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How Tech Developments in Food Allergies Could Save Lives

How Tech Developments in Food Allergies Could Save Lives

According to the Food Allergy Research And Education (FARE) organization, there are 32 million Americans who are susceptible to food allergies, which is roughly 10% of the total population. If it is assumed that 10% of all the people in the world have food allergies, that would mean over 700 million people are at risk.

Food allergies are a widespread problem elsewhere in the world and are often triggered by milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Less frequently, corn, meat, gelatin, seeds, spices, fruits, and vegetables can trigger allergies. If someone who  is allergic is exposed to any of these ingredients, they are at risk of the full range of reactions including rash, nausea, vomiting, fainting, hives, and possibly even death in cases of anaphylaxis shock if not treated in time.

Once a person discovers that they have a food allergy, there are several precautions they can take to help avoid the food that they are allergic to, or to treat the occurrences. Unfortunately, sometimes food can accidentally become contaminated with an allergen during farming, processing, shipping, or even in the grocery store where it is sold. This could have potentially lethal consequences.

A tracking solution for food allergies

Fortunately, blockchain technology provides a solution to this problem. As explained in a previous BitcoinNews.com article, blockchain can be utilized to track food all the way from the farm to the grocery store shelf. Since a blockchain is secure, immutable, and distributed, the various parties which use the ledger can be ensured that the food data is trustworthy and has not been maliciously altered. The data from a food-tracking blockchain can be used to identify inefficiencies and fraud in the food supply chain, which ultimately makes the supply chain shorter and stronger, providing higher-quality products to end-users at lower costs. This is why major corporations including Walmart, Nestle, Kroger, IBM, and Oracle are developing blockchain platforms to track the food supply chain.

In the same way that blockchain technology can be used to track food, the technology can be used to track allergens in food, and this data can be disseminated to end-users with food allergies who can then check if the food they are about to buy or eat is safe or contaminated.

Primority, a digital food safety and management company, has teamed up with the IOTA Foundation to make the dream of tracking allergens with blockchain technology a reality. These companies are developing the 3iVerify platform, which tracks which raw materials are used in a food product, in addition to the source of the raw materials, as well as data regarding the production process. Only manufacturers will be allowed to write data to the blockchain. This data will then be stored on the IOTA blockchain, which uses a unique type of blockchain called Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), which is optimal for storing large amounts of data while simultaneously keeping transaction fees low. IOTA’s DAG blockchain is commonly known as the Tangle.

3iVerify will send food data to the IOTA Tangle via a Masked Authenticated Message (MAM), which is an easy and secure way to write data to the Tangle. For each specific food, a dedicated MAM channel is created, and the list of allergens in the food and the expiration date is written to the Tangle.

End users can then download the AllergyCheck App, and scan the barcode of a food product, at which point they will be able to see a list of all the allergens identified in this food product, including data from previous batches of the product. Users can be assured that the data they are basing their decisions on is accurate since the data is only from official food manufacturers and cryptographically secured on the IOTA Tangle.

Aside from being a great way to avoid eating foods which contain dangerous allergens, users of the AllergyCheck App will also be rewarded with the IOTA (MIOTA) cryptocurrency just for participating. IOTA (MIOTA) is one of the top cryptocurrencies in the world with a market cap near USD 1 billion.

The Head of Supply Chain and Global Trade at the IOTA Foundation remarks:

“The solution is a non-competitive setup whereby the entire food industry can open up their databases on allergens directly to consumers — without sharing any sensitive information to competitors. It shows the power of a permissionless ledger and how it can drive an infrastructure serving the public good. We are very excited that Primority is driving this grand vision and are looking forward to engage the industry at large.”

Thus, it is clear that blockchain technology’s capabilities to immutably store data on a distributed ledger is exactly what is needed to tackle the global food allergy problem. Primority and the IOTA Foundation’s AllergyCheck app enables a user to simply scan a food’s barcode and receive all of the relevant allergy information, potentially adverting life-threatening allergic reactions.

