Older Microsoft Computer Systems Under Cyber Attack Seeking Bitcoin Ransoms

MalwareTech is a website that is all about cyber attacks and how to protect oneself from these annoying events.

 

Global cyber attack is using US spy hacking tools | Daily Mail Online:  Readers have alerted me to this breaking story last night while I was in bed.  Yes, bitcoin ransom is being used by criminal hackers to ‘fix’ a mess made by the fact that many computers run on systems I don’t use, that is, the good old Microsoft systems and in this case, the old, no longer supported Microsoft systems.  What this event has done is force many businesses and others to upgrade their systems.  There is danger in running old systems.  And the ‘bitcoin’ part of the story is funny: it proves that the people running this fake money business that it is mainly useful for criminal actions otherwise, there is no point in having it.

 

From day one, I figured that ‘bitcoins’ were for nefarious actions because otherwise, why bother with the stupid things?  They have no more ‘intrinsic value’ than say, antique sports cards which have ‘value’ because collectors want to have these for various reasons.

 

The fake money thing is similar: the only people who would find any earthly use for these things are criminals who don’t want paper money that can be tracked, for example.  Demanding gold is no good because it is physical and real.  The online bitcoin operation, on the other hand, can be used by criminals because they control this ‘currency’ themselves.

 

What can you buy with bitcoins? I asked this question because there seems to be limited use of this ‘money’ as ‘money’.  The answer is, ‘yes’ but I probed further.

 

Global computing giant Microsoftadded bitcoin as a payment option for a variety of digital content across its online platforms in December 2014. According to the company’s payments information page, US-based customers can now use bitcoin to add money to their accounts, which can then be used to purchase content like apps, games and videos from its Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox platforms.

 

Good enough. So how does this work?  CSV_BitcoinHowTo.htm

So, it is not as good as old fashioned money.  Note the ‘You can’t use bitcoin to purchase Microsoft products and services directly…’  It has to first be translated into real money.  You have to put it into an ‘account’ and then when it is turned into real money by someone else, then it is ‘real’.

 

There is not direct payment system like with real money issued by governments.  Who backs government money?  Well, if a country goes bankrupt, one of the first signs is, the currency is destroyed via ‘inflation’.  The US has inflation as our government toys with debasing the currency to run things via rising debt.

 

What was the intrinsic value of gold?  Well, it was LIMITED.  The bitcoins did the ‘limit the number of coins’ business and sure enough, thanks to traders who want to use it mainly for criminal stuff, it climbed in ‘value’.  But it has zero ‘intrinsic value’.  Gold, silver, copper, nickel, etc. all have other uses that is, they can be transformed into all sorts of other things we need like tools.

 

Gold is a funny wealth item.  It was beloved because it was shiny and didn’t go bad like say, rusting away.  It is the same no matter how many eons pass.  So it was valued highly by rulers who wanted eternal life which is why the Egyptians would dig up gold, process it and turn it into art works which were then promptly buried or hidden away in all sorts of places which were then systematically looted.

 

In the European looting of Egypt, this gold went into new systems called ‘museum’ where it is viewed by people and has great ‘value’ but if there was a collapse of empire and the museums were looted, it would be melted down by barbarians and turn back into a mere metal to be used again in some fashion.

 

The looting by Spain of great mountains of treasure in the New World civilizations conquered by foreign powers flooded into Europe making Spain very rich only to destroy the home industries and systems which rotted away so within 300 years, Spain was weak and poor after frittering away their treasures which flowed into the Catholic Church and wild spending sprees on wars with England, etc.

 

The Church spent money wildly during this time which led to it falling apart.  The Puritans, for example, were a reaction to gold pouring into the Vatican.  People who rejected gold hunting ended up building industries and educational systems and said, ‘Hard work is valuable, not gold’.

 

Overstock became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin when it made the announcement back in January 2014. The firm offers everything from furniture to jewellery to electronics. Prices are in dollars but there is an option to pay in BTC on the checkout page. Initially a US-only offering, the firm opened up bitcoin purchases to over 100 countries in September.

 

The list of places where you can ‘buy’ using bitcoins are mostly crummy sites online.  And all of them require it first being turned into ‘real money’ before the purchase is finalized.

 

TigerDirect, the online retailer of computers and consumer electronics now accepts payments in bitcoin. This is handy, perhaps, for miners who can buy kit with coin they have mined.

 

So, this weird site will accept this fake money created ‘mined’ by computer hacker guys?  HAHAHA.  Now remember this bit:  YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR BITCOINS VIA MONEY.  That is, you need to have x number of dollars of government issued money to get this fake money.  What a fine transaction!

 

You could ‘buy’ bitcoins and speculate with it…or put money in various accounts in banks and collect interest.  The ‘trading card’ element in bitcoins is what keeps it as a trade item.  It is a fad.  If things go bad, it will end up worthless unlike gold, silver, etc.

