Crypto Exchange Kraken Now Enforcing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

On Tuesday (March 26), cryptocurrency exchange Kraken announced that it was "enhancing the client security experience by requiring the use of Two Factor Authentication (2FA)."

Kraken is a San Francisco-based digital asset exchange that was founded in July 2011, and "launched in September 2013 with live trading after two years of development and beta testing."

In September 2018, Nicholas Percoco became Kraken's Chief Security Officer, bringing with him two decades of information security experience, having worked "as both a security practitioner and advisor"

On Tuesday, in a post on Kraken's blog, Percoco talked about his extensive experience in this field, and said that those 20 years' of experience had served as a "dress rehearsal" for my his role at Kraken, and said that he wanted to "expand upon the strong, industry leading security foundation" already in place at Kraken by incorporating "advanced features and techniques often only found in advanced security products" (such as "behavior analytics") into Kraken's "present and future exchange products."

He went on to say that there had already been "a number of enhancements behind-the-scenes" with "many client facing security features" on the way, one of which—compulsory 2FA for login—Kraken introduced on Tuesday. He explained that from that day, all Kraken clients would be "asked to enable it upon their next login." This is the screen that will greet them:

Kraken 2FA Screen.png

Also, Percoco announced "the formation of Kraken Security Labs," an initative "committed to improving the security of the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem by performing vulnerability research against 3rd party products."

All Images Courtesy of Kraken

HTC Says Its Latest Cryptophone Puts 'A Metaphorical Swiss Bank in Your Pocket'

On Saturday (October 19), Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC launched the Exodus 1s, which it says is "the first ever mobile device with Bitcoin Full Node support."

A Brief History of HTC's Experience With Building Crypto-Friendly Phones

On 15 May 2018, at the Consensus 2018 blockchain summit in New York City, Phil Chen, the "Decentralized Chief Officer" (DCO) for HTC announced the firm's plan to create HTC Exodus, "the world's first native blockchain phone."

The first Exodus model to launch was the Exodus 1, which went on sale in Europe and the U.S. late last year. It initially cost 0.15 BTC (though later, it became possible to buy it for $699). HTC's reason for calling this a "blockchain phone" was that it came with a built-in hardware wallet and a pre-installed Decentralized Apps (DApps) browser that was integrated with this hardware.

HTC says that its wallet app, Zion Vault, "uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to protect your private keys and sensitive data," and that it supports storing, sending, and receiving organize over 100 types of cryptocurrencies."

The HTC Exodus 1 is a dual-sim Android-powered phone with the following specs:

  • 6.0” Quad HD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 processor
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android Oreo (i.e. Android version 8.x)
  • 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM

What happened next is that HTC used its experience with the Exodus 1 and feedback from developers and the market to build a more budget-friendly device: the Exodus 1s. This is the device that HTC introduced yesterday at the two-day Lightning Conference in Berlin. In fact, HTC started selling some of the first production units at this event, and was even accepting payments via Bitcoin's Lightning Network. Other cryptocurrencies that HTC accepts as means of payment are Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Binance Coin (BNB), and Bitcoin Cash.

The HTC Exodus 1s

So now know that HTC has two crypto-friendly phones, the Exodus 1 and the Exodus 1s. These days, HTC has a new term to describe its crypto-friendly Exodus phones; on the Exodus website, it says  "SMARTPHONE + HARDWARE WALLET = CRYPTOPHONE". This means that HTC is currently selling two cryptophones.

What is special about the HTC Exodus 1 is not just its lower price (EUR 210, which is approximately USD 235), but the fact that, according to HTC, it is the first mobile phone that supports running a Bitcoin full node (with the blockchain data to be stored on a 400GB microSD card that needs to be purchased separately).

HTC says that running a Bitcoin full node on your phone "not only grows the Bitcoin network, but also help secure it." HTC also believes that it is better not to "wait for others to verify your transactions", and that with this phone, you can "verify yourself, anytime, anywhere."

Here is Chen (HTC's DCO) explaining to Forbes the significance of running your Bitcoin full node:

It plays a really important role in the whole bitcoin ecosystem. It allows you to relay transactions, confirm transactions, validate transactions, and it’s basically one of the best ways for anybody to contribute to the whole security of the network.

According to Techcrunch, Chen believes that with the Exodus 1s, you can essentially have a "a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket":

We gave users the ability to own their own keys, and now we’ve gone one step further to allow users to run their own full Bitcoin node. We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.

Chen also told Forbes that HTC is considering adding support for other major blockchains:

We’ll certainly learn a lot of how people will interact with bitcoin, what they do with a full node, and we want to apply those learnings to future other public blockchains.

 These are the specs for the HTC Exodus 1s:

  • 5.7” HD+ 18:9 display
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 435 processor
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android Oreo 8.1
  • 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM

The HTC Exodus 1s will be initially available in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (but HTC plans to offer the phone at some future date in other countries).

In case you are wondering why HTC is so interested in crypto, this is what Chen told CNBC:

Initially considered a gimmick by some, crypto technology is the next frontier of smartphone innovation. For the smartphone category to grow again, we need more adoption of cryptophones.

HTC's CEO said in an interview with Techcrunch that although we don't yet have mainstream adoption of cryptophones, the Exodus 1s gives consumers "an inexpensive way to see what the technology provides today."

 

Featured Image Courtesy of HTC