State Duma is expected to review the revamped draft crypto legislation during its fall session.
According to a recent study, the Russian Federation has hosted six of the top 100 ICO projects. Another report published earlier this year claims that startups with Russian participation have already raised $310 million USD.
What’s your opinion about the costs of developing an ICO project in Russia? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Ratingratingov.ru.
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Unity Technologies, a real-time 3D (RT3D) development platform provider, has completed its move to WebAssembly with the Unity 2018.2 release. In June 2017, ProgrammableWeb reported that WebAssembly had reached cross-browser consensus status, and that all the major browser companies are currently working on designing wasm as an open standard.
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