 

Why bother parking money in bitcoins?  There are two reasons: crimes like today’s hacker crimes, or speculation that others will want this fake money and thus, bid up its value.  And the basis of this value remains ‘crime’ since criminals are the main people who need this ‘money’ because it can’t be traced…so far.

 

I am assuming that computer hacker guys will create bitcoins out of thin air outside the official systems and flood it with too many fake coins which are mainly electronic code in the first place. Global cyber attack is using US spy hacking tools | Daily Mail Online

 

But with the virus spreading at a rate of five million emails per hour, tens of thousands of victims have now been reported in 99 countries including the US, Australia, Belgium, France,Germany, Italy and Mexico.

 

Russia is thought to have been among the worst hit by the ransomware amid reports that 1,000 computers in the country’s Interior Ministry were affected, but sources say no information was leaked.

Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk told Russian news agencies it had ‘recorded a virus attack on the ministry’s personal computers controlled by a Windows operating system.’

 

Hackers are not getting lots of loot via this business.  Why pay them a penny?  They can do it all over again a day later!  The only solution is to dump all the old computers and upgrade.  I upgrade and I am a little person.  But then, I have been using computers all my life and have been on the internet since its inception.

 

Microsoft won’t be held responsible for this attack because the people being attacked all use outdated systems that are vulnerable.  This is why investing in better systems is so important.  Just this year, I got notifications from Apple that my computer systems running on the old format was no longer stable and I had to move to a newer system which I did only during the planned transition, my old computer developed an electronic short and I had to buy a new computer.

 

Microsoft computers are…cheap!  And they are attacked by hackers nonstop because there are so many of these to attack.  So these attacks happen…nonstop.  This one happened to get through into the news because the hackers wanted money.

 

All the big people being hit will not pay any money but instead, bring in experts to untangle the mess and there are various ways and this will cost money but then, the laziness in updating programming is what exposed them all to this hacker business.

 

Some big firms in Spain took pre-emptive steps to thwart ransomware attacks following a warning from the National Cryptology Centre of ‘a massive ransomware attack’.

 

Iberdrola and Gas Natural, along with Vodafone’s unit in Spain, asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised.

 

Security teams at large financial services firms and businesses were reviewing plans for defending against cyber attacks, according to executives with private cyber security firms.

 

Yes, about time.  One would imagine they would all be doing this anyways.  Preventing hassles like this means spending money to keep systems secure.

A cybersecurity researcher told AFP they appeared to have discovered a ‘kill switch’ that could prevent the spread of the ransomware for now.

 

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading.

 

‘Essentially they relied on a domain not being registered and by registering it, we stopped their malware spreading,’ @MalwareTechBlog told AFP in a private message on Twitter.

 

So…according to this story, the malware that exploits the multitude of weaknesses in the Microsoft systems is easy to stop?  Interesting.  Mapping Mirai: A Botnet Case Study | MalwareTech

 

Mirai propagates by bruteforcing telnet servers with a list of 62 horribly insecure default passwords, starting with the infamous admin:admin. Although Mirai could technically infect any box upon successful login, it uses a busybox specific command which causes the infection to fail if busybox is not present. Once inside a box, the malware will attempt to kill and block anything running on ports 22, 23, and 80, essentially locking out the user from their own device and preventing infection by other malware. Despite Mirai killing most control panels, it is possibly to use Shodan to see which services the box was exposing prior to infection, giving us an idea of the type of boxes infected (we’ll get to that later).

 

Conventional botnets are made by leveraging methods such as malicious spam, exploits, executable infection, and social engineering to infect desktop computers with specially crafted software which gives the attacker control, but they’re very expensive to run.  Although “Antivirus is dead” is the phrase all the cool kids are using these days, it’s a fact that the AV industry has put a significant dent in botnets and general malware propagation over the past decade. Nowadays hackers have to spend large amounts of time and money constantly modify their malware to evade AV detection, and although botnets still exist (spoiler: they always will), the number of notable botnets and their individual size has shrunk.

 

Yes, the work going into attacking computer systems is hard but young people with lots of time on their hands, can do this instead of playing online video games.  Trying to make money this way is difficult and the present attack shows the difficulty in collecting loot.  Even with bitcoins, it is difficult.  Most people, when systems are infected, go to people who can undo this for help or prevent this.

 

Despite there still being several botnets significantly larger that Mirai, with active infection numbers in the multi-millions, we’ve never seen DDoS attacks from them for a multitude of reason:

 

  • Profitability – At current the maintenance cost of  desktop botnets has exceeded the revenue from DDoS attacks for most. Cheap anti-DDoS services make DDoS protection more affordable that paying ransoms to attackers, resulting in DDoS for hire or DDoS ransom based botnets slowly dying out. Although you’ve probably seen a lot of “stresser” services advertised, these are different from normal botnets in the sense they’re mostly run by scriptkiddies purchasing cheap Linux servers and executing DoS scripts on them (the small pool of unique addresses makes the attacks easy to block for most DDoS mitigation services and even your average sysadmin).

