Posts tagged with "bitcoin"

Credit Cards illustration by Samantha Miduri for use by 360 Magazine

Ghostface Killah Releases NFT

Miami Art Week VIP event will feature WuTang Founder’s 1lb Gold Eagle Bracelet Now Melted into a Solid Gold Coin, Backed by NFT Video

Veteran Art Dealer Avery Andon, has launched a highly curated Art NFT platform and marketplace, ArtGrails. In an epic hip-hop power move, Andon, an artist manager and lifelong advisor to some of Hollywood’s most elite celebrities & art-collectors, has paired hip-hop legend and WuTang Clan founding member, Ghostface Killah, with world-renowned jeweler, Jason Arasheben, aka Jason of Beverly Hills

The two have melted down Ghostface Killah’s “Golden Eagle Bracelet,” an iconic piece of hip-hop history, turning the one pound 24k solid gold bracelet into a giant one pound gold coin, minted as an NFT. The original was created by jeweler to the stars, Jason Arasheben, better known as Jason of Beverly Hills, whose clients include LeBron James, Drake, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mariah Carey, J-Lo, and more. 

On November 30th, the coin and an NFT video of the bracelet being melted and minted, is available as one exclusive set (ultimately available to only one buyer) via auction on the ArtGrails platform. To kick off the launch of the platform and the beginning of Art Basel 2021, ArtGrails hosted an invite-only VIP viewing event, art show, and kick-off party on November 30th in the design district of Miami. No part of the exclusive ‘minting event’ video will be posted online by ArtGrails, leaving the auction winner the power to decide if the ultra-exclusive NFT-backed video becomes available for public viewing elsewhere.  

Ghostface Killah’s solid 24k Gold Eagle Bracelet is an emblem of hip-hop history, and now, in a display that is quintessentially ‘2021’, someone other than Ghostface will be able to own the iconic WuTang member’s bling –– only in the form of a one-of-a-kind gold coin created from the melted bracelet. The coin comes with an NFT video featuring Ghostface and Jason of Beverly Hills melting the eagle bracelet and transforming it into the 1lb coin. 

Arasheben has pushed the boundaries with an immutable impact on hip-hop history by eliminating one iconic piece and creating another. For the first time, his creation combines the tangible and digital world. Together, Ghostface Killah and Arasheben have taken performance art, the entire concept of ‘collectible jewelry’ and non-fungible token and smashed all barriers and preconceptions to create the one-of-a-kind set. The lucky auction winner will have the opportunity to work with Arasheben to further customize the coin in case a necklace chain or other custom mount is desired. 

Avery Andon, the founder of ArtGrails, had the idea to pair Ghostface Killah with Jason of Beverly Hills for this legendary piece. He is the lead curator on the majority of the platform’s upcoming NFT drops, which feature equally compelling artists, celebrities, and collectibles. The ArtGrails’ ArtBasel event is a culmination of months of hard work by Andon, not only with the Ghostface project but also because he has had a large hand in creating and developing the technology behind ArtGrails.

“This auction features some of the most monumental custom NFTs ever created, which required a platform that provides a truly custom experience for delivering high-end art,” said Avery Andon, Founder and CEO of ArtGrails. “With NFTs en route to becoming an industry standard, ArtGrails pushes the industry forward, demonstrating that the future of fine art and collectibles goes beyond paper certificates of authenticity; therefore raising the standard for art buyers, owners, and dealers.” 

The ArtBasel Miami kickoff party and VIP event on Friday, December 3rd represents a large milestone for ArtGrails. The pieces on display at the ArtBasel event will all be tangible wall pieces. The physical art will only be sold along with its accompanying NFT. It can not be resold or bought without the NFT, immutably tying the real world artwork to the blockchain ledger.

The singular 1:1 set made up of the Ghostface Killah Gold Coin and the NFT Video of the melting eagle bracelet will open for auction on ArtGrails beginning at 5:00PM EST on November 30th and will run until 5pm EST on December 5th. The coin and video will be on display in Miami for the duration of the time. The ArtGrails launch event will also showcase a pair of NFT 3D Illustrations that will be minted in limited numbers beginning on Monday, December 6th on the ArtGrails platform. 

In addition to the Ghostface Killah NFTs and Coin, the event will feature other renowned NFT and contemporary artists including Cory Van Lew, Matt Gondek, Javier Martin, and Anthony James. 

To learn more about ArtGrails and to participate in the online NFT auctions, please visit the ArtGrails website at ArtGrails.

