In 2019, Zcash is preparing a network update called Blossom. To make the upgrade as convenient as possible and meet the developers’ plans, the founder of the cryptocurrency Zooko Wilcox published a document on GitHub, where each user can leave suggestions for improving the system. Nonetheless, hidden mining software—apparently created by “Russian hackers”—was discovered in the most secure and confidential Zcash network.
New Zcash Strategic Priorities
On Friday, November 16, on the official Zcash website, project operating director David Campbell announced a new company strategy, which deals with increasing currency openness and readiness for further cooperation. In particular, these principles imply a system update called Blossom, which is scheduled for 2019. Campbell said that the team was delighted with the last Sapling update, so it was ready for new improvements.
“Sapling was successfully activated last month. The update dramatically increased the performance of zero-knowledge proof, known as the zk-SNARK (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). This improvement means that private transactions, which are the basis of Zcash, are now quite effective for working on hot devices and hardware wallets,” as the operating director recalled and, based on this, identified three priority areas for Zcash.
The first direction is associated with the adaptation and understanding of sophisticated technology Zcash, which, despite its uniqueness, is not yet involved in the general public. The project, as one of the founders of the coin Matthew Green says, looks like a flying machine that does not have doors.
“The focus of the team since its inception was the creation of highly stable and secure code to support a reliable protocol. At the same time, the development of a user interface code for a wider ecosystem was left behind. This put Zcash users in a situation where you can use either the Linux command line interface or the GUI application. Both options depend on the user running the ‘full node’ and retaining the full lockup on Zcash. None of these options is viable in the world of mobile devices,” says Campbell.
To create “doors on a flying machine,” a “wallets section” was organized, which focused on creating an open-source mobile wallet. According to the developers, the wallet application will embody the best methods of design and privacy and give users more options.
Also, the Zcash Foundation, independently of Zcash, has begun work on implementing applications that will help developers of other companies create wallets and mobile apps that support private Zcash transactions on the basis of the platform. The Foundation recently announced winners of the 2018Q2 grant program, which includes the secured transactional wallet Electron Zcash. All developments of the two teams will be ready by the second quarter of 2019.
Zcash’s second priority will be new investments. The team, says David Campbell, has grown significantly. The project tries to avoid unnecessary corporatization and recognizes that with growth, changes occur in the structure of the organization. The company continues to search for the most talented industry experts and promises high salaries.
“We are a distributed company. Most of our cooperation takes place via the Internet. Nevertheless, we appreciate the work ‘face-to-face,’ so we will bring everyone together, at least twice a year, to agree on a strategy, and create common matter in the form of an organization,” says Campbell, hoping the investment will help the company grow faster and more efficiently.
Zcash’s last but not least priority will be to increase openness and willingness to work together. After all, the coin is open-source, so anyone can run the node and participate in the network. To expand its capabilities, the Zcash Foundation entered into a partnership with Parity to create a completely independent (from Zcash) full implementation of Zcash software in the Rust programming language.
“In the future, we want the community to participate in the Zcash ecosystem and contribute to the project. Now we are actively cooperating with our community on Twitter, in our blog, on Reddit. We want to update the chat infrastructure and ensure constant interaction between our main developers and the community. We recognize that the mining community plays an important role in maintaining the decentralization and security of Zcash cryptocurrency. Equihash, the performance testing algorithm that runs the Zcash protocol, was supposed to be ASIC-resistant, which means that it would be beneficial to use Zcash using the hardware of a graphics processor,” says Campbell.
First Steps to Openness
After the new strategy was formulated and announced, Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox posted on his Twitter a link to a document on GitHub, which outlined the basic requirements that all ideas for network restructuring in the new Blossom update should meet. The most important thing is that each technical proposal from users must meet all the characteristics of the network and have a clear idea of how this innovation will help improve the system.
“We want to know how your function can help the community, what strategic goal it pursues. Functions that meet all the parameters and have clearly defined requirements are tested and sent to the implementation stage,” the document says.
Russian Hackers and Their Hidden Mining Software
Despite the positive news from the developers, Zcash is experiencing some problems with coin mining. More precisely, Internet security provider McAfee Labs discovered a new kind of malicious software for cryptojacking. As stated in the company’s blog, the malware called WebCobra, created by “Russian hackers,” uses the power of the processor of an infected device for secret mining of Zcash (this also works for Monero).
With the help of the secretly installed Claymore specialized equipment, the WebCobra malware is downloaded, and then the Zcash miner is launched from a remote server. Application programs were found in devices around the world, most in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States. Finding WebCobra is virtually impossible. The only indicator that can speak about the contamination of a mining device is its low productivity with high energy consumption.
Zcash, however, is not the only coin that has encountered the problem of hidden mining. Earlier, the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) reported that in 2018, the use of malicious programs for the unlawful intrusion of the system and the production of cryptocurrencies had increased by almost 500%. Programmers compared the growth of these indicators with a widespread epidemic, which will soon infect other mining devices.