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Using hardware to help your GDPR password policy

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Using hardware to help your GDPR password compliance

GDPR compliance is a huge area for many businesses. Especially those firms who hold sensitive data and have a number of remote staff. Many small businesses fall down in simple areas of IT security as they don’t have the resources to cope with the latest cyber threats. Staff are vulnerable to phishing attacks, social engineering or malware such as keyloggers.

A member of staff may not even have realised they’ve been hacked, and their password usually becomes the focal point of any data breach. In small businesses it’s unlikely that data is segregated on a permissions basis and that may mean that they entire scope of the companies data is vulnerable to a breach.

In order to prevent these attacks many small businesses are taking a more stringent approach to data protection and passwords have been identified as a high risk area. Many businesses have been implementing new password structures with greater strength to brute-force attacks or phishing. These are generally complicated alphanumeric passwords which are case sensitive often including special characters. Changes like this can often leave staff annoyed and confused, especially when using characters such as the “top hat” ^ .

A robust measure would also reset the passwords regularly with a 3 month period not uncommon. Such changes may also be met with resistance and it would not be uncommon to see staff writing these down on pen and paper and sticking them by their machine. Such actions clearly make the data protection worse not better!

A potential solution?

As we access the majority of our data through a web browser and many other businesses will do so where they operate a remote desktop environment, password managers have been a solution. Services such as lastpass have been used extensively but they offer a significant single point of failure, the master password. This may eliminate the need for remembering multiple complex passwords, but the onus is still on the user to remember and regularly update this master.

All online passwords are vulnerable to hacking, but hardware wallets are not. Originally designed to store cryptocurrency, the Trezor device was built and designed to ‘be your own bank’. That level of security is now used to protect passwords and could be the ultimate way to manage your password security, whilst removing the burdensome memory exercises.

How does it work?

When you setup your wallet you are given a secure 24 character seed word and create a pin number. Once your wallet is created it’s time to configure your password manager. This links your Trezor to a dropbox or google drive account, this is where your Trezor will store your encrypted passwords. The level of encryption means that even if someone else gains access to that data, it is completely useless to them. Secure.

You will create and store your passwords as required and from the password manager screen you can login to any services you require. In order to access the password manager you must have your Trezor plugged in & have entered your pincode. A manual button push is then required when logging into the service, the hardware device confirming that you are happy to decrypt that part of the data.

Your Trezor acts as a manual key to your online world and it will only work if you they know the pin code. It’s a fantastic, easy piece of security.

What if I lose my Trezor?

Remember the 24 character word we mentioned at the start? You store this offline and usually use something robust to protect this data such as a Billfodl. This is your recover method and with that data you can recreate the account on any other Trezor.

This physical aspect of a digital world removes a great deal of risk & offers a great deal of protection, especially when the fines for a data breach are so punitive. As the devices can be reconfigured and transferred to new members of staff the costs of setting up and maintaining this security program are miniscule, with the hardware (including the backup solution) costing less than £200 per person.

Get your Trezor Here

Cryptocurrency UK Tax treatments

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The aim is to educate you for your meeting with a professional advisor to ensure the correct advice is given, and the fees kept low.

Welcome to the tax guide for Cryptocurrency gains. This article is written by a Chartered Accountant and has been reviewed by various experts for accuracy and consistency but it is not to be treated as professional advice

Learn More

It’s been a long time coming but we’ve finally had some guidance from HMRC in the form of a letter answer questions about Crypto. We are proud to say that their advice matches our own and lays a good foundation for the correct treatment of Crypto currencies on your tax return. If you would like to view the letter in full click the link below. Extracts are now included where appropriate. 

HMRC Letter

Definitions

Read our section of definitions for better understanding of the technical terms used

What are disposals?

What constitutes a disposal for tax purposes

Reporting to HMRC

What, when and how do you report to HMRC.

Frequent Trading

What constitutes frequent trading and will you trigger income tax rates.

Speculative gains

What Cryptocurrency gains aren’t taxable

Losing  and Spending coins

What are the consequences for last or spent crpyto.

How to deal with Forks

The tax treatment for coins received in a Hard Fork

Record keeping for HMRC

Recording gains and transactions for HMRC

Mining and Staking Coins

How are mining and staking taxed and at what rates?

Read More

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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The rise of Bitcoin in value has created a number of millionaires and if its growth continues countless more will join the crowd of these Crypto-winners. At the moment many early adopters who backed Bitcoin for the technology and because they believed in its goal could be sat on a fortune.