Perhaps in the future, blockchain-based platforms for tracking food allergens will become the standard in reducing allergen-related health and safety concerns.

 

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Blockchain and AI: Journey to the Promised Land

Blockchain and AI: Journey to the Promised Land

Blockchain technology’s advantage as an immutable, encrypted, and secure distributed ledger is well known. The ability for multiple parties can write data to the blockchain or access the data, and know that the data on the blockchain is trustworthy since it cannot be modified or deleted, is one that is now getting the recognition it deserves.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another powerful technology, with the ultimate dream to create a program that surpasses human intelligence, and once that happens, recursively self-improve itself until it has theoretically infinite intelligence and processing capabilities. This is called the AI singularity, and the late Stephen Hawking, one of the most renowned physicists in history, said:

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded”.

More optimistically, such an AI could perhaps solve all the problems in the world by creating futuristic technologies. It can be speculated that current AIs, and a theoretical super-intelligent AI in the future, would be enhanced by synergizing with blockchain technology. This article explores how AI and blockchain can be combined to pave the way for the fourth industrial revolution.

Blockchain and AI synergy

There are several ways that blockchain technology and AI can be combined to produce a more efficient technological system. First, since the former provides a distributed ledger which cannot be modified or deleted, the information from the latter can be stored in a blockchain, and then the scientists trying to understand the AI would have a clear and trustworthy audit trail of its actions. This data can then be used to make the program more powerful and efficient.

Further, if AI data is stored in a blockchain, the scientists that are working on producing better programs can give each other access to the blockchain. This data sharing via blockchain accelerates the scientific process of producing the most optimal AIs.

Also, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can be combined to create peer-to-peer marketplaces for data produced by AI programs and even the programs themselves. This will help AI technology to proliferate across the world in a decentralized manner.

Additionally, properly built blockchain technology ensures that data cannot be modified or deleted, so the data produced by the AI will not be hacked. Also, the program that comprises the AI could be stored on the blockchain, so it can never be compromised.

Another aspect of blockchain technology is smart contracts. In the theoretical scenario where an AI has reached super-intelligence, smart contracts can be used to ensure that itdoes not do anything it is not supposed to do. This will avoid catastrophic risks like those seen in “The Animatrix” and the “The Terminator“.

Ongoing efforts

There are actually a gauntlet of nascent companies already combining AI and blockchain technology, and these are sometimes called decentralized intelligent companies.

Tech firm Neureal combines AI and blockchain technology by allowing idle computing power to be commoditized and utilized to analyze tremendous amounts of data, referred to as Big Data. This data is fed into an AI program which then uses the data to answer questions and make predictions, as explained in the white paper. Ultimately, if Neureal succeeds in their mission to build this project, the end result would be a distributed and decentralized AI supercomputer.

Golem is somewhat similar to Neureal, in that it uses blockchain technology to combine idle processing power to form a decentralized supercomputer. The decentralized supercomputer created by Golem could easily be plugged into an AI by any user, although that is not the stated goal of the project.

SingularityNET provides a decentralized protocol using blockchain technology where developers across the world can share the AI technology that they create, accelerating progress towards the AI singularity, which is SingularityNET’s goal according to their white paper. It is doing this because the industry is highly privatized and run by major corporations, which keep their technological advancements a secret. A platform like SingularityNET, which allows all the scientists in the world to collaborate and build the ultimate AI, could perhaps eventually outpace major corporations like Google. Effect.AI is another company trying to decentralize development.

AI Blockchain has a different spin then the projects described so far, by using an AI to govern the blockchain, which supposedly increases security. The so-called super peers on AI Blockchain are designed to protect data in the blockchain by preventing malicious activity.

OpenMined aims to create a platform where AI programs can be connected with big data sets, which is an important part of the process for training a program. This learning environment is secured with blockchain technology, allowing scientists to keep their programs and data safe from hacking. Essentially, OpenMined uses blockchain technology like a protective shield, fostering the more rapid development of AI.

