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The entire landscape of how we authenticate domain names likely will see a complete overhaul, all powered by blockchain technologies. Just released, Handshake brings with it the much needed security and reliability on which we rely. Backed by venture capitalists and industry-established blockchain developers, Handshake has raised $10.2 million to replace the current digital entities maintaining our current internet infrastructure.

The project and protocol has been led by Joseph Poon (creator of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network), Andrew Lee (CEO of Purse), Andrew Lee (founder of Private Internet Access or PIA) and Christopher Jeffrey (CTO of Purse). The effort also is backed by 67 individuals with funding coming from A16z, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Polychain Capital and Draper Associates.

The Handshake project pledges to donate its initial funding of $10.2 million to FOSS projects, university research departments and more. The list of recipients includes projects and foundations such as the Apache Software Foundation, FreeBSD, Reproducible Builds, GNOME, FSF, SFC, Outreachy, ArchLinux, systemd and many more.

What Is Handshake?
Handshake aims to be a wholly democratic and decentralized certificate authority and naming system. Handshake does not replace the Domain Name System (DNS). It is, however, an alternative to today’s certificate authorities—that is, it uses a decentralized trust anchor to prove domain ownership. Although the primary goal of the project is to simplify and secure top-level domain registration while also making the root zone uncensorable, permissionless and free of gatekeepers.

A traditional root DNS supports the current infrastructure of the internet and, therefore, facilitates online access. The root servers hosting the internet publish root zone file contents, which are responsible for the internet’s DNS functionality. DNS associates information with domain names and maps them to public-facing IP addresses.

The way Handshake differs from this is that it’s all peer to peer. Every peer is responsible for validating and managing the root zone (via the use of “light clients”). All existing entries in the root zone file will form the genesis block of the blockchain supporting it. The same root zone will be distributed across the nodes forming the chain. The implementation allows for any participant to help host this distributed root zone and add to it.

How Does It Work?
Handshake makes use of a coin system for name registration (that is, the Handshake coin or HNS). It is the mechanism by which participants are able to transfer, register and update internet domain names. Currently, Handshake has opened a faucet to distribute HNS coins to qualified FOSS contributors. If you are one such contributor and you meet the project’s criteria, you can sign up here.

Once HNS coins have been distributed, the Handshake mainnet launches. A “mainnet” forms the central part of a blockchain. In fact, it is the blockchain in that it carries out the functionality of transferring digital currency from senders to recipients. This is the point where coin-holders can start auctioning, registering and transferring top-level domains.

With enough support and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) cooperation, Handshake eventually will migrate to a more global distribution. Project governance and maintainability are and will continue to be community-driven.

To Learn More
You can find additional information on the official Handshake website: https://handshake.org. In addition, you can access all source code from the project’s GitHub page: https://github.com/handshake-org.

Overview

Dash (DSH), like Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, aspires to be a common currency, one that can be spent or saved like any fiat currency. It emerged in 2014, before the boom of cryptocurrencies and so-called “altcoins”, and has slowly built a stable market presence within the top ten tokens by market capitalization.

Dash was originally conceived by Evan Duffield, who used Bitcoin’s source code to create his own coin, originally called Xcoin. Later it was named Darkcoin in reference to its privacy features, and then eventually settled on Dash, which is short for “Digital Cash”.

Purpose

Dash simply aspires to be a global digital currency, accepted at any and every store, restaurant, or place of business, online or off. It was conceived to do exactly what Bitcoin originally promised to be, a peer to peer currency, the only difference being technological improvements to provide more speed, security, and privacy.

Technical

Dash sought to solve perceived problems with Bitcoin, and those solutions are the core of what constitutes Dash’s differentiating features. One is increased privacy, by use of a built-in transaction mixing system called PrivateSend. This system breaks transactions into preset increments of 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10, 100, or 1000 Dash. These denominations are mixed with increments within transactions made by other users so that they are in essence shuffled in between senders and recipients. This makes it hard to trace the history of any Dash amount, preserving the privacy of users.

Another feature is a built-in system of governance by using masternodes. Bitcoin, according to Dash supporters, was a great technological revolution but has no methodology in place for participating developers or users to direct the course of the evolution of Bitcoin. If there is contention, as there has been in the Bitcoin community, there is no way to come to a consensus, and there can be harsh factionalization leading to splits and competition.

