Google’s Authenticator Update Raises Security Concerns

Google has published an update to its Authenticator app that keeps a “one-time code” in cloud storage. This update is part of the company’s endeavor to assist customers in maintaining access to their two-factor authentication (2FA) systems. Users who have misplaced their device that contained their authenticator may still access their two-factor authentication using this code. The storage of one-time codes in a user’s Google Account, as recommended by Google, is said to improve both convenience and security and shield users from being locked out of their accounts. However, this approach is causing other people to worry about their safety.

In a post made to the r/Cryptocurrency forum, the user u/pojut pointed out that keeping one-time codes in cloud storage connected with the user’s Google account might render users more susceptible to attacks from cybercriminals. If a hacker were to get the user’s Google password, they would be able to gain complete access to all of the user’s authenticator-linked applications. An outdated phone that is utilized just for the purpose of housing the authenticator app was recommended by user u/pojut as a solution to this problem.

Developers of cybersecurity software called Mysk have also taken to Twitter to provide a warning about the extra issues that come with using Google’s cloud storage-based approach to two-factor authentication (2FA). Users that use Google Authenticator as a second factor of authentication for logging into their cryptocurrency exchange accounts and other services linked to finance may find this to be a substantial cause for worry. The two-factor authentication (2FA) system is vulnerable to a variety of attacks, the most prevalent of which is known as “SIM swapping.” This kind of identity theft allows con artists to take control of a phone number by deceiving a telecoms operator into associating the number with their own SIM card.

A recent example of this may be seen in a lawsuit that was recently filed against the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which is situated in the United States. In the case, a client claimed that he had lost “90% of his life savings” as a result of being a victim of such an assault. Notably, Coinbase itself recommends using authenticator applications for two-factor authentication rather than sending a verification code by text message. The company calls SMS two-factor authentication the “least secure” type of authentication.

An upgrade to Google Authenticator may benefit users who have misplaced their authenticator app, but it has caused some users to be concerned about the service’s level of security. The use of cloud storage to store one-time codes leaves users open to attack by cybercriminals, who may then be able to discover the user’s Google password and, as a result, acquire complete access to all of the authenticator-linked applications used by the user. Users who use Google Authenticator for two-factor authentication should take precautions to safeguard themselves, such as installing their authentication app on a different device and avoiding two-factor authentication through SMS.


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Gensler Alleged Crypto Hypocrisy

The cryptocurrency community has criticized Gary Gensler, the current chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), after a video from 2018 surfaced in which he stated that cryptocurrencies are comparable to commodities or cash and are not securities. This has led to criticism of Gensler from the cryptocurrency community. As a result of this, hypocrisy allegations have been leveled at Gensler since his present position seems to contradict his prior views.

Gensler explained initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the Howey test in the video, which was taken from a seminar entitled “Blockchain and Money” that took place during the Fall Semester of 2018 at the university. He made the observation that “three-quarters of the market are not ICOs or not what would be called securities,” and he identified the markets in the United States, Canada, and Taiwan as countries that adhere to criteria that are comparable to those of the Howey test. The next statement that he made was that “three-quarters of the market is non-securities, it’s just a commodity, cash, and crypto.”

Gensler briefly admitted that initial coin offerings (ICOs) may ignite a discussion over securities, but he ultimately came to the conclusion that “three-quarters of the market is not particularly relevant as a legal matter.” However, in his present capacity as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gensler has adopted a more harsh attitude on cryptocurrencies, with the SEC starting a series of high-profile investigations against crypto businesses in recent months. Gensler’s stance on cryptocurrencies reflects the SEC’s increased scrutiny of the industry.

The crypto community reacted swiftly to Gensler’s apparent shift of viewpoint, and many members were keen to point it out. “Wow” was all that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong had to say in response to a message that was published by cryptocurrency researcher “zk-SHARK.” In a tweet sent at his 658,900 followers, Erik Voorhees, the inventor of the cryptocurrency trading website ShapeShift, inquired as to when someone will be imprisoned for fraud. Farokh Sarmad, the inventor of the Web3 podcast Rug Radio, referred to Gensler as “disgusting” in a tweet that he sent out to his 346,200 followers, and a systems engineer who went by the handle “JD” demanded that Gensler provide an explanation for his shift in position.