SynapseAI also is trying to develop a unique platform which accelerates the advancement of AI by monetizing it with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. AIs are uploaded to the SynapseAI network, and other users pay for the data from the programs via SYN tokens. Super-intelligent AIs could become self-sufficient and earn their own money in a theoretical future via platforms like this.

Another interesting convergence of blockchain technology and AI is the internet of things (IoT). The IoT is a worldwide network of connected devices as explained in a previous BitcoinNews.com article. For example, in a smart home, the IoT is used to connect windows, the garage door, the fridge, the tv, security sensors, and any other electronic to your smartphone. Also, IoT can be used to connect sensors for industrial usages, such as for power companies and traffic control systems.

Since the IoT produces a tremendous amount of data, blockchain technology is already quite useful for ensuring this data is properly stored, secured, and shared. IOTA is the best example of a blockchain project that is designed to store and share data from the IoT, and this data can actually be monetized via the IOTA (MIOTA) cryptocurrency, which is one of the top cryptocurrencies with a market cap near $1 billion.

It would make sense to plug an AI into the IoT to analyze and process the data, and then monetize that data via IOTA.

Thus, blockchain technology and AI have fundamentally useful synergy, and the combination of these powerful technologies is paving the way for the fourth industrial revolution. This is not a pipedream of the future; it is already happening via decentralized intelligence companies like Neureal, Golem, SingularityNET, Effect.AI, OpenMined, and SynapseAI, among others not discussed in this article.

This is only the beginning. The combination of blockchain technology and AI could lead to programs so powerful that they solve all of the world’s relevant problems. Certainly, this is an exciting time to be alive.

 

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Could Blockchain Solve IoT Security Bottlenecks?

Could Blockchain Solve IoT Security Bottlenecks?

In 1982, the idea of the internet of things (IoT) started with a soda vending machine that was connected to the internet, allowing the machine to report its inventory and whether the drinks were cold or not. This increased the efficiency of the vending machine, allowing a worker to be sent out whenever it was actually needed, and ensuring that the machine was always stocked with cold drinks.

Since then, IoT has expanded to integrate any device with internet or radio connectivity, and it is estimated that 8.6 billion devices are connected as of 2018. For example, via Apple Home, a person can control their air conditioning, heating, light, speakers, outlet, switches, windows, fans, humidifiers, air purifiers, security sensors, security cameras, locks, doorbells, and garage doors with an iPhone app. This technology has the potential to make someone’s life much easier, and it sounds like something from a futuristic sci-fi movie. However, there is a major caveat: security.

IoT security concerns

With everything in someone’s home connected to the internet, a hacker could theoretically gain access to everything in someone’s home. Imagine if a hacker who intends to rob someone’s house gains control of the garage door, windows, locks, security cameras and sensors. This hacker could literally watch via the camera and wait for a family to leave their house, and then open up the windows or garage door and turn off all the security sensors, and rob the house blind without being caught. Also, having cameras connected to IoT could allow a hacker to spy on someone, compromising the basic human need for privacy.

A real-life example of IoT being compromised by hackers is the Mirai botnet, which took control of cameras, home routers, and DVRs. This botnet was leveraged to perform DDoS attacks, and also led to device connectivity problems and the exposure of private data.

Imad Labbadi is the CEO of VeCap, a company that focuses on securing IoT powered smart homes. He says:

“There is insufficient protection, several devices from well-known companies and other vendors have serious breaches in their security systems: insufficient encryption, weak authentication requirements — for example, auto-login, possibility of external connections via VPN. All it takes is one unprotected device to compromise the security of your smart system or smart home. Hackers only need to find that one breaking point to bring down the whole network. It takes hackers less than a minute to get access to smart home devices, from phones and TVs to routers and consoles; all these machines are connected to the internet. Vast numbers of devices with zero-day vulnerabilities will be hacked as soon as the breaches become known before manufacturers will be able to update all vulnerable smart devices. Short-term thinking compromises long-term security.”

Blockchain to the rescue?

