Summary: Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses. Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes. First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure: Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
Alice might take the assets and disappear.
Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
Bob might take the assets and disappear.
Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are! "On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid". "Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since." "As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!" "Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?" "Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party." "Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!" "What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven." "Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!" "We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies. And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often". How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one. Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so? If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about), you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security. The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle. And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet? Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds. So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever. Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see. It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation. A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7. History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance. Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.) Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive. Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today. Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here - that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well. Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do. Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
Note: Previously the Evolution Whitepapers were linked in this section. These papers were written back in 2015 and are outdated, because Dash Evolution has seen a massive re-design and has been developed much further than those papers could have predicted. A new version will be posted here and elsewhere as soon as it is available.
"Dash rebranded from Darkcoin to distance itself from its dark history!!" -> Not at all. Nothing about its history is "dark" and more importantly this thread called "The Birth of Darkcoin" is stickied by Evan Duffield himself on the official main forum.
Why saying "Dash is a company" is false: Dash Core Inc., a company based in Scottsdale, Arizona is not the decentralized network called Dash. The network, consistent of over 4.5k globally distributed, decentralized Masternodes decided to hire and fund the company Dash Core Inc. to develop said network. This is the distinguishing property of Dash being a DAO, so it's understandable people have difficulty grasping the concept. Similarly Dash does not have a CEO, while Dash Core Inc. -obviously- has.
Dash does not and never had a "dev tax": Dash has a Treasury and its distribution is being voted on each month. Only those funds that have been approved by the Masternode network go to proposal owners. The Treasury is capped at 10% of the accumulated block reward of one month. There is no central authority non-requested or non-approved funds go to and there never has been. Those funds are simply not created. So you can have months in which only 8% of the budget is being paid out, with the remaining 2% going to nobody due to not being mined.
"B-but Evan Duffield can roll back the last 24 hours of the blockchain with the flick of a button!" Complete bullshit. The key in question refers to requiring a Masternode to re-validate its pre-existing blockchain in order to ensure it's on the right chain. Masternodes have nothing do with putting or removing transactions into or from the blockchain, only the miners can do that, thus claiming someone can "roll back the blockchain" in Dash is a malicious lie and a desperate attempt to make Dash look centralized when it's not. In short: No such button exists, ever existed or will ever exist.
The Dash community is well aware that during most of its history this project has been under attack by competitors, many of which are trying to portray Dash (among many other things) as a failure. This is oxymoronic, because nobody hates on failures, especially not for 4 successful years in a row. If you want a quick history lesson, here's a comment I made on where the Dash hate originated from back in 2014 Another, longer history lesson Remain skeptical towards sensational accusations without evidence. Our community is helpful, knowledgeable and more than happy to answer any questions, as we have done many times on this subreddit. Still, we're all only human, have limited resources and we're just one project among many (always among the top, though!). Stakeholders and investors of other projects will always have an agenda to smear what they perceive as competition (I have yet to see our community actively go after other projects, though). Just remember the Bullshit Asymmetry: "The amount of energy required to refute bullshit is at least an order of magnitude larger than to produce it." So it would be very unjust to expect a refutation on the spot all of the time. Prefer taking the initiative by asking the community directly about the claim you're confronted with. This community has proven many times to possess the integrity required to admit to technological shortcomings, but at the same time we'll never hesitate to call out illegitimate claims and accusations, of which there are many, for what they are. The most common and most empty attack is "Dash is a scam".
Dash has surpassed its all-time high price several times
Its developers are publicly known, many by full name
It's still being developed after almost 4 years with an incredible track record of under-promising and over-delivering, a game-changing roadmap & a clear vision of the future
Its technology works as advertised and remains objectively superior to Bitcoin and many other currencies
Myriads of projects copied Dash's features
Look at the wealth of in-depth information linked on this page alone. Look at all the interviews, articles, news shows, podcasts, presentations, conferences, infrastructure, the people and all the money invested into all of this: Does this all really look like a grandiose scam? Why the effort?
More importantly you have to ask the critic just this one question: Who was scammed? The answer usually consists of complete silence or attempts to change the topic. This may sound all very defensive to someone who has never experienced the kind of FUD Dash has faced over the years, but the falsehoods we've refuted above are still being perpetuated by a very lonely but also very loud minority.
Not an ICO project
Regarding Dash's finances: Despite what many people assume influenced by the ICO insanity of the recent past, Dash did not have an ICO and Dash does not depend on 3rd party funding/investors. It is self funded from the blockchain and thus an entirely independent organization that does exactly what it wants, not what any angel investors want us to do. Dash is the first currency in history to achieve that.
Quick incomplete rundown of Dash's features
In fact Dash pioneered almost every single one of its features making it one of the most prolific innovators in the cryptocurrency space. Before Dash invented them, none of these features existed:
X11: power saving hashing algorithm
Dark Gravity Wave: highly reliable difficulty adjustment
Sporks: Multi-phased forking technology avoiding hard forks during network upgrades
Masternodes: Incentivized full node infrastructure through split of mining reward
PrivateSend: protocol level coin mixing without the flaws of CoinJoin
Treasury: Self-funding by splitting of block reward
Blockchain Governance: Voting rights for those who provide our network's backbone
Evolution platform technology: Under heavy development but making rapid progress towards true digital cash so user-friendly that even your grandmother could use it
To re-iterate a previous point: Dash has been copied by several dozen other projects either completely or through selected features indicating a strong approval of its technology within the wider cryptocurrency industry. The most copied feature by far is the Masternode system and the financial self-reliance it provides.