About ArtGrails

ArtGrails is an NFT technology platform that aims to lead the market in high end, exclusive, luxury collectibles sold as NFTs.  The high-touch, exclusive NFT platform has a hands-on approach to curating and selling contemporary art and believes in a future where every piece of art is tied to a unique NFT identifier, immutably tied to a blockchain.

Meghan the Stallion via Berk Communications for use by 360 Magazine

Hot Girl Enterprise

Grammy Award-winning musician, philanthropist and entrepreneur Megan Thee Stallion and Cash App announced the launch of a limited-edition “Hot Girl Enterprise” Cash by Cash App apparel collection, which is currently available for purchase HERE.

Both Megan and Cash App partnered to co-design the collection, which includes a reversible bucket hat, a T-shirt and 1 bike short. All proceeds from Megan and Cash App’s collaboration on the clothing collection will go toward supporting charitable projects focused on education, housing and health and wellness in Megan’s hometown of Houston as well as across the globe.

“I’m really proud of this apparel collection with Cash App,” Megan said. “Not only did we create a fierce and stylish look for my Hotties, but we’re also giving back to communities in need in a meaningful way.”

The limited-edition collection comes after Megan and Cash App previously partnered to give away $1 million in stock to advocate the importance of financial literacy. As part of the announcement, she also released an investing tutorial on YouTube with Cash App called “Investing for Hotties,” where she educated viewers on various financial concepts, such as dollar-cost averaging and diversification.

About Megan Thee Stallion

Hailing from Houston, Megan Thee Stallion is a three-time, Grammy-winning recording artist, philanthropist, songwriter and ever-evolving cultural icon. From the release of her critically acclaimed and Gold-certified debut album, Good News, to earning two global record-breaking Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits with the “Savage (Remix)” featuring Beyoncé, and “WAP” with Cardi B, Megan has proven unstoppable.  Megan has been recognized for her musical achievements with three GRAMMY wins, including Best New Artist and nine BET Awards.

Megan was also honored as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. In October 2020, following a powerful and politically charged performance on Saturday Night Live that demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, Megan published her monumental “Why I Speak Up For Black Women” op-ed and accompanying visual with The New York Times.

About Cash App

Cash App is the money app. It’s the easiest way to spend, send, store, and invest money. Sending and receiving money is free and fast, and most payments can be deposited directly to a bank account in just a few seconds. With Cash App, customers can also invest in their favorite companies with as little as $1, buy and sell Bitcoin instantly, get a paycheck deposited right to the app, create a unique $cashtag to share with anyone to get paid fast, and use the Cash Card to spend the money anywhere they’d like. Download Cash App for free HERE.

Nightclub Gif by Reb Czukoski for use by 360 Magazine

MERGING VERSES NFT

The future of fashion is the merging of two verses, the virtual world (metaverse) and the physical world. We explore this through the unity of traditional photography and animation—where humans and AI co-exist.

The NFT world is something that is growing and still confusing for many people not directly involved in the producing and purchasing of these new age art pieces. 360 MAGAZINE was able to interview several people directly involved in the production side of NFTs, including producer and model Bee Davies and photographer Jacques Burga.

Interview with Bee Davies

  • What made you become interested in NFTs?

I became interested in NFTs when I started doing virtual production and realized that there was no marketplace for digital art. More than that, there was no fan base. We know famous photographers and people who collect their photographsbut there’s not the same kind of hype surrounding animators. An NFT marketplace not only legitimizes their work, but provides a platform that opens up the door for a whole new kind of collector.

  • How do you respond to people suggesting NFTs are overly expensive and pointless?

Couldn’t you say that about all collectibles? Digital art, like any art, is meant to be enjoyed; the NFT marketplaces and wallets allow you to do that much more easily.

  • What is your favorite NFT?

The one I produced with Jacques for 360, because it exemplifies the merging of the real world and the metaverse.

  • Was it odd to see yourself become an NFT?

Not at all. Since the dawn of social media we have all had virtual versions of ourselves, this is just an overt way of expressing it.

  • What are your biggest artistic inspirations?

I would like to create and produce a completely virtual fashion show for the industry’s top fashion houses (this means AI talent, virtual runways, and digital clothing/accessories…as well as an audience attending in VR). And of course, mint every bit of the digital experience so it can be enjoyed in the metaverse for eternity.

  • What are some upcoming projects you’re looking forward to?

I have a bunch of NFTs that will be dropping soon that I’ve collaborated on with different animatorssome of which feature the actors from the SciFi TV Pilot I created.

Interview w/ Jacques Burga

  • What made you become interested in NFTs?