Dash’s masternodes are servers on the network where users commit at least 1000 Dash and a server capable of running continually with no downtime. These servers help with the operation of the network by providing consistent computing power, but they also give the owners of masternode the right to vote on proposals that affect the development of the network. In 2016, a proposal was made to the Dash network on whether or not to increase the block size from one megabyte to two, and they voted on an answer, which was to increase the block size, within twenty-four hours. Compare that to the Bitcoin block size debate, which has raged on for years and ultimately led to the divisive creation of Bitcoin Cash.

The third significant feature of Dash is the speed of its transactions. Blocks are not only mined and transactions committed every two and a half minutes, but also Dash has a system of “quorums” where ten masternodes can lock in a transaction’s details before the next block is mined. A quorum can process a transaction within seconds so that a buyer and seller can have near instant gratification, and the quorum will lock out other attempts to access Dash associated with those coins, preventing double spends.

Market

The total supply of Dash is 18 million coins, and a little more than a third have been put into circulation. At the time of this writing, it is the seventh largest token by market capitalization, and it looks like a stable contender to more or less maintain its position, barring some exceptional unforeseen circumstance.

Dash does have its loyal supporters, but, it’s most often accepted at places that take cryptocurrencies in general, meaning in the larger market it hasn’t clearly carved out a niche for itself. The challenge for Dash is that, unlike tokens that seek to find some kind of niche, a currency is definitely defined by how common its usability, which means the common person wants to have the currency that is most widely used by everyone else. This leaves little room for a second and third place contender. Cryptocurrency is still very much unknown in the wider world, which means there is a huge market to grow into, but, should one cryptocurrency start to gain mainstream acceptance, it could snowball into being the one winner. Dash could be that coin, but it has very strong established competition.

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Overview

ICON is a platform on which one can build new tokens, with their own rules of governance and features. In this way, it is much like Ethereum and the ERC20 standard that allows for new tokens to be created on the Ethereum blockchain. Where ICON differs from ERC20 tokens is that all coins within the ICON ecosystem, called the “ICON Republic”, share an ability to be traded with each other without the need for going through an exchange, a form of a built-in atomic swap.

The republic is supported by what they refer to as a “loopchain”, which is the underlying ICON blockchain that interconnects all individual tokens. The loopchain consists of ICX tokens which are used as the intermediary currency between all other tokens. However, since exchanging between different tokens within the ICON Republic is all handled by smart contracts, transactions should effectively be instantaneous and seamless, giving the impression of direct conversion.

Purpose

The goal of ICON is to create an overall environment in which companies can create tokens that suit their individual needs, and yet still be compatible with all other tokens within the ICON system, allowing for greater liquidity of assets. At the same time, the ICX coin will be a currency that people can use for purchasing goods and services.

One example they offer is of a person going to a hospital that is part of the ICON network. When the person’s visit is registered with the hospital, it alerts an insurance company that uses its own token. The insurance company may be using its own token for smart contracts to handle claims in particular way that is of no concern to anyone outside of that company. However, the insurance company, seeing that the hospital visitor is a member of their services, can issue its own tokens to the hospital or to the hospital visitor, and the hospital or visitor can receive them as a different token they find useful. For example, if the insurance company reimburses the hospital visitor, that visitor might choose to receive the tokens in the form of ICX, which they can then use to go to a coffee shop and buy a drink. Or they might opt to move the tokens into their university’s blockchain, where they also have their own token, using smart contracts or other token features to track students or course credits.

In the end, the ultimate goal is to create for everyone the benefits of custom smart contract solutions, while preserving the advantages that come with a common currency.

Technical

ICON is built much like Bancor, which uses a “delegated proof of stake” model. In ICON’s implementation, blocks are validated by people, called delegates, who vie for that status by committing tokens to what amounts to putting them in escrow. However, just committing tokens is not enough, that is essentially just nominating oneself for the role. One must also submit a proposal and exhibit skills necessary to running a node, and then one is voted into the position.

ICON also follows Bancor’s model of reserve backed tokens. Essentially, when creating tokens, one deposits a certain amount of money to ensure that no matter what, there were always be a value to the coin. If other people start buying the newly created token, driving up its price, a smart contract works to balance the price of the token with the amount in reserve.