A lot of people are talking about this project and as a potential investor i decided to run some checks on it and see if it's worth. Everyone is pumped about it but after a closer look I'm not sure it's worth its price. Therefore let's have a look at the facts : Medicalchain.com LTD The company was incorporated on 28/06/2017 under the name MEDICALCHAIN.IO LTD as a private company limited by ordinary shares. Three directors are appointed: Mr. Mohammed Tayeb, Mr. Abdullah Dafir Albeyatti and Mr. Bara Mustafa. The initial shareholdings (total of 999) are split in 3 equal parts: 1/3 (333) owned by Mr. Abdullah Dafir Albeyatti 1/3 (333) owned by Mr. Bara Mustafa 1/3 (333) owned by XL CAPITAL VENTURES LTD (owned by Mohammed Tayeb and Omar Tayeb) At 24/07/2017 the number of shares is increased to 1332, with XL CAPITAL VENTURES LTD holding 666 ordinary shares. At 13/08/2017 XL CAPITAL VENTURES LTD cease to be a shareholder, with MR Mohammed Tayeb now holding the 666 shares previously held by XL Capital. At 14/08/2018 MEDICALCHAIN.IO LTD becomes MEDICALCHAIN.COM LTD Below you can find a bit about every member of the team starting with the top dogs. MOHAMMED TAYEB :: Director MR MOHAMMED TAYEB description taken from medicalchain.com. Mr. Mohammed Tayeb is a Partner at Hearn Capital Limited. Mr. Tayeb co-founded ReadyCache. In 2010, he headed up the development side of morethan.com. During his time there, Mr. Tayeb architected and developed a system to drive down online fraud, saving its over £40 million. Prior to that, he ran a boutique consultancy business in the field of mobile web and application development. Together with his brother and Co-Founder, they own over eight games and utility applications on the Apple and Google Play apps market, with over 10 million downloads. Mr. Tayeb is an internet entrepreneur, investor, and founder of several technology and e-commerce start-ups. As well being a Partner in Hearn Capital, he is also a Non-Executive Director on the board of Salic. Mr. Tayeb specializes in bringing together technological efficiencies to the business world. He has a degree in e-commerce from Brunel University and an Executive MBA from the University of Oxford. I’ve done an extensive background check and noticed that Mr Mohammed Tayeb has had his fingers in many pies since 2010 being appointed director in and out of more than 15 companies. I am not sure if I would trust him with my money as it looks like he cant commit to something for a longer period of time. Below you can find part of his work history: MONSTER TECHNOLOGIES LTD :: Director since 9 January 2017 :: Active - no information found HEARN CAPITAL LIMITED :: Director since 21 January 2016 :: Active
Hearn Capital was incorporated in January 2015 by a group of key technology investors and operators. It aims to provide early stage and growth funding to exciting companies with disruptive IP within the data analytics sector - data mining, dashboarding, predictive analytics and reporting.
Investments of £1.2 mil with a creditor balance of £1.2 mil.
The company is owned from background by Influential (Holdings) Limited owning more than 50% of shares with a total equity of £1.7 mil. Basically Influential Holding has lent Hearn Capital 1.2 million to invest in different companies. To me it looks like Mohammed has no skin in this as Influential Holdings Limited is owned by Mr Andrew Richardson and Mr John Edward Simpson. GOODSHAW CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LTD :: Director since 6 January 2016 :: Company still active Dormant company aka not carrying any business activity DYNISTICS LIMITED :: Director since 03/03/2015 :: Company still active Acquisition of Dynistics https://www.dynistics.com/ :: a software company that Hearncapital bought in 2015 which counts colleges, NHS Foundation Trusts and recruitment agencies as clients. Link for acquisition:https://www.insidermedia.com/insidemidlands/141513-hearn-capital-buys-solihull-software-company Dynistics is listed as a “small company” and the directors have elected not to include a copy of the profit and loss account within the financial statements. Total equity registered at the end of 2016 : £16.557 SALIC(UK)Limited :: Director since 22/01/2015 :: Company still active Saudi Agricultural and Livestock investment company: this company belongs to Ministry Of Finance (Saudi Arabia) and financed with over 300 million pounds in capital and 75% or more ownership. The Travel booking Company LTD :: Director since 19/11/2014 : Dissolved 29/03/2016
previously known as red travel LTD
no other information found
XL Capital Investment LTD :: Director 17/03/2014 :: Dissolved : 04/07/2017 - no other information found Global Labs Technology Limited :: Director since 10/12/2013 –Dissolved : 18/07/2016 - No record, probably westernlabs.com which has no track record nor an online presence Ready Cache Technologies LTD :: Director since 01/10/2013 :: Dissolved : 04/07/2017 - ReadyCache is a website that accelerates your online content and delivers the best possible speeds to you. Pepperstone Limited :: Director 13/02/2017 – 22/06/2017 :: Resigned (former 123FX.COM LTD) Pepperstone acquired 123FX.COM LTD what is now its UK subsidiary from Mohammed Tayeb, who alongside his broker Omar Tayeb established an FCA regulated shell with plans to launch a retail forex brokerage called 123FX.com. The business was never launched, and instead was sold to Pepperstone in late 2015. Pepperstone has suspended trading for clients in its UK subsidiary as the company is making some changes to its management structure and processes, and bringing on some additional resources in its UK office. To comply with its FCA obligations Pepperstone has had to temporarily suspend trading in the UK until all of the changes are complete and the additional resources are in place. http://www.checkdirector.co.uk/directomohammed-tayeb/https://www.leaprate.com/forex/brokers/pepperstone-swaps-phil-horner-mohammed-tayeb-board-uk-fx-relaunch/ Some other companies he had been involved with: • Director House of Choice Stores LTD :: 2013 – 2016 Disolved • Director XI Capital Ventures LTD :: 2014-2017 Disolved • Director UR Trading :: 2002 – 2010 Disolved • Director LOVEFRAGRANCE INTERNATIONAL LTD :: 2012 – Dissolved 2013 • Director DAR FIRST LIMITED :: 2007 – Dissolved 2011 • Director BLACKSTONE E-COMMERCE LIMITED :: 2011 – Dissolved 2013 All this information can be found at https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/ . You just lookup his name or company names and access the records. ** Mr. Abdullah Dafir Albeyatti :: Director** Enthusiastic doctor with a wide range of skills and interests. Currently completing my general practice training in Leeds. Previous surgical trainee in the London Deanery. My ambition is to continue improving as a doctor and to develop myself in other fields of medicine and aesthetic training. He is also the founder of dischargesummary.co.uk. The website is described as a website designed to streamline and lessen the work load placed on junior doctors by standardising the content of discharge summaries produced when a patient is discharged from hospital. This platform has allowed hospital departments to establish quality assurance and accurately produce reliable discharge summaries to effectively commute between hospital and community medicine. I checked the website and 3 out of 6 features are under development. The site is now redirected to https://ds.medicalchain.com/ Mr. Bara Mustafa :: DirectoCTO There is no mention of Mr Bara Mustafa on the mediclchain.com which is weird as he is one of the directors and shareholder. It looks like Mr Bara occupation is CTO, which surely would be of interested to the public. Mr Bara is also a OwneDirector of ENETIDEAS LTD since 2010 rendering services as IT Consultant. https://www.enetideas.com :: the website is not functional, none of the products links are working. Jay Povey :: Blockchain developer at medicalchain His introductory linkedin line : Self taught programmer, programming for 7+ years. BA(Hons) from Buckinghamshire New University. Since January I joined Medicalchain to help create a world class blockchain platform for electronic health records. Previously worked on forex trading algorithm using deep learning / pattern recognition techniques. I have had a keen interest in blockchain technology over the past 2 years. I have been learning the ins and outs of the technology and Im very excited about the future of blockchain. I see great potential for revolutionizing the way businesses are run. He started coding for Medicalchain in 2017 previously working for 2 years for one of Mohammed companies ReadyCache which was dissolved. I’m not sure about his experience developing “on forex trading algorithm” as at the previous company ReadyCache they were “building software that is making a difference to webmasters and large companies. We accelerate our customers’ websites, save our customers money and enhance user experience” Before ReadyCache he worked for a college as an IT technicial and e-learning advisor. Also I’m not sure what to make out of his facebook profile, he comes across a bit weird. Also on one of his facebook posts he was asking where you can buy bitcoin in may 2017 but on his summary : “I have had a keen interest in blockchain technology over the past 2 years. I have been learning the ins and outs of the technology and Im very excited about the future of blockchain” https://www.facebook.com/jaypov Robert Miller :: Director Of Business Development Looks like his CV is somehow better than the rest, again worked alongside Mohammed at Goodshaw Capital for 1 year. Freelanced a few blockchain projects so I would say he is the one who will drive the project as longs as the money are coming in. Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/bertcmiller Natalie Furness :: Communication Director She has a background in healthcare industry, namely working as a physiotherapist since 2010. She also lectured for Physiotherapy and Sports Exercise Scientist students at Birmingham University and currently working as a project manager for a company offering solutions to the occupational health sector. The rest of the team occupies either associates or consultants positions for a short period of time 2-3 months. To sum it up : the initial £5000 pre-ICO investment is way way exaggerated based on the fact that there is nothing to show for at the present moment, just ideas. Mr Mohammed has started 15+ companies and most of them are dissolved which doesn't sound very promising. On top of that he now owns half the company whereas initially the company was split in thirds. Their CTO is not mentioned anywhere on the website but he is a shareholder in the company. I would not recommend investing in the project right now and I would wait to see if the project would ever gain traction and materialize. Below I listed some of the videos related to Medicalchain at different conferences / interviews : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4Bc4RiugMg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6WbFMt6Ic4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT-vRXZ2k-o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=devzmfzsh7E https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA91OAaNZUo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_OdMREOpBI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebP5ZzQView If you want me to run any other checks on other upcoming ICO please let me know.