 

As I noted earlier…good to see this confirmed.  Eventually, online bitcoin purchases will be trackable because now the governments in Europe and the US are pissed off about this.

 

  • Noise – As we saw with Mirai, DDoS attacks are noisy and draw a lot of attention. Mirai, which was mostly ignored due to its unsophisticated telnet bruteforcing attacks, in the course of a week became the subject of worldwide media attention and multiple law enforcement investigation backed by multinational companies; nobody looking to make money wants that kind of attention.

 

Which is why this latest attempt will end up backfiring.

 

  • Overblown Statistics – The few large desktop botnets which do perform DDoS usually end up being sinkholed; however, sinkholes often measure botnets by unique IPs over a few month period (keep in mind lots of infections will have dynamic IPs which change daily), resulting in infection numbers being hugely over-inflated. The largest Mariposa (butterfly) botnet consisted of around 400,000 infections but due to the authorities sinkholing multiple botnets run by different actors and then counted unique IPs over a 10 month period, the resulting estimate was a ridiculous 10 – 15 million.

If we take pretty much any conventional botnet and plot the number of bots online in any 1 hour time frame on a graph, it will form natural waves throughout the week with smaller ones during the weekend: these waves peak during the day and trough during the night for whichever timezone is most dominant. The difference in number of online bots throughout the day is because to normal people (or so I’m told) don’t leave their computers running all day, but do you know what they probably don’t turn off? Their fridge, CCTV or router.

 

Yes, this made the news this week.  A number of stories were written in mainstream media talking about this issue of using routers and CCTV, etc. to hack homes and businesses.  Up until today, not one of the news stories I saw mentioned MalwareTech until I read the British Daily Mail story.  Thank you, England’s reporters, for having some real news.

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I hope readers of my little blog continue reading for I found another interesting story at the Malware Tech site:  David Cameron Wants Porn Sites to Require Banking Information | MalwareTech

 

It’s now been decided that adult sites aren’t doing enough to prevent those under the age of 18 from using their services, with Cameron outlining plans to require that sites properly enforce age verification or face being added to the ever growing list of websites blocked in the UK. The current suggestion is that adult sites should use credit card or bank details for age verification (the same way that most e-commerce sites currently do). Is this a good idea? Short answer: no, long answer: oh my god no.

 

When it comes to free porn, there is really no way to track visitors across sessions, at least not in the UK. Cookie and local storage data gets cleared after each private browsing session and almost all UK ISPs issue dynamic IP addresses, making IP tracking useless.

 

If website uses were required to link personal information with their accounts, suddenly not only is everyone traceable across browsing sessions, but their browsing habits are tied to their real name. A lot of people have a problem with large companies gathering basic personal information for advertising purposes, so I’m sure it will be had to find anyone who doesn’t have a problem with their porn history, name, and billing address being collected (probably a recipe for a very embarrassing call with your bank’s fraud resolution department).

 

Word of warning: the CIA and NSA already do this.  That is, spy on everyone via computers and to discover who has sex stuff so they can be either blackmailed or attacked in the media after ‘news’ is leaked via the army of political leakers who are out to attack various politicians like we see all the time in the news.

 

Now of course, the above issues assumes the website was even legitimate in the first place. What’s to stop the same people running malware infested porn sites from re-purposing them to harvest bank details? Most people browsing porn aren’t exactly thinking with their head (well, at least not that one.), so even those wary of fraud are more likely to find themselves plugging their financial information into a shady site.

 

That is correct.  So of course, governments will want to do exactly that: be able to trace people doing naughty things online.  Since many people take delight in attacking our computers all the time, it is no wonder this will end up happening, that is, tighter government control of the internet which was set up by the CIA in the first place.

 

Botnet Takedowns – fun and good publicity, nothing more | MalwareTech: the writer suggests that taking down mildly annoying bots leads to worse bots being created therefore, it should not be done.  Interesting take on systems operational analysis!  The writer last month suggested that saving the energy going into securing systems is best done only on major attacks like the latest one.

63 Comments

Filed under .money matters

63 responses to “Older Microsoft Computer Systems Under Cyber Attack Seeking Bitcoin Ransoms

  1. Moe

    Ho hum. Moe sits here in wonderment at all the Microsoft users continually sufferings attacks or system failures of some sort, but still remaining with MS! I’m not shrugging off this latest attack as irrelevant, since many individuals and companies are inconvenienced and incur losses, but some awareness of protective measures and technical understanding of computers is necessary to harden them from attack.

    Was the virus was spread by email? When will people learn to NOT click on anything in an email? My experience has been that opening the email itself will not corrupt a computer, but this could have changed and I’m unaware of it.

