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Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto introduced the idea on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list, and released it as open-source software in 2009. There have been several high profile claims to the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto; however, none of them have provided proof beyond doubt that back up their claims.

The system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorizes bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed and it is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for payment processing work in which users offer their computing power to verify and record payments into a public ledger. This activity is called mining and miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides being obtained by mining, bitcoins can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. When sending bitcoins, users can pay an optional transaction fee to the miners.

In February 2015, the number of merchants accepting bitcoin for products and services passed 100,000. Instead of 2–3% typically imposed by credit card processors, merchants accepting bitcoins often pay fees in the range from 0% to less than 2%. Despite the fourfold increase in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in 2014, the cryptocurrency did not have much momentum in retail transactions. The European Banking Authority and other sources have warned that bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks. The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media. Criminal activities are primarily centered around darknet markets and theft, though officials in countries such as the United States also recognize that bitcoin can provide legitimate financial services.

Fox, meet henhouse An ex-Secret Service agent who stole Bitcoins from the Silk Road dark web drugs bazaar he was supposed to be investigating has admitted stealing even more sacks of the digital currency.…
Shaun Bridges, who already was given 71 months in prison, awaits a new sentence.

IT threat evolution Q2 2017

The threat from ransomware continues to grow.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, we blocked ransomware on the computers of 2,581,026 Kaspersky Lab customers.
In May, we saw the biggest ransomware epidemic in history, called WannaCry.
The virtual currency has risen 300-fold over the last five years.
Filecoin is expected to raise millions in an initial coin offering.
Wallets' BTC exchanged for XMR, anonymous cryptocash favored by Shadowbrokers.
One of the worst forms of ransomware has suddenly become even worse in an effort to make its malicious authors more money.
The WannaCry story has new life with the attacks having withdrawn the Bitcoin collected as ransom during the attacks, and with the detainment of killswitch researcher Marcus Hutchins in Nevada.
Bot set up by Quartz reporter Keith Collins catches linked wallets being emptied.
Cash thought to have 'gone through a mixer' More than $140,000 (£105,000) in Bitcoin has been paid out by victims of the global WannaCrypt ransomware outbreak from May.…
Three months on from the global WannaCry cyberattack, someone has withdrawn funds acquired from victims paying ransoms.