Ether Thief Remains Mystery Year After $55 Million Digital Heist
Ether Thief Remains Mystery Year After $55 Million Digital Heist 2017-06-13 08:00:18.224 GMT By Matthew Leising (Bloomberg Markets) -- Summer colds are the worst, and Emin Gün Sirer had caught a wicked bug from his 1-year-old son. So it was with watering eyes and a stuffy nose that the associate professor of computer science at Cornell found himself working from his sickbed on Monday, June 13, 2016. Gün—everyone calls him Gün—couldn’t tear himself away from his laptop. He had another type of bug in his sights, a flaw in a line of computer code he feared put $250 million at risk of being stolen. It wasn’t just any code. It was the guts of the newest breakthrough in software design related to blockchain, the novel combination of decentralized computing and cryptography that gave life to the virtual currency bitcoin in 2009. Since then, the promise of blockchain to transform industries from finance to health care has captured imaginations in corporate boardrooms and governments alike. Yet what the Turkish-born professor was exploring that Monday was the next leap forward from bitcoin, what’s known as the ethereum blockchain. Rather than moving bitcoin from one user to another, the ethereum blockchain hosts fully functioning computer programs called smart contracts—essentially agreements that enforce themselves by means of code rather than courts. That means they can automate the life cycle of bond payments, say, or ensure that pharmaceutical companies can authenticate the sources of their drugs. Yet smart contracts are also new and mostly untested. Like all software, they are only as reliable as their coding—and Gün was pretty sure he’d found a big problem. In an email sent to one of his graduate students, Philip Daian, at 7:30 p.m., Gün noted that the smart contract he was looking at might have a problem—on line 666. (They say the devil is in the details.) Gün feared the bug could allow a hacker to make unlimited ATM-like withdrawals from the millions, even if the attacker, who’d have needed to be an investor, had only $10 in his account. This staggering amount of money lived inside a program called a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO. Dreamed up less than a year earlier and governed by a smart contract, the DAO was intended to democratize how ethereum projects are funded. Thousands of dreamers and schemers and developers who populate the cutting edge of computer science, most of them young, had invested in the DAO. This was real money, a quarter of a billion dollars, their money, meant to build a better version of the world, and every cent was at risk. Gün, who wears his dark hair short and looks a decade younger than his 45 years, had already been tracking and publicizing flaws in the DAO’s design. A few weeks earlier, on May 27, along with two colleagues, he’d urged investors to stop buying into the DAO until security issues could be fixed. It had been too late, however, and the program went live the next day. Smart contracts such as the DAO are built to be entirely reliant on their code once released on the ethereum blockchain. That meant the DAO code couldn’t be fixed. Other blockchain experts—including Peter Vessenes, co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation—had also pointed out security flaws in the smart contract, but Gün appears to be the first to pinpoint the flaw that put the money in jeopardy. The problem was the code was so new that no one knew what to expect—or even if there was actually a problem in the first place. Gün had his doubts, too. This wasn’t even his job. He does this for fun. Daian didn’t think they’d found anything either. Over email, he said, “We might be up the creek ;).” Later, when Gün pointed to the error in line 666, Daian replied, “Don’t think so.” Gün says, “We don’t sound the alarm bell every time we find a bug that seems suspicious.” Instead, he went to bed to try to kill his cold—the one bug he knew to be real. “I was too miserable to sort it out,” he says. Four days later, Christoph Jentzsch lay on the floor of his home office, taking deep breaths, trying not to panic. It was Friday morning, and software developers all over the Western world were waking up to the news that the DAO, which Jentzsch had created, was being attacked. Gün had been right. Jentzsch, who has dark hair and a perpetual five o’clock shadow, lives with his family in the Mittweida region of Germany, a rural spot not far from the Czech border. Mornings in the Jentzsch household are a whirlwind as he and his wife get their five children—age 2 to 9—fed and off to school. Yet today, after his brother Simon woke him with a call that the DAO was being hacked, Jentzsch had to ignore his familial duties. “You’ve got the kids,” he told his wife. “I have an emergency.” This is the story of one of the largest digital heists in history. And while you may have heard last year that hackers breached Swift, the bank-to-bank messaging system, and stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank, the DAO attack is in a different category altogether. It played out in front of anyone who cared to watch and couldn’t be stopped. Just as the global WannaCry ransomware attack in May laid bare weaknesses in computer operating systems, the DAO hack exposed the early frailties of smart-contract security and left many in the community shaken because they hadn’t found the bug in time. The aftermath would eventually pit good hackers against bad ones—the white hats vs. the black hats—in the strange and futuristic- sounding DAO Wars. The roots of the DAO belong to an idea Jentzsch borrowed from another internet-fueled phenomenon: crowdfunding. The 32- year-old Jentzsch, a theoretical physicist by training, and a few colleagues started Slock.it in 2015. As they considered how to fund the company, Jentzsch approached it as many had—sell a digital currency, effectively a token, to raise cash. But why should each new startup have to program its own initial coin offering? Jentzsch wondered. What if one huge fund ruled them all? He introduced his idea to the world at DevCon 1 in London in November 2015. “What is the blockchain way of creating a company?” Jentzsch asked his audience. “Of course, it has to be a DAO.” It would work like this: Ether, a virtual currency like bitcoin, would be used to fund and develop applications on the ethereum blockchain—things such as making a music app similar to iTunes or a ride-sharing service along the lines of Uber. Investors would buy DAO tokens with their ether; the tokens would allow them to vote to fund projects they liked. If the app they backed made money, the token holder shared in the profit. In the six months he spent creating the DAO, Jentzsch thought it would raise $5 million. From April 30 to May 28, the DAO crowdfunding pulled in $150 million. That’s when ether traded just below $12. As the price of ether rose in the following weeks to $20.75 the day before the attack, so too did the value of the DAO, putting a $250 million target on this thing Jentzsch had unknowingly brought into the world with a fatal, original sin. “Our hope was it would be the center of a decentralized sharing economy,” says Jentzsch, who now regrets not capping the amount raised. “For such a big experiment, it was way too early.” In the weeks after the attack, Jentzsch and the rest of the ethereum community would come to grips with their own crisis that, writ small, echoed the bank bailouts and government rescues of 2008. “It became too big to fail,” he says. But why would anyone invest in the DAO in the first place? It has something to do with the strain of digital libertarianism at the heart of the ethereum community, much like the set of beliefs that led to the birth of bitcoin. Think of bitcoin as the first