Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel Bug

On Wednesday, the tech world was rocked by revelations of a computer chip vulnerability that exposes critical data. Meltdown and Spectre are the names assigned to the newly discovered flaws which primarily affect Intel chips. From a security perspective, the bug concerns everyone who uses an Intel-powered device to connect to the internet, which is pretty much everyone. But from a practical perspective, the bug is already making its presence felt: today Bittrex exchange was forced to take numerous wallets offline while Azure servers were patched.

Also read: ripple-gateways-can-freeze-users-funds-at-any-timeintel-bug-1068x1068

A Bug in the System

Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel BugComputer bugs and vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, but the Intel one is particularly nasty. It risks leaving passwords and other critical data exposed on billions of internet connected devices, from smartphones to PCs. While patches are being rushed out for the major operating systems, hackers are trying to find ways to exploit the vulnerability, which could provide them with complete system access. Spectre forces programs to leak confidential data, while Meltdown noses around in the system kernel for the same purpose.

Cryptocurrency holders, who already face a heightened threat from hackers, have good reason to be concerned. In addition to affecting personal computers, Spectre and Meltdown spell danger for cloud-based systems. Cloud computing providers store data from multiple clients on the same server. If that server were to be exploited, it would theoretically be possible for an attacker to access multiple accounts.

A Dark Cloud

Cryptocurrency exchanges, whose websites carry a heavy load, are reliant on the cloud. While the likes of Amazon have been rushing to patch their servers, exchanges have been affected by outages and reduced service. Earlier today, Bittrex tweeted:

Azure accelerated a planned reboot due to the public Intel disclosure. Wallets will be online again once they complete post reboot audits.

At present, withdrawals and deposits for around 30% of the coins traded on the exchange are unavailable.


Bittrex wallets today.

Several other exchanges were temporarily taken offline, with some platforms specifically referencing the patch, and others simply referring to maintenance. Among those affected were Einstein Exchange, CEX.io, and Kucoin. Hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger also updated concerned customers on the situation, tweeting:

Bittrex Wallets Are Taken Offline as Companies Scramble to Patch the Intel Bug

There is an added issue regarding the Intel bug: as a consequence of patching it, system performance will be reduced by as much as 30%. Cryptocurrency miners are unlikely to be badly affected, as the process doesn’t involve making a high number of kernel requests. But for anyone who prides themselves on running an overclocked PC with a high benchmark, the slowdown may be hard to stomach.

Are you concerned by the Intel bug and do you think cryptocurrency holders should be worried? Let us know in the comments section below.

Pakistan Set to Become a Major Bitcoin Hub

Pakistan is currently the seventh most populous country in the world with approximately 202 million residents. Today, the country exhibits many traits ripe for accelerated bitcoin adoption. Bitcoin.com discussed bitcoin trends in Pakistan with Danyal Manzar, the co-founder of Pakistan’s first and largest bitcoin trading platform, Urdubit.

 

Huge Freelance Market, but Payment Solutions Lacking

Despite having no access to Paypal, Pakistan still ranks among the top countries for freelance outsource workers. In fact, “Pakistan is ranked 3rd on freelance websites,”paypal According to the New York Times10,000 IT graduates in Pakistan are estimated to enter the Pakistan job market every year.

Remittances are also a “very big market” in Pakistan, . “We see about 20 billion USD coming in annually,” . “Since there are not enough jobs, the major remittance is seen from the UAE and Saudi Arabia followed by western countries.”

Despite the lack of jobs, however, life in Pakistan has been modernizing in recent years. Rapid lifestyle change, technological innovations, and increasing broadband access in Pakistan have all accelerated the number of Pakistani freelancers. However, “the payments are always a problem,” adding that:

Since the job market is also limited we see many freelancers turning to bitcoin, there is no Paypal in the country and no proper payment processor which could aid payments.

High Broadband Subscription Growth

Mobile broadband use is growing very fast in the country. The World Bank describes Pakistan as “leading the way in South Asia in digital finance” with 6% of adults having mobile accounts, compared to South Asia’s average of less than 2.6%.world bank

Last June, the number of 3G/4G subscribers in the country had reached 29.53 million, up from 14.6 million in July 2015. Total broadband subscribers grew 92% to 32.41 million from 16.88 million, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The World Bank also notes that about 100 million adults in Pakistan are unbanked, without access to formal and regulated financial services. Only 13 percent of adults there have a formal account and 27.5 million adults said the distance to a financial institution is a barrier to opening a financial account.