On the other hand, not all members of the cryptocurrency community were on board with these comments. U.S. attorney Preston Byrne claimed that Gensler’s opinions as a professor should not be used against him in his present function as a law enforcement, since Gensler works in a different capacity than he did when he was a professor.

The continuous regulatory ambiguity that surrounds the cryptocurrency business is brought to light by the controversy over Gensler’s position on cryptocurrencies. As the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory authorities continue to probe crypto firms, many participants in the industry are advocating for clearer standards and laws to assist enable the growth and development of the sector.


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NY Fed New Rules Cast Uncertainty on Circle’s Access to Reverse-Repurchase Program

The New York Federal Reserve has updated its guidelines for counterparties looking to participate in its reverse repurchase agreements (RRP), casting uncertainty over Circle’s intentions to access the Fed’s system. The changes to the guidelines could potentially hinder Circle’s chances of gaining access to the Fed’s reverse-repurchase program, where the Fed sells securities to eligible counterparties with an agreement to repurchase them at the maturity date. The Circle Reserve Fund, a money market fund managed by investment management firm BlackRock, is one such 2a-7 fund that is only available to Circle and could be deemed ineligible under the Fed’s updated guidelines.

According to the New York Fed, accessing such a system “should be a natural extension of an existing business model, and the counterparty should not be organized for the purpose of accessing RPP operations.” In other words, the Fed’s program is not intended for entities that are solely organized to access RRP operations. The regulations governing 2a-7 government money market funds are aimed at ensuring that these funds are able to meet potential redemptions by investors in a timely manner. Funds under this category must hold at least 10% of their total assets in daily liquid assets and at least 30% of their total assets in weekly liquid assets.

If approved, Circle would be able to earn interest on excess funds by investing in low-risk Treasury securities, allowing the stablecoin issuer to earn interest and help maintain the stability of its stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC). However, Circle’s access to the Fed’s reverse-repurchase program remains uncertain under the updated guidelines.

It is worth noting that Circle has been expanding its banking partnerships on a global basis since the depeg of USDC following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10. The company has also turned its focus to having more banking partnerships to mitigate risks and uphold the redeemability of its coins for holders. Circle announced in November that it had begun investing part of its funds into the Circle Reserve Fund as a measure to mitigate risks and uphold the redeemability of its coins for holders.

Circle’s access to the Fed’s reverse-repurchase program would have allowed the company to further diversify its reserves and treasuries. As of now, Circle holds 80% of its reserves and treasuries. Despite Circle’s expanded ties with BNY Mellon and its new banking partnership with Cross River, the updated guidelines set by the NY Fed have created uncertainty over Circle’s access to the Fed’s reverse-repurchase program. The stablecoin issuer will need to explore other options to ensure the stability and growth of its stablecoin.


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US Crypto Crackdown Hurts USD Coin

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire stated that the US regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrencies has been a significant factor behind the decreasing market capitalization of USD Coin (USDC). The regulatory scrutiny on USDC comes after the collapse of the FTX exchange, a banking crisis, and USDC’s depegging.

The USDC depegged in March due to the US banking crisis, which caused Circle’s $3.3 billion worth of USDC reserves to be stuck with Silicon Valley Bank, one of the three crypto-friendly banks that were shut down by regulators. Although Circle had assured its customers that it had the backing from investors to fill the gap, the news caused the market to react quickly, and USDC depegged from the US dollar.

At its peak, USDC had a market cap of $56 billion, placing it right behind Tether-issued USDT. However, since the banking crisis and USDC’s depeg, the stablecoin’s market cap has been reduced nearly by half, currently sitting at $30.7 billion.

Circle CEO Allaire has also raised concerns that the lack of regulatory clarity in the US may force crypto companies to seek opportunities overseas. With the recent passing of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Act (MiCA) by the European Parliament and the push for adoption by Hong Kong, Allaire believes that the US will be left behind.

Allaire has called for Congress to step up, stating that it is a critical moment for the US. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) led by Gary Gensler has been on an enforcement spree since the FTX collapse saga. The SEC has threatened regulatory action against multiple crypto platforms and exchanges.