global currency whose use can’t be stopped by governments or corporations; on top of that, bitcoin is almost impossible to hack. Ethereum, then, is another level beyond. It’s an uncensorable global computer. As amazing and unprecedented as that is, it’s also a bit terrifying. Brought to life, the DAO ended up staggering off the table and turning on the community that wanted it so badly. Accustomed to working into the night to stay in touch with colleagues in North America, Jentzsch blows off steam by jogging or kayaking on the nearby Zschopau River. Yet on that Friday morning, he had the more pressing task of pulling himself up off the floor and dealing with the attack. “I went into emergency mode: Don’t try to save the DAO,” he says. “No, it’s over.” It was far from over. Several hours later and half a world away from the Jentzsch household in Mittweida, Alex Van de Sande was waking up in his apartment in the Copacabana neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. The baby-faced ethereum developer had been born in the small fishing village of Santa Cruz Cabrália in the Bahia region of Brazil and moved with his parents to Rio when he was about 3 years old. These days he’s known as “avsa” on Reddit and Twitter. After reaching for his phone to see why it was blowing up with Skype messages, he turned to his wife and said, “Remember when I was telling you about that huge unhackable pile of money?” She nodded. “It’s been hacked,” he told her. His first thought was to get his DAO tokens out. He owned about 100,000 of them, valued at about $15,000 at the time. He’s the lead designer of the Ethereum Wallet app, a program that allows him and anyone else to interact with the blockchain. Van de Sande scrambled to log in to it, but his password didn’t work. It was glitching, and as he worked to fix it, his panic subsided. He realized he shouldn’t be bailing on the DAO but trying to save it. And to do that, he needed Griff. Griff Green, who’s worked variously as a massage therapist in Los Angeles and a community organizer in Seattle, is one of only a handful of people in the world who holds a master’s degree in digital currencies. He got it online, natch, from the University of Nicosia. A self-described “dreamer,” the 32-year- old is the closest thing Ethereumville has to a mayor. Green knows everybody; in fact, he’d been the first to relay word of the attack to Simon, Jentzsch’s brother and a co-founder of Slock.it. Green had been working for Slock.it for about six months by then and woke up that morning in the house belonging to Jentzsch’s mom in Mittweida. Jentzsch is one of nine children, so his mother had a spare bedroom where she could put Green up for a few days. Using his extensive contacts, Green started identifying as many people as he could who were interacting with the DAO—going so far as to ask strangers to send pictures or scans of their IDs—in an attempt to sort friend from foe. And then something strange happened: The attack stopped working. In the six hours since the attack began, the thief had managed to steal 30 percent of the DAO’s 12 million ether—which that day equaled about $55 million. “We don’t even understand why the guy had stopped,” says Van de Sande. Now Green raced to protect the remaining 70 percent of the DAO the attacker hadn’t stolen. Once Van de Sande got in touch with Green in Germany, along with two or three others, the foundation was laid for what would become known as the Robin Hood group—white hat hackers who’d devise a bold good-guy plan to drain the remaining DAO. To save the DAO, they’d have to steal the remaining ether, then give it back to its rightful owners. And yet as they scrambled that Friday, qualms emerged within the group. “What does it even mean to hack something?” Van de Sande asks. No one knew if what they were about to do was legal. Also, wouldn’t their hack look just as bad as the theft they were trying to stop? Then there were the practical issues. “Who pushes the button?” he remembers wondering. Doing so would initiate their counterattack and alert the community. “Someone has to push the button.” The price of ether the night before the attack had hit an all-time high of just above $20. News of the hack sent it tumbling to $15 by the end of Friday, wiping out almost a half- billion dollars in market value. At that price, the DAO still held $125 million, and the Robin Hood group worried the attack would resume. They might be the only line of defense if it did, so Van de Sande agreed to use his DAO tokens to fuel their counterattack, thereby becoming a public face of the group. At this point, it might help to think of the DAO as the spacecraft in Alien after Ripley initiates the self-destruct sequence. To flee, she’s forced to use an escape pod. DAO investors had to initiate a similar sequence to deploy escape pods that would allow them to get their ether out of the DAO. The code that dictated the escape pods’ behavior is where the bug lived, so to steal the remaining DAO funds the Robin Hood group would have to be in a pod to exploit the flaw—and because of the way Jentzsch wrote the DAO, they had only a short window of time and just a few pods to choose from. A few minutes before launching the attack, Van de Sande joked on the group’s Skype chat, “Let’s go rob a bank!” No one laughed. “Not everyone really appreciated the humor,” he says. In his Copacabana apartment, Van de Sande readied to push the button on his laptop. Then, suddenly, he lost his internet connection. His router was down. “I was like, What the f--- is going on here?” he says. He had less than 30 minutes left to execute the Robin Hood hack. He frantically called NET, his Brazilian internet service provider, but couldn’t get past the automated customer service experience. He says the robotic voice told him, “We see there’s an internet issue in your neighborhood.” The irony was not lost on him: Here he was trying to steal millions of dollars from a robot but was being waylaid by another robot. “Then we missed,” he says. The window closed. He went from the high of feeling like they were about to come to the rescue of the vulnerable DAO to the crushing low of having their international connection severed by NET’s breakdown. He took his dog, Sapic—named after the one in Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother—for a walk, then crawled into bed, defeated. The next morning was Saturday, and Van de Sande tried to reconvene the Robin Hood group to infiltrate another escape pod. But folks were busy and couldn’t get together. “We felt like the worst hackers in history,” Van de Sande says. “We were foiled by bad internet and family commitments.” Who, exactly, were they at war with? No one really knows, but there are some clues. One address the attacker used is 0xF35e2cC8E6523d683eD44870f5B7c C785051a77D. Got that? Like everything else in a blockchain, a user’s address is an anonymous string of characters. But every address leaves behind a history on the blockchain that’s open for examination. Not that it makes sense to 99.9 percent of humankind, but Green gets it. To pull off his heist, the attacker needed to create a contract that would interact with the DAO. He did so on June 15 and deployed it in the early morning hours two days later, according to Green. Once activated, the attack contract started sending about $4,000 worth of ether through the attacker’s account every three or four minutes to drain the DAO. But where did the original money to fund the attack come from? To interact with the ethereum blockchain, every contract must be funded by an amount of ether. This attack contract was funded by two addresses, but tracing it further back becomes tricky. That’s because the second address used an exchange called ShapeShift to send 52 ether into its account on June 14. ShapeShift