New Lightning Desktop App Looks Like a Big Step Forward

The Lightning Network has been heralded as one of the optimal solutions to issues with cryptocurrency scaling. Some have found it difficult to find examples of progress, but the release of a new Lightning Desktop application by Lightning Labs looks to be a big step in the right direction.

Proponents of the Lightning Network are excited to see a solution that enables fast and cheap transactions, which is why the technology is now being developed for a variety of cryptocurrencies.

Earlier in the month, blockchain payment processor CoinGate announced over 4,000 global merchants were now able to accept Bitcoin payments over Lightning.

In a September 15th report from CoinShares, the firm noted how Litecoin was “supremely placed to benefit from early Lightning implementations.”

However, besides these use cases examples, there have been some who question the overall development and progression of the Lightning Network, especially when it comes to tangible products.  

A newly redesigned and released Lightning desktop app seems to suggest development surrounding the Lightning Network is progressing smoothly.

Different From Other Wallets

In a blog post, the Lightning Labs team noted how they previously released a prototype of a desktop application, but pointed out how this release was a “complete rewrite of that code with security, simplicity, and testability in mind.”

The team said the redesigned app is intended to run as a standalone wallet in light client mode on desktop and mobile. Users also have to ability to run their own full nodes.

Focusing on Easy Approachability

The redesign of the desktop app features a minimalist design to convey a sense of approachability while still maintaining security standards.

The team wrote about the “valuable learning experience” to be seen by making Lightning more accessible to novice users to help push the technology past the “enthusiast market segment.”

In the post, the team noted the use of simple English phrases instead of jargon in order to clearly convey messages to users. They also implemented a variety of color and contrast shifts to help people sift through dense information.

Overall, the Lightning Labs team looks to be striking a line between security and usability with their redesigned application. This move seems to be boding well for the progression of the Lightning Network and its usage as a whole.

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CZ Explains How Binance Dealt With Aftermath of $40 Million Theft

On Sunday (May 19), Changpeng Zhao (aka "CZ"), the Co-Founder and CEO of digital asset exchange Binance, told the crypto community what he and his team had been up to since the May 7 security breach that resulted in a theft of over 7,000 BTC from their Bitcoin hot wallet. 

What Happened on May 7?

According to CZ, the hackers involved in the security breach somehow managed to get control over a number of user accounts and structured large withdrawals from these accounts in such a way thay managed not to be detected/noticed by Binance's "pre-withdrawal risk management checks." Their "post-withdrawal risk monitoring system" only noticed something was wrong after the hackers had moved the stolen BTC off of the exchange via a single transaction, at which time it immediately suspended all "subsequent withdrawals." 

At first, the Binance team was not exactly sure what had happened, and so they decided that the safest course of action was for CZ to send out a tweet to say that the "withdrawal servers" were in "unscheduled maintenance mode" while the team was investigating the incident. 

Communication With the Crypto Community

Once the team had confirmed that the exchange had been hacked, information about the security incident was broadcast to the outside world via all of Binance's communication channels (such as Telegram, Twitter, and Medium). 

Since the team could not be sure which user accounts the hackers had access to, it was decided that it would be too risky to allow further withdrawals to be made until the team had the chance to make "significant changes" to the platform (to make it more secure). Binance's announcement on May 8 estimated that the exchange needed to do "a thorough security review" and estimated that this would take about "ONE WEEK," and that during this period, "deposits and withdrawals" would need to "REMAIN SUSPENDED."

By being fully transparent in their communication with Binance users, they were able to receive "tremendous support" from them.

CZ's Periscope AMA Session on May 8

Seeing CZ live put much of the Binance community "at ease." Unfortunately, because CZ had been up all night, he was not in an ideal mental state when he did the AMA. Just before the AMA, his team told him that a Bitcoin Core developer had suggested that it would be technically possible to roll back the single Bitcoin transaction carried out by the hackers by "hugely incentivizing the miners." CZ made the unfortunate mistake of mentioning this "reorg" idea (which he now realizes is a "taboo topic") during the AMA, for which he took a heavy beating (especially from hardcore Bitcoin maximalists) on Twitter (and elsewhere). 

CZ's Mental State Right After Being Told About the Bitcoin Theft

Although he was in a "F***, F***, F***” state" for around 10 seconds, a few moments later, he "began to come to terms with it," and a quick mental calculation told him that the theft of around 7000 BTC (equivalent of around $40 million at the time) could be fully covered by their SAFU fund. Meanwhile, his team had already gone into "War Mode", and their professionalism and support cheered up CZ. 

Support From the Crypto Community

Binance received support from many sources: people defending him and Binance on social media platforms, and helping to answer questions; the Binance Angels (who are all volunteers) "addressing questions" and "reassuring" users on "multiple communities"; analytics firms helping with the tracking of the stolen funds; exchanges and wallet services offering to help by blocking "any deposits associated with the hacker addresses"; and "numerous offers for help from law enforcement agencies around the world."

A Blessing in Disguise?

"Speaking with various team members, and as correctly analyzed by community members, such as Gautam Chhugani, this incident may actually be a good thing for us in the long run. Security is a never-ending practice. There are always more things to do in security, and we have implemented many of them in this last week and will continue to implement more in the future. Given this incident, Binance has actually become far more secure than before, not just in the affected areas, but as a whole."