DRAM Sales Decline Amidst Crypto Market Stutter

Sales of DRAM chips in Japan and the rest of the world have declined. The lull in cryptocurrency prices and the decline in smartphone sales are likely responsible for the decrease in sales. Lower Prices Cool Crypto Enthusiasm According to a recent Morgan Stanley report, the decline in cryptocurrency prices has negatively impacted the semiconductor market. With crypto prices falling, miners can end up operating at a loss. Morgan Stanley previously stated that Bitcoin mining

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Watchout! Satori Botnet Targets Exposed Ethereum Miners

Yesterday, BleepingComputer brought to light recent reports that have Ethereum miners worried, as enslaved internet-connected devices have been targeting miners worldwide.  Evidence filed by multiple internet security companies have shown that the Satori botnet, a system of IoT devices which number in the tens of thousands, has been trying to infiltrate Ethereum miners through a 3333 port exploit. This specific port has often been a way in which miners can remotely control their mining equipment,

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New ‘Snobbish’ Cryptojacking Malware Infected 500k Users in 3 Days, Report Says

WinstarNssmMiner, a new type of malware script used to mine Monero, has spread to half a million devices in 3 days, cyber researcher reports.

A new piece of so-called cryptojacking malware used half a million computers to mine 133 Monero (XMR) tokens (about $25,000) in three days, Finance Magnates reports today, May 18.

New research published by cyber security firm 360 Total Security May 16 found that the malware, referred to as WinstarNssmMiner, presents a fresh challenge to users, due to its ability to both mine and crash infected machines at will.

Malicious software that engages in cryptojacking – the use of another’s device to mine crypto without their knowledge – has become a common phenomenon in recent months.

As Cointelegraph reported, instances have risen dramatically in 2018.  A warning from Microsoft highlighted only 644,000 infected devices in the period September 2017 to January 2018 – only slightly more than WinstarNssmMiner’s three-day progress.

Commenting on the latest threat, 360 said it was “surprised” that in addition to mining Monero, the malware could also force a user’s PC to crash if it detected the presence of certain antivirus software, writing:

“This malware is very hard to remove since victims’ computers crash as soon as they found and terminate the malware.”

A twist comes in the form of what 360 describes as “snobbish” behavior regarding antivirus brands: the presence of well-known products from companies such as Kaspersky Lab and Avast! cause WinstarNssmMiner not to activate at all. Other brands are ignored, resulting in mining and crashes.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph also reported on how code for crypto-mining program Coinhive was found on over 300 governmental and university websites worldwide.

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Chinese ASIC Manufacturer To Turn To AI In Case Of Stricter Gov’t Regulation

Bitmain is looking to artificial intelligence as the natural option to turn to in case of an increase in China’s already stringent crypto regulations.

Due to the recent crypto crackdown in China, Chinese ASIC chip manufacturer Bitmain is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as an alternate revenue source, Bloomberg reports today, May 17.

China’s crypto regulations have included an initial coin offering (ICO) ban in the fall of last year, this January’s ban on “exchange-like services,” and the February ban on foreign crypto exchanges.

Bitmain manufactures the processing chips and miners that mine for a variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and altcoin Monero; although the release of the Monero-mining Antminer at the end of March led Monero to upgrade in order to preserve its ASIC-resistant nature.

Jihan Wu, Bitmain’s co-chief executive, told Bloomberg in one of his infrequent interviews that because “artificial intelligence requires lots of computations,” it is the natural alternative option for the ASIC manufacturer:

“As a China company, we have to be prepared.”

Bitmain’s Sophon BM1680 chip, which they began selling in October, can more cheaply speed up machine learning as compared to those made by Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices Inc, although it is not as powerful.

Wu — who predicts that AI chips could account for up to 40 percent of Bitmain’s revenue in five years — told Bloomberg that Bitmain is “just trying to do something that they cannot take care of well enough.”

At the end of February this year, a report showed that Bitmain, a four-year-old company, made between $3 and $4 bln in operating profits in 2017, as compared to twenty-seven-year-old competitor Nvidia, who made about $3 bln during the same period.

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Cases Of Illegal Bitcoin And Cryptocurrency Mining: Chicken Farms And New York

Cryptocurrency miners in the US and South Korea disguised as protected businesses to mine bitcoin with unfairly cheap electricity rates.

In the US, China, and South Korea, many individual cryptocurrency miners and large-scale mining centers were cracked down for conducting illicit operations. For example, in April 2018, cryptocurrency miners in South Korea were arrested for illicitly utilizing cheap electricity to produce cryptos.

Chicken farm in South Korea

In South Korea, places such as chicken farms and factories in development restricted areas are provided with electricity at cheaper rates by the government to help struggling industries and support innovative technology-focused initiatives. The government is stricter with the usage of electricity in these areas and consistently monitors the inflow of energy into buildings, factories, farms, and houses near these specially approved districts.