doesn’t collect any information on its users and says it turns one virtual currency, such as bitcoin, into another, like ether, in less than 10 seconds. While there are valid reasons for using ShapeShift, it’s also a great way to launder digital assets and cover your tracks. After the attack contract stopped working, the thief needed to deploy it again, says Green. He tried but failed, and after a few more transactions, the hack whimpered to an end. (One possible reason the attack stopped, Green says, is that the hacker’s tokens became corrupted, which means he had no way to exploit the bug.) We know this limited amount of one-sided information from the blockchain’s public record. Digital asset exchanges see both sides. An internal investigation by one such exchange concluded that the DAO attacker was likely part of a group, not a lone wolf, based in Switzerland, according to an executive there who wouldn’t speak on the record or allow the company’s name to be used. Exchanges are in the unique position of being able to analyze the trading activity of their customers because they know who they are, even if they’re anonymous on the blockchain. The executive says the exchange shared the analysis with the Boston office of the FBI, though there’s been no further contact since October of last year. Cornell’s Gün says he also spoke to the Boston office of the FBI—and to agents in the New York office and to the New York State Attorney General’s Office. “It’s very difficult to coordinate an attack of this kind without leaving breadcrumbs behind,” Gün says. He encouraged the FBI to look at the ethereum testnet, where programmers can run their code in a safe environment to work out kinks. The attacker wouldn’t just launch such a complicated hack without testing it, Gün says he told federal officials, and the feds might be able to get clues to his identity there. Gün says he also pointed them to addresses linked to the attacker, such as the one described above, that were listed by his grad student Daian on his blog. (The FBI declined to comment.) “I’m absolutely amazed. Why has no one traced this back and found out who did it?” asks Stephan Tual, the third co-founder of Slock.it. “It still bugs me to this day, because what that person has done is incredibly unethical.” On Tuesday, four days after the initial attack, the hacker returned and somehow resumed the heist. The Robin Hood group had feared this moment would come and was ready. Early Sunday morning they’d finally managed to convene online and successfully infiltrate an escape pod, but had held off their counterattack. Now they had no choice. One strike against the group was their distance from one another—one in Rio, others scattered about Europe. (Some of the group’s members didn’t want to be identified for this story.) It was important that they coordinate their activities because, like in Charlie’s Angels, they all had different specialties: Green the community organizer, Van de Sande the public face, others who wrote the Robin Hood group attack contracts. So Van de Sande needed to be walked through the step-by-step hacking process they were about to unleash, because that wasn’t his area of expertise. “I’ll be honest, I was excited,” Green says. “This is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me. This is the craziest thing that’s almost ever happened to anyone.” Whether it was legal remains an unanswered question. “You literally have cyber ninjas warring on the blockchain,” says Vessenes, the programming expert. “What they’re doing is almost certainly illegal, but they’re claiming it’s for the greater good.” And now it was Van de Sande’s job to let the community know that the Robin Hood group counterattack was benign. He took to Twitter, where he wrote “DAO IS BEING SECURELY DRAINED. DO NOT PANIC.” A nod to the classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, his plea to not panic was met with all the snark and real-life concern Twitter can handle. “NOTHING SAYS DO NOT PANIC LIKE ALL CAPS,” one user responded. “#RealLife is more exciting than
MrRobot !!” tweeted another. Yet as the Robin Hood group attack
gained steam, they noticed something strange and worrisome—the attacker was with them in every escape pod. “We escaped the mother ship, but now we’re alone in space with the alien we were trying to escape,” says Van de Sande. This was a big problem. Because of how Jentzsch wrote his code, the Robin Hood group would have to wait several weeks before they could secure the ether they recovered. Yet if the attacker was in that escape pod with the group, he could just follow them—what’s known as a stalking attack. If the hacker stalked the Robin Hood group, the ether wasn’t really safe after all. “The game only ends when one of these parties doesn’t show up to fight,” Van de Sande says. This, in essence, is the heart of the DAO Wars, the never-ending battle that would have to be waged to keep the recovered ether safe. If only there were a way to reverse the theft once and for all. What happened next is one of the strangest and most contentious episodes in blockchain’s early history. The morning of July 20 dawned cool and clear in Ithaca, N.Y., the home of Cornell. A weeklong ethereum boot camp on campus had brought developers and programmers from all over the world to town. The mood was anxious, but not because the workshops were about to begin. This was the day the ethereum community would decide to rewrite the past. The weeks since the DAO hack had been filled with acrimonious debate as developers, coders, investors, and other community members considered their options to undo the theft. As the Robin Hood group battled the attacker mostly in private, a public debate was raging. The white hat hackers weren’t the only ones trying to save the DAO. Jentzsch worked almost around the clock, fielding hundreds of requests from DAO investors on what they should do. Vitalik Buterin, 23, who created the ethereum blockchain before he was 20, became a focal point as he led the community through their options. In short, what they could do was change the ethereum blockchain to fix the DAO, but only if they got a majority of computers running the network to agree to a software update. Pull that off, and it’s as though the attack never happened. This is known as a hard fork. The decision stirred such strong reactions that it remains controversial a year later, both within the ethereum community and with bitcoin users who insist a blockchain’s history is never to be tampered with. In an interview in October, Buterin was unapologetic about pushing for the change. “Some bitcoin users see the hard fork as in some ways violating their most fundamental values,” said Buterin, who didn’t respond to requests to speak specifically about this story. “I personally think these fundamental values, pushed to such extremes, are silly.” Within the ethereum community, at least, Buterin’s views won the day, and computer nodes all over the world accepted the fork. Contained in block 1,920,000, the fix to the DAO was simple and did only one thing—if you had ether invested in it, you could now get it out. But why hadn’t the attacker made off with his money? It had been more than a month. The same code that exposed the DAO to the theft, in the end, enabled the ether to be returned. Everything to do with the DAO is a parameter: rules, if-then statements, and more rules that are all finalized before the program is set loose. One of these parameters stated that anyone wanting to get their ether out of the DAO had to wait a certain amount of time—27 days after the initial request, then another seven days. This fail-safe, written by Jentzsch, applied to the attacker as well. So even though somebody had effectively robbed a bank, he then had to wait 34 days before crossing the street to make