In this issue:

• CBDC Testing Platform Launches, Crypto Adoption and Bitcoin Payment Options Grow

• Air Force Awards Contract to Study Blockchain, Retailer Reports Successful Invoice Pilot

• Hackers Demand $4 Million Bitcoin Ransom, Past Bitcoin Code Vulnerabilities Disclosed

 

CBDC Testing Platform Launches, Crypto Adoption and Bitcoin Payment Options Grow

According to a recent press release, a major U.S. financial services firm has launched a “custom testing platform” that “allows central banks to evaluate use cases and test roll-out strategies” for central bank backed digital currencies (CBDCs). The press release cites research stating that “80 percent of central banks surveyed are engaging in some form of CBDCs work, and about 40 percent … have progressed from conceptual research to experimenting with concept and design.” The recently launched testing platform reportedly allows users to simulate a CBDC issuance, distribution and exchange ecosystem; demonstrate how a CBDC can be used to pay for goods and services; examine various technology designs; and evaluate technical build, security, design and operations.

This week blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis released an excerpt from its forthcoming “Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report.” The excerpt discusses the firm’s Global Crypto Adoption Index, which seeks to quantify the differences in cryptocurrency adoption across the globe. Among other findings, the excerpt ranks the top 10 countries “where the most residents have moved the biggest share of their financial activity to cryptocurrency.” In order of one to 10, these are Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela, China, Kenya, the U.S., South Africa, Nigeria, Colombia and Vietnam.

According to recent reports, a major British online food delivery platform has enabled bitcoin payments for its French subsidiary using the services of a major U.S. bitcoin payment processor. Notably, if a bitcoin payment is canceled, “the customer will be refunded in Euros, with payment being sent to a customer’s traditional bank account.”

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Air Force Awards Contract to Study Blockchain, Retailer Reports Successful Invoice Pilot

A major U.S. defense contractor recently won a nearly $500,000 contract from the U.S. Air Force to study ways to implement blockchain technology within battle management systems. The contract calls for the contractor’s tech researchers to consider how distributed ledger technology (DLT) can help otherwise centralized Command and Control systems become less vulnerable to enemy attacks and better capable of ensuring the safety and success of Air Force pilots.

The Canadian division of an American retail giant that has deployed a blockchain solution to pay trucking companies has reported a 97 percent drop in invoice disputes with carriers. The corporation turned to DLT Labs, a Toronto-based startup, to deploy a customized version of its freight invoice and payment system. By the end of last month, the system had reportedly processed over 150,000 invoices, with fewer than 2 percent resulting in disputes. The system began as a pilot and now serves as the national standard for the Canadian division of the corporation’s carrier invoicing and payments. The company is also exploring new ways to leverage the platform to improve load visibility.

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Hackers Demand $4 Million Bitcoin Ransom, Past Bitcoin Code Vulnerabilities Disclosed

Argentina’s national immigration agency recently suffered a Netwalker ransomware attack in which hackers demanded $4 million in bitcoin, and which resulted in a temporary shutdown of all border crossings. The Argentinian government learned of the attack on August 27, according to a criminal complaint published by its cybercrime agency, after receiving numerous calls from various checkpoints requesting technical support. The situation was evaluated, and it became clear that a ransomware virus had affected network systems. To prevent the further spread of the virus, the agency’s computer networks were shut down for about four hours, during which time the border was closed. In response to the $4 million ransom demand, government authorities said that they refused to negotiate with the hackers, and that they were not overly concerned with retrieving compromised data, which purportedly lacked any sensitive, personal or corporate information.

According to a paper published earlier this week by protocol engineer Braydon Fuller and core developer Javed Khan, a previously undisclosed denial-of-service vulnerability in the Bitcoin Core software was quietly patched about two years ago, and again earlier this year. The paper describes how the vulnerability was first detected by Fuller in June 2018, and was covertly patched the next day. On June 26, 2020, the vulnerability was reportedly found in other network areas by Khan, and it again was patched shortly thereafter. The vulnerability could have allowed attackers to steal funds, delay settlements or split the Bitcoin network into conflicting versions. It was given a severity level of 7.8 out of 10, which is deemed “high.”

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