It’s a whole new way of making business. I enjoy pushing boundaries when it comes to projects related to my field. It also makes me feel there’s always a next step to follow and to explore disciplines that I wasn’t precisely an expert in.

  • How do you respond to people suggesting NFTs are overly expensive and pointless?

To keep the mind open to new ways of mixing technology and creativity may be good advice.

  • What are your inspirations as a photographer?

I am inspired by People and Beauty

  • Why did you decide to blend photographic elements with virtual ones?

Our world has become very virtual. Photography gets elevated when it’s blend with other disciplines such as Art or Technology (virtuality.)

  • What is your relationship with digital artwork?

I’m working on digital projects related to Fashion and NFT. My relationship is continuously growing.

  • When did you become interested in photography?

When I left an internship at a high profile magazine in Paris and decided to become independent and nurture my desire to create fashion.

  • What, in your opinion, is your best piece of artwork/photography?

I cherish every project since it is composed of pieces that create a nice puzzle for me.

  • What projects can we expect to see from you in the future?

I will always want to explore and collaborate with new technologies and artists that share my vision of fashion and people.

NFTs available on OpenSea.

MEET THE TEAM

Media Partner: 360 MAGAZINE

Studio: Daylight Studio

Producer: Bee Davies / Hive Global Media

Photographer: Jacques Burga

Make-up Artist: Sarah Tweedy

Hair Stylist: Christine McManemi

Wardrobe Stylist: Yash Joshi

NFT Marketplace: Opensea

Digital Designer: Edward Harber

Model: Bee Davies 

Animator: Vizzee

Virtual Model Creator: Vizzee

Metaverse Creators: Vizzee / Mercedes Luna Larrahona / Zoë Jane Bernet

PA: Stefanie Murza / Aleko Syntelis

nft image for use by 360 magazine
nft image for use by 360 magazine
nft image for use by 360 magazine
nft image for use by 360 magazine
nft image for use by 360 magazine
nft image for use by 360 magazine

Twitter’s Future with Bitcoin

By: Sean Fontno, Elle Grant × Vaughn Lowery

Jack Dorsey always had a niche for technology. Back in 2000, he thought to himself, “What if you could share your status with all your friends really easily, so they know what you’re doing?” 6 years later, Jack Dorsey posted the very first tweet: “just setting up my twitter,” and became the company’s chief executive officer. In 2010, Dorsey started investing in the social networking company Foursquare and launched “Square.” Square lets people receive credit card payments through a mobile phone or computer. With his knowledge of social media and Square, it doesn’t seem like much of a surprise for Dorsey wanting to bring Bitcoin and Twitter together, creating something that can quickly connect people and their money.

What is Bitcoin? It’s a currency created back in 2009 by an unknown person using the false name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Have you ever been to the arcade or to the casino and received tokens or chips? Similarly, you must exchange real currency for cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that’s just like the normal United States Dollar (USD) but is protected by cryptography, which makes it impossible for scammers to attack this form of currency. It allows you to make payments online and money is easily moved place to place, account to account, with no credit card fees. With cryptocurrency being decentralized, YOU own that money. 

Along a contributing factor to this evolution in currency technology are NFTs. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the tokens used to buy things in cryptocurrency. NFTs helps the owner, artist, etc, earn a percentage of all the sales. It protects the unique original work being sold because in this day in age, everything is being used for something and wouldn’t you want your rightly earned money for that? They create an immutable record, keeping note of every sale. It’s the new modern step to your work or business. All you need is a smart device and an internet connection, and with just those two things, Dorsey’s goal to reach a worldwide audience will definitely be achieved. Especially as there are already 192 million daily active users on Twitter. 

Jack Dorsey sees a new chance to bring cryptocurrency into Twitter in the modern moment. Dorsey, who has been supporting Bitcoin for years, even discussed with his investors about the next steps. He told them it would help the company keep up with new market strategies. He explains how the native currency can help them move products like Super Follows, Commerce, Subscriptions, and Tip Jar. Dorsey sees this as an opportunity to “…reach every single person on the planet,” instead of doing the regular market-to-market approaches. So, Dorsey’s goal to always stay connected with people continues to be in play.

Bringing Bitcoin to Twitter seems like it will give businesses from small to big an option to increase profits and reach more audiences. With Bitcoin, you can create your own fees, avoid fraud, and kiss “three business days” goodbye! Having these benefits accessible on Twitter could be the next step for the social media of the future. 

Art by 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

Dogecoin Festival Postponed

The founders of the first Dogecoin Festival have rescheduled the Dogepalooza festival which was to be held on Saturday, October 9, 2021 in Sugar Land, Texas at Constellation Field. Recent governmental mandates and public safety measures were taken into account to postpone the festival until Spring 2022. 

