Tag: #cryptocurrency

Trezor Vs. Ledger – An Updated Analysis

Trezor Vs. Ledger – An Updated Analysis

After you’ve made the choice to be part of the cryptocurrency craze, you’ve acquired Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin or other cryptocurrency and you’re HODLing. Now what? Well, your top priority is to protect your digital assets.

Hardware wallets are usually the safest and are the preferred method for many cryptocurrency holders. Typically, these wallets connect to a computer via a USB port or a handheld device via Bluetooth.

There are two mainstream hardware wallets on the market – Trezor and Ledger Nano S. Both have established themselves as popular cold wallet options.

Both wallets save your cryptocurrency private key in an offline environment, so that hackers can’t steal your private key. For anyone to steal your coins, they’d need to steal your hardware wallet and somehow get you to give them your password and PIN code.

Advantages of Hardware wallets

  • The private key information is kept safe within the hardware and is never exposed to the working system.
  • Hardware wallets are resistant to any malicious software designed to find to root out private keys and steal funds.
  • If you happen to lose your wallet, you can always recover your coins using a seed recovery phrase.
  • Before spending any coin, the hardware wallet will request you to confirm the transaction on your computer. This ensures no coin is spent without your knowledge.
  • Wallets are secured by encryption with a PIN code like debit cards, which adds more security to your digital assets.
  • Most hardware wallets are able to support multiple cryptocurrencies.

So which one is better – Trezor or Ledger?

Trezor

Trezor hardware wallet came in the summer of 2014 by a Czech-Republic-based startup – SatoshiLabs. It was the first Bitcoin wallet on the market and probably the most reputable one as well. It offers a combination of secure cold storage and the ability to spend cryptocurrencies with the same convenience as a hot wallet. It allows you to store your private keys and digitally sign transactions without any Internet connection.

Trezor Wallet attached to c omputer e1514611511143

Source: https://www.easycoinbuy.com

Ledger

The Ledger Nano S hardware wallet is the brainchild of eight experts from a France-based company called Ledger. Launched in 2014, Ledger is a very secure alternative for storing and managing cryptocurrencies. The Nano S offers a variety of nice features. In addition to the already appealing design, the hardware wallet based on the BOLOS platform is a small cryptographic wonder with high-security features like BIP39 Seed (12 to 24 words) and 4-digit login PIN code.

ledger wallet review 1

Source: ledger.com

User Interface And Design

In terms of design, the wallets are practically the same. Both are small and compact. They should comfortably fit in your pocket and be usable in one hand. However, Ledger Nano S has a slight advantage, in the sense that it boasts a stainless steel casing which is pretty robust. Trezor is made out of plastic but is more compact than Ledger Nano S.

Both products have two physical buttons that are used to confirm or deny the action. Moreover, each fully utilizes its screen which shows transaction information. It is worth noting that Trezor’s display is slightly larger than Ledger’s screen. However, that doesn’t have an impact on performance. Both wallets come in the form of a tiny attachment to the USB port. You can connect your device to a PC, smartphone or any other device using the USB cable.

Ledger’s weigh is 16.2 grams and its dimensions are – 98mm x 18mm long x 9mm thick. The Trezor Wallet weighs 12 grams and is definitely smaller (30mm x 60mm long and 6mm thick), which makes it more portable and easier to carry in your pocket.

What’s inside the Trezor and Ledger retail package?

Trezor

  • Trezor device
  • USB cable
  • Strap
  • User manual
  • Two recovery Seed Cards

Ledger Nano S

  • Ledger Nano S device
  • Start manual
  • Keyring, lanyard, and other resources
  • Recovery card
  • USB cable

Using The Device

Both Trezor and Ledger support a variety of operating systems (OS). They work with Windows, Mac and Linux Operating Systems. You will need to connect the devices to a computer via a micro-USB cable. Also, they both support nearly all Android devices. Trezor has a Google Chrome extension that features a standalone device management. The extension allows applications and websites to communicate with a Trezor device.

Ease of use

The set-up process for both devices is pretty straightforward. The process involves three steps – connecting your hardware to a computer using a USB cable, setting a PIN code, and writing down your backup recovery phrase.