On April 19, police in the Gyeong-ki province of South Korea, the second largest region behind Seoul, arrested operators of a mining center in Nam Yang city. An in-depth police investigation disclosed that five cryptocurrency miners, whose identities remain confidential as they are still in police custody, purposely rented out factories and chicken farms in the protected part of the city to receive electricity for substantially lower rates.

By disguising buildings as semi-conductor factories and several properties as chicken farms, the five individuals were able to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum with virtually no cost apart from the ASIC miners they acquired and installed.

Image source: Northern Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency via Hani

In the Paju restricted development area, the five individuals rented out a 859 square meter building and applied to the government as a semi-conductor factory. For 8 months, the group utilized the space to mine cryptocurrencies with more than 1580 ASIC miners. In the later months of their illegal venture, the group recruited more than 40 individuals and rented out their ASIC miners to produce even more cryptocurrencies.

The group generated more than $300,000 by accepting ASIC miners from individuals within months but the actual sum of cryptocurrencies the group was able to produce throughout the 8-month period remains unclear.

Preliminary investigations undertaken by the Gyeong-ki and Paju police has shown that the group produced at least 760 Ethereum, which is worth more than $500,000, and a large sum of Bitcoin. The local police is still investigating into the final sum of money the group generated throughout the past year. The police has also discovered that the group only paid 50 percent of the normal electricity rate and received significant discounts for renting out the farms and factories.

Currently South Korea has no laws or policies approved that can punish cryptocurrency miners in development restricted areas. Minor charges could be applied to the five individuals, for using the space intended to carry out other initiatives, but no major penalties can be imposed as of now. To prevent similar situations from occurring in the future, the local police has requested the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs to draft and approve laws that prohibit cryptocurrency miners from taking advantage of districts and areas with cheaper electricity rates.

First mining ban in New York

In the US on March 18, local authorities in the state of New York requested a cryptocurrency mining facility to halt their mining initiative after residents of Plattsburg, a small lakeside town in upstate New York, filed an official complaint to the police for the excessive usage of low-cost electricity by local miners.

The city of Plattsburg did not impose a permanent ban on Bitcoin mining however. Instead, local authorities and residents released a moratorium which states that the city will not consider applications for commercial cryptocurrency mining for at least a year and a half. Bloomberg reported that the city can charge more than $1,000 per day if miners decide to use low-cost electricity of the city to mine. The authorities of Plattsburg said:

“It is the purpose of this Local Law to facilitate the adoption of land use and zoning and/or municipal lighting department regulations to protect and enhance the City’s natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources.”

Another cryptocurrency mining facility was confronted by local authorities and a telecommunication powerhouse T-Mobile on Feb. 15 after it was revealed that ASIC miners from a mining facility based in Brooklyn interfered with the 700 MHz band of T-Mobile. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said:

“On November 30, 2017, in response to the complaint agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s New York Office confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio emissions in the 700 MHz band were emanating from your residence in Brooklyn, New York. When the interfering device was turned off the interference ceased. You identified the device as an Antminer s5 Bitcoin Miner. The device was generating spurious emissions on frequencies assigned to T-Mobile’s broadband network and causing harmful interference.”

At the time, the FCC gave the mining facility a 20-day notice to halt their operations and move elsewhere as the radio emissions released by the ASIC miners within the facility were negatively impacting local telecommunication networks.

Not illegal

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining is legal in most countries, even in China which banned the trading of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum in Sep. 2017.

Cryptocurrency mining is legal in most regions because it is beneficial for electricity grid operators to provide excess energy that they can no longer supply to households and businesses. As such, although local governments have tried to ban cryptocurrency mining in the past as demonstrated in CNLedger’s report below, cryptocurrency mining remains unbanned in most countries.

It is also not illegal to mine Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency using electricity that is low cost. However, it is illegal to disguise cryptocurrency mining initiatives as a protected business in a development restricted area to take advantage of cheap electricity that is only provided to approved organizations and institutions. This is why South Korean authorities are currently drafting regulations to prevent mining facilities from taking advantage of cities with cheaper electricity.

THE COST TO MINE 1 BITCOIN

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Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Confirms IPO Filing, Backed by Major Banks

Canaan Creative is pushing ahead with its IPO, which could raise $1bln, reports announced this week.

Chinese Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Canaan Creative plans to start trading of its IPO as soon as July, Bloomberg reports May 16.

Canaan, which confirmed rumors it was planning an IPO with a filing this week, will likely create the largest Bitcoin-focused offering yet seen when it debuts on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg added that while the filing did not mention a specific fundraising target, the figure “could” circle $1bln – a figure which had previously appeared earlier this month.

The move would create further competition for mining stalwart Bitmain, with Canaan currently already controlling around 15% of the Bitcoin chips and hardware equipment market.

In an interview with Reuters last month, meanwhile, co-chairman Jianping Kong said the numbers were equal to “a quarter of the world’s bitcoin blockchain computing power.”

Major IPO backers appearing on the filing are Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and CMB International Capital Ltd.

Canaan has yet to issue a public statement about the move, declining comment after a request from Reuters Tuesday.

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