A Cryptocurrency exists only in the virtual form, unlike the paper currency, which is a physical currency. This currency is accepted to buy goods and services. However, the documentation of the transaction is purely conducted using an online leader. There are numerous cryptocurrencies obtainable in the market right now. The virtual currency is secured with strong cryptography to defend online business activities. This encrypted system also makes it hard for the user to counterfeit or double-spend digital money.
A primary competent what makes digital currency attractive is that any central authority does not issue it. Cryptocurrencies are unregulated, and most of the time, they are traded to gain huge profits. Therefore, speculators are often seen driving cryptocurrency prices higher. They are by large unaffected by government interference or manipulation.
Cryptocurrencies are managed by a technology called Blockchain, a decentralised technology spread across various computers responsible for recording and managing transactions.
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It is a distributed ledger created by various networks of computers. This chain of computers manages and records every transaction made through cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology also provides robust security; however, cryptocurrencies have been exploited in the Dark Web, making it vulnerable.
Many private companies have issued their own currencies. They are called tokens or coins that can be used to purchase the goods or avail of the company's services. Considering these currencies are similar to arcade tokens or casino chips, the only difference is that cryptocurrencies are virtual. The way you purchase a token to play games or chips in a casino with real currency, cryptos can be used to buy goods and services.
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There are more than 6,500 different cryptocurrencies in the market and are continuing to snowball. These currencies are traded publicly to raise money through initial coin offerings (ICO)s. As per a market research website, CoinMarketCap, as on December 18, 2020, total cryptocurrencies are worth more than USD 645.7 billion. The most popular virtual currency - bitcoins are worth USD 421.7 billion. Few most famous cryptocurrencies traded online are mentioned below:
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Cryptocurrencies are popular for multiple reasons. Many people believe that as the world is becoming more and more reliant on technology and digital space, cryptocurrencies will offer a great alternative to the real currencies.
People also like to buy digital money because there is no interference from the government or central bank. Banks have reduced the value of money via inflation in the past. Many banks in the world are currently planning on bringing their own digital currencies. Cryptocurrencies are legal in the United States jurisdiction; however, it is still not in many countries. Therefore, it is imperative to protect your money from fraudsters.
Thorough due diligence is always recommended. Check the company prospects and see who owns the company. It is a good sign if major investors are showing interest in it.
What is the Dark Web? The dark web is one such portion of the World Wide Web which is not accessible by regular search engines. The dark web is considered a hotbed for criminal activities, and it is much more than that. Various websites exist on an encrypted network inside the dark web. Standard web browsers and programs cannot find these websites. Once inside the dark web, different sites and pages can be accessed like one does on the web. Scientists believe that the internet we see is only 4% of the entire ocean of the web, meaning the 96% consists of the "Deep and Dark Web". The user interface used in the dark web is usually internet-based, but it utilises special software which is not part of the standard ones. There are dozens of web browsers to surf the internet, but they all work in the same way. These standard browsers use ports and protocols to request, transfer and view data on the Internet. The website you access may look familiar, but as you enter, it may be illegal or something familiar but otherwise not monitored by anyone else. Therefore, the deep web and the dark web are famous for being anonymous. Also read: Cyber Espionage Campaign: Strings that tie China, Australia and the US How to access dark web browser? In order to access a few areas which are restricted, the user may need a password and a process to follow. A special software called TOR (The Onion Router) or the Freenet has these non-standard connections. These browsers are unlike standard internet browsers and have a process to access. They allow the users to browse around the dark web and are focused on keeping the user identity anonymous. If hacked or accessed, the regular web browser can easily provide user information such as who the user is and whereabouts. Though the dark web is providing 100% anonymity, federal agencies have been successful in tracking down criminal activities on the dark web. It is often said that the person you are talking to on the dark web could either be an FBI agent or a criminal. Image: Kalkine What happens inside the world of the dark web? The dark web is famous for allowing sinister