It was always likely that some people would cash-out, and they are well within their rights to do so. The marketplace has become flooded with speculators and it’s moved Bitcoin from currency to commodity in a short space of time. The ‘Gold rush’ has seen dramatic price rises in the last few weeks and if growth continues more and more people will reach the heady heights of millionaire status.

Bitcoin promised to change the world, to be the biggest disruptive change since the industrial revolution, but it appears to be falling into the trap of greed, becoming entirely focused on it’s ‘value’ and not on its technology. This wealth is being created and some early adopters hold a huge amount of power in their hands. Do they have a responsibility to further the cause of Bitcoin, or perhaps the world?

Bitcoin Social Responsibility

This week has seen massive price rises, a huge ‘Bitcoin hack’ and one of the most heartwarming stories I’ve read in the BTC arena.  Step forward, Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

Many of you will know of Andreas, either from this week’s news or from his informational talks or youtube channel. For 2 years he has been supporting the rise of Bitcoin, taking a hugely technical topic and allowing it for digestion for the masses.

Roger Ver formerly regarded as Bitcoin Jesus, ‘Bitshamed’ Andreas after he posted a link to his $5 Patreon subscription page by stating that Andreas should be a millionaire by now if he had invested in Bitcoin in its early years, possibly hinting at a lack of belief in the project or some deception about his personal wealth.

He had worked largely for free since the start of his championing and was forced to sell his Bitcoin for rent and to support his family. He believed in the project but knew he had a duty to his family, something that should be supported.

The Bitcoin community rallied around Andreas and in 24 hours a slew of Bitcoin donations reached him. Over 150 Bitcoins had been donated to Andreas, making him a Bitcoin millionaire. One Crypto-Multimillionaire by the handle David Bowie Spears donated a huge 42 Bitcoins to the cause. This unprecedented generosity was followed by a tweet highlighting the simple reasoning.

With Great Power comes great responsibility

This new elite that Bitcoin has created has a role to play not only in the future of Bitcoin, but in the future of the world. The value of Bitcoin could rise to any value, and no-one knows where it will settle. Some early Bitcoin holders could be the richest people on the planet and many will have come from nothing.

They will have the money to change the world and perhaps this class of millionaires will be the ones to do it. Bitcoin has a problem with its large use of energy, perhaps some of this money could be funnelled into clean energy research. Bitcoin was used in poor, 3rd world countries where their own country was far too volatile, perhaps it could be used to solve inequality around the world?

Whatever these millionaires decide to do with their new found wealth, there is a clear opportunity for them to make the world a better place, but will they fall into the usual traps of consumerism?

Loose lips sink ships but weak hands cause dips

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Everybody knows Bitcoin is a volatile investment, or if you don’t, you should. It’s a completely new technology and it’s growing and an unprecedented rate. The old hands are seasoned navigators of these turbulent waters with nerves of steel and giant cojones. Newer investors, especially those coming on board in the last few months have seen huge rises but only minor falls. If you’re new to the market, or even part of the old guard there’s a few things you need to learn.

It’s a wild ride

Like most investments Bitcoin will fluctuate, but as it is a unique investment proposition it is more volatile than any of the investable asset classes. This means the shifts are often quicker and more extreme. Dips happen for a number of reasons, lack of buyers, large sell orders, bad news, loss of confidence, increasing fees, slow transaction speeds, amongst many others. Whilst some should cause genuine concern, many are just staple uncertainties within the market.

The dips are often made worse by Stop-Losses, these are auto-selling devices used by Bitcoin traders to limit their positions and take profits (or stop losses) at a certain level, when these are triggered the prices can drop dramatically. These are made worse by panic sellers, people who see these events as ‘the bubble popping’ hoping to get their capital or profit ‘cashed in.’ Some of these ‘sells’ are people looking to encourage a downtrend, hoping to leverage their profits to buy back in at a lower amount, increasing their holdings.

Hold the Door

Many people entering the market of late will not quite understand the volatility of this asset and may pull the selling trigger, and that could be a poor decision. If you have faith in the technology and its value, you need to keep your hand strong and stay the course.

In the community, it’s simply called holding or ‘Hodling’ on Reddit. The market will always be driven by the investors and its stakeholders. Trading Bitcoin is a risky business and many fingers have been burnt with people often selling low and buying high, the wrong way to make a profit.

The simplest strategy for Bitcoin in recent years is to hold your nerve and hold your Bitcoin, set your targets and sell when you’re ready. Only ‘Cash-out’ when you want to.