Security

Unlike Trezor, Ledger S is not a completely open source system. Even though the Ledger Nano S is not truly open source, it is more secure with password encryption.

Cryptocurrencies Supported

Both Trezor and Ledger support most of the popular digital currencies. At the time of this writing, the Trezor’s and Ledger’s list of supported digital coins include:

Trezor

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ethereum
  3. Bitcoin Cash
  4. Litecoin
  5. Bitcoin Gold
  6. Ethereum Classic
  7. Dash
  8. DogeCoin
  9. Zcash
  10. NameCoin
  11. NEM
  12. Expanse
  13. ERC-20 Tokens
  14. UBQ

Ledger Nano S

The Ledger Nano S offers support for more cryptocurrencies than Trezor. Therefore, if you want to buy and sell multiple cryptocurrencies, Ledger may be more suitable. Cryptocurrencies supported by Ledger:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Bitcoin Gold
  3. Bitcoin Cash
  4. Ethereum
  5. Ethereum Classic
  6. Ripple
  7. Zcash
  8. PIVX
  9. Digibyte
  10. Qtum
  11. Komodo
  12. Dash
  13. Litecoin
  14. Dogecoin
  15. PoSW
  16. Zencash
  17. BTCP
  18. Stealthcoin
  19. Neo
  20. Ark
  21. ERC-20 Tokens
  22. Stellar
  23. Stratis
  24. Ubiq
  25. Viacoin
  26. Vertcoin

Price

Trezor is available at a higher price point compared to Ledger. Trezor is available at a retail price of $169 while Ledger is priced at $99.

Final Thoughts

Our overall feeling is that both hardware wallets are good, safe and convenient. The difference is minimal, as both wallets are good options, but the Ledger Nano S is cheaper, supports more altcoins and is slightly more secure than Trezor. For that reason, it earns a slightly better recommendation from our analysis team here. 

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WHEN SMART CONTRACTS ACT STUPID: IS YOUR ICO SMART CONTRACT SAFE & SECURE?

The potential inherent in smart contracts is immense. The nascent technology may be used for identity verification, secure data sharing, and for the management of tokens and raised funds in an initial coin offering/token sale – but just how clever are your smart contracts?

The Ethereum network boasts more than 1500 decentralized applications (dApps), all of which make use of smart contracts to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. The problem with smart contracts, however, is the fact that they are code-based and thus inherently prone to mistakes – some of which can be nothing less than catastrophic.

SMART CONTRACT BASICS

To put it simply, a smart contract is a code that contains a set of rules and executes automatically, without a third party, if the rules of the contract are met. This differs greatly from a paper contract, which is always enforced by a third party.

However, because smart contracts are code based, they are prone to errors, bugs, and weaknesses – which put funds at risk of theft and manipulation.

WHEN SMART CONTRACTS ACT STUPID

One of the most notorious examples of a poorly-coded smart contract came from the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), which was designed to fund cryptocurrency projects not determined by any one person or group. Essentially, DAO token holders were allowed to vote on the projects which merited funding – which led to a total purchase of $250 million in ether before tragedy struck.

Two sections of the code in question were responsible for the collapse of the much-hyped DAO project, which resulted in a controversial hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain into Ethereum Classic.

The two functions responsible were ‘splitDAO’ and ‘withdrawRewardFor’ — though they were not vulnerable by themselves. Together, however, hackers were able to vacuum up 4 million ether. Consequently, the Ethereum community was more-or-less forced to perform a 51 percent attack on its own blockchain, re-writing it as though the stolen funds were never lost.

Another and more recent bug was discovered in the smart contract used by Parity. The smart contract in question was exploited and resulted in the loss of half a million ether — worth upwards of $169 million. 70 wallets were frozen and access to the money held within was lost.

Parity actually admitted to having been warned about the flaw months before the bug was triggered. However, they did not fix the issue, later stating:

“However, rather than just having more audits, we strongly believe that more extensive and formal procedures and tooling around the deployment, monitoring and testing of contracts will be needed to achieve security. We believe that the entire ecosystem as a whole is in urgent need of such procedures and tooling to prevent similar issues from happening again, in particular, if and when the number and complexity of live contracts grows.”