    I use Linux which is less popular than MS by several orders of magnitude, consequently few malwares are written for Linux. If my system became compromised I would wipe the hardrive and reload the operating system: voila – back online. I back up all personal documentation and can reload this easily. If the hardrive was corrupted beyond reuse (this can be done), I have several spares. Computers are so cheap these days it’s a simple thing to have a spare in contingency. This is merely simple redundancy.

    Both Russia and China have or are developing operating systems that are homegown and that will be designed to present better system protection than Microsoft. Their intent is to protect their systems from intrusion/attack originating from Western governments. Someday I might look into obtaining one of those systems. Sure, there probably would be backdoors installed but I don’t have to worry about those governments, only my own.

    There is a contingency of folks who use Bitcoin as an alternate store of value, trusting it to be outside the purview and control of their resident governments. This is not necessarily for illegal purposes but simply prudence. Sorry Elaine, your logic that Bitcoin (or other blockchain currencies) are primarily designed or used for illegal purposes doesn’t compute. ALL currencies can be utilized for illegal purposes and all it takes is a corrupted banker (which is enormously easy to find 🙂 ) to launder the money. This is a major problem for illegal operatives, laundering the money, but IMO dealing in Bitcoin would be even more problematic. The total Bitcoin market capitalization is approximately 30 billion dollars, which is tiny in today’s financial world. And why would anyone assume Bitcoin movements couldn’t be traced by government? Pretty dangerous assumption IMO.

  2. Ken

    One of Elaine’s sub-topics involve the intrinsic value of money, over-inflating the money supply, and the effect on Spain of all of the gold and silver flowing into its economy from the New World. I have been giving this a lot of thought, and I see parallels between colonial era Spain and modern day US.

    Economists are fond of saying that “money” is anything that people place a value on. For example, cigarettes are often treated as “money” in prisons.

    Both bitcoin and paper dollars have no intrinsic value, since you cannot eat them, wear them, live in them,etc. They only have value because someone else who has produced a tangible product is willing to exchange their labor/product for “money.”

    It is often said that gold and silver have intrinsic value, but I’m not so sure. You cannot eat them, wear them or live in them either. Spain during the colonial period is a perfect example of this.

    Due to all of the gold and silver flowing from the New World, Spain was the richest and most powerful country in the world at the time. And what happened? The same thing that is happening to the US now.

    The huge supply of gold and silver drove down the value of these metals. In other words, there was inflation. Other nations were willing to provide goods and services in exchange for the gold and silver. As a result, all of the Spanish industry was shipped overseas, and the country ceased making anything for itself. They even had foreign nations build their ships and weapons for them.

    When the gold and silver ran out, Spain was left a basket case. It took 300 years to recover.

    The US dollar is not pegged to gold or silver, but courtesy of Richard Nixon it is pegged to oil. People need oil, and so they want dollars. Just like Spain, the US has created huge numbers of dollars. All of our industry is being shipped overseas because foreign nations are willing to exchange their goods for oil/dollars. When the trillions of dollars eventually come back to the US, we will be facing high inflation. Once Saudi Arabia and OPEC and Russia and China wise up and stop pegging the dollar to oil, we will be in big trouble. Just like Spain in the colonial period.

  3. Jim R

    Elaine, your wrath is misdirected at Bitcoin. It is of the “old man shouts at cloud” sort or wrath. Maybe you should shout at your anarchist friends from back in the ’70s who developed the internet. They wanted it to be resistant to a few individuals, or a state, or a war, disrupting it. So it is resilient. (though it is currently being killed off by the telco companies, who are having some success at transforming it into a glorified cable TV network)

    Why is Bitcoin successful? Maybe you should ask central bankers in Europe, China, India, Russia, Brazil and New York. Bitcoin is being given a giant push by all their race-to-the-bottom antics with their various fiat currencies. Gold is also a store of value, but you can’t ship it or mail it any more without serious risk of theft/confiscation.

    I think Bitcoin will survive your shouting.

    Instead, you should be shouting at Microsoft, and their shitty non-internet networking protocol. This virus spreads using the SMB functionality, a proprietary Microsoft networking ‘thing’.

    But mostly, you should be shouting at the CIA/NSA for writing the malicious software that makes this thing possible. They wrote this evil code, and then in their abject incompetence, they lost control of it. It escaped into “the wild”, where this (and no doubt many other) computer-attack tools are now being used for criminal activity. (not counting the CIA as a criminal organization itself)…

  4. JimmyJ

    Wannacrypt, this latest disaster, started by phishing emails with malware, but spread rapidly through a bug in the standard but older network protocol called SMB. The bug was exploited by the NSA and the exploit was posted publicly by a hacker group so anyone could take advantage. Which some ransomeware dudes did. Microsoft patched the bug in March but Windows updates have been iffy lately so lots of folks have delayed doing so.

    The original attack seems to have been directed at Telefonica in Spain and rapidly spread through their corporate network to clients worldwide and anyone logged into client networks. The ransome was about $300 per machine.

  5. Mewswithaview

    As a side note the reason often cited behind the drive to eliminate cash is its use by criminals, the real reason is about increased tax collection which is why the corrupt IMF are enthusiastic promoters of the idea.