his getaway. While he was waiting, the money was stolen back. A month after the original heist, the ether thief now had nothing to show for his caper. Back on the Cornell campus, ethereum boot camp attendees celebrated. The next day, Gün brought Champagne to the session he was teaching. He’d pasted makeshift labels on the Chandon bottles with a picture of the utensil that said, “Congratulations on the successful fork.” Then something else unexpected happened. The original ethereum blockchain, the one with the DAO attack in it, kept growing. Imagine a hard fork is a branch of a tree that sprouts in a different direction at the end of the main limb. The end of that limb is supposed to wither after a hard fork, but here it continued to grow as a small group of users continued to process transactions on that version of the blockchain. Instead of dying, this became a second form of ethereum, quickly dubbed ethereum classic, complete with a digital currency that now had value. Even in the science fiction world of blockchain, this was an unprecedented turn of events. It meant the DAO attacker suddenly had about 3.6 million ethereum classic coins in his DAO account, known as the DarkDAO, which were slowly gaining in value. The Robin Hood group held about 8.4 million, because in this parallel universe they still controlled 70 percent of the DAO funds they had recovered. The Robin Hood group couldn’t believe it. “We did everything to avoid this, but now we’re being dragged back into this fight,” Van de Sande says. Now, the bitcoin supporters who viewed the hard fork as a violation of the core values of blockchain could back up their belief by buying ethereum classic. That’s exactly what entrepreneur Barry Silbert, a heavyweight in bitcoin circles, did. “Keep in mind, the original chain is ethereum classic,” he says. “The fork is ethereum.” Putting his money where his mouth is, Silbert’s firm, Grayscale Investments, recently issued an investment thesis outlining the benefits to ethereum classic over ethereum. A section heading sums up the rationale: “The DAO and the Death of Principles.” Alexis Roussel, co-founder of Bity.com, a digital currency broker in Switzerland, still marvels at the aftereffects of the hard fork and the wild world of the blockchain. “This is something that doesn’t happen in traditional finance,” he says. “If something happens with Apple, you don’t suddenly have a clone of Apple.” It’s been about a year since the DAO attack, enough time to take stock of what went wrong. Van de Sande is eager to move on. “It was really just a blip,” he says. “We are ready to move past it and leave the DAO story behind us.” Green, who’s organizing an ethereum conference at this summer’s Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, has kept a sense of humor about it. “The Robin Hood group was just a s--- show,” he says with a laugh. “I hope the movie portrays it better than it actually was.” As for the bug itself, apparently many smart people looked at the code before Gün but missed one major flaw. The order of commands in the code allowed DAO token holders to withdraw any profit they’d made from their investments. It reads “withdrawRewardFor(msg.sender)” and adds, almost improbably, a note to anyone reading the code that says, “be nice, and get his rewards.” That’s line 667—let’s call it “The Neighbor of the Beast Bug.” If the withdraw line had come after these lines: totalSupply -= balances[msg.sender]; balances[msg.sender] = 0; paidOut[msg.sender] = 0; return true; the attack wouldn’t have been possible, Jentzsch says. But if the code had been in the correct order, the reward parameter wouldn’t have worked. As for the note, this line of code was meant to allow investors to withdraw any profit—“Reward”—their investments had earned. Instead it became one of the biggest backdoors in hacking history. It would have been better to not pay rewards during the split function from the DAO, what we’ve been referring to here as the escape pods, according to Jentzsch. Another decision he made when he had no idea of the bug shows how quirky and unforgiving code can be. “If the capital ‘T’ in line 666 had been a small ‘t,’ that would also have prevented the hack,” he says. Jentzsch has many regrets but insists no one was aware of the specific problems in lines 666-667 (other observers had pointed to flaws in other lines, just not here). Had more people looked, “it would have made no difference at all,” he says. “If you don’t know what to look for in a security audit, you won’t find it.” Even Gün, who had it in his grasp, let it go. “I still missed it,” he says. Green’s emotions are still raw related to Gün. “I actually got really pissed at him about this,” Green says. “He started bragging about how he found the bug.” He adds that it was “very irresponsible of him to not tell anyone of his inkling.” Still, Green “respects the hell out of Gün” and says they’ve since made amends. Asked to recount that night last June as he lay sick in bed, Gün says, “I came away from this thinking there’s potentially an issue.” But he’d consulted Daian, his grad student (“whom I trust”). Daian had said it’s “not exploitable.” Gün says that had he been certain of the danger, “I would have told people.” In a blog post that explained the mechanics of the DAO heist Daian published the night of the attack, he gave a shoutout to his professor in the acknowledgments. “Gün, we were so damn close—sorry it wasn’t quite enough this time :),” Daian wrote. As for the attacker (whoever he or she or they are) and the ethereum classic booty, Gün says, “Great, wonderful, he should cash out.” The hard fork proved it wasn’t just the DAO that needed to be fixed, but the ethereum blockchain itself. He says: “The fault lies somewhere on the system side as well.” But the fear that smart contracts are too clever by half and that by extension so is the ethereum blockchain itself—prevalent in the days following the DAO attack—has dissipated. At least that’s the market’s verdict, judging by the price of ether. After the attack, it traded from $10 to $12 for about nine months. Then in March it took off; it’s valued at $341.19 as of June 12. (That would have valued the DAO at $4.1 billion, but let’s not even go there.) Ethereum classic has risen as well, and it now trades for $18.71. Both versions of ether remain viable, in other words. The thief holds one; the revisionists, the other. Going forward, the choice is really: Whom would you rather believe? Since the hard fork, the attacker ended up making off with his ethereum classic. That means he got away with about $67.4 million, assuming the stash hasn’t been sold. Not too shabby, 0xF35e2cC8E6523d683eD44870f5B7cC785051a77D. Leising covers market structure at Bloomberg News in New York. To contact the author of this story: Matthew Leising inNew York at [email protected] To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joel Weber at [email protected]
Q: What is your relationship with Blockstream now? Are you in a Cold War? Your evaluation on BS was pretty high “If this amazing team offers you a job, you should take it,” tweeted Gavin Andresen, Chief Scientist, Bitcoin Foundation.” But now, what’s your opinion on BS? A: I think everybody at Blockstream wants Bitcoin to succeed, and I respect and appreciate great work being done for Bitcoin by people at Blockstream. We strongly disagree on priorities and timing; I think the risks of increasing the block size limit right away are very small. I see evidence of people and businesses getting frustrated by the limit and choosing to use something else (like Ethereum or a private blockchain); it is impossible to know for certain how dangerous that is for Bitcoin, but I believe it is more danger than the very small risk of simply increasing or eliminating the block size limit.