Parity was hacked again via smart contract vulnerabilities in June 2017, resulting in the theft of 150,000 ether.

What’s Wrong With Ethereum-based Smart Contracts?

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ETHEREUM-BASED SMART CONTRACTS?

Ethereum’s main problem is that it’s largely constructed in Solidity – an advanced coding language. As such, many programmers must learn an entirely new coding language, which increases the chance of human error.

Unfortunately, many new projects lack the experience and/or time to properly audit their smart contracts. This is where solutions like COINAdmin come in – which assist in the completion and subsequent audit of smart contracts and verify that the code is free from vulnerabilities.

COINAdmin has a dedicated team of blockchain developers who specialize in the development of ERC-20 and ERC-223 smart contracts. It also fully supports thorough third-party audits and handles everything on the technical front – affording ICO teams the ability to focus on other aspects of their business ventures.

COINAdmin’s full solution lets projects issue their own ICO tokens while saving time and money. To learn more, check out the official website at coinadmin.com, or email info@coinadmin.com.

What do you think about smart contract vulnerabilities and companies like COINAdmin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of AdobeStock
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Crypto Trading Platform Releases an Arbitrage Trading Soft for Beginners

Having launched in November 2017, Arbitao, a London-based startup, has introduced its platform for arbitrage trading — the term comes from professional trading and refers to buying and selling the same asset and making profits on differing prices. The platform is already available for experienced users, as well as for novice traders with smaller budgets.

Wide coverage

The company representatives say that the platform has been tried and tested by initial investors since late 2017. “A lot of initial coin offering (ICO) projects don’t have a working product and probably never will have. With Arbitao, it’s different. Our goal was to deliver a working and tested product before the ICO starts. And we succeeded in it,” commented Karel Mirrin, Arbitao’s CTO, in the company’s press release.

The Arbitao team is separated into two operational offices based in London and Moscow, and they also outsource to Shanghai.

According to Arbitao’s press release, currently its arbitrage system compares prices from 19 exchanges and is capable of leveraging all user investments to execute trades and generate profits. Automated trading software makes profits possible to those outside of the ‘closed loop’ of arbitrage.

One of the problems that Arbitao tries to resolve is democratizing arbitrage trading for inexperienced users, allowing them to compete against day traders. “Our audience are crypto kiddies and new arbitrage traders with no resources to scale, so we do that for them through decentralizing the users coins through the arbitrage platform,” said the company’s representatives to Cointelegraph.

Ways of making profits

“Lots of pairs are facing lack of liquidity and the volatility in the market is very high, which leads to price differences between exchanges. By monitoring different exchanges, it can be seen that price spreads of certain pairs are up to 5 percent,” reads the Arbitao white paper.

The Arbitao platform provides several ways for users to earn. A user may profit from arbitrage on a daily basis by trading on numerous cryptocurrency exchanges with daily interest rate 0.5 to 0.75 percent.

Another way is to profit from inviting friends to join Arbitao — the team promises to reward every user with 18 percent of the total of their friends’ investments. “Arbitao is all about the community,” says the website.

A user may also earn up to five percent from staking with Arbitao. “You will be rewarded as staking is important for Arbitao’s sustainable development and provides serious benefits for the Arbitao network, such as increasing decentralization and improving blockchain security,” reads the website.

The team developed its own blockchain coin ATAO — not just a token — and its own internal exchange — TAOx. This results in an opportunity to make some earnings by speculating on ATAO’s price fluctuations.

Arbitao will launch its presale on July 22, 2018, and the project’s planning to reward all early investors with special bonuses. The presale will end on August 7, and everyone who will take part in it will be able to try out the Arbitao system in action.

The main crowdsale campaign will start on August 12 and last until September 9, 2018.

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Stellar Lumens vs Ripple

If you glance at Stellar Lumens (XLM) and think that it seems similar to Ripple (XRP), you’d be right. Both are founded by the same person (Jed McCaleb) and appear to have somewhat similar technical functionalities. Both operate underlying payment processing solutions with native assets.

But if you focus the microscope, you’ll find far more differences than similarities.

Stellar, XLM and the Stellar Development Foundation came about in 2014 after McCaleb left Ripple to work on Stellar full time. Though some people think that Stellar is in fact a fork of Ripple, this is not the case as they are “completely different codes.

