Ever the tech enthusiast, Bert Green decided to start accepting bitcoin at his Chicago storefront in 2013, becoming one of the first art galleries in the US to accept the digital currency as payment.

Things didn't work out as planned.

"It's hardly ever happened," he said, recalling just two sales using the cryptocurrency over the past four years at his gallery, Bert Green Fine Art. "People do not transact in bitcoin."


Green's experience isn't unique. Despite bitcoin and other digital currencies being billed as -- you know -- currencies, they've instead turned into investment vehicles or stores of wealth. That shift appears to have sped up last year, when bitcoin's price skyrocketed from $1,000 last February to nearly $20,000 by December -- causing cryptocurrency to become a topic at the family dinner table.

This lack of spending with cryptocurrencies could limit their future potential. Bitcoin, ethereum and other digital currencies may remain in the realm of investors and crypto enthusiasts, instead of becoming long-sought universal monies that people use every day and can be spent at any store or website around the world.

Even after bitcoin's price tumbled this year, chances that it could reach that promise are anyone's guess.

"That is the $64,000 question, that is, what's the next narrative for bitcoin?" said Nick Colas, co-founder of the independent research firm DataTrek Research, who's been following cryptocurrencies since 2012. "It's really hard to pin down and that's why the price is so volatile."

The headaches of bitcoin lunch

Things weren't always this way. Back in 2013, bitcoin was being trumpeted as the next, new currency, unfettered by governments, easily movable across borders and anonymous for users.


THE OLYMPICS HAVE always been a geopolitical microcosm: beyond the athletic match-ups, they provide a vehicle for diplomacy and propaganda, and even, occasionally, a proxy for war. It stands to reason, then, that in 2018 they've also become a nexus of hacker skullduggery. The Olympics unfolding next week in Pyeongchang may already be the most thoroughly hacked in the games' history—with potentially more surprises to come.

More so than any previous Olympics, the run-up to Pyeongchang has been plagued by apparent state-sponsored hackers: One Russia-linked campaign has stolen and leaked embarrassing documents from Olympic organizations, while security researchers have tracked another operation, possibly North Korean, that appears to be spying on South Korean Olympics-related organizations.

Security researchers tracking those two operations say the full scope of either remains far from clear, leaving the looming question of whether they could still present new disruptions timed to unfold during the games themselves. And more broadly, the intrusions signal that the geopolitical tensions that have long underscored the Olympics now extend into the digital realm as well.


A piece of crypto-mining malware is using sophisticated tools for its operations, including a Windows exploit linked to the National Security Agency, security researchers warn.

Dubbed WannaMine, the crypto-mining worm spreads using EternalBlue, the NSA-linked tool that became public in April 2017, just one month after Microsoft released a patch for it.

Leveraging a vulnerability in Windows’ Server Message Block (SMB) on port 445, the exploit became famous after the WannaCry ransomware was found exploiting it for distribution. Other malware families abused it as well, including botnets, backdoors, NotPetya, and banking Trojans.

Now, the same exploit is being used to spread WannaMine, a piece of malware focused on mining for the Monero crypto-currency, but which uses sophisticated capabilities, such as persistence and distribution mechanisms similar to those used by nation-state actors, CrowdStrike says.

WannaMine, the security researchers explain, employs “living off the land” techniques for persistence, such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) permanent event subscriptions. The malware has a fileless nature, leveraging PowerShell for infection, which makes it difficult to block without the appropriate security tools.

The malware uses credential harvester Mimikatz to acquire legitimate credentials that would allow it to propagate and move laterally. If that fails, however, the worm attempts to exploit the remote system via EternalBlue.


Vivian Zhang is CTO and chief data scientist for the NYC Data Science Academy.

In this exclusive interview, Zhang traces her journey from passionate open source activist to data science training evangelist.


TechNewsWorld: What is the mission of the NYC Data Science Academy, and why is it an important institution?

Vivian Zhang: We teach data scientists. We train companies and their employees, since we believe it's important to understand and benefit from the data. We excel in data science consulting, and we encourage our clients to train their team to do the work.

That's why we do a lot of corporate and individual training. We offer live-streaming and recorded video format, and we also offer training in person in New York City. Teaching is very fulfilling. We have helped about 1,300 part-time students and 300 full-time students to advance their careers.

TNW: What is your role with the NYC Data Science Academy?

Zhang: I'm in charge of the technical side of things -- coming up with the prototypes to enable our clients to understand data science. Every quarter we're updating content, and we're trying to be innovative and creative. We want to challenge traditional data analysis methods, and we want to inspire other people to do a better job with data analytics.

Traditionally people use a lot of closed-source software, but we're focusing on the open source world. Millions of people are contributing to those projects now. People are increasingly moving toward open source. The iteration and the enthusiasm of the community surpasses anything you can see in the closed-source community.

TNW: What inspired you to do the work you're doing with the academy?

Zhang: I was a volunteer in the open source community for 10 years. That's initially how I started a consulting business, because I'm so passionate about it. The school is a coincidence. I taught data science in my meet-up group, and it grew quickly, since companies wanted training for their employees. I never thought I would become a teacher.

TNW: What are some of the most significant current trends in the field of data science?