“The venue, founders, entertainers, and organizers did not make this decision lightly, states Damon Elliott, entertainer and Grammy award winning producer. All the original entertainers will be back in the Spring of 2022. 

We continue to support Dogepalooza and look forward to seeing everyone next Spring.” Participants and fans can count on icon and legendary performer Dionne Warwick; Grammy Award winning producer, DJ, singer, musician, songwriter and composer, and friend of Dogepalooza, Damon Elliott; rising star and classically trained pianist, Chloe Flower, who accompanied Cardi B at the Grammys, and channels Liberace in building a career on musical mash-ups; Break Free Worldwide breakdance competition; White Sun, Grammy Award winner for best New Age album; Lil Mook, an independent artist; Jason Dmore, a singer, songwriter and entertainment artist; plus many more top entertainers.

 Recent announcements included the partnering of Dogepalooza with Dogemongo, a game that allows users to catch Dogemon and was tested by one of Benzinga’s reporters. A new version of the game will feature a battle modus, where users go to locations and try to catch the Big 3D Dogecoin. After a specific number of rocketball throws, the lucky person wins the Big 3D Rocketball, valued between $500 and $100,000. Some Big 3D Dogecoins will be featured at Dogepalooza. Participants at the festival will have a chance to win a substantial amount of money. Dogemmongo will also continue to be a part of the new festival date. 

All purchased tickets will be refunded. Once a new date is secured, tickets will go on sale. All contest winners will still receive tickets to the festival. “Public Safety is paramount in our decision-making process, adds Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of Global Operations for the festival. Dogepalooza is a fun and entertaining Community Give-Back and Involvement Festival. The new date enables us to continue to build our all-star line up and plan for an even bigger event when mandates and restrictions are lifted.” 

Dogeplalooza, an authentic community driven Dogecoin Festival, is still slated to be held in multiple cities and countries around the globe. The online Doge community consists of millions of members from the world, across all social media platforms. 

Massive digital media attention is swelling as the enthusiasm for the event continues to explode. The event is family friendly and open to the public. One of the biggest supporters of Dogecoin is Tesla, Inc CEO Elon Musk. Dionne Warwick who will make a special guest appearance is also a Dogepalooza supporter comments, “I’m still looking forward to be a part of this meaningful festival which supports so many vital causes.” 

The rescheduled date in Spring 2022 will include Live entertainment from national and local headliners, major artists & DJs, Food & Drink,  Dogecoin & Dogepalooza Merchandise, Vendors, Family Fun Park, Fireworks, Charities, and Educational venues for learning more about how to use, accept, and understand Dogecoin. 

Charities supported by Dogepalooza

 A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society, the Lupus Foundation, Disabled American Vets (DAV), the Humane Society of Oldham County, Multiple Myloema Research Foundation, Khan Academy, and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Money illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The Growth of Blockchain

Blockchain Companies hit $30.4B in Total Funding, a 44% Increase in a Year

The increasing number of organizations accepting cryptocurrency and the growing interest in blockchain technology continue driving the entire sector’s impressive growth. However, recent years have also witnessed a surge in the number of venture capitalists pouring money into blockchain companies.

According to data presented by BlockArabia.com, blockchain companies raised $30.4bn in total funding, a massive 44% increase in a year.

Investment Activity Soared by 515% YTD

By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the groundwork for the new type of internet. Although initially invented for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, by improving online security and streamlining fundraising and payment options, blockchain technology was adopted by many companies across different industries.

The Crunchbase data showed 2018 was a record year for investment activity in the blockchain market, with companies raising around $10.7bn in funding rounds that year. However, the next two years brought a significant slowdown in venture capital funding.

In 2019, blockchain companies raised $4.3bn, with the cumulative funding amount rising to $20bn that year. However, statistics show 2020 brought even less fresh capital, with companies raising only $2.4bn.

After two challenging years for blockchain companies looking to attract investments and expand their business, investors flocked to this sector in 2021. In the first quarter, startups focusing on blockchain technology raised around $2.9bn, more than in all of 2020. The strong investment activity continued in the second quarter of the year, with companies raising another $4.1bn.

The Crunchbase data showed blockchain startups raised around $8bn YTD, a staggering 515% increase compared to a year ago period, and 20% more than in 2019 and 2020 combined.

US Blockchain Startups Raised $12.5B, more than European and Asian Companies Combined

Statistics show that US blockchain companies lead in the total value of investments, with $12.5bn in funding rounds so far. European companies hit $6.1B in total funding, half the value of their US peers, ranking as the second-leading region globally. Asian blockchain companies follow with $5.4B, respectively.