    IMF Working Paper gives advice to govts who want to abolish cash
    https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/news/2017/04/06/imf-paper-hints-at-how-de-cashing-will-roll-out-advises-governments-trying-to-abolish-cash

    Bitcoin is used by the Chinese to bypass capital controls.

    China’s PBoC warns against using bitcoin to bypass capital controls
    https://calvinayre.com/2017/01/09/business/chinas-central-bank-warns-trading-platforms-stop-using-bitcoin-bypass-capital-controls/

    Why some Venezuelans have turned to bitcoin mining
    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/venezuelans-turned-bitcoin-mining-170415124105593.html

    Growing number of Venezuelans trade bolivars for bitcoins to buy necessities
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/16/venezuela-bitcoin-economy-digital-currency-bolivars

    As regards the computer ransomware, the NSA had these tools first – what were these fools doing with them? They have been conducting asymmetric warfare for years now. Stuxnet being the most visible application to date of this tactic.

    World Cyber War I?
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/05/world-cyber-war-i.php

    The Threat, Defense, and Control of Cyber Warfare
    http://cimsec.org/threat-defense-control-cyber-warfare/32106

  6. JimmyJ

    I should add that many systems in Gov that were affected were running Windows XP which lost support April 2014. Unexpectedly, Microsoft issued a patch for this yesterday for XP and other systems not covered by recent updates.

    https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msrc/2017/05/12/customer-guidance-for-wannacrypt-attacks/

  7. Ken

    The depth of knowledge of the people on this site is amazing, and refreshing.

  8. I apologize. I haven’t read the whole story nor I have ready any of the comments other than the one just above. But, I’m happy to see you discussing bitcoin because if anyone can figure out the riddle and whether it is nefarious, I know you can Elaine.

    That is why I keep coming back here. I’ve tried to share my thoughts in the past and let me tell you….it ain’t easy to keep on going sometimes. Your stamina is in and of itself heartening.

    Hey Ken – I checked out some of your nuclear posts and I’m not sure, but I think we are heading away from that energy because it is just too much trouble. Between Chernobyl, and Fukiyakifushimo (or something like that), as well as Hanford there is more than enough radioactive shit to deal with. We don’t need any more until we can understand better.

  9. Christian W

    @ Jim

    I don’t think the CIA/NSA lost control over the attack/mal ware. They simply outsourced the attack to pretend they had nothing to do with it.

    As Petruchio wrote in another comment, the boom/bust cycle of gold/bitcoin just before the attack has the US Deep State’s fingerprints all over it. They fleece you on the way up, they fleece you on the way down. That is how they work.

  10. Ken

    Buffalo Ken,

    I don’t even recall my “nuclear” comments. They must have been a while ago.

  11. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. The Bitcoin adventure is a fun sled ride but it is actually meaningless except for one thing: it illustrates how ‘money’ is whatever people think it is. Anything can be ‘money’ so long as it is RARE. Not common.

    But even common things can be ‘money’ we call this ‘barter’ systems. The money just attaches a mathematical value to barters so we don’t have to do direct trades.

    The sad fact about bitcoins is…they have to be translated into ‘money’ before being really operative. I looked into it and the ‘buying’ going on is in DOLLARS with the bitcoins having to be translated by someone, a third party, into dollars.

    Minus that, it is nothing. When it goes under, all the people doing business HOLDING this stuff will have zero value. See? Same with printing press currency. Keep adding zeros and eventually it is worth zero.

    Everyone wants magic money that brings in all sorts of stuff. It is magic, you know. And when the magic is abused, it goes poof. Instantly. The end is always swift.

  12. Another point: no one selling something for bitcoins, holds the coins. They don’t finalize the sale until the dollar value appears as dollars. This transformation is critical. It is the key as to what is really money. Various people can have all sorts of game with each other but would you pay $1000 for this ‘coin’? I wouldn’t. I would just go out and spend $1000 straight off.

  13. Jim R

    @Christian,

    Yeah, whatever. I don’t think the CIA actually launched that attack. The anonymous “Shadow Brokers” (apparently just one guy) is supposed to have published the details of a bunch of CIA malware on the ‘dark web’ a while back. And that was where today’s criminals learned this particular trick.

    It’s public knowledge at this point that the CIA wrote the malware, from certain alternative news sources, Of course you’d never know it merely reading the NYT or WaPo.

  14. Jim R

    And Elaine, you are still shouting at the clouds.

    Bitcoin, or cryptocurrency in one form or another, will almost certainly last until the internet goes dark. Unfortunately, the latter is more of a possibility than most people think.

  15. Ken – here is the link to the page I was referring to – if this is not you then I apologize (again). It is easy to apologize.

    https://emsnews.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/free-trade-oil-and-nuclear-meltdowns-collide/#comment-742659

    JIm R – I think it would be much easier to turn bitcoin into nothing but a bunch of broken bits with nothing left to algorithmically mine than it would be to get rid of the internet. The internet ain’t going dark and if you are still around in 20 years and I am as well, I’ll be back here to remind you that I said this.

