The trading price of Bitcoin has been on a steady decline over the past few months falling to less than $3.00 as of today. This brings the price lower than the average cost it would take to build a ‘mining’ system as well as the electricity costs to run it. Mining is a way to collect Bitcoins by running software on a computer as an individual. The user can also join a mining group to combine computing power and work together to earn Bitcoins more rapidly. The speed of Bitcoin mining is heavily dependent on the quality of the graphics card in the computer. Users that don’t want to use their own computers for mining Bitcoins can also purchase mining contracts with third parties that already own several rigs.
One of the current issues with the digital currency is a lack of vendors that accept Bitcoin as a legitimate form of payment. However, there are black market, Web-based businesses like Silk Road that sell illegal drugs in exchange for Bitcoins. The Silk Road network is only accessible through the TOR browser to preserve anonymity. The drugs are shipped through the U.S. postal service or another shipping service and the transaction is very difficult, but not impossible to track. During June 2011, Senator Charles Schumer of New York called for an investigation into the use of Bitcoin on the Silk Road network.
Bitcoin users have also faced problems with security based off the events that occured during June 2011. A Bitcoin exchange site known at Mt. Gox was breached by a hacker and an account with a large number of Bitcoins was sold immediately. This caused the price of Bitcoins to go into a freefall on the exchange dropping from $17 down to pennies. Previous to this hack, a Bitcoin user on a popular Bitcoin forum claimed to have lost 25,000 Bitcoins worth approximately half a million dollars at the time due to a security breach.