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Hacker Returns $2.5 Million to Harvest Finance Deployer Contract

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The fiasco with Harvest Finance continues with full force. The team has put a $100,000 bounty for the first person or team to reach out with information about the hacker.

It’s also important to note that the attacker has decided to return $2.5 million to the deployer contract of Havers Finance. However, given that the total amount of stolen funds is close to $24 million, the returned sum represents a tight 10% of it all.

Developments in the Making: $2.5 Million Returned to Harvest Finance

As CryptoPotato reported earlier this morning, the popular DeFi-based protocol Harvest Finance was attacked.

Later on, the team put out a $100,000 bounty “for the first person or team to reach out to the attacker and help the attacker return the funds to the deployer address.”

In what seemed like a desperate call to action, Harvest Finance called out the hacker, saying:

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… you’ve proven your point if you can return the funds to the users, it would be greatly appreciated by the community, including many bystanders watching DeFi from afar.

The team also said that they are “not interested in doxxing the attacker,” urging him to return the funds to the users.

As indicated by DeFi proponent devops199fan on Twitter earlier on, a total of $24 million were stolen from Harvest Finance, and the hacker returned about $2.5 million back. The team said that the money would be distributed to the affected users pro-rata using a snapshot.

The Risks of DeFi: Important Considerations

This is definitely not the first time a DeFi protocol has been compromised. Earlier in September, leverage-based lending and trading platform bZx, became the target of yet another hack. Attackers made away with $8 million worth of different cryptocurrencies, and this was the second time this particular platform was exploited.

What this goes to show is that decentralization comes with a cost. It’s oftentimes brought up that cryptocurrencies are an alternative to centralized financial authorities like banks because they separate state from money. That’s true – they really do, in some cases.

However, it’s also true that the risks are much greater, especially with novel concepts like most of what’s going on currently in DeFi.

Remember to always do your own research and never put money in untested protocols, and always risk money that you can afford to lose.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/hacker-returns-2-5-million-to-harvest-finance-deployer-contract/

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Further Declines in Bitcoin Price Possible Though Grayscale is Crucial, Notes JPM Analyst

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Although Bitcoin has recovered from its vigorous price losses during the Thanksgiving massacre, analysts from JPMorgan Chase & Co believe that further declines may still occur.

The strategists pointed out that Grayscale, through its Bitcoin Trust, will play a significant role in future BTC price developments.

Is Bitcoin To Head Further South?

The primary cryptocurrency reached a new yearly high of $19,500 last week; thus, it came less than 3% away from the 2017 all-time high of $20,000. As the community began speculating on how long it will take to surpass that level, the trend reversed viciously.

Bitcoin headed south and lost over $3,000 of value in hours. Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency has recovered most of its losses and trades north of $18,000.

A JPM analysis, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, recently said that the Thanksgiving price drops had cleared the “previous froth in momentum traders’ positioning.” However, the strategists hinted that Bitcoin could still go lower.

“Momentum traders such as commodity trading advisors and other quantitative funds likely played a big role in the slide by unwinding long Bitcoin futures positions. Momentum traders have room to further propagate” the Bitcoin decline, noted the analysts cited by Bloomberg.

Apart from broaching “momentum traders,” the strategists also discussed various other reasons behind the price developments. Those included the rumors of new regulations proposed by the Trump administration and profit-taking.

Grayscale Is Key

The JPM strategists also highlighted the significant role of Grayscale and its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust on the market. The cryptocurrency manager is the most preferred company for institutional investors to receive exposure to Bitcoin (and other digital assets) without worrying about storing the funds.

This has been exemplified through 2020 as Grayscale has reported back-to-back recording-breaking quarterly results. The assets under management (AUM) have exploded in the past 12 months to over $10 billion. Somewhat expectedly, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has the most substantial share.

The analysts asserted that if there’s a decline in the interest towards GBTC, this could damage the narrative that Bitcoin has become a favorite among institutional investors:

“A failure by the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to receive additional inflows over the coming weeks would also cast doubt to the idea that institutional investors such as family offices have embarked on a trend of embracing Bitcoin as digital gold replacing traditional gold as a long-term investment.”

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/further-declines-in-bitcoin-price-possible-though-grayscale-is-crucial-notes-jpm-analyst/

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Eth2 dev talks about challenges and lessons learned ahead of mainnet launch

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After years of delays and changes in plans, Ethereum 2.0 is finally approaching release on Dec. 1.

Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 is introducing the long-awaited mechanism of staking to the smart contract platform, in addition to launching the skeleton of a future Eth2 blockchain, the Beacon Chain.

Progress in 2020 steadily picked up pace as more and more testnets were introduced and iterated on. While they were successful in aggregate, they were not exempt from problems related to synchronization and block production.

Part of those issues came from the challenge of keeping the same pace between seven different clients, or Ethereum 2.0 node software, working with different programming languages and technology stacks.

Cointelegraph spoke with Zahary Karadjov, research developer at Nimbus — one of those clients — to learn more about both the road Ethereum 2.0 has traveled so far and the next legs of the journey.

The interview has been lightly edited for length and context.

Cointelegraph: Nimbus seems to have had a few more issues catching up to the shared Ethereum 2.0 specifications. Why do you think that is?

Zahary Karadjov: We were very busy preparing Nimbus for mainnet. It’s fair to say that it has been a little bit more challenging for us because it took us a while to develop some of the components that the other teams already had available — more specifically, the Libp2p networking layer.

This is something that we had to build from scratch, and it took us quite a lot of time to stabilize it. There were a few months where we were struggling with performance. It was only recently that we published our initial stable release. But right now, we feel confident for mainnet: We are working on the last of the small issues, and our audit has also been completed.