    The bitcoin concept is an obscure mathematical concept that makes it hard to appreciate and in the end will be its downfall. We all appreciate the internet and it ain’t going away. That is the beauty of it.

  16. Jim R

    “obscure mathematical concept”, haha! Math isn’t going away either.

  17. I concur on that. Hells bells math was here before we were. Numbers and more importantly shapes. You know what I’m talking about?

  18. Hey Jim – no offense, but I don’t think you know what I’m talking about. When it comes to shapes I have my own outlandish theories and I don’t think anybody but me has a clue about them. Just like a little dream I have…..

    Thing is though these folks in the world today who speak about what little things are…….I don’t think they have a fucking clue. Most of em are quantum physicist who don’t tip their toes in the river OR worse yet psychopaths who would’t do anything to help a lady in the gutter or a fella who went astray. They physicist are blinded by the past and the psychopaths have no vision.

    That is why they are both gonners. The rest of us know better.

  19. Ken

    Buffalo Ken@14,

    The comment you were referring to was posted by a different “Ken.”. I didn’t even know this site existed in 2011.

    Curious how common the name ” Ken” is on this site.

  20. floridasandy

    bitcoin is too easy to steal, like this (which will happen again):
    Aug 6, 2016 – The schadenfreude of Bitcoin enthusiasts over Ethereum’s recent troubles ended abruptly last week. A major Bitcoin exchange, Bitfinex, was hacked and nearly 120,000 BTC (around $60m) was stolen. The price of Bitcoin promptly crashed, and Bitfinex was forced to suspend trading.

    it might be okay if you are moving it quickly-but you still take a chance. How can anyone really trust “currency” like that?

  21. Jim R

    The dollar is to easy to steal. I could track down individual stories, but without going into too much detail, the banksters have stolen trillions over the last decade.

  22. Moe

    @20

    Bitcoin may be vulnerable at the exchanges but not so in a wallet. If you control your own Bitcoin wallet, keep the information completely confidential (after all, you wouldn’t go around telling people how much money you have in your pocket or bank account) and save the Bitcoin information to a USB stick, you’re pretty secure.

  23. tio

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” ???

  24. Tio, I don’t ever ever put comments in moderation. This shouldn’t have happened to you. I am sorry it did.

  25. Jim R

    ‘Tis a feature of wordpress.com instead of wordpress.org that they apply their own spam-filtering rules.

    In wordpress.org, they merely provide software and you have to provide the server, lease a domain name, and manage the whole thing. A LOT more work.

  26. tio

    10%+ of what I post is rejected/ignored/wilfully shoved back in my face, I have accepted this as a feature here. I do however fear that others have mistakenly taken a rather dimmer view of this blog as a consequence. Ever wondered about the odd aberrant rant? Never the less, Monday should be interesting.

  27. Jim R

    I’m just saying to give Elaine a break. She’s old, like me, and even though I used to like to monkey around with computers, it’s just such a hassle now. And no, I’m not offering Elaine my IT services. Neither of us can afford them any more. Ahem.

    Since I haven’t seen your posts, I don’t know what is causing wordpress.com to barf. Too many links, maybe. Or inflammatory speech. By now, I wouldn’t put it past them to filter stuff that fails to support the current stupid narrative. Their robots don’t seem to mind if you use words like ‘shit’, but I don’t really know.

    One thing I DO know, is that when your post goes into ‘moderation’ it disappears forever. I have had that happen.

  28. Lou

    And no, I’m not offering Elaine my IT services. Neither of us can afford them any more. Ahem. ?????

  29. Jim R

    Elaine, as for what constitutes ‘money’, your first statement is true. It is whatever everyone wants it to be. Or almost everyone. Funny how once people have settled on one ‘thing’, then that is it. Almost democratic.

    But yes, people have used seashells, tobacco, rocks, metals, etc.

    The main thing about the dollar, is that there are currently people telling you at the point of a gun that it is money. So it is. You have to pay the IRS in the dollar.

    Bitcoin has the internet, and a group of anonymous nerds who tinker with algorithms. In the last 15 or 20 years, the internet seems to have taken on a life of its own. Now you almost have to have an internet connection to do anything.

    But that can change. Both things can change, really. The dollar may not have as much support at some future time, and the internet may change as well. Different historical winds are blowing for these two currencies. I don’t really think we will go back to seashells, probably the dollar in some form or another will outlast the other things… but it too will fail eventually.

    Those of us who survive will be back to community, and that’s what really sustains us.

  30. I am mystified about postings vanishing. Seriously, it doesn’t show up here for me to see what is going on, this is happening behind my back.

    I am very sorry some are missing, I read all comments religiously. I may not agree but I hope people hash things out here, the censorship is from WordPress, perhaps. Rats.