This security caveat has prevented widespread adoption of IoT. However, the security and encryption of blockchain technology have the potential to make it completely secure, which would allow it to reach its full potential and be used by people worldwide without fear of hackers.

Data stored in a properly built blockchain cannot be modified or deleted, nor accessed by anyone who does not have permission. This is because blockchain technology is built with powerful cryptography. Smart contracts on the blockchain can then be used to run IoT devices.

Cyber-Trust is a blockchain-based platform which focuses on securing the IoT. It uses HyperLedger Fabric from IBM, which is a blockchain that can handle up to 100,000 transactions per second, quite necessary for global scalability considering the number of IoT devices is expected to reach 22 billion by 2024. The updated history of an IoT device’s integrity state is stored in the blockchain, which minimizes the risk of cyber attacks by ensuring that devices have the most up to date security software. Also, in general, all IoT device actions are performed via blockchain smart contracts, which prevents hackers from accessing the devices.

Another company which is using blockchain technology to secure IoT devices is VeCap. Smart contracts are used to secure all internal communications within a home IoT system, and all data is stored on the blockchain to prevent hacking.

The need for securing the internet of things (IoT) becomes even more essential due to industrial and government applications. For example, the power company CenterPoint has 7 million customers and they have installed digital meters and internet connected sensors for a 5,000 square mile area around Houston, Texas. This allowed CenterPoint to restore power more rapidly than usual after Hurricane Harvey, but it is essential that this connected grid of devices is secured from hackers. Also, medical devices in hospitals, industrial robots, and self-driving cars use the IoT, and it could be life-threatening and costly if hackers compromised those systems.

AI and computing

Hewlett Packard has invested USD 4 billion into edge computing, which uses a combination of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to strengthen industrial uses of IoT. For example, X-ray machines across the US download data to the blockchain every 10 minutes or so, ensuring the data and the devices are secure, and then the data is analyzed by AI to help identify diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia. This combination of blockchain technology and IoT is being called swarm computing.

Perhaps the greatest endeavor which has combined blockchain technology with the internet of things (IoT) is IOTA, which has a cryptocurrency called MIOTA that has a market cap of nearly USD 1 billion and is ranked #18 on CoinMarketCap (at time of writing). IOTA’s developers foresee that global data pipelines will inevitably become congested, preventing IoT devices from communicating and storing all the data they produce. The IOTA network prevents that problem by funneling all of this IoT traffic into their blockchain, which has the additional effect of providing higher security and decentralizing the network, so centralized points of failure are eliminated.

IOTA uses a unique variation of blockchain called Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), and in the specific case of IOTA this DAG blockchain is nicknamed “The Tangle”. With a classical blockchain such as Bitcoin, all previous blockchain history is required in order to issue a new transaction. With DAG however, a node only needs two previous transactions in order to issue a new transaction. This makes IOTA fast and efficient while providing the same cryptographic security as a classical blockchain.

Aside from providing a medium which can handle the storage and communication of data for all IoT devices, IOTA also creates a new system where individuals and machines pay micro-transactions for exactly what bandwidth they consume and when they consume it instead of subscription models. Also, individuals maintain ownership over their data, and they can sell their data to make money, which has applications for the big data industry.

Thus, the proliferation of IoT, which has the potential to revolutionize the way people live, has encountered a roadblock due to security concerns. However, blockchain technology appears to be the solution, and companies and organizations like IOTA, Hewlett Packard, CyberTrust, and VeCap have already successfully integrated blockchain technology with IoT, which prevents hackers from accessing IoT devices.

This merger of blockchain technology and IoT is paving the way for a future where all the devices in the world are connected, leading to a more efficient life and a more efficient economy.

 

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Jaguar Land Rover and IOTA Hook Up for Crypto Rewards Scheme

Jaguar Land Rover and IOTA Hook Up for Crypto Rewards Scheme (1)

Prestigious Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it is currently testing software which will enable drivers of its vehicles to earn IOTA coins as a reward for sharing driving data.