During the oversight hearing on digital assets, Gensler faced pushback from policymakers, and many crypto proponents have also questioned the authority of the SEC and Gensler. The regulatory environment in the US has caused uncertainty and concern, leading to a decline in the market capitalization of USDC.

In conclusion, the regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrencies by US regulators has been a significant factor behind the decreasing market capitalization of USDC. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire has raised concerns about the lack of regulatory clarity and the US banking system’s global reputation. The passing of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Act (MiCA) by the European Parliament and the push for adoption by Hong Kong have put the US at risk of being left behind in the crypto industry. Congress needs to step up and provide regulatory clarity for the US to remain competitive in the evolving crypto landscape.


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The Sandbox partners with Ledger Enterprise for NFT security integration.

In its latest move to bolster security and enhance its partners’ experiences, The Sandbox has partnered with Ledger Enterprise to develop security integration. This partnership will enable The Sandbox’s partners to migrate their nonfungible token collections to the Ledger wallet, ensuring the highest level of security for these assets.

The collaboration will also see The Sandbox appear as a decentralized application (DApp) on Ledger Enterprise, and a specific widget will be integrated into the Ledger Live desktop application. This will allow for the transfer of all NFTs in The Sandbox collection wallet to the Ledger Enterprise wallet, thereby ensuring their security.

As part of the partnership, The Sandbox will recommend Ledger Enterprise to its LAND owner ecosystem, while Ledger will promote The Sandbox metaverse to its clients. The initiative extends the recently established partnership between The Sandbox and Ledger to promote crypto education in the metaverse.

This partnership follows a successful collaboration between The Sandbox and Ledger in 2022, which saw the two companies promote crypto security education through a game called School of Block in The Sandbox’s metaverse. According to the VP of Communications at The Sandbox, Ariel Wengroff, the company was thrilled with this experience.

Ledger recently raised $109 million (100 million euros) in a Series C funding round extension, placing its valuation at $1.4 billion (1.3 billion euros). The capital, provided by investors such as VaynerFund, Cité Gestion SPV, True Global Ventures, and Digital Finance Group, will be used to expand the company’s distribution network, increase production, and develop new products.

The Sandbox is actively broadening its partnerships network and signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Saudi Arabia in February to explore, advise and support each other in metaverse development. The Sandbox has also previously partnered with some of the biggest names both inside and outside of the Web3 space, including Snoop Dogg, Gucci, Tim, Atari, HSBC, and Warner Music Group.

In conclusion, The Sandbox’s partnership with Ledger Enterprise is a significant step in ensuring the security and safety of nonfungible token collections on its platform. The collaboration will enable The Sandbox’s partners to enjoy the highest level of security and enhance their overall experience on the platform. With its growing list of partnerships, The Sandbox continues to position itself as a leading decentralized metaverse platform in the Web3 space.


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Blockchain Fights Climate Change

According to a recent white paper published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the use of blockchain technology has quickly become one of the most important weapons in the battle against climate change. The report explains how blockchain technology may offer the essential infrastructure to combat climate change “at speed and scale” by increasing market transparency, building trust and ambition within climate discussions, democratizing access to climate action, and funneling more funding to project developers. Brynly Llyr, who is in charge of blockchain and digital assets at the Crypto Impact and Sustainability Accelerator (CISA) of the World Economic Forum, emphasized how important it is to investigate new technologies in order to combat climate change. She said that “global climate infrastructure, tools, and coordination technologies can all help us keep pace with our changing planetary ecosystem.” In situations like these, technology like blockchain and shared infrastructure may be of great assistance.

In its white paper, the World Economic Forum (WEF) emphasized the need of supportive legislation in order to foster digital climate innovation. According to Dana Gibber, CEO of the blockchain climate project Flowcarbon, industry experts have come to the conclusion that governments should take into consideration the different uses of blockchain technology that go beyond cryptocurrencies. Gibber stressed the significance of policymakers understanding the potential of blockchain technology by adding that “this goes beyond cryptocurrencies and encompasses what you can build on blockchain.” In doing so, Gibber drew attention to the fact that it is important for politicians to recognize the potential of blockchain technology.