activities, but many users go on the dark web to access information which otherwise may not be accessible on standard internet. Such as users from extremely oppressive governments who cut access to the world for their citizens. Unfortunately, such confidential environments also provide open platforms to criminals, terrorists and other such individuals involved in illegal activities. Hence, experts advise users to not access the dark web even out of curiosity as it is a lawless environment. There have been many incidents where innocent, curious users were trapped and forced to get involved in criminal activities or their digital devices hacked and compromised without their knowledge. A study conducted by a University of Surrey researcher Dr Michael McGuires in 2019, Into the Web of Profit, shows that the dark web has become worse in recent times. Since 2016 of all the listings on the dark web suggested, 60% could harm companies. Everything illegal and criminal can be found on the dark web, it also has other legitimate options such as chess clubs or book clubs, but because of the anonymity, the user will not know whom he/she is interacting with. Inside the dark web, anonymity and lawless nature make the crimes which exist otherwise in our society hard to trace. The payment procedure inside the dark web is also different from the World Wide Web. Most often, Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency are used for the transactions. RELATED READ: Knock Knock! Cybercriminal at Your Doorstep What’s the difference between the deep web and dark web? The dark web is part of the entire deep web and is hidden from regular browsing access. Most people confuse the deep web and the dark web as one entity. It is not. The deep web content includes anything hidden and restricted behind the security wall such as content which otherwise requires paywall or sign-in or blocked by the author. Content which cannot be easily accessible on regular internet such as medical records, membership websites, paid content are available on the deep web; hence it is also called Invisible Web. No one really knows the total size of the internet, but the experts believe that the standard World Wide Web consists of only 4% internet, the deep web consists of 90% and dark web consists of 6% of the entire internet. ALSO READ: Technology has changed the way we work amid the COVID-19 crisis: A look at in-demand technologies Image: Kalkine Also read: It happens again, NZX being bullied by Cyber-attackers- Down for the fourth day What kind of risk companies face due to the dark web? The Into the Web of Profit report listed below threats various organisations around the world are facing, especially the ones who have weak or insufficient cybersecurity measures. Malware attacks Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Botnets Trojan, keyloggers, exploits Espionage Credentials access Phishing Refunds Customer data Operational data Financial data Intellectual property/ trade secrets Also read: Cybersecurity and the Requirement of a Resilient Environment in Australia Are there advantages and disadvantages to the dark web? The dark web provides complete anonymity, the users get complete privacy to perform any activity, be it illegal or legal. Many countries in the world still have authoritarian regimes offering no civil rights to their people. To such oppressed lot, the dark web provides an opportunity to access news, information, data and also express their views. The dark web is also a perfect place for law agencies to map criminal activities while being undercover. It is also easy to commit gruesome crimes through the dark web as it is complicated and lawless. Criminals can easily use the dark web to compromise someone's privacy, steal data or private information or even hire someone to commit murder. Do internet users need to be concerned about the dark web? The simple answer is no unless the user is using the dark web. Study says that most young people visit the dark web out of curiosity. They do not want to indulge in any criminal activity but want to see how the hidden and secret world of the dark web operates. And that is where the possibility of the electronic device IP address getting hacked by other criminals to perform their criminal activities lies. The earliest use of darknet dates back to the year 2000. Freenet was created at the University of Edinburgh based on a student research paper. Ian Clark wrote the paper in 1999 on the possibility of such an encrypted internet base. Freenet was created to oppose censorship and provide a platform for free speech. The most powerful dark web is TOR, and it was created by the United States government to have a secure encrypted communication in case of emergency and complete disaster. Even today, many law agencies are secretly active inside the world of the dark web to gain access in the criminal world and stay one step ahead.
ICON (ICX) is a cryptocurrency or a form of digital asset that allows multiple blockchains that includes other cryptocurrencies to exchange information via ICON's central node.
ZCash is a type of cryptocurrency with a decentralized blockchain and is a privacy-protecting, digital currency built on strong science through which the users transact efficiently and safely with low fees while ensuring privacy of the digital transactions.