The company is not only Britain’s largest but one of its last auto manufacturers, as many UK companies have been taken on by overseas companies in recent decades. Britain has now predominantly become the manufacturing home of supercars such as Aston Martin rather than cars for the people.

Jaguar Land Rover wants to change this and to seal their place in the industry worldwide as the archetypical British mark by combining the badge with the latest technology available. To this end, the company wants to install “smart wallet” technology into its vehicles which would enable drivers to earn crypto rewards as they drive.

In an attempt to cut down on congestion, which has become a huge problem in the UK, drivers would receive IOTA coins for reporting useful data such as traffic congestion or road defects to sat navigation providers or local councils. This would be through an automatic system loaded into the vehicle’s computer system.. The tokens could also be issued as rewards for car sharing, which could then be used for paying tolls, parking and charging for electric cars.

This is not the first time that IOTA has dipped into feet into the lucrative waters of the automobile industry. Last year Volkswagen integrated IOTA Tangle technology into its autonomous cars and displayed proof of concept at the 11 June 2018 Cebit Expo in Germany, demonstrating the usefulness of cryptographic technology in the cutting-edge futuristic world of self-driving vehicles.

By using IOTA, Volkswagen can wirelessly send updates to its autonomous cars on a transparent, immutable ledger. This cryptographically secures updates, preventing tampering, and allows the public to review updates which increases trust and credibility. It is expected that by 2020, there will be 250 million autonomous cars, which will require frequent updates.

Although not available yet, the latest “smart wallet” system is currently being tested on the Jaguar F-PACE and Range Rover Velar at the company’s engineering plant in Ireland.

 

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Danish State Energy Firm to Examine IOTA’s Tangle in Electricity Supply Chain

Danish Energinet to Use IOTA’s Tangle in Electricity Supply Chain Market

IOTA, an internet-of-things system based on distributed ledger technology (DLT), has announced a partnership with Danish state-owned energy company Energinet, with the hopes of exploring Tangle — the native technology of IOTA — towards an efficient electricity supply chain.

“Energinet has been exploring concepts of digital trust and distributed ledger technologies (DLT),” the blog post reads. This is in tune with the aim of providing a more efficient green energy system with the company as a core entity between energy producers and consumers. As André Bryde Alnor, Market Developer in Energinet, puts it: “We know that we have to bridge the gap between the fast developments in IoT technology, being implemented on both household and industry level, and the centralized systems of the European energy system.”

IOTA is technically not a blockchain but an open source distributed ledger — terms often misconstrued. It combines the concept of blockchain and internet of things (IoT) to form its own technology, the Tangle.

This isn’t the first time both companies would be working together. In November 2017, when IOTA was running a Data Marketplace initiative, Energinet was a participant along with several industrial and IT companies. Now that Energinet has finished testing distributed identities, it wants to move on to applications of IoT in electricity markets through the Tangle technology.

DLT, the term to address all blockchain and non-blockchain systems using distributed consensus algorithms models, continues at a steady pace along with other emerging technologies to restructure the energy markets.

Recently, Japanese Tech giant Fujitsu announced its successful trial of a blockchain-based system for improving energy trading throughputs between consumers and producers.

Many blockchain-based startup companies are currently racing to provide energy efficient solutions that involve transparency, security and smart administration. While some of them may be fortunate to onboard traditional firms to support their vision, sadly adoption may still be a while off. Perhaps, one of the advantages established businesses have over startups in exploring DLT is the robust resources that enhance their research and development, as well as their track records and credibility in other fields of endeavors.

However, it is expected that as the blockchain ecosystem matures, more partnerships will ensue between traditional businesses and startups when they develop proof of concepts that are practical and relevant to today’s economy.

 

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IOTA Recovers Nearly All of $11 Million of Stolen Crypto

IOTA Recovers Nearly All USD 11 Million of Crypto Lost in Hack

Following the USD 11.4 million hack of technology group IOTA, a top official has confirmed to Reuters that nearly all of the funds have been recovered.