Analyzed by type of funding, initial coin offering ranked as the most popular way to raise fresh capital. Statistics show blockchain companies have raised $9.3bn through ICOs so far, more than any other funding type.

Series A funding rounds have brought in around $3.8bn so far. Series B and Series C funding rounds follow, with $2.6bn and $2.4bn, respectively.

The full story can be read HERE.

Online Casino illustration by Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

The Latest Slot Technology This Year

Online casinos offer video slot titles that have now become increasingly popular in recent times because of the ability to play almost anywhere and anytime, providing there is stable access to the internet. Online video slots have continued to attract more players because of constant improvements and advancements in technologies used within online casino websites and applications, resulting in more entertaining titles with thousands of video slot titles now available to play in today’s market.

Pooled Progressive Jackpot Slot Networks

One of the most impressive online slots technology advancements is within the progressive jackpot segment of the video slots industry. Developers such as Microgaming, Playtech, and Pragmatic Play all manage jackpot networks found on the best slot sites online today, which are usually those licensed by the MGA and UKGC. Now putting a progressive jackpot game online is one thing but fostering payouts worth millions is another.

To help the jackpot in a network rise faster and to larger life-changing amounts, developers link multiple video slots to the same jackpot. For example, in the Playtech Age of the Gods jackpot network there are more than 15 slot titles, a table game, and a virtual wheel of fortune game all linked to the same jackpot. Each game has a different theme, reel count, pay lines, and so on to attract different types of players, and each bet a player makes 5% contributes to the jackpot.

With more game’s titles all connected to the same progressive jackpot, the jackpot will rise faster because multiple games will attract more players which also means bigger wins. Some of the largest networks right now include the aforementioned Age of the Gods by Playtech, then there is Microgaming’s WowPot which has 5 slots and counting as well as its Mega Moolah network which recently paid out a whopping €19.4 million jackpot!

Play video slots anywhere on web browsers or mobile applications

One reason that these slot titles have grown in popularity is down to the developers who have created them. They have been able to take advantage of advancements in the slot title’s code itself, which seamlessly transfers data from a web browser and displays onto different models of mobile or tablet devices effortlessly. This code can adjust to different screen sizes whilst displaying a functional and user-friendly platform without the need to install additional software.

With the ever-changing and improving technology in mobile applications, larger online casinos create their own online casino ports to boost the performance however many players have suggested that video slot titles run smoothly on either a traditional browser or a dedicated application these days. This is most notably because of HTML5 technology, with the code now more responsive than ever and through browsers such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and many more it can recognize different operating systems instantly and adjust accordingly to present the casino’s website in the best possible way, resulting in a near-perfect online gambling platform.

Popular video slot titles selected by casino aggregators

Casino aggregators are business-to-business companies offering services that provide online casinos and function primarily as a one-stop solution for casino operators. With the latest technology ever-changing, connecting developers with suppliers and operators of online casinos has never been easier. The one-time integration provides a variety of video slot titles, payment systems, and takes care of an online casino website’s technical issues using first class technical support teams which usually operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The casino aggregator, also known as a “casino games hub” or “game aggregation platform,” will offer access to a diverse portfolio of video slot titles developed for online casinos via one-time single API integration. Online casino operators can leave the hard work to the aggregator to select the most popular and innovative games in order to save themselves time and important resources.

Random number generators provide realistic gameplay

Random number generators are an important technology used by developers in video slot titles that have the primary aim to deliver an experience as close to a land-based casino as possible. A random number generator or RNG will achieve this by producing random results that give players a chance of winning against the house. A powerful computer program or algorithm can reel off vast sequences and pools of numbers instantly, which translate to a recognizable result or outcome for the player, giving a realistic and comparable experience to a land-based casino.

Return to player percentages

Video slot titles come into their own for return to player percentages with online casino players’ primary aim to secure winnings on their initial stake. The high percentages in video slots are attractive for players with an RTP around 96%. Often this is the minimum for online video slots, which basically means that the title expects to pay back 96% for every $1 wagered. However, what some players do not know is that an RTP ratio is in fact measured over a longer time frame, especially with video slots, and effectively this could mean a payback after hundreds of spins. This RTP also does not define the size of the win, so in theory, wins could be minimal.

Crypto Casinos

Online casino payment methods have improved in recent times and we often class casinos into three categories; land-based, traditional online, and cryptocurrency casinos. However, only recently have they accepted cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals, which use the latest blockchain technology. With the masses introduced to Bitcoin back9 in 2017, it was only a matter of time before cryptocurrencies reached the online casino sphere and major online casino brands adopted the virtual currencies as a tender.

BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, XRP, DOGE, USDT, and Dash are the most popular cryptos used, and they mainly share the same benefits. Depositing via cryptocurrency is fast and more discreet, often used in countries where gambling on video slots is illegal. Players can store their crypto safely in an offline wallet and the processing times are almost instant nowadays. Cryptocurrency can be highly volatile, so whilst being more discreet, the value of your winnings can fluctuate from day to day.

illustration by Samantha Miduri for use by 360 Magazine

Ransomware: Piracy on the IPs

By: Casey Allen with Concentric 

Where there is commerce, thar be pirates! The techniques, tactics, and procedures of modern-day pirates have expanded significantly since the Lukkan buccaneers first raided Cyprus back in the 14th century. The practice of maritime piracy is still alive and well, but as technology has advanced from bronze to blockchain the booty of choice for 21st-century corsairs has evolved from gold to Bitcoin. Data has become the world’s most valuable commodity, and the submarine communications cables that form the backbone of the internet are the shipping lanes for trillions of dollars worth of global commerce. With so much at stake, it should come as no surprise that cybercriminals continue to raise the Jolly Roger in digital form. 

Ransom has been a staple of the pirate’s playbook since Teuta, the Pirate Queen of Illyria, captured the Epirus capital city of Phoenice in 231 BCE. Queen Teuta was successful in holding the city hostage long enough to force the Epirotes into paying her a ransom to release their citizens and vacate its borders. The extent of Queen Teuta’s means, the sophistication of her organization, and the insatiability of her greed made her an “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT) to victims all over the Mediterranean. As cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and organized, they too have become APTs, with their reach extending the entire breadth and depth of our information superhighways. 

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that infects information systems with the goal of making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid in exchange for restoring the victim’s access. Such a disruption can be crippling for an organization, often leaving leadership with no other choice but to submit to the ransomer’s demands in order to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. Information security professionals and government agencies agree that paying these ransoms is incentivizing future attacks, and should only be done as a last resort. However, without adequate alternatives, the average cost of downtime remains 24 times higher than the average ransom amount, resulting in ransom payment being considered the most expedient and cost-effective solution for the victim. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced in October of 2020 that companies facilitating payments on behalf of ransomware victims may be in violation of federal law if the cybercriminals are on a list of sanctioned entities identified by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control). Several states have followed suit and begun drafting legislation that would criminalize paying these kinds of ransoms. There is significant debate in the security community as to whether or not this outright ban on paying ransoms would cause more harm than good. Banning ransom payments would almost certainly result in the creation of another black market to facilitate these transactions and discourage victims from reporting ransomware incidents to the authorities. A similar position was taken by the USG in response to hostage ransom payments by families. Ultimately, however, punishing the victim was determined to be an ineffective—and unethical—deterrent, nor did we see ripples of that preclusion within the international hostage-taking market. The Treasury Department’s recent involvement in cyber extortion response, specifically their success in returning $2.3M of the $4.4M ransom paid for the Colonial Pipeline extortion event, is a significant demonstration of the benefit of including the USG in extortion response efforts. 

The scale and sophistication of ransomware attacks have been steadily increasing since Joseph Popp—widely credited as the father of digital ransom—first attempted to extort victims of the PC Cyborg Trojan he authored nearly 30 years ago. Once a system had been infected, Popp’s malware asked victims to send $189 to a post office box in Panama in exchange for a repair tool. By comparison, the largest single payout for ransomware to date was made in May of 2021 by CNA Financial in the amount of $40M worth of Bitcoin. 

The final step in any sales funnel is always the completion of a financial transaction. One of the major enabling factors for the profitability of cybercrime has been the proliferation of cryptocurrency. $40M worth of pirate booty would weigh around 1,370 pounds in the form of gold, or just over 880 pounds in the form of $100 bills. Bitcoin, on the other hand, weighs absolutely nothing. Not only is cryptocurrency easy to store and move around, but it’s also hard to track and easy to launder. While this is advantageous for the attackers it can present additional challenges for their victims. 