What is Bitcoin? What are Digital Currencies, Cryptocurrency? Bitcoin, as a cryptocurrency, is a virtual currency or a digital currency. It was created in 2009 by a mysterious person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It is the most prominent and biggest cryptocurrency, with market capitlisation Technically, an individual can buy products and services with a cryptocurrency. However, not many shops accept Bitcoin as a currency yet and some countries have already banned it. Bitcoin is not controlled by a single authority, but by decentralized network of users, and do not come directly under the whims of central banking authorities or national governments. Today in the market, there are hundreds of active cryptocurrencies. Do read: Bitcoin for Beginners: 5 things you need to know Like traditional currencies, such as the dollar and pound, Bitcoin also has a value relative to other currencies and physical goods. To know about Bitcoin and gold relationship, read: Demystifying Bitcoin-Gold Relation: What Investors should expect? The whole of Bitcoin units can be subdivided into decimals, which reflects smaller units of value. The smallest Bitcoin unit is called a satoshi, or 0.00000001 Bitcoin. Satoshi cannot be broken into ore smaller units. However, Bitcoin’s source code can be further divided beyond this level. Apart from buying products & services, it can be used to exchange with other private users as consideration for services performed or to pay any outstanding debts. Bitcoin can be swapped for other currencies, on electronic exchanges that function similar to forex exchanges. However, it can also be used to facilitate illicit activity, such as the purchasing illegal drugs on dark web marketplaces like the infamous (and now-shuttered) Silk Road. Do read: BrewDog Vouches For Bitcoin, While FED Raises Concerns; What’s Next For The Bitcoin? Bitcoin can easily be traded for cash or assets digitally like gold or silver with very low fees. This reflects that it has high liquidity, and many see it as an investment instrument looking for short-term profit, as well as for long term gains. Do read: Guide To Bitcoin And Stocks Specializing In Blockchain Technology How to buy Bitcoin? For buying a Bitcoin, an investor has to open a brokerage account with a company that has the license to trade cryptos. Then the investor is required to deposit funds into the brokerage account, after which they can buy bitcoin (BTC). The easiest way to buy or sell digital currency (like bitcoin) is via an online platform (interface) like Coinbase, which is considered one of the most popular cryptocurrency platform in the world presently. Coinbase allows its clients to purchase and sell three of the most popular cryptocurrencies currently trading and are on demand; this includes Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. For information on different cryptocurrencies read: The Advent of Cryptocurrencies- Popular Cryptos in Focus What is Blockchain? How is it related to Bitcoin? Blockchain is a public, distributed ledger that is required of all prior Bitcoin transactions for making the transactions secure. Blockchain is essentially the record-keeping technology behind the Bitcoin network. These are stored in groups known as blocks as they are made up of digital pieces of information. Every node of Bitcoin’s software network, which is both the server and terminals, are run by individuals or groups that are popularly known as miners. Miners help in the production of new Bitcoin units that lead to the recording and authentication of Bitcoin transactions, and the making of new blocks periodically. These comprise of an identical record of Bitcoin’s blockchain. Good read: Blockchain Makes Inroads; More Diverse Sectors Adopt this Decade Old Technology With every new Bitcoin transaction, the Bitcoin blockchain keeps on growing. The Bitcoin blockchain will always be a work in progress, till the time the miners continue their work and keep on recording recent transactions. There is no predetermined length at which the blockchain will stop growing, though there will be finite numbers. More on blockchain technology: Future Innovation Lies in Blockchain Technology On average, the miners create a new blockchain every 10 minutes, containing information of all prior transactions and a new transaction block. Every two weeks, Bitcoin’s source code is made for the adjustment of the amount of Bitcoin mining power required for the creation of new blockchains, which is required to provide the average creation interval of 10 minutes. If mining power gets enhanced during these two weeks, then it becomes difficult to form new blockchains for the subsequent two-week span. On the other hand, if mining power declines, it is easier to form new chains. However, for most of Bitcoin’s history, there is a demand for greater mining power. Each computer in the blockchain network makes its own copy of the blockchain, which reflects that there could be thousands of it, and in the case of Bitcoin, there could be millions of copies of the same blockchain. Each copy of the blockchain is exactly identical, that makes the distribution of that information across a network of computers more difficult to manipulate. In order to manipulate a single block, a hacker requires to change every single block after it on the blockchain, which leads lots of recalculations. Further, it would take a huge and improbable amount of computing power. Overall, the ultimate target of blockchain technology is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed but does not get edited in order to make bitcoin safe. Read: What's New in the Blockchain Space? Is Bitcoin secure? What are its risks? Every transaction of cryptocurrency is recorded publicly; therefore, it becomes very difficult to copy Bitcoins, make fake ones or spend the ones that the individual does not have. However, there is a possibility of losing the Bitcoin wallet or forgetting the wallet keys and thus losing them forever. Further, there could be thefts from websites where Bitcoins are stored remotely. Read: Bitcoin Crashes By ~24% Post Outage In The Cryptocurrency Market The investment in Bitcoin, has limited legal protection and a high risk of losing some or all of the capital. It is not possible to reverse Bitcoin transaction, it can only be refunded by the person who receives your funds. This means caution has to be exercised while transacting your digital currency. Additionally, currently Bitcoin is an experimental new currency which is actively developing. Each improvement makes Bitcoin investment more appealing but also leads to new challenges. An investor might encounter increased fees, slower confirmations, or even more severe issues. Do read: Bitcoin Swindle: Twitter Jams all verified accounts temporarily In addition, recently there have been Bitcoin-specific scams and fraud, Black Market Activity, there is potential to be replaced by other superior cryptocurrency, no proper regulations, there is question on its acceptability by various governments across the world and there is environmental Ills of Bitcoin Mining. Must read: Top Reasons for Using Bitcoin instead of Cash Covid19 has had a positive impact on cryptocurrencies? Read: Cryptocurrency usage booms amid COVID-19 crisis