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You Can Now Purchase Ether on the New P2P Exchange LocalEthereum.com

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What is Ethereum

In the world of cryptocurrencies, peer-to-peer marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular. Exchanges such as LocalBitcoins and LocalMonero allow users to speculate in bitcoin (BTC) and monero (XMR) respectively. Ethereum is now going the same route with the establishment of a decentralized peer-to-peer exchange known as LocalEthereum.

Using Smart Contracts to Bridge Trust

LocalEthereum is a peer-to-peer marketplace that allows over-the-counter trading of fiat currencies to ether between individual traders. The platform which is similar to its bitcoin counterpart went live on October 21 and is gaining traction due to an increase in demand for ETH globally. However, unlike Localbitcoins which acts an escrow between transacting parties, LocalEthereum is a fully decentralised exchange where users retain control over their transactions.

This is achieved through the deployment of Ethereum smart contracts that are integrated into the in-built escrow service to bridge trust between transacting parties. This means none of the LocalEthereum team can read your messages or access your funds unless with the express permission of both parties and only when a dispute occurs. The use of smart contracts and an in-browser cryptography makes it easy to convert ether for fiat currencies rather than depend on doubtful intermediaries.

A Suitable Option for Ethereum Enthusiasts in Africa

LocalEthereum has the potential to become the go-to platform for ether (ETH) trading in Africa. The platform charges sellers 0.25% on the entire transaction as fees while buyers pay 0.75%. This is below exchanges like Coinbase and others and serves to incentivise traders to post more ad listings.

When funds are deposited onto the service they are transferred to a client-side encrypted wallet. Platform operators have no control over the wallet since it resides in the browser. Communication between buyers and sellers are secure due to end-to-end encryption features that guarantee privacy.

Currently, users can purchase ether in over 80 fiat currencies and take advantage of 800 offers available on the platform. Already, 100 trades have been closed since going live with a total value of approximately $60,000.

Purchase Ether on LocalEthereum

Surprisingly, figures from the Localethereum team show that out of the 100 trades, almost half of them were settled by bank transfer, 20 settled through China’s Alipay service, and the rest using Paypal and in-person cash trades. Demand for the service continues to rise with many users on digital currency forums requesting for a LocalBitcoins solution for Ethereum. In a company blog post the LocalEthereum team states,

“We’re sick of the dangerous misplaced trust in centralised exchanges which continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars of our money. Traders have been getting the raw end of the deal for far too long now, so we’ve changed the game.”

While it is too early to predict how the exchange will fare in the coming months it will create opportunities for Ethereum users in Africa and across the globe. It will also herald a shift of cryptocurrency speculators, from centralised exchanges to peer-to-peer marketplaces that embrace a decentralised model, free from oversight and control.

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Malicious Digmine Monero Miner is Spreading Through Facebook Messenger

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Digmine Monero Miner

A new way for hackers to generate income using cryptocurrencies is by infecting their victim’s computers with malicious cryptocurrency mining software to use their victims’ computing power to mine the anonymous cryptocurrency monero. Cryptocurrency mining botnets operate by remaining in a victim’s computer long enough to yield as much hashing power as required while infecting as many computers as possible. Consequently, the more computers that are infected, the higher the hash rate which in turn means high income for the cyber criminals. One such botnet that has been discovered is the Digmine Monero Miner.

What is Digmine?

Digmine is a botnet that mines monero and spreads through the desktop Chrome version of Facebook Messenger. When opened on other platforms such as mobile, the malware does not operate as it is meant to. Digmine has been discovered in countries such as South Korea, Philippines, and Thailand.

The bot is sent to potential victims disguised as a video file which is, in fact, an Autolt executable script. If you have set your Facebook account to log in automatically, Digmine uses Facebook Messenger to send links of the file to your friends.

The manipulation of Facebook currently depends on propagation. However, since the code can be updated, cyber criminals can use Digmine to take complete control of a Facebook account.

How Does Digmine Work?

Digmine downloads and then saves various components which are contained in the C&C (command-and-control) server. In addition, the bot installs an autostart registry and an infection marker.

Next, Digmine searches for the Chrome application and then launches it. It also retrieves a browser extension from the C&C server for loading. In case Chrome was already running, Digmine closes the application then launches it again through the command line to enable the malicious extension to load.

The C&C server then gives instructions to the extension to either log into Facebook or launch a bogus page to play a video. The page disguises itself as a video streaming site but it actually contains all the malware components.

The role of the extension is propagation through interacting with Chrome and Facebook Messenger. Triggers that are derived from the C&C server are responsible for propagation.

The miner module is downloaded by codec.exe. It connects to another C&C server to access the miner and the relevant configuration file.