Many organizations that fall victim to ransomware don’t have the liquidity to pay such ransoms, let alone cryptocurrency assets on their balance sheets. Ransomware attacks typically involve a ticking clock intended to create a sense of urgency in victims. The time factor compounds victims’ panic by threatening to delete their data permanently if the ransom isn’t paid by a certain deadline. For organizations who don’t have any backups of their data, this could be the iceberg in their hull that sinks them for good. For organizations who have the means and foresight to maintain robust backups, attackers will often threaten to publish their sensitive data and invaluable intellectual property if their ransom demands aren’t met; this trend is called “double extortion”. For victims scrambling to make ransom payments, getting their hands on enough cryptocurrency can be a challenge. Cash is still king in terms of liquidity. Even Bitcoin—easily the most liquid of all cryptocurrencies—isn’t anywhere close to fiat currencies in terms of its liquidity. The popularity of Bitcoin has led to dramatic increases in the volume of transactions, which can lead to significant delays in conversions and transactions. When evaluating the risk ransomware poses to your organization it is critical to consider these secondary and tertiary risks beyond the inability to access your data. 

If your organization maintains digital assets of any significant value, the possibility of falling victim to a ransomware attack should be high on the heatmap of your risk assessment. However, there are steps individuals and corporations can take to ensure that an extortion-level event does not become an extinction-level event. So, what can you do to not be a victim of piracy on the IPs? 

  1. Prepare. Conduct a business impact assessment to understand the impact a cyber extortion event could have on your organization. This should include a financial analysis for potential ransom responses and techniques for ransom payment, if necessary. Develop a robust incident response plan and conduct table-top exercises on a regular cadence to build muscle memory, test its efficacy, and identify gaps. 
  2. Prevent. Use a password manager and long, strong, unique passwords in conjunction with multi-factor authentication wherever possible. Keep systems up-to-date to limit vulnerabilities and restrict access to information systems according to the principle of least privilege. Educate your workforce with engaging security awareness training, especially with respect to identifying and reporting phishing emails.
  3. Partner. Experts in the cyber crisis field can assist you prior to and during these extortion events. All too often ransomware victims wait to reach out until after the breach has occurred. For best results, it is highly recommended to establish a relationship with a trusted partner prior to an incident occurring to enable efficient and effective solutions. 
Heather Skovlund computer illustration for use by 360 Magazine

Cryptocurrency Investment: Five Personal Finance Experts to Follow for Perfect Advice

There is much one must know to avoid facing trouble in the domain of cryptocurrency. Hence, it is vital to explore more about this new currency. Finance experts can be your best guide when it comes to cryptocurrency advice. Whether you follow these experts or explore sites like Bitcoin Buyer, you can gain valuable insight. Check out the top five personal finance experts to follow before investing in digital currency:

1). Jeremy Schneider

Jeremy is one of the most senior Bitcoin experts, having been involved with the industry from the first day. He learned about cryptocurrency in 2010 and after thinking for half an hour, Jeremy finally decided to procure BTC. Jeremy warns against investing because of fear of missing out (FOMO) pressure. Rather, Jeremy reminds people of two rules when it comes to making money by investing in cryptocurrency: think twice before investing, and go safe in their games. Today, his net worth comes to around 4.1 million dollars.

2). Jully-Alma Taveras

Jully is called the Investing Latina on the internet. She aims to diversify the entire holdings of digital currency assets. People are starting up to learn more about the digital coin, claims Jully, yet not all are required to put their money into cryptocurrency. Jully feels that one’s cryptocurrency assets should comprise of a wide range of profiles. She also recommends people try only the two, main digital currencies for now. When we compare digital currencies to traditional ones, some cryptocurrencies can miss the mark.

3). Kiana Danial

Kiana Danial is also known as the Invest Diva. She began keeping an eye over the digital currency market in 2016, and began putting her money into the market in 2018. Danial has been active on Instagram, on which she discusses investing on goals and objectives. Kiana claims that BTC is not a lottery ticket to make loads of money in a year. She feels that one should research and check out potential risks before investing their money.

4). Marc Russell

Mark, better known as Betterwallet on Instagram, loves to stick to the basic rules of investing. He says that long-term and boring kinds of strategies do not often work, and that they require too much focus. At the same time, Mark also recommends considering what your personal long-term goal is. He claims that a majority of asset distribution deals (which include a proper blend of bonds, stocks, and alternatives) are simple and make everyone a long-term investor. He recommends that veterans start first with 5 percent investment allocation, and then proceed to with 10 percent allocations with caution.

5). Humphrey Yang

Humphrey Yang creates TikToks and YouTube videos concerning investing. He strongly advocates for index funds. Humphrey recommends that investors put money into these index funds and check them on a yearly basis. Furthermore, Yang calls people to avoid any speculative investments. He recommends only putting a small amount of money into an investment, and then proceeding gradually to see that your money is moving in the right direction.