Q: 1) Why insist on hard fork at only 75%? You once explained that it is possible to be controlled by 5% if we set the threshold at 95%. I agree, but there should be some balance here. 75% means a high risk in splitting, isn’t it too aggressive? Is it better if we set it to 90%? A: 1)The experience of the last two consensus changes is that miners very quickly switch once consensus reaches 75% -- the last soft fork went from 75% support to well over 95% support in less than one week. So I’m very confident that miners will all upgrade once the 75% threshold is reached, and BIP109 gives them 28 days to do so. No miner wants to create blocks that will not be accepted by the network. Q: 2) How to solve the potentially very large blocks problem Classic roadmap may cause, and furthur causing the centralization of nodes in the future? A: 2)Andreas Antonopoulos gave a great talk recently about how people repeatedly predicted that the Internet would fail to scale. Smart engineers proved them wrong again and again, and are still busy proving them wrong today (which is why I enjoy streaming video over my internet connection just about every night). I began my career working on 3D graphics software, and saw how quickly we went from being able to draw very simple scenes to today’s technology that is able to render hundreds of millions of triangles per second. Processing financial transactions is much easier than simulating reality. Bitcoin can easily scale to handle thousands of transactions per second, even on existing computers and internet connections, and even without the software optimizations that are already planned. Q: 3) Why do you not support the proposal of RBF by Satoshi, and even plan to remove it in Classic completely? A: 3) Replace-by-fee should be supported by most of the wallets people are using before it is supported by the network. Implementing replace-by-fee is very hard for a wallet, especially multi-signature and hardware wallets that might not be connected to the network all of the time. When lots of wallet developers start saying that replace-by-fee is a great idea, then supporting it at the network level makes sense. Not before. Q: 4) . Your opinion on soft fork SegWit, sidechain, lighnting network. Are you for or against, please give brief reasons. Thanks. A: 4) The best way to be successful is to let people try lots of different things. Many of them won’t be successful, but that is not a problem as long as some of them are successful. I think segregated witness is a great idea. It would be a little bit simpler as a hard fork instead of a soft fork (it would be better to put the merkle root for the witness data into the merkle root in the block header instead of putting it inside a transaction), but overall the design is good. I think sidechains are a good idea, but the main problem is finding a good way to keep them secure. I think the best uses of sidechains will be to publish “write-only” public information involving bitcoin. For example, I would like to see a Bitcoin exchange experiment with putting all bids and asks and trades on a sidechain that they secure themselves, so their customers can verify that their orders are being carried out faithfully and nobody at the exchanges is “front-running” them. Q: 5) Can you share your latest opinion on Brainwallet? It is hard for new users to use long and complex secure passphrase, but is it a good tool if it solves this problem? A: 5) We are very, very bad at creating long and complex passphrases that are random enough to be secure. And we are very good at forgetting things. We are much better at keeping physical items secure, so I am much more excited about hardware wallets and paper wallets than I am about brain wallets. I don’t trust myself to keep any bitcoin in a brain wallet, and do not recommend them for anybody else, either.
Q: Gavin, do you have bitcoins now? What is your major job in MIT? Has FBI ever investigated on you? When do you think SHA256 might be outdated, it seems like it has been a bit unsafe? A: Yes, a majority of my own person wealth is still in bitcoins -- more than a financial advisor would say is wise. My job at MIT is to make Bitcoin better, in whatever way I think best. That is the same major job I had at the Bitcoin Foundation. Sometimes I think the best way to make Bitcoin better is to write some code, sometimes to write a blog post about what I see happening in the Bitcoin world, and sometimes to travel and speak to people. The FBI (or any other law enforcement agency) has never investigated me, as far as I know. The closest thing to an investigation was an afternoon I spent at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC. They were interested in how I and the other Bitcoin developers created the software and how much control we have over whether or not people choose to run the software that we create. “Safe or unsafe” is not the way to think about cryptographic algorithms like SHA256. They do not suddenly go from being 100% secure for everything to completely insecure for everything. I think SHA256 will be safe enough to use in the all ways that Bitcoin is using it for at least ten years, and will be good enough to be used as the proof-of-work algorithm forever. It is much more likely that ECDSA, the signature algorithm Bitcoin is using today, will start to become less safe in the next ten or twenty years, but developer are already working on replacements (like Schnorr signatures).
Q: It’s a pleasure to meet you. I only have one question. Which company are you serving? or where do you get your salary? A: The Media Lab at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) pays my salary; I don’t receive regular payments from anybody else. I have received small amounts of stock options in exchange for being a techical advisor to several Bitcoin companies (Coinbase, BitPay, Bloq, Xapo, Digital Currency Group, CoinLab, TruCoin, Chain) which might be worth money some day if one or more of those companies do very well. I make it very clear to these companies that my priority is to make Bitcoin better, and my goal in being an advisor to them is to learn more about the problems they face as they try to bring Bitcoin to more of their customers. And I am sometimes (once or twice a year) paid to speak at events.
Q: Would you mind share your opinion on lightning network? Is it complicated to implement? Does it need hard fork? A: Lightning does not need a hard fork. It is not too hard to implement at the Bitcoin protocol level, but it is much more complicated to create a wallet capable of handling Lightning network payments properly. I think Lightning is very exciting for new kinds of payments (like machine-to-machine payments that might happen hundreds of times per minute), but I am skeptical that it will be used for the kinds of payments that are common on the Bitcoin network today, because they will be more complicated both for wallet software and for people to understand.