Market

ICON has a system in place where it can issue up to 20% of its current number of tokens within the space of one year. The amount of increase it is voted on by people called C-Reps who are delegates that act as representatives for individual tokens. In some years the growth could be zero, or 20%, or anything in between. This means its effectively an inflationary currency. If in any given year a number of new tokens equal to 20% of the existing supply, it means all current token holders have their holdings reduced by 20%.

ICON is backed by DAYLI Financial Group, a large Korean conglomerate, and has a robust network within Korea of banks, insurance companies, and government institutions. As such, they’re well funded and networked, so they have the resources to see themselves through market dips and other hardships that might be too much to bear for smaller startups.

Their promotional material often emphasizes hospitals and insurance companies, which in itself is a large market. Even if they stay within Korea, and within that one business sector, they could stand to increase in value a great deal. If they can break out of that niche and find wider adoption, then their growth could be very substantial.

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Use our news to inform cryptocurrency trading decisions, stay up-to-date on happenings in the industry, and more!

Wells Fargo Is The Latest Bank To Block Cryptocurrency Purchases On Credit
You can’t buy bitcoin with Wells Fargo credit cards anymore. Engadget reports, “Wells Fargo is pumping the brakes on customers using their credit cards to buy bitcoin — the bank has banned credit card cryptocurrency purchases. However, this isn’t a permanent measure, as Wells Fargo will monitor the crypto market and reassess the issue as needed”.

SEC Launches ICO Portal: Highlights Risks, Rewards, and Responsibilities
According to Tony Spilotro of BlockExplorer, “The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is vehemently opposed to a common crowdfunding practice in the cryptocurrency industry called the initial coin offering (ICO). An ICO is similar to an initial public offering where a company or corporation raises investment capital by offering its stock to the public for the first time. Only in an ICO, a digital currency or token is distributed instead of a stock, and the token can have a variety of uses that blur the line of what defines a traditional security.”

Hackers Steal $20 Million Of Ethereum From Ethereum-based Apps and Mining Rigs
The Chinese cyber-security firm Qihoo 360 Netlab reported hackers stole over $20 million of Ethereum. BleepingComputer tells us, “The cause of these thefts is Ethereum software applications that have been configured to expose an RPC [Remote Procedure Call] interface on port 8545. The purpose of this interface is to provide access to a programmatic API that an approved third-party service or app can query and interact or retrieve data from the original Ethereum-based service —such as a mineror wallet application that users or companies have set up for mining or managing funds.”

Argo Blockchain to List on London Stock Exchange, Launches Subscription Crypto-mining
Argo Blockchain, a business that seeks to offer cryptocurrency-mining to the masses, announced its plans to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange. BlockExplorer’s Julia Travers shares with us that “the announcement coincided with the launch of Argo’s Mining as a Service, or MaaS, program, which will allow users to participate in mining through the Argo site with their home computers or smartphones.”

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Use our news to inform cryptocurrency trading decisions, stay up-to-date on happenings in the industry, and more!

Gemini To Become First BitLicensed Exchange To Offer Trading in Zcash
The New York State Department of Financial Services has authorized Gemini Trust Company to offer trading of Zcash, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. Tyler Winklevoss, Chief Executive Officer of Gemini Trust Company, LCC said, “We are proud be the first licensed exchange in the world to offer Zcash trading and custody services and look forward to providing customers with a safe, secure, and regulated place to buy, sell, and store Zcash, an incredible new form of digital cash.”

Crypto Mining Company Coinmint Moving To Revamp 1,300 Acre Alcoa Plot
Once used for aluminum smelting, an Alcoa plant in Upstate New York is going to be converted into one of the world’s largest bitcoin mining centers. CNBC reports Coinmint said Tuesday it “would invest up to $700 million in the upstate New York location, which it expects to be the biggest bitcoin mining center in the world. The project will create an estimated 150 jobs over the next 18 months.”

Cryptocurrency Theft Malware Now An Economy Worth Millions
According to a new research report titled “Cryptocurrency Gold Rush on the Dark Web” by Carbon Black, the market for malware and tools designed for the theft of cryptocurrency is growing swiftly. ZDNet states, “The researchers estimate that over the past six months alone, a total of $1.1 billion has been stolen in cryptocurrency-related thefts, and approximately 12,000 marketplaces in the underbelly of the Internet are fueling this trend.”

Image courtesy of Carty Sewill, http://cartyisme.com/.