In the meanwhile, the prominent cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is also lobbying for further regulatory clarity in the digital asset industry in the United States. On April 25, Coinbase initiated legal action in an effort to push the Securities and Exchange Commission to take action on its rulemaking petition, which has been outstanding since July of last year. The court action was launched in an effort to force the SEC to act. Additionally, the exchange has initiated a campaign for nonfungible tokens that advocates for crypto regulations that are more rational.

The promise of blockchain technology to tackle climate change is gaining greater recognition among business leaders; nevertheless, this potential cannot be realized without supportive and constructive regulation from politicians. As the world continues to struggle with the critical problem of climate change, the use of blockchain technology is expected to become an increasingly important part of the initiatives under way to build a more sustainable future.


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Raiffeisen Bank to Launch Crypto Investment Service

In a recent announcement, the Raiffeisenlandesbank Niederosterreich-Wien (RLB NO-Wien) detailed its intentions to foray into the realm of bitcoin investing services. The Austrian cooperative banking institution, which was established in 1900 and now has a 22.6% interest in Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), has decided to launch its new service in collaboration with the Austrian cryptocurrency startup Bitpanda.

Customers of RLB NO-Wien will be able to invest in a variety of assets, including digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ether, thanks to the launch of a new crypto investing service. Customers will also continue to have access to investment services for equities, exchange-traded funds, precious metals, and commodities. The software as a service (SaaS) product that Bitpanda has will be the vehicle through which the service will be delivered.

The Chief Executive Officer of RLB NO-Wien, Michael Hollerer, said that the purpose of the relationship with Bitpanda is to broaden their product offering by including a cutting-edge, risk-free component that would make it simpler for all consumers to amass money. By the end of the year, Bitpanda’s technological infrastructure will have been swiftly and securely linked, making possible the availability of trading.

The new service will also include Bitpanda’s whole inventory of digital assets, which totals over 2,500 different assets and consists of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether. Customers will have the ability to invest in a wide variety of assets, notwithstanding the amount of cash that is now accessible, with investments possible to begin with as little as one euro.

The expansion of Raiffeisen Bank International into the realm of digital currency development includes a move into the provision of investment services for cryptocurrencies. In the year 2020, the bank was in the process of constructing a platform for the tokenization of the national currency utilizing blockchain technology. In addition to this, the bank is well-known for its involvement in trade financing pilot projects leveraging R3’s Marco Polo blockchain network.

In general, the collaboration between RLB NO-Wien and Bitpanda sheds light on the expanding interest that conventional financial institutions have in the provision of bitcoin investment services. It is possible that we will witness a surge in the adoption and public acceptance of digital assets as more financial institutions join the bitcoin industry.


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UK to Invest in AI Task Force

The United Kingdom is making significant investments in the development of its technology sector. UK officials recently announced the formation of an AI task force that will receive an initial funding of £100 million to accelerate the country’s readiness for the adoption of artificial intelligence. This task force will prioritize public services and aim to ensure that safe and reliable foundation models for AI use are established.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his belief in the opportunities that AI presents for economic growth, advancements in healthcare, and security. He stated that by investing in emerging technologies through the task force, the UK can continue to lead the way in developing safe and trustworthy AI and shaping a more innovative economy.

The task force is set to focus on ensuring sovereign capabilities, including public services, and fostering broad adoption of safe and reliable foundation models. The UK has committed to becoming a science and technology superpower by 2030, and this task force’s work will contribute to achieving this goal. The first pilots of AI usage and integration will target public services and are expected to launch in the next six months.

The UK government has already invested £900 million into computing technology, highlighting its commitment to developing its technology sector. Officials in the UK are simultaneously pushing for “safe AI,” which means regulating the technology to keep people safe while promoting innovation.

The country’s science, innovation, and technology secretary, Michelle Donelan, expressed her belief that AI can transform every industry if developed responsibly. She said that this development would ensure that the public and businesses have the trust they need to confidently adopt this technology and realize its benefits fully.

This announcement comes shortly after the UK Treasury announced the revival of its Asset Management Taskforce, which will focus on developing crypto regulation. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong will help advise regulators on law and taxation between banks and the fintech industry.

In conclusion, the UK’s investment in the AI task force represents a significant step towards establishing the country as a leader in AI technology. By prioritizing public services and establishing safe and reliable foundation models for AI use, the UK is paving the way for innovation while keeping people safe.