This split led to the creation of a new and philosophically distinct entity that has numerous differences from Ripple. Stellar claims to have fixed some of Ripple’s existing problems (Ripple disputes this), but ultimately the riff seems to be about overall vision as much as anything.

Viewed at the macro level, Ripple has made some serious inroads into banking and Stellar has some great value propositions as well. But it’s a bit unclear exactly what the differences between the two are. In the following article, we’ll clearly outline these differences and provide a bit of context to help you understand these two cryptocurrencies.

Philosophical Differences

The Stellar Development Foundation is a not-for-profit organization with altruistic aims baked into its mandate. The SDF aims to provide greater access to the world’s unbanked population and promote financial inclusion. To quote their site directly, “Stellar connects people to low-cost financial services to fight poverty and develop individual potential.”

Currently, Stellar has live payments set up to the Philippines (from Europe). There are efforts in motion to set up routes into a few African countries and many more plans in the works. The system on which XLM runs is completely open-source and may be redistributed or modified by anyone.

On the other hand, Ripple is a for-profit body aiming to create a payments network with large financial institutions. They plan toconnect banks, payment providers, digital asset exchanges and corporates via RippleNet to provide one frictionless experience to send money globally.”

Having been around for four years, XRP has built up a good deal of momentum and already has over 100 banks on their roster, including big names like Bank of America, RBC, Standard Chartered and UBS. Ripple’s vision is to have all banks handle settlements on their network. The XRP system also happens to be completely closed-source, meaning the general public cannot look at it or change it.

Technical Differences

Initially after the split, Ripple and Stellar shared a good deal of code. The originally Stellar code is called “Stellard” and is still in existence, but it is not used by the XLM network anymore.

About a year into its journey, the SDF launched an entirely new payment system protocol called “Stellar Core”. Stellar Core introduced a new spin on consensus algorithms with the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP).

The SCP was developed by David Mazières, Chief Scientist at Stellar.org, and it “provides a way to reach consensus without relying on a closed system to accurately record financial transactions.” The SCP is also said to be the “first provably safe consensus mechanism that simultaneously enjoys four key properties: decentralized control, low latency, flexible trust, and asymptotic security.”

For those interested in a more technical explanation of the SCP, click here.

Stellar Core is quite different from Stellard (and by extension Ripple); today the two share very little of the same code.

On the other hand, the Ripple protocol uses a “Proof-of-Correctness” consensus mechanism. The PoC consensus algorithm is “applied every few seconds by all nodes, in order to maintain the correctness and agreement of the network”. Once consensus is reached, the current ledger is considered “closed” and becomes the last-closed ledger. This model is not that different from Bitcoin as it relies on majority validation.

For a more in-depth technical explanation of Ripple’s PoC mechanism, click here.

There are quite a few other technical differences and an excellent summary was published on the Bitcoin Stack Exchange.

Here are the highlights:

  • The XLM token is inflationary, with 1% new coins being created every year and all fees being recycled. On the other hand, XRP destroys fees, meaning the total number in circulation is getting smaller with time.
  • Stellar uses the Ed25519 signature scheme and 32-byte public keys as addresses; meanwhile, Ripple uses the ECDSA signature scheme and 20-byte hashes as addresses.
  • In terms of implementation, Stellar’s protocol is specified using the Sun XDR standard data serialization format; Ripple uses a mixture of Google protobufs and hand-written marshaling code.

Lastly, (and perhaps most importantly) Ripple is considered a more centralized network than Stellar. Back in 2015, Ripple faced controversy when the funds of departed founder McCaleb were frozen. The incident revealed that Ripple has a degree of control over what happens on their network, potentially making them gatekeepers of sorts. If true, this runs against one of the fundamental ideas behind blockchain.

Of course, the company was quick to defend itself. CEO Brad Garlinghouse recently took to Quora to set the record straight: “Ripple is not centralized. To be clear, if Ripple disappeared today XRP would continue to function. To me, that’s the most important measure of whether something is decentralized.” The company also released this statement in October 2017 discussing their decentralization strategy.

Stellar, on the other hand, does not face the same controversy or level of scrutiny when it comes to decentralization. But it’s almost always possible to level some type of centralization argument.