How to Avoid Digmine and Other Crypto Mining Botnets

Cryptocurrency mining botnets are targeting social media platforms and here is what you can do to avoid these threats:

  • Delete the accounts of social platforms that you have stopped using because cyber criminals can use them to access other accounts linked to it.
  • Update your apps as soon as new versions are released. The new security features protect your device from new threats.
  • Create different passwords for your various social media accounts. Your passwords should also be strong.
  • Create a different email for your social media accounts so that if these accounts are hacked, the attacker will not access your personal information.
  • Verify that a news story on a social media platform is genuine before clicking on it. For instance, look out for clickbait headlines or grammar errors.

Additionally, Facebook offers tips on how to secure your account via its help centre page.

It is evident that malware threats in cryptocurrency are real and that they are effective. Therefore, ensuring that your devices and social media accounts are secure should be a priority.

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You Can Now Top Up Your Mobile Phone with Bitcoin and Litecoin

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Top Up Your Mobile Phone With Bitcoin

With cryptocurrencies going mainstream, more companies are finding ways in which they can leverage their use in order to boost their adoption. One such company is Bitrefill.

Bitrefill is a web-based platform that enables end users to top up airtime to any prepaid mobile phone across the globe using bitcoin. Bitrefill has recently announced that it has also added litecoin as an alternative that users can now utilise to top up airtime in light of rising bitcoin transaction fees.

Although users were able to use litecoin to purchase airtime before, the process was long and tedious. Users who opted for litecoin had to use the ShapeShift payment integration platform which needed a bitcoin transaction first. This means that users had to pay both the bitcoin transaction fee as well as that of litecoin making the transaction more expensive.

However, with their recent update, litecoin mobile recharges are now native and do not require users to first make a bitcoin transaction. In addition, purchasing airtime top-ups using litecoin is cheap, fast and work anytime, anywhere and to anyone.

How Bitrefill Works

Bitrefill is an easy-to-use platform that supports airtime top ups for prepaid SIM cards and works with more than 600 operators in 150 countries. Once on the platform, users will need to fill in their mobile numbers, choose the credit amount and pay either using bitcoin or litecoin. Once users have filled their numbers and the amount of credit, a wallet address is then generated by Bitrefill that enables users to key in the number of bitcoins that needs to be sent. Once the bitcoin network verifies the transaction, Bitrefill’s servers then pay the operator. Users then get their airtime top ups added almost immediately to their phones.

This makes it easy for users to top up their phones and eliminates the need to travel long distances to purchase airtime. The news also comes at a time when bitcoin fees for payments and transactions are rising making it more expensive for individual money transfers and payments. This is due to the scalability issues that the bitcoin network is facing. With more people using the bitcoin network to send and receive the digital currency, the process of confirming transactions is taking longer and is making fees more costly.

Bitrefill’s addition of the digital currency litecoin for purchases is a welcome move by cryptocurrency users who want to top up their mobile phones online.

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Zimbabwean Exchange Golix Adds Ether and Bitcoin Gold to its Trading Platform

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Golix Adds Ether and Bitcoin Gold

While Zimbabwe has had its fair share of political woes this year, the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the Southern African country has continued to grow. This is evident by the increasing trading volumes on its local bitcoin exchange Golix.

In a bid to boost cryptocurrency adoption in the Southern Africa nation, Golix – Zimbabwe’s only local cryptocurrency exchange platform – has added bitcoin gold (BTG) and ether (ETH) to its trading platform. This brings the total number of digital currencies on the exchange to six.

In an interview with The Financial Gazette, Golix’s Growth Manager, Panashe Tapera said,

“It is our belief that digital currency will form the basis of the future of finance, our mission at Golix is to bring digital currencies to everyone in Africa.”

While adding Ethereum’s ether is a good move considering that it tops the charts on the top ten altcoins and is popular, the case might be different for bitcoin gold.

Bitcoin Gold’s Existence

The key reason for the creation of bitcoin gold was to decentralise bitcoin mining. Bitcoin gold came to be after an October bitcoin hard fork.

A hard fork is an irreversible blockchain split that occurs when there is a software upgrade that is enforced but is not supported by a segment of the network. Whenever a fork happens, a different form of bitcoin is created. In 2017, bitcoin experienced two hard forks.

Although by market cap it is a top ten cryptocurrency, bitcoin gold is not as popular as bitcoin or Ethereum globally. While the move by Golix is a smart decision and is aligned to their goal ‘to bring digital currencies to everyone in Africa’, the question on whether the demand for bitcoin gold will soar in Zimbabwe or not, is yet to be seen.

With about 70 percent of the population in Zimbabwe unbanked and looking at digital currencies as an alternative form of investment and a way of regaining financial control, the central bank of Zimbabwe still considers bitcoin illegal due to its lack of a legal framework.

As Golix continues to make efforts to push for adoption of cryptocurrencies, it is only a matter of time before the impact will be felt in Zimbabwe and in Africa.

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