The Wolves are coming

Bitcoin is a unique investment in a number of ways, a major one is that it was available to the public prior to any of the financial institutions or trading houses. For the first time in history Joe Bloggs was able to tread where JP Morgan could not, and they’ve been spitting feathers about it.

Unfortunately, that time is coming to an end. Wall Street will begin trading in Bitcoin futures on the 10th of December and it could produce levels of uncertainty never before seen in Bitcoin. The futures will allow these bankers to ‘short’ the value of Bitcoin, making a bet that it’s price will fall, and they won’t have to ever buy a single Bitcoin.

Large short positions will likely be broadcast through media, hoping that this new class of tech investors lose their nerve, panic sell and cause huge drops. The way down is often quicker than the way up, and they will be able to make profits from scare tactics and weak hands.

These bankers do not care about the principal’s, the technology, or the algorithms Bitcoin is based on, they just want to make money.

However, it may not be that easy. Bitcoin has crashed before and many have underestimated the power of the HODL.

What are Futures

Futures are a way for trading houses and investors to bet on the prices movements in assets without ever requiring to own the assets. It may seem complicated but it’s rather simple.

I open a contract to ‘buy’ (make a bet) that 100KG of Steel will be worth $100 on January the 1st. At that date, I must pay $100 for that ‘steel’ but I will never receive it because a trading house doesn’t really want steel, so it will be cash settled (paid in cash).

If that 100KG of steel is worth $110 at 1st of January, I’ve made a profit of $10 as I’ve bought that Steel below market price. If it’s worth $90 then I’ve lost $10.

So what does that mean for Bitcoin? I here you ask.

It is possible that Investment Banks will take large short positions seeking to drive the price down. They will not be allowed to dump bitcoins to drive down the price artificially, but if stories and FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) spread through the media then they could seek to trigger a panic sell by other means.

Wall Street has no bounds, no ethics and Bitcoin holders may be subject to the strongest market forces they will ever feel.

Wall Street and futures take Bitcoin from the investment shadows and into the burning attention of the wolves. Get your pitchfork out and protect those flocks.

Santa Claus switches to Blockchain

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Over the past 12 months, we decided that The North Pole needs greater transparency and process for the Naughty or Nice list. Blockchain is a must for Xmas 2018.

St. NicholasSanta Claus

Santa sued for wrongful assignment of Naughty status

It’s been a busy year for everyone involved with Blockchain and with Cryptocurrency and we’ve been working with a fat man named Santa on a project for next year.

With the ever-expanding population, the increasing cost of ink and the number of naughty and nice transactions children are completing a new solution is required if he’s to ensure every child get’s a present on Christmas.

Santa is keen to improve transparency after a number of successful appeals by those kids having received coal accidentally. The old paper-based system was run by an Elf who went rogue, editing the naughty or nice list without the approval of St. Nick. He was caught deleting the good deeds from kids he didn’t like and with no backup ledgers, it was a mistake that couldn’t be fixed.

High profile cases like this have been tried through the Fairy Tale Courts this season with the North Pole unable to win a single case. The Fairy Godmother sympathise with St. Nick but rebuked him for allowing such trust to be placed in the hands of one individual.

It’s time for the Naughty or Nice list to modernise. Step Forward Santa Koins.

(The elf in question is currently awaiting trial at the North Pole high court, sentencing is expected early next year).

The Candy Koin Blockchain

Every child is entitled to register with the Candy Koins blockchain and receive 50 free Candy Koins to be stored in their own Stocking (a virtual wallet). These are given out freely by Santa as every child gets a fresh start after Christmas, where a hard fork and chain reset will occur.

Santa’s elves and the child’s parents will keep an eye on their behaviour and whenever they are nice, they will submit a payment request to Santa, and he will send them a Candy Koin.

If they are naughty they will have to send a Candy Koin back to Santa. Throughout the year all the good deeds and the bad will be recorded in this public ledger.

Santa is keen to use Blockchain technology as it will provide him with an immutable list for giving the correct gifts to children. The public ledger will also allow parents and children to keep track of how Santa is rating them and can improve their behaviour if needed.

There is no market cap for Candy Koins as the amount given is solely at the discretion of Santa, he’s a firm believer that there can always be more goodwill.

Bitcoin: Back to the Future

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2009 - $0.07

It’s 2009. Swine flu has been declared a global pandemic, Somalian Pirates have kidnapped Captain Phillips and Michael Jackson has just died and the world looks devoid of hope and inspiration.

January sees the quiet release of a huge technical project detailing the methods for a peer-to-peer network for a system of electronic transactions without relying on trust. Its name was Bitcoin.