The hackers stole cryptocurrency funds from investor’s wallets on the IOTA platform by creating a malicious seed-generator running over the websites own page. When clients used the generator to create their 81-digit seed password, the hackers were able to capture and save the digits.

A 36-year-old man from Oxford, England was arrested last week on the grounds of stealing the funds from over 85 victims. It was initially thought to have been committed by an organized criminal group but officials now believe this man was the sole perpetrator. Authorities are withholding the funds to use as evidence in court.

Since the attack, IOTA has partnered with Ledger Hardware Wallet to enable users to protect their private keys for their IOTA tokens.

While of course any hacks or criminal activities that result in the unlawful loss of funds are unacceptable, it is a promising step that authorities are becoming increasing equipped to trace funds and find the criminals behind the offenses.

 

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UK Man Arrested for Alleged Role in $11.4 Million IOTA Heist

UK Man Arrested for Alleged Role in .4 Million IOTA Heist

A 36-year-old Oxford man was arrested in the UK yesterday on suspicion of defrauding cryptocurrency investors out of USD 11.4 million worth of IOTA, according to the BBC.

The man is alleged to have stolen the cryptocurrency from 85 different people and had become the subject of a Europe-wide investigation involving state police from Hesse in Germany, Europol, and the National Crime Agency. He was finally arrested by officers from the UK’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

The man, whose name has still not been released, used the name “Norbertvdberg” while purporting to offer support to IOTA enthusiasts. He fronted his activities by offering to use his help site to generate IOTA-compliant unique passwords for other users by generating the seeds for users required by the coin.

The hacker linked his site to a public GitHub repository claiming to contain the source code of the iotaseed.io service in order to convince other users that his support was legitimate. However, the code generated predictable passwords which were then being logged by the hacker.

Alex Studer, UK student and crypto enthusiast, explained: “This code patches the Math.seedrandom function, which is used by the [seed] generation code, to always use a fixed seed ‘4782588875512803642’ plus a counter variable that increases by one every time seedrandom is run.”

The effect of this, according to Studer, is that the same predictable series of numbers is continually returned causing the wallets’ seeds to always remain the same.

Det Insp Rob Bryant from SEROCU said: “This has been an intricate investigation into the theft of huge sums of money from victims across the world. We have been grateful for the support of our European colleagues… The offences have taken place over an extended period, and it’s likely that there are other victims out there.”

According to Europol, the operation was launched due to the vigilance and proactivity of the IOTA users as several victims of the hack reported their concerns quickly to the authorities prompting swift action.

The perpetrator is now awaiting extradition from the UK to Germany in order to stand trial.

 

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UN Report Praises Crypto as “New Frontier” of Global Finance

UN Report Praises Crypto as

The United Nations (UN) year-end report has called Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies the “new frontier” in global finance with massive potential to revolutionize business.

Even before the release of the World Economic and Social Survey 2018, it remains no secret that the International Assembly has already invested heavily in blockchain through the International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF).

The UN itself is not new to working with companies which apply the latest technologies such as blockchain.  Binance’s head of blockchain charity has indicated in the past that the technology would bring “transformative solutions to social problems, and help bridge the UN Sustainable Development Goals funding gap in fast and innovative ways”.

The UN’s latest report refers to the advantages of crypto, blockchain and distributed ledger technology and suggests a value token under consideration called ClimateCoin, which may be a way of addressing carbon emissions in the future, a major concern to many nations at present arguing, “Cryptocurrencies represent a new frontier in digital finance and their popularity is growing. The decentralized networks for cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being a well-known example…”

ClimateCoin is being seen as one solution using cryptocurrency that would allow P2P exchanges of carbon credits allowing devices to calculate emissions and offset them accordingly by purchasing further credits.

UNICEF recently received a boost with companies including Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar, and W3 Engineers being awarded the challenge of building prototypes for global issues such as health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects.

The UN’s main body expressed interest in “the new frontier” in May 2018 when it announced a collaboration with IOTA to increase the efficiency of United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) operations.