CT: Prysm and Lighthouse — which similar to existing Ethereum 1.0 clients were built in Go and Rust, respectively — seem to have been ahead of the others so far. Is that because they were able to build on the work done for Ethereum 1.0?

ZK: My explanation will be a simplification, as there are many factors involved. But I would say that developing Libp2p has been the most significant source of delays for us. And the logic is easy to see here: Teku, which is developed in Java, also didn’t have a Libp2p implementation, and it also became ready at a slightly later stage.

The Prysm team had the luxury of having Libp2p developed a very long time ago, as it was originally developed in Go, while Lighthouse was able to take advantage of the implementation created, again, quite some time ago by the Parity team for its work on Polkadot.

Libp2p is the networking layer of Ethereum 2.0 — you can say it’s a completely different technology from the one that’s used in Ethereum 1.0. In very practical terms, it’s a publish-subscribe technology called Gossipsub, which is an optimized way to broadcast information in the network.

CT: Let’s talk about the Medalla testnet. What lessons did Nimbus and the Eth2 community learn, especially considering the periods where the blockchain wasn’t providing block finality guarantees?

ZK: Well, the struggles with finality started with a technical issue. There’s the famous Cloudflare Roughtime incident, which demonstrated exactly what we were discussing in our previous conversation. If everybody on the network is using the same client, a technical issue in this particular client could put a lot of validators offline, which may immediately render the network into a non-finalizing state.

We had this issue with the Prysm client, and it also taught an important lesson in the importance of communication. The Prysm team was able to provide a fix for this issue in a very short amount of time — just a couple of hours. But it took quite a while for the community to realize there was a problem and to deploy the fix.

This was the initial incident that created a long period of non-finalization for Medalla. But this was actually very helpful for the clients because when the network is not finalizing, the clients have to consider many different possible forks and alternative histories, and this puts a lot of stress on the clients. So, these long periods of non-finalization allowed us to see and to optimize the clients for these stressful moments in the network where everything is not running as expected.

CT: During the testnet and the non-finality period, some users complained that their stake was reduced even if they were online. Is that a bug or a feature of the system?

ZK: You could describe it as an unanticipated consequence. Basically, the problem is that the client gets rewarded for the attestations broadcast on the network. But these attestations are supposed to be included in blocks. If there is nobody to produce blocks, your attestations don’t end up on the chain. So, it looks like you’re not active.

I think this issue is well recognized and acknowledged by the implementation team and the research team. It should be addressed in the future of Ethereum — in Phase 1, or even Phase 0.5, one of the very first upgrades of the network. But we should not forget that it would be quite unexpected if we see low participation rates on the mainnet, as when there’s real stake involved, the incentives for validators to be online are much stronger.

CT: Do you think these complexities and the requirement of being constantly online could turn people away from staking with their own devices?

ZK: Well, this is a very common misconception that I think we should do a much better job at communicating. Actually, the risks of not being online all the time are not that great. You will make a profit if you are online more than 50% of the time. Think about it: You can be offline for half of the year, and you’ll still be at zero. You won’t be making any money, but you also won’t be losing any money. The protocol is quite forgiving in this regard.

CT: What comes after the mainnet launch of Phase 0? Is sharding the next upgrade on the list or do you expect more work required for this initial Beacon Chain?

ZK: There will certainly be upgrades coming with the integration of Phase 1, and it would require breaking changes — or let’s just call it a hard fork — where the client teams will release new software as more functionality is brought online. We expect the rollout of the finality gadget at some point, which will finalize the Ethereum 1.0 chain through the consensus mechanism of Ethereum 2.0. All of these ongoing releases are going to happen in parallel. They’re a little bit independent from each other and are part of the Ethereum roadmap for the next few years.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/eth2-dev-talks-about-challenges-and-lessons-learned-ahead-of-mainnet-launch

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ECB’s Lagarde speaks positively about digital euro, not so much about stablecoins

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Calling central bank money “unique,” Christine Lagarde, President of European Central Bank, spoke about the future of money and pointed out the positive aspects of the digital euro. While she maintained that the digital euro would only complement physical cash, she did emphasize that issuing a digital euro might become necessary to “ensure monetary sovereignty” in the region.

However according to her, crypto-assets are “highly volatile, illiquid and speculative,” and “do not fulfill all the functions of money.” Lagarde also believed that stablecoins and crypto-assets posed “serious risks” and with regard to stabelcoins, in particular, she further added: 

Although stablecoins could drive additional innovation in payments and be well integrated into social media, trade and other platforms, they pose serious risks. 

She went on to state that if widely adopted, stablecoins “could threaten financial stability and monetary sovereignty” and explained

For instance, if the issuer cannot guarantee a fixed value or if they are perceived as being incapable of absorbing losses, a run could occur. Additionally, using stablecoins as a store of value could trigger a large shift of bank deposits to stablecoins, which may have an impact on banks’ operations and the transmission of monetary policy.

Referring to “big tech” companies such as, in all probability, Facebook’s Libra, Lagarde said that stablecoins issued by global technology firms could also present “risks to competitiveness and technological autonomy in Europe. She believed such firms would attempt to “leverage their competitive advantage” and “control of large platforms.” On the other hand, Lagarde believed that a digital euro would also be “an emblem of the ongoing process of European integration and ultimately help to unify Europe’s digital economies.”

Recently Deutsche Bank’s research found that the CBDC race was led by Sweden and China with both nations having started CBDC pilot projects earlier this year. It found that governments played a “pivotal role” in supporting a digital payments infrastructure. In its research, the bank also called on US and Europe to “catch up” with the CBDC trend and even cautioned European policymakers about the risks of not developing their own CBDC.

Source: https://eng.ambcrypto.com/ecbs-lagarde-speaks-positively-about-digital-euro-not-so-much-about-stablecoins

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