  31. tio

    Jim, I’m no spring chicken myself. I am not having a pop at Elaine, quite the opposite, I just wished to highlight this feature of wordpress so that others can adapt accordingly. I do recall several occurrences of people getting in a huff, accusing Elaine of censorship and wandering off with both parties unsure of what actually happened. If you know, it isn’t a problem.

    Elaine, Jim suggested I give you a break, I think that is a wonderful idea. I do worry that you work too hard here. It is sad that we live in the times that we do – but, for heavens sake take it easy on yourself – please.

    As for bitcoin, my 2 cents, the market will ultimately decide as is right. I do love the fact that it gets up the noses of the banksters.

  32. Jim R

    Haha, tio, I agree with everything you just said.

    It’s what I love about bitcoin too. Money transactions, and the banks are not in the middle of them. The banksters must be livid with rage.

  33. Tio, a word here: I finally got your lost posting via email!

    I see the problem. Have only one or two links per posting and it passes the filter put in by WordPress. OK? I hope everyone notices this rule.

  34. Christian W

    F-Secure has a map over the development of RansomTrojans 2010-2017

  35. Christian, where did you get that map of Ransom Trojans? It looks like a NYC subway map, by the way! 🙂

  36. Christian W

    From Mikko Hypponen’s (founder of F-Secure) Twitter feed. F-Secure is one of the top Anti Virus companies.

    And yes it looks like a Subway map, part of the reason I posted it 🙂

  37. Good find! And it clarifies what is going on very well.

  38. Moe

    Andreas Antonopoulos: Fake News, Fake Money

    Hoffman’s comment on this video: “Andreas points out how the same forces that have helped the world start to see through the “fake news” are leading it down the path of realization regarding the “fake money” that has destroyed our lives; and consequently, how it must be replaced if humanity is to be saved. And while his focus is on crypto-currency – specifically, Bitcoin – he speaks in general terms of the ongoing, soon-to-be-accelerating flight from “fake money” into real stores of value; ”

  39. Bit coins have no intrinsic value. Cattle do, for example. Or guns.

  40. Lou

    Bit coins are like sea shells. People use to use seashells as money.
    What other use did they have?

  41. Jim R

    They could crush up seashells and use them for the lime/plaster they could make.

    Electronic money, not so much ..

  42. Electronic money doesn’t really exist. It has no physical being. It can’t survive even the smallest of disasters, a hacking job. Much less WWIII, good lord, it is stupid and painfully obvious to me.

  43. Lou

    I agree with Elaine, Emoney is a dream. Does it exist?

    I found this,

    Bitcoin was $1978 as of this morning. Sorry to say that Bitcoin is kicking the stuff out of the PMs right about now.”

    This is happening for a few different reasons. It is clear that people are losing faith in fiat currency.
    Venezuela is an ongoing example of what real hyperinflation looks like. Japan recently opened up their own Bitcoin exchanges.

    As of Friday, 40% of the recent Bitcoin trading volume originated out of Japan. This speaks volumes (no pun intended). The Japanese are flooding into Bitcoin which makes perfect sense. Their government has terribly managed their economy and abused their currency for over 25 years now.

    Add to this fact that people have woken up to the rampant manipulation that plagues the gold and silver markets. It is quite clear that it isn’t a level playing field so why continue to participate in it? I wish all volume on the Comex would simply dry up. For the life of me I don’t see why traders continue to play in that corrupt casino. Take your money out and go home. The tables are clearly rigged and the dice are loaded. They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore folks!

    So yes, Bitcoin (and other cryptos like Ethereum) are eating PM’s lunch right now. It makes perfect sense to me. Since the crypto markets are not being manipulated it only makes sense for sound money advocates to get into that market instead.

    Unless and until the Comex folds up the games will continue.

    PM’s will not be allowed to have true price discovery. Bitcoin is not having that problem.

    I expect it to breach $2,000 well before Monday.

  44. Lou

    Ethereum, will kit go up in smoke?

  45. Jim R

    It has already breached $2000. Could still see a little correction. But every time Elaine has predicted a crash, it has taken off for the stratosphere. She was making this prediction back when it was at $200.

    What do you think will be first, $10,000 or a re-visit of $1,000?

  46. Jim R

    As for Ethereum and the others, they are mostly trash. They only mean something if there are some markets for them somewhere in the world.

    There are very few markets that take Ethereum, Zcash, Dash, and Dogecoin (and ~250 others). But there are quite a lot of markets trading in BTC.

    This may change with the general destruction of the internet. But by then, we won’t be talking about it, will we? Lots of countries want to crush the internet — Theresa May has just announced a desire to do exactly that. We shall see..

  47. Hello! Guess what? When ANYTHING that is really NOTHING takes off in value like a rocket, it crashes very, very suddenly and usually falls to near zero.

    So, Asians are bidding up this fake ‘currency’? Good for them. Too bad, they will not become billionaires doing this game.