The first open source bitcoin client was released and the mining of the first ever block by Satoshi Nakamoto released 50 bitcoins to the creator of the blockchain. Later in the year the first ever Bitcoin Transaction was recorded in the public ledger and occurred when Satoshi sent 10 Bitcoin to a developer who was interested in the project from day 1.

Satoshi Nakamoto was a pseudonym for a creator whose identity remains unknown. Around in the early days of the project he mined over 1 million bitcoins which he’s yet to touch. With the current value hovering around $8,000 per coin they are one of the world’s richest people.

Bitcoin is decentralised and there is no body in charge of the currency, the Bitcoin Foundation is the closest you can get to an official body. There has been only 1 single flaw found in the security of bitcoin and this was patched and the errors erased. This error spotting is in the nature of the public bitcoin ledger.

 

2010 - $0.25

In 2010 mining coins was easy but their value was small 10,000 bitcoin was worth around $40 and an early member on the bitcointalk forum decided that he would buy 2 Pizza’s for BTC.

“I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day.  I like having left over pizza to nibble on later.  You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!

I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that.  I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire.

If you’re interested please let me know and we can work out a deal.”

His reasoning was that he just wanted to say that he had paid for a Pizza in Bitcoins. This may not be the first ever bitcoin purchase but it’s probably the most famous. It showed the coin could be used as currency and purchases are key for mass adoption.

2011 - $4.14

In 2011 Ross Ulbricht under the Pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” created a market place on the dark web for sales without regulations. The idea was that transactions would be kept anonymous with the only payments accepted in Bitcoin.

It became an eBay for Drugs with Silk Road banning the sale of:

“anything who’s purpose is to harm or defraud, such as stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of mass destruction.”

Bitcoins are very hard to trace to a user, despite having a public ledger. The sellers had feedback, stores, ratings and customer service. Many believed it was a safer solution than risking your life at the hands of a local dealer.

Silk Road hit the mainstream when Gawker published this article in 2011 The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable  where it described Silk Road as the Amazon for mind-altering Chemicals.

The site operated successfully for 3 years until the FBI shut it down in 2014, building an enthusiastic and thriving community. It may have been outside of the law but it provided a use for bitcoin and market for bitcoin which hasn’t been seen since.

Silk Road played at the fringes of society but showed the value of a currency that wasn’t regulated by government. It provided low cost transactions between parties across the world and protected those transactions from the snooping eyes of Big Brother.

2012 - $11.04

Whilst liberals managed to indulge in safe trading for black market drugs others were touting Bitcoin as currency in areas where services such as Paypal would not venture. It was a huge move when WordPress decided to accept Bitcoin in 2012. The world’s biggest blogging software decided that this currency would allow users in countries such as Haiti, Ethiopia and Kenya to pay for their software, where it may otherwise be impossible. This acceptance by WordPress laid the foundations for e-commerce ventures in Bitcoin.

2013 - $1,242

The value of bitcoin peaked in 2013 at over $1,242 per coin and many felt it had reached its Zenith. The growth came on the back of the US government backing the coin stating how it showed great promise. The discussion of the paper “Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies” was genuinely positive and added validation many thought it needed. The US Financial Crimes division came to the conclusion that they did not want to “hinder innovation”.

Infastructure, Chinese investment, Halving & the notice of big banks saw transaction volume scale. Demand was picking up for the coin and the supply began to slow. It was a perfect storm for increasing the value of Bitcoin, but not as a currency, the rise in this period was as a financial asset.

2014 - $313.38

2014 was the year Bitcoin died. Well it wasn’t but that’s what many saw. The Coin had risen too far too fast and a market correction was incoming. The first set back was the Chinese Government banning financial institutions from using Bitcoin. It describes the currency as a novel invention and blocks trading in the currency, with many Bitcoin exchanges based in the far east volumes decreasing substantially, strangling the market. The exchanges looked to find way round the rules but were mainly unsuccessful. Mt. Gox was the major exchange still in existence after the Chinese ban and it came under intense pressure.

The exchange was struggling with massive DDoS attacks being launched against them. They had to stop withdrawal and it sent panic rippling through the markets. A run “on the banks” was almost inevitable as users scrambled to move their investments to a safer haven.  Unfortunately many users were unable to withdraw the funds they so desperately tried to do. Just 14 days later Mt. Gox closed, management disappeared with little comment under a huge cloud of anger and condemnation. A leaked internal document showed that over 744,000 Bitcoins had been lost.

The confidence in the coin was shakey and a trade worth $9 million for 30,000 bitcoin was placed late in 2014. The order was slowly filled and drove the market downwards. The Bear Whale was one of the first trades of this magnitude.