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Deloitte seeks crypto experts

Big Four accounting firm Deloitte is ramping up its crypto expertise, actively seeking individuals with cryptocurrency knowledge to join its team. While other “Big Four” accounting firms like Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers have no crypto-related job openings, Deloitte has over 300 in the United States alone, with almost all of them posted just a week ago on LinkedIn.

Deloitte has several job titles related to cryptocurrency, such as Blockchain & Digital Assets Manager, which is available in 97 different locations across the United States. Other job titles include Tax Manager, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency, available in 18 U.S. locations, and Tax Manager, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency in NFTs, with openings in three US locations.

The role of Blockchain & Digital Assets Manager lists responsibilities to include providing various services such as financial statement audit, internal controls specific to blockchain and digital assets, audit readiness for blockchain and digital asset transactions, IPO readiness and SEC reporting services, SPAC transactions and accounting advisory services for digital asset transactions.

Applicants for the role of Tax Manager will manage teams providing tax advisory and compliance services to a diverse range of clients, including those in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries. The responsibilities include leading clients in legal entity structuring and analyzing tokens and deals, among others.

This move comes as Deloitte signals its continued support and interest in Web3 and crypto. In February, the firm announced a partnership with Vatom, a Web3 platform, to provide immersive experiences to different industries. This collaboration offers various opportunities for companies looking to enhance culture using virtual reality, as well as for brands aiming to improve community engagement.

Circle reportedly hired Deloitte to audit its proof-of-reserves in January, further solidifying Deloitte’s interest and involvement in the crypto space.

As of now, LinkedIn has received over 1,000 applications from multiple locations for the different job roles, and there are several crossover listings on Deloitte’s website. It is unclear if these positions that Deloitte seeks to fill were advertised previously.

This move by Deloitte reflects the increasing demand for cryptocurrency experts as more businesses and industries explore the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. With its extensive reach and expertise in accounting, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and legal services, Deloitte is well-positioned to provide top-notch services to its clients in the crypto and blockchain space.


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Circle Launches Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol for USDC

Users are now able to move US Dollar Coin (USDC) between Ethereum and Avalanche thanks to the implementation of a new mainnet protocol by Circle, the company that created the US Dollar Coin (USDC). The Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CCTP), which was introduced on April 26, intends to lessen the amount of fragmentation that exists within the Web3 ecosystem and do away with the need for USDC bridges.

Prior to this update, customers who owned USDC on Ethereum and wished to move it to Avalanche were required to either deposit their coins with a Circle partner or utilize a third-party bridge to complete the transfer. Nevertheless, customers are now able to transfer their USDC straight across the two networks thanks to the newly developed CCTP.

The new protocol operates in a manner that is distinct from that of a conventional bridge. Instead of putting a lock on tokens that are submitted to its contract, it will entirely destroy them and then issue fresh tokens on the network that is receiving them. Users have the ability to immediately convert these newly issued tokens into bank deposits by depositing them with Circle or one of its partners.

The Circle team anticipates that the CCTP will remedy the problem of fragmentation that exists within the Web3 ecosystem. At the moment, there are a number of unauthorised versions of USDC that are circulating on other networks. The majority of these versions are the consequence of tokens on one network being bridged to another network. The development team anticipates that the usage of unauthorised copies will gradually decrease now that there is an official means to move coins across networks. This will result in the token being easier to understand and utilize.

A significant number of the most prominent cross-chain protocols, such as Celer, Hyperlane, LayerZero, LI.FI, MetaMask, and Wormhole, as well as others, have already committed to making use of CCTP in the future. It is anticipated that the new protocol will get widespread adoption as a result of this support, which will further reduce the need for USDC bridges and facilitate the use of the token across other networks.

In the realm of decentralized finance (DeFi), the introduction of Circle’s new Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol represents an important step forward overall. This demonstrates both the rising desire for smooth interoperability across multiple blockchain networks as well as the willingness of prominent companies in the industry to cooperate in order to enhance the user experience for everyone. The future of DeFi is expected to become more linked and available to a larger audience as the number of projects that embrace cross-chain protocols like CCTP increases.


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