Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bitcoin Startup Incubator, CoinLab, Launches in WA

Several enthusiastic Seattle entrepreneurs have banded together to form what most certainly is the first startup incubator specifically tailored to the Bitcoin niche.

CoinLab is the handiwork of Peter Vessenes, Mike Koss and Tihan Seale and shares a space within Mike Koss's co-working space (StartPad) located in downtown Seattle, Washington. CoinLab is already hard at work on BitSent, which aims to solve the problem of making transactions "in the wild" without a smart phone.

This has been a plan in the works by both Vessenes and Koss, who had both met with Nefario (alias), a Bitcoin developer (owner and maintainer of the Bitcoin Global Stock Exchange) and English teacher in a Chinese University, who was also interested in creating a hackerspace for startups revolving around Bitcoin. However, United States customs prevented the meeting from taking place, and Nefario had to return to China. Bitsent

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recovering Lost (Due to Format) Bitcoin Wallets

It seems to be more commonplace than one would think to hear about someone formatting their hard drive and forgetting to take a backup of their Bitcoin wallet. Well, if you are one of those unlucky users, you might be in luck! (As long as you didn't zero write your hard drive.)

Bitcointalk user, makomk, has created a utility that scans a hard drive looking for any indications of the missing Bitcoin wallet and the private keys stored within it. Right now this process is somewhat restricted to users who can operate Linux, as you'll need to boot to a live Linux operating system to use the recovery tool.

So, if you've gotten yourself into this precarious situation after formatting your hard drive, to recover your lost Bitcoin wallet, boot to a live Linux distribution and execute the following commands in a command prompt:

  • wget
  • chmod +x wallet-recover
  • sudo ./wallet_recover recovered-wallet.dat

Hopefully, the recovery tool finds its mark(s) and outputs lots of public and private key combinations. If it is successful, it will also generate a file called recovered-wallet.dat, which is a usable Bitcoin wallet containing all of the Bitcoin addresses and private keys the tool could find. It is recommended to take this file, load it onto a USB drive, and open it on another system to check if you recovered your wallet and Bitcoins.

View Bitcoin Wallet Recover source code.

Read the Bitcointalk thread.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bit-Pay Mobile Checkout Will Change Everything

Bit-Pay Mobile Checkout will allow brick-and-mortar merchants to accept Bitcoin payments via a point-of-sale application on a mobile smartphone. Combined with Bit-Pay's instant cash-in feature, retailers no longer have to worry about the fluctuating Bitcoin price, they can just charge their regular dollar amount and receive exactly that.

Bit-Pay Mobile Checkout is currently being piloted at several businesses in Orlando, Florida. It offers any retailer a brandable point-of-sale mobile application, and a dashboard to track all sales. Now there's absolutely no reason for a merchant to not accept Bitcoins, it's just turning down money!

Sales Dashboard Bit-Pay Mobile Checkout

Check out Bit-Pay Mobile Checkout today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bit Address Makes Offline Wallets Easy For You & Me

How do you protect yourself (and your wallet.dat) from hapless predation?

Creating an air-gapped cold store for your Bitcoin is one of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure their livelihood. Having an active wallet.dat file or even mentioning your use of the Bitcoin currency can possibly turn you into a target for attack. Securing your Bitcoin is as easy as creating a Bitcoin wallet offline, initiating a transaction with it via an active wallet, and verifying this transaction on BlockExplorer, or another similar website. You can then denote the wallet address for this secure, offline wallet and tuck away the private keys to authenticate it in a nice, safe place. Sounds complex, right? Well now, it's not.

Bit Address is a simple tool that allows you to generate the private keys and public address for a Bitcoin wallet right from your browser! You can then print out these private keys for safe keeping, whether that be in a safe deposit box at your bank or under the old maple tree in your backyard, that's up to you.

But it's a website, you said offline wallets were the way to go!

Right you are, Bit Address employs JavaScript for the creation of the Bitcoin wallet, which means all of the action is taking place using your browser. Load their website, disconnect from the internet, and THEN click the 'New Address' button to generate a truly air-gapped wallet.

Remember: Proper Protection Prevents Pirates from Plundering

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Casascius Physical Bitcoins

Bitcoin Talk user casascius has created a unique way to physically store and trade Bitcoins: brass tokens containing a mini private key for a Bitcoin wallet containing ฿1. Each token has a tamper-showing hologram that shows an owner or potential owner if the private key has (possibly) been accessed and consumed, and denotes the first 8 characters of the wallet's public address, which is enough to identify it on Block Explorer to confirm the balance. For a size reference, Casascius tokens are 1.125inch (28.6mm) in diameter, which is slightly larger than a US quarter, but still smaller than a US half-dollar coin.
Each token costs ฿1.25, price drops to ฿1.20 with a 10 order minimum. Shipping is a flat rate of ฿1. You can order a Casascius token directly from his website.

Bitcoin Forums Restored - Sirius Still In Charge

Well, after a long day full of checking to see if the Bitcoin Talk Forums were back up, they are. Bitcoin Talk administrator, theymos, urges all users to promptly change their passwords immediately, it is unclear at this point how much private data was proliferated. In this post, theymos explains what has been discovered about the hack, and what is known about the perpetrator. Here are the cliffnotes:
  • Forum software was compromised using a 0day exploit in SMF. Perpetrator had administrative access since September 3rd, which went unnoticed until September 9th, when they inserted the CosbyCoin defacement JavaScript.
  • It is not known for sure that the attacker copied any password hashes, but it should be assumed that he did.
  • No forum data is known to be damaged or maliciously altered, Bitcoin Talk has made the decision to proceed forward with the most recently active database.
  • The attacker first paid for a donator account so he could change his displayed username. The displayed username field is not escaped properly, so he was able to inject SQL from there. He took over Satoshi's account, and from Satoshi's administrative interface he was able to inject arbitrary PHP code by modifying the style template.
The Bitcoin Talk forums are now being hosted by Mark Karpeles (AKA MagicalTux) however the ownership remains with Sirius, and no policy change will come into effect at this time. Needless to say this has stirred the rumor mill with talks of a Mt. Gox takeover. While that remains untrue, we will have to wait and see what the future holds. Information on the Bitcoin Talk forums attack.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bitcoin Forums Hacked (By SA?)

In order to disable the annoying popovers and image/text replacements, use AdBlock to block the script: until the problem is rectified.

Had the date on my computer clock read April 1st, I wouldn't have been shocked. But alas, this is no joke: the (official-ish) Bitcoin Forums have been hacked. Many fingers are pointing towards Something Awful forum goons as the culprits behind this debauchery. What exactly have they done?

Well, it seems they have "Cosbyfied" the forums. Every image on the forum is being redirected to grab some sort of Bill Cosby related image, all avatars and signatures have been "Cosbyfied" as well as all mentions of Bitcoin automatically converted to the word "Cosbycoin." Not only this, but several different popover / marquee effects have been added to the forum template, all of which are, you guessed it, Bill Cosby related.
Bitcoin Forum thread discussing the unfortunate event.

Side note: Bitcoin prices were dropping since early this morning, please do not be hasty to attribute the drop in today's exchange rates to the hacking of BITCOINTALK.ORG because that is unlikely so.