2015 - $397.52

Further arrests for money laundering, exchange hacks and the life sentence of Ross Ulbricht depressed the coin to its lowest value of the year to $226.90. The value of the coin was stuck in the doldrums during this period of it’s life until more positive news began to surface.

The EU declared that their should be no VAT on the exchange of Bitcoin and virtual currencies as they are not good or properties, but currency. The Economist posted a piece on Bitcoin days later highlighting the benefits of blockchain technology and promoted the idea of banks and government institutions implementing their own blockchains to improve transparency and safety for users. This type of promotion may not be at the heart of the decentralised currency, but it was positive press nonetheless. The currency is rebounding towards the end of 2015.

2016 - $1,050

In 2016 the currency continued to grow, more companies were accepting Bitcoin and the mainstream media was paying more attention. The public awareness began to increase at a huge rate and the increase of youtube channels, blogs and forums all contributed to taking a highly technical system and diluting it for the masses. The confidence in Bitcoin was increasing and the market was very resilient.

Bit Finex was hacked in 2016 and lost approximately $72 million. The market dropped 20% in a day. The belief in the currency was strong and 10 days later the Bitcoin price was just $3 less than prior to the hack. This resilience was highlighted once again in November when Donald Trump shocked the world as he ascended to the presidency. Global markets took a huge hit at the news with stocks and currencies being devalued. Many investors fled to perceived safe havens such as gold, many fled to Bitcoin.

This increase in trust and capital saw Bitcoin continue it’s upward trend, breaching $1,000 for the first time in 3 years over the Christmas Period.

2017 - $8,050

2017 saw the Hard Fork of Bitcoin to Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, with the development of the future at stake. This effectively doubled anyone’s holding in Bitcoin as both chains are now running side by side. Which will prevail, it’s hard to saw but there is room for more than one coin in this growing market.

Many have described Bitcoin has a bubble with the “greater fool theory” likely to blame. Cryptocurrency has become so mainstream that even Joe Bloggs must be considering an investment. Bitcoin is the Gold Rush of the 21st Century and it has the ability to make anyone a millionaire.

Reading Bitcoin forums will show many that Bitcoin is much closer to an investment than a currency at the moment, its substantial growth is due to people buying and holding their coins. You will see people screaming HOLD and TO THE MOON, but this attitude is creating a bubble that can pop and panic sells could see these holders lose all.

It’s not all doom and gloom for these asset speculators more and more financial institutions are looking for approval and a way to get in on the action. The greed of Wall Street is well documented and it’s unlikely they are going to let these gains be enjoyed by just the little man.

2018 - $100,000 ?

2018 is likely to be the year of large institutional investment in bitcoin and that will mean that demand greatly outweighs supply. Many People are speculating that $10,000 could be reached before the new-year. The end of next year could just as easily be $100,000.

Bitcoin needs its user to hold, spend and trade in the coin. There needs to be some inherent value the coin for it to maintain its rise, the dwindling supply will not be enough to keep the value propped up forever.

Silk Road showed there is a market for Bitcoin where purchases are illegal, but I propose that it will also be valuable for any purchases considered Taboo. There are a number of markets were Bitcoin spending should thrive.

Taboo industries are often ones you don’t want appearing on your bank account, many of you reading this will have a mortgage and will have provided bank statements for this purpose. Would you want your subscription to a porn channel, your payments to your betting account and a few choice legal drug purchases to show on this statement? Probably not.

The Sex, Gambling & Drug industries should be taking up Silk Road’s mantle in providing users with a discreet way to satisfy their darker needs. It’s a perfect combination of privacy and payment that solves a lot of problems for the user and the provider.

Gambling is a huge issue for many with countries often enforcing archaic prohibition on a form of entertainment. The industry is massive with Europe and the UK showing the economic power of the industry. Many users gamble illegally and must use low grade providers with little recourse should they be mistreated. Unable to use recognised providers they are seeking the drug dealers of the online betting world.

Pricing your products can be hard in a currency as volatile as bitcoin, but gambling is less effected by such swings if they trade entirely in BTC. This emerging market is large enough to offer value to bitcoin users and with lower fees than Fiat currency it can offer better odds & service than the current market leaders. Bitcoin has the potential to disrupt the betting market as a whole.

Many critics cite there been no real way to spend Bitcoin as a currency and they may be correct, but there are shoots growing with more companies willing to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Casinos are starting to accept anonymous players paying with Bitcoin and that could start the reigniting of Bitcoin as a currency.