    History is a bitch and I can’t predict the minute it will crash and burn, I can only predict that it will crash and burn. Humans can attach value to anything. But this value is a construct, not real.

    A mis printed 5 cent stamp can be sold for a million dollars. This doesn’t mean it has intrinsic value. Gold does have intrinsic value, but if more gold suddenly appears, it affects the value of existing gold holdings, for example.

  48. Jim R

    the dollar is a construct. but it is not the only one.

  49. Very true. It is easy to make it inflate, no need to print any actual bills. It is all on computers, too.

    I remember the gold standard. Nixon ended it. Why?

    Ahem…the Vietnam War! Pay for it via inflation, of course.

  50. Lou

    remember the gold standard.[I have heard of it]
    Nixon ended it. Why? TO HELP THE JEWISH BANKERS? WHO OWNS THE FED?

  51. Lou

    I can’t predict the minute it will crash and burn, I can only predict that it will crash and burn. Agreed. And if it gets really popular, the government can take it over, so it is not really an alternative to the Federal Reserve.
    When the Web goes down, it goes down. It is electrons and software.

    WHO CREATED BITCOIN? And is it really a ‘coin’ that will never be added to? Only a certain number will be mined.

    Hackers like it. Search ‘hackers want ransom in bitcoin’.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/15/digital-gold-why-hackers-love-bitcoin-ransomware

  52. It is a pure concept. Of course, it is ‘valuable’ like baseball playing cards or South Seas bonds, or whatever. Anything can be ‘valuable’ if people want it to be ‘valuable’.

    The pieces of paper or computer code stuff is all ‘not really real’. It represents something else. And it can’t last very long. You see, gold was ‘valuable’ because it was rare and NEVER CHANGES.

    That is, it doesn’t rot or degrade into something else, ditto diamonds, for example. It is…forever…same with platinum. There are other examples in the periodic table.

    This self limiting but timeless factor is what makes gold, etc. ‘worth something real’ sort of except when there is starvation. Then, gold ceases to operate and food becomes ‘wealth’. Otherwise, you die.

  53. Jim R

    Bankers and governments hate bitcoin because they didn’t invent it and they don’t control it. They crave the power to control everything. (it isn’t working out very well for them right now)…

    So this latest meme push by the deep state is to claim that “Bitcoin helps the terrorists”.

    This is not entirely true, because every part of the bitcoin network has serial numbers on it, just like traditional money, everything from treasury bonds to the dollar bill. Because it is all on the internet, it’s actually easier to track than dollar bills. If the NSA really cared, or wanted to catch the creeps behind ‘WannaCry’, they could do so: those bitcoin addresses are managed/controlled by someone, and that someone is sitting at a computer. Even if they use obfuscation tools like the tor network, the computer has an address, and can eventually be found.

  54. Lou

    55. The government can control ecurrencies.
    And now there are 250. 10 years ago, Zero?
    Thats quite a boom in fake money.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptocurrencies

  55. Lou

    it illustrates how ‘money’ is whatever people think it is.

    My opinion is that shitcoin is not money, for many who are involved in trading.
    It is a way of gambling. Like poker games and poker chips. Does anyone think poker chips are money?

    I think cryptocurrencies are in vogue because the price of some or the potential for profit is rising.
    Elaine is focusing on what she thinks is the end game, which is weimer ville for bitcoin.
    Meanwhile, Jim is seeing that its price or value has,
    ‘gone up 10x since Elaine started writing about it’.

  56. Lou

    Jim, BC was 5 cents. Soon will be $2000. Why the change in value?

  57. Lou

    According to this, Bitcoin has too much e competition;

    https://dollarcollapse.com/crypto-currency/bitcoins-fatal-flaw/

  58. People ‘buy’ the stupidest things. It is a common human trait. History is littered with such things. Did you all know that all the Roman coins found in Britain all come from the deep inflation/devaluing the coin era? These lay all over the ground, often on the surface even 1,500 years after the barbarians who came in and killed all the Romanized Brits, left these lying about.

    Today, these are worth a lot of money to coin collectors, by the way! Went from zero value to worth hundreds of dollars. Items do this all the time. Stuff spurned for thousands of years suddenly can be priceless.

    A stupid painting of a dead artist who made the ugliest pictures on earth sold recently for several million dollars. It is disgusting and stupid and collectors want it for some hideous reason.

  59. Jim R

    It looks like it’s poised for a correction, maybe a significant one. But it isn’t likely to go back to 5¢.

  60. Lou

    A stupid painting of a dead artist who made the ugliest pictures on earth sold recently for several million dollars. YOU MISSED A ZEOR.
    It is disgusting and stupid and collectors want it for some hideous reason.

    http://www.ambrosekane.com/2017/05/19/absurd-art-jean-busquiats-skull-painting-sold-at-auction-for-110-5-million/

  61. Lou

    Ooops. I meant ‘Zero’.

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