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Bitcoin Cash developer who drove a tank through Virginia found not guilty

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A Bitcoin Cash developer who drove a tank-like vehicle through Virginia was found not guilty for car theft and violating bond conditions on grounds of insanity, a court heard Monday. 

Police caught Lieutenant Joshua Yabut, an Army National Guard officer, who stole a M577 armored command vehicle from a military base in Virginia, at the end of a 60-mile drug-fuelled chase in June last year. Nobody was injured at the time but it caused widespread disruption.

His defense attorney, Amy Austin, said he was “laboring in mental illness that had him believing things that weren’t reality.”

Yabut had also been accused of violating bond conditions after visiting Iraq earlier this year to research bomb-making.

Joshua Yabut helped to code the main software implementation of Bitcoin Cash—BitcoinABC—and co-founded ZClassic, a failed hard fork of privacy coin ZCash. Before working for the National Guard, Yabut also worked as an unpaid software developer for Horizen, then called ZenCash. A statement by Zencash last year claimed Yabut had publicized a way of hacking the system, a “vulnerability” he himself created. The project distanced itself from Yabut and his work soon after. 

Yabut will undergo treatment for his condition at Central State Hospital in Virginia for at least 45 days.

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Speaking to CBS 6 News, legal expert Todd Stone said he expected judges will reach a similar outcome in September in the city of Richmond, where Yabut faces additional charges of eluding the police.

“We would assume that if experts believe he was insane at the time of offenses in Nottoway, then they also probably believe he was not sane in Richmond,” said Stone.

Yabut had also posted a number of tweets about Bitcoin Cash, as well as other strange tweets like, “where is this damn water buffalo.” Oddly, his Twitter account now reads, “procedurally generated human content.” Which would imply he’s a bot. But last time we checked, bots don’t drive tanks. Yet.

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Crypto News

Cryptocurrency security isn’t totally anonymous. And that’s good.

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Cryptocurrencies carry emerging theft and security risks. But there are steps institutions can take and encourage to adjust to a different type of fraud risk.

The best advice to prevent the loss of cryptocurrency is to protect user passwords and digital signatures as diligently as people protect other valuable confidential information.

Cryptocurrencies do carry protection as part of the model. Cryptocurrencies are small pieces of digital information that are recorded on a blockchain ledger and the information is cryptographically secured.

Chart: Cryptocurrencies seen as crime tools

In order to access the ledger and transfer ownership, you need to use the password linked with the public or private encryption key that is part of the digital signature associated with that account on the ledger that holds your cryptocurrency. If you have not got the right password you cannot access the ledger. If the encryption standard is based on a secure algorithm with a sufficiently long bit size, your digital signature cannot be hacked.

But someone might simply try to change the entry into the ledger by altering the ledger itself, replacing the correct ledger with a new copy that shows an entry where your cryptocurrency has been transferred to another account as though you had authorized the transfer with your digital signature.

This is where the security of blockchain technology comes to the rescue. The decentralized decision-making process (the consensus mechanism) for validating new copies of the ledger prevents unauthorized copies of the ledger from being accepted by the network validators (“miners”). Hence the use of digital signatures and the consensus mechanism protect cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin from double-spending.

However, someone may steal a password. They may hack a computer or the servers of the service provider that holds the digital wallet. By using the user’s digital signature, the hacker would transfer cryptocurrency to another account on the ledger and the transaction would be validated on the blockchain. The cryptocurrency would then be lost, as if someone had stolen cash in the analog world. There is no third-party intermediary like a bank or credit card company to correct the error. This immutability of the blockchain is the whole point of its security.

If the victim or firm can find the thief (i.e. the person who hacked the account or the person who holds the blockchain account where the cryptocurrency has been transferred to) then the victim or a representative can address the claim against them.

There is an advantage here over the analog cash world. On the internet everybody, including hackers, leaves digital traces. New recovery services have emerged that offer to track stolen cryptocurrencies by analyzing IP addresses and other types of traffic data that can lead to the hacker.


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