 

Illustration by Alex Bogdan for use of 360 Magazine

Playboy × SuperRare

Playboy, the iconic lifestyle brand owned by leading pleasure and leisure lifestyle company PLBY Group, Inc., today announced its first curation partnership with SuperRare, the Miami Beach Art Collection. The collection will go live July 9th. An expanded version of a digital exhibit previewed to thousands of Crypto enthusiasts at BTC 2021 Miami, the collection features original animated works by Ayla El-Moussa, REK0DE, Jon Noorlander and MBSJQ, and an original heritage photograph unearthed from the Playboy Archives, featuring a Playboy Bunny pictured water-skiing outside of the Miami Playboy Club in 1970. As an added bonus, the first collector of the heritage NFT will receive a framed limited-edition print, courtesy of the Playboy Archives. Playboy is now whitelisted as one of the very first curators on SuperRare’s platform with the ability to curate and release ongoing collections.

 The Miami Beach Art Collection will be featured on July 10th during the first weekend of Decentraland’s second annual Art Week, a week-long virtual art fair featuring leading galleries and auction houses. The Playboy and the Decentraland teams have partnered to design a Playboy-branded art gallery in Decentraland’s Crypto Valley. The fully customized Miami Beach-themed space will feature the five NFTs surrounded by a selection of heritage covers and imagery from the Playboy Archives, as well as a sand- and sea-covered floor, palm trees, and a tropical color palette. Additional highlights will include a co-branded bar, an exclusive DJ set, and a curatorial overview of the exhibit provided by Playboy. 

“We’re honored to join the SuperRare community, and so excited to present our first collaboration during Decentraland Art Week,” said Rachel Webber, Chief Brand Officer at Playboy. “We’ve long admired SuperRare’s curatorial vision and are thrilled to continue Playboy’s legacy as a curator of artistic expression on the platform. We also want to say a huge thank you to the always inspiring and innovative Decentraland team for inviting us to participate in their second inaugural art festival, and for their ongoing creative collaboration.”

“I’m super excited for SuperRare to be partnering with Playboy. The brand has supported incredible artists over the decades from Dalí to Warhol to Haring,” says John Crain, CEO of SuperRare. “NFTs are a new medium for artists and it’s great to see Playboy join the ecosystem.”

“Playboy made a huge splash in Decentraland back in May of this year with ‘Liquid Summer’, it’s first-ever NFT collection,” said Sam Hamilton, Community & Events Lead, Decentraland Foundation. “To return so soon with Miami Beach Art Collection shows not only how committed Playboy is to digital art and the artists but its belief in the power and future of the metaverse. Visitors to Art Week are in for a real treat.

About Playboy Art

For the past 67 years, Playboy has provided a platform for artists, writers, and photographers to express themselves with total freedom. From Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí to Keith Haring and Andy Warhol to Kinuko Kraft and LeRoy Neiman, Playboy has served as a creative incubator for some of the world’s most legendary artists long before they became household names. Playboy’s contemporary arts program continues to build on that legacy by serving as a platform for more female artists and diverse voices, including recent collaborations with some of today’s most exciting creatives, such as Marilyn Minter, Hank Willis Thomas, JR, Nick Cave, Betty Tompkins and many more. At the core of this evolution is a continued desire to push the boundaries of storytelling, to marry high and low sensibilities, and to champion artists who are igniting important conversations surrounding censorship, sexuality, and freedom of expression. 

About PLBY Group, Inc.

PLBY Group, Inc. connects consumers around the world with products, services, and experiences to help them look good, feel good, and have fun. PLBY Group serves consumers in four major categories: Sexual Wellness, Style & Apparel, Gaming & Lifestyle, and Beauty & Grooming. PLBY Group’s flagship consumer brand, Playboy, is one of the most recognizable, iconic brands in the world, driving billions of dollars in global consumer spending annually across approximately 180 countries.  Learn more here.

About SuperRare

Founded in 2017, SuperRare is a pioneering online, peer-to-peer marketplace for premium, single edition non-fungible tokens (NFTs), most notably CryptoArt, built on the Ethereum blockchain. Created with the goal of reinventing art collecting for the digital age, SuperRare has facilitated artists and collectors around the world to sell and purchase more than $71M worth of art in the last year alone. On the heels of a successful first round of funding in 2021, SuperRare continues to work with key art curation and auction partners across the globe.

About Decentraland

Decentraland is a decentralized virtual social platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain, that is owned and governed by its users. Through the Decentralandplatform, they can create, experience, and monetize content and applications. Every day Decentraland features a wide assortment of events and activities – from digital art shows to music performances, gaming, quests and more.