 

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WTO Sees Strong Potential in Blockchain’s Future

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has revealed in a recent report that it is positive that blockchain technology will facilitate the easy trading of goods and cut costs as it begins to be taken up more widely.

The WTO outlines the potential of blockchain in its report, a fact which is already known by most developers, but the views have encouraged the industry nonetheless, simply to see the technology recognized by such a major symbol of world trade. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo was particularly encouraged by the potential of smaller enterprises to profit from the utilization of DLTs, commenting:

“Beyond easing trade in goods, digital technologies can facilitate services trade and enable new services to emerge. The Report predicts that the share of services trade could grow from 21 per cent to 25 per cent by 2030. Other effects could include, for example, blockchain helping smaller businesses to start trading by supporting them in building trust with partners around the world.”

The report, entitled The future of world trade: How digital technologies are transforming global commerce’, includes positive comments regarding Ripple and IOTA which are both mentioned specifically. It all goes on to point out blockchain specific uses focusing on supply chains. The WTO states that it hopes that Ripple will be able to continue reducing the cost of cross-border payments and notes the company’s recent expansion, commenting:

“Ripple has ambitions to circumvent the correspondent banking model through its distributed ledger platform. It gives banks the ability to convert funds directly into different currencies in a matter of seconds and at little to no cost, without relying on correspondent banks.”

The report notes although Ripple has licenses with over 100 banks and financial institutions, many banks have not yet taken up the option of using its token, suggesting that banks are still testing the system.

IOTA also get a mention, the report referring to its Directed Acyclic Graph, enabling machine-to-machine communication. Tangle is seen as enabling speedier service for users as more join the network.

 

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Sidetangle Attack on IOTA Reveals DAG Susceptibility

The IOTA network, referred to as the tangle, has been under siege recently by a sidetangle, which is a parasitic chain of transactions produced by a hacker. The sidetangle has been stitched to the maintangle, causing nodes to crash and slowing down the entire network. This has revealed a susceptibility for directed acyclic graph (DAG) based cryptocurrencies.

IOTA is the most popular and widely used DAG cryptocurrency, with a market cap of USD 2.7 billion and trading volume in excess of USD 50 million per day. Most cryptocurrencies use a blockchain, which requires adding transactions to a chain of all previous transactions. Each Bitcoin node must use the full transaction history of Bitcoin to confirm new transactions. With IOTA’s DAG, users only need to verify two previous transactions, which is deemed far more computationally efficient and allows for a fee-free system.

Apparently, the nature of IOTA’s transaction verification system can be exploited by hackers by creating a sidetangle, which is considered a parasite chain. A sidetangle is built by selecting tips that only reference themselves, making the transactions unlikely to confirm. The hacker can create millions of transactions like this, which forms the sidetangle, and these transactions never confirm.

The sidetangle would normally stay distinct from the maintangle and have no effect, but hackers have built software which stitches the sidetangle to the main tangle. This results in nodes including the sidetangle in their database. The sidetangle is filled with so many transactions that the nodes crash, according to Ralf Rottman who is on the IOTA Foundation Board of Directors. Ralf Rottman says, “People continually try to attack the tangle, and we learn from these attacks to make it more resilient over time. Remeber, IOTA is an early-stage project and these kinds of events are par for the course. As long as someone can get such a large percentage of hash power, they can do whatever they like. This is true for any DLT, and the exact reason we have the coordinator ensuring that tokens are safe during this early period.”

Head of engineering at the IOTA Foundation, Edward Greve, says, “The current sidechain and syncing issues are a new phenomenon for the Tangle, and we’re taking the opportunity to acquire data about how the Tangle is responding and performing. We will keep you posted and share new information as we are able to. Please understand, these new phenomena are not always obvious, and investigation takes time.”

No IOTA has been lost from the sidetangle attack but nodes crashing has slowed the network and reveals a general susceptibility for DAG cryptocurrencies that needs to be addressed. This is somewhat similar to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. No solution for sidetangles has been formulated yet.

 

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