For example, Ethereum has one developer who can decide to reverse transactions (DAO) or change anything else on the network and everyone will follow. Bitcoin has a concentrated group of people who control the mining power, which is some form of centralization. The SDF does control the lion share of Lumens which could theoretically give them some centralized power. But taken at face value, Stellar seems to have far fewer question marks in this sense than Ripple.

Cultural Differences

Another stark difference between the two companies is the culture in which they operate.

Ripple has raised close to $100 million in funding, which has been invested in a team of almost 200 people including some fintech heavy hitters and known executives. In comparison, Stellar has raised far less money and has a small team of around 20 people (albeit a relative all-star team).

Stellar has flown under the radar to some extent and hasn’t had much of a marketing push behind them. Conversely, Ripple has used part of their capital to create publicity and make Ripple a household name.

Overall, Stellar seems to have a much more welcoming attitude toward 3rd party developers. They’ve hosted events such as the Stellar Build Challenge to promote development on the Stellar network. In keeping with their altruistic ethos, they also released a program that offers partners up to $2 million in XLM grants.The reason for this is pretty obvious when you compare the stated intentions of each business model.

Their go-to-market strategy also shows a clear demarcation between the two. Stellar wants to target individuals as the user base, whereas Ripple wants to target financial institutions. The approach such different goals demand is bound to create different operational cultures.

Partnership Differences

Stellar announced a partnership with IBM in October 2017 and turned a lot of heads in the process. This deal is part of the Hyperledger Fabric Project and under the agreement, a network of banks will conduct transactions using Lumens, and then rely on local market makers to convert the Lumens into local fiat currency. This will be available in 12 “currency corridors” (Asia/Australia/NZ) and marks a big step forward for Stellar.

Ripple is also making moves. According to CNBC one of Ripple’s new corporate customers, Mexican non-bank financial services firm Cuallix, will be the first institution to trial Ripple’s cryptocurrency.

Also, in November 2017, Ripple partnered with credit card processing giant American Express to create a transatlantic payment channel between the U.S. and the U.K. This is all definite progress, but there is also a good deal of debate around whether banks will actually want to use the XRP token (and if not, what that means).

Final Thoughts

As the time of writing, the market cap of Ripple sits around $135 billion, while Stellar Lumens is reaching $14 billion. All of the differences we’ve discussed here have contributed to this gap.

In the end analysis, Stellar and Ripple are not direct competitors. Despite the somewhat contentious nature of their relationship, they serve different markets and feature different technology.

If you consider the use-cases — Ripple working on profit-generating, payment processing solutions for banks and corporations, and Stellars’ aim of promoting non-profit distribution of wealth internationally — the market cap discrepancy kind of makes sense.

Given their differences, Stellar and Ripple can coexist — this isn’t a winner-take-all scenario. But whether either will truly land among the lunar dust, that’s going to take more time and a lot more work.

 

 Share this handy Stellar Lumens vs Ripple comparison guide!

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Ripple’s Deal With US Treasury Defines XRP as a Currency, Not a Security

Will an agreement between Ripple Labs and the US Treasury Department convince the SEC that XRP is not a security?

Ripple signed a settlement agreement with the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2015, paying a $700,000 fine for “selling its virtual currency, known as XRP, without registering with FinCEN, and by failing to implement and maintain an adequate anti-money laundering (AML) program designed to protect its products from use by money launderers or terrorist financiers.”

The company has since modified its business practices to ensure future compliance, and now a paragraph within the agreement could have an impact on the debate on how XRP should be classified.

 

The ‘Statement of Facts and Violations’ in the agreement outright defines XRP as a currency that was pre-mined prior to its distribution.

Ripple is facing two class action lawsuits that allege XRP is a security controlled by Ripple. The company is pushing back against the claims and has hired two former SEC officials to represent it in court.

In response to the lawsuits, a spokeswoman at Ripple told CoinDesk, “This is just another example of an extortionist bringing forth an opportunistic suit that lacks merit. We feel confident that the claims regarding XRP are completely unfounded both in law and fact.”

A regulator at the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently declared Bitcoin and Ether are not securities, and made no mention of XRP.

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