With so many unbanked, no access to Paypal, a huge freelancing industry, a major remittance destination, and so many subscribed to a high-speed mobile account, Bitcoin could find a huge home market in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Bitcoin Market

Admittedly, the bitcoin market in Pakistan “is still very new,” but it is fast growing. Citing low banking penetration and “very limited POS terminals in the country,”Pakistan-flag-1068x712

Bitcoin provides a cross-board payments system, as well as local payment solution at a much cheaper cost.

www.easypaypakistan.com is a real-time bitcoin exchange using the blinktrade engine. According to Coinhills, www.easypaypakistan.com trading volume has been growing steadily in the last few weeks, and the exchange has the largest bitcoin trading volume in the country, twice  in a 24-hour period. “I would say our market share is 1/3 of the total market,” he explained. If he’s correct, that indicates Pakistan trades around 40 bitcoins each day, putting it somewhere around 27th place among all currencies in volume rankings.

However, he also admitted that there are still not many shops accepting bitcoin. Online, the situation is a bit better, since many websites in the country have started accepting bitcoin as a payment “due to quicker payment times and no charge backs.”

We believe it’s only a matter of time before we see Pakistan follow India and become a major user of bitcoin.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government “hasn’t taken any stance on bitcoin as of yet,” blog.Easypaypakistan.com added. This company will soon be approved by the State Bank Of Pakistan. “They believe that bitcoin is a commodity and not a currency,”

Do you think Pakistan is ripe for bitcoin adoption? Let us know in the comments section below.

Why Michigan’s Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Stores Goes Bitcoin

As bitcoin grows in value, more merchants every day are accepting the digital currency to stay ahead of the times. This week one of Michigan’s largest and oldest lawn equipment and power sports stores — Ball Equipment is now accepting bitcoin.

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73 Year Old Business Thinks Outside the Box

Michigan's Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Store Goes BitcoinThe fourth generation family owned superstore, Ball Equipment, is one of Eastern Michigan’s largest and oldest outdoor power equipment dealerships operating for over 73 years. The store has two locations that sell heavy duty lawn equipment and power sports gear from brands like Polaris, Honda, Can-Am, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna. This week the business decided to accept bitcoin allowing any of their customers to purchase rideable lawnmowers, ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and more.

Bitcoin.com talked to Chris Ball, one of the owners of the Michigan state superstores to see why the business decided to start accepting bitcoin. Mr. Ball says that even though they are an old and well-established company the team has always had the corporate philosophy of “getting ourselves outside the ‘we have always done it this way’ box.”

“The quickly evolving world of cryptocurrencies and the media attention it has received is something that attracted our interest. Even before fully understanding it, we knew it was something we should work towards adopting immediately,” explains Mr. Ball.

Bitcoin: ‘Very Appealing from a Profitability Standpoint’

Mr. Ball tells us there are other reasons why the company decided to accept the digital currency.

“For instance, many of the larger ticket items Ball Equipment sells like the ATV’s, and Motorcycles, are typically very low margin products to retail to consumers,” the Ball Equipment executive details.

The transaction fees and potential fraud that exists with traditional payment methods when compared to the ease of secure low-cost payments on high-value transactions made bitcoin very appealing from a profitability standpoint.

“In addition, becoming an early adopter in our very ’old school’ industry gives us the potential to do business on a local and even national level that we would otherwise not have the opportunity. Considering we have found very few of our competitors anywhere accepting bitcoin currently, we do not see much if any downside other than accepting the risk of short term bitcoin value fluctuations.”

A New Customer Base, and Being Prepared for the Future

Michigan's Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Store Goes BitcoinAs of today, Mr. Ball says customers can stop in one of the Ball Equipment showrooms or visit the website, browse the selection of vehicles and products, and then fill out a request quote form to let the company know you are interested in a purchase with bitcoin as a payment method.

“A member of our sales team will follow up to provide a quote and once a final decision is made an invoice will be provided with a QR code from our wallet to send coins for payment,” Mr. Ball explains.

As Bitcoin.com explained last week, as the digital currency continues to see more popularity the trend also follows with people purchasing luxury goods, real estate, and high ticket items. Merchants like Ball Equipment are starting to see the value in opening up sales to a new customer base, a currency that appeals to profitability and allowing their business model to stay on course with the future of payments.

Do you think merchant acceptance is growing as bitcoin becomes more valuable? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.