Q: 1) There has been a lot of conferences related to blocksize limit. The two took place in HongKong in Decemeber of 2015 and Feberary of 2016 are the most important ones. Despite much opposition, it is undeniable that these two meetings basically determines the current status of Bitcoin. However, as the one of the original founders of Bitcoin, why did you choose to not attend these meetings? If you have ever attended and opposed gmax’s Core roadmap (SegWit Priority) in one of the meetings, we may be in a better situation now, and the 2M hard fork might have already begun. Can you explain your absence in the two meetings? Do you think the results of both meetings are orchestrated by blockstream? A: 1) I attended the first scaling conference in Montreal in September of 2015, and had hoped that a compromise had been reached. A few weeks after that conference, it was clear to me that whatever compromise had been reached was not going to happen, so it seemed pointless to travel all the way to Hong Kong in December for more discussion when all of the issues had been discussed repeatedly since February of 2015. The February 2016 Hong Kong meeting I could not attend because I was invited only a short time before it happened and I had already planned a vacation with my family and grandparents. I think all of those conferences were orchestrated mainly by people who do not think raising the block size limit is a high priority, and who want to see what problems happen as we run into the limit. Q: 2) We have already known that gmax tries to limit the block size so as to get investment for his company. However, it is obvious that overthrowing Core is hard in the short term. What if Core continues to dominate the development of Bitcoin? Is it possible that blockstream core will never raise the blocksize limit because of their company interests? A: 2) I don’t think investment for his company is Greg’s motivation-- I think he honestly believes that a solution like lightning is better technically. He may be right, but I think it would be better if he considered that he might also be wrong, and allowed other solutions to be tried at the same time. Blockstream is a funny company, with very strong-willed people that have different opinions. It is possible they will never come to an agreement on how to raise the blocksize limit.
Q: I would like to ask your opinion on the current situation. It’s been two years, but a simple 2MB hard fork could not even be done. In Bitcoin land, two years are incredibly long. Isn’t this enough to believe this whole thing is a conspiracy? A: I don’t think it is a conspiracy, I think it is an honest difference of opinion on what is most important to do first, and a difference in opinion on risks and benefits of doing different things. Q: How can a multi-billion network with millions of users and investors be choked by a handful of people? How can this be called decentrilized and open-source software anymore? It is so hard to get a simple 2MB hard fork, but SegWig and Lighting Network with thousands of lines of code change can be pushed through so fast. Is this normal? It is what you do to define if you are a good man, not what you say. A: I still believe good engineers will work around whatever unnecessary barriers are put in their way-- but it might take longer, and the results will not be as elegant as I would prefer. The risk is that people will not be patient and will switch to something else; the recent rapid rise in developer interest and price of Ethereum should be a warning. Q: The problem now is that everybody knows Classic is better, however, Core team has controlled the mining pools using their powers and polical approaches. This made them controll the vast majority of the hashpower, no matter what others propose. In addition, Chinese miners have little communication with the community, and do not care about the developement of the system. Very few of them knows what is going on in the Bitcoin land. They almost handed over their own power to the mining pool, so as long as Core controls the pools, Core controls the whole Bitcoin, no matter how good your Classic is. Under this circumstance, what is your plan? A: Encourage alternatives to Core. If they work better (if they are faster or do more) then Core will either be replaced or will have to become better itself. I am happy to see innovations happening in projects like Bitcoin Unlimited, for example. And just this week I see that Matt Corallo will be working on bringing an optmized protocol for relaying blocks into Core; perhaps that was the plan all along, or perhaps the “extreme thin blocks” work in Bitcoin Unlimited is making that a higher priority. In any case, competition is healthy. Q: From this scaling debate, do you think there is a huge problem with Bitcoin development? Does there exsit development centrilization? Does this situation need improvment? For example, estabilish a fund from Bitcoin as a fundation. It can be used for hiring developers and maintainers, so that we can solve the development issue once and for all. A: I think the Core project spends too much time thinking about small probability technical risks (like “rogue miners” who create hard-to-validate blocks or try to send invalid blocks to SPV wallets) and not enough time thinking about much larger non-technical risks. And I think the Core project suffers from the common open source software problem of “developers developing for developers.” The projects that get worked on are the technically interesting projects-- exciting new features (like the lightning network), and not improving the basic old features (like improving network performance or doing more code review and testing). I think the situation is improving, with businesses investing more in development (but perhaps not in the Core project, because the culture of that project has become much less focused on short-term business needs and more on long-term exciting new features). I am skeptical that crowd-funding software development can work well; if I look at other successful open source software projects, they are usually funded by companies, not individuals.
You are one of the most-repected person in Bitcoin world, I won’t miss the chance to ask some questions. First of all, I am a Classic supporter. I strongly believe that on-chain transcations should not be restrained artificially. Even if there are transcations that are willing to go through Lighting Network in the future, it should be because of a free market, not because of artificial restrication. Here are some of my questions: Q: 1) For the past two years, you’ve been proposing to Core to scale Bitcoin. In the early days of the discussion, Core devs did agree that the blocksize should be raised. What do you think is the major reason for Core to stall scaling. Does there exist conflict of interest between Blockstream and scaling? A: 1) There might be unconscious bias, but I think there is just a difference of opinion on priorities and timing. Q: 2) One of the reason for the Chinese to refuse Classic is that Classic dev team is not technically capable enough for future Bitcoin development. I also noticed that Classic does have a less frequent code release compared to Core. In your opinion, is there any solution to these problems? Have you ever thought to invite capable Chinese programers to join Classic dev team? A: 2) The great thing about open source software is if you don’t think the development team is good enough (or if you think they are working on the wrong things) you can take the software and hire a better team to improve it. Classic is a simple 2MB patch on top of Core, so it is intentional that there are not a lot of releases of Classic. The priority for Classic right now is to do things that make working on Classic better for developers than working on Core, with the goal of attracting more developers. You can expect to see some results in the next month or two. I invite capable programmers from anywhere, including China, to help any of the teams working on open source Bitcoin software, whether that is Classic or Core or Unlimited or bitcore or btcd or ckpool or p2pool or bitcoinj. Q: 3) Another reason for some of the Chinese not supporting Classic is that bigger blocks are more vulnerable to spam attacks. (However, I do think that smaller blocks are more vlunerable to spam attack, because smaller amount of money is needed to choke the blockchain.) What’s our opinion on this? A: 3) The best response to a transaction spam attack is for the network to reject transactions that pay too little fees but to simply absorb any “spam” that is paying as much fees as regular transactions. The goal for a transaction spammer is to disrupt the network; if there is room for extra transactions in blocks, then the network can just accept the spam (“thank you for the extra fees!”) and continue as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Nothing annoys a spammer more than a network that just absorbs the extra transactions with no harmful effects. Q: 4) According to your understanding on lighting network and sidechains,if most Bitcoin transactions goes throught lighting network or sidechains, it possible that the fees paid on the these network cannot reach the main-chain miners, which leaves miners starving. If yes, how much percent do you think will be given to miners. A: 4) I don’t know, it will depend on how often lightning network channels are opened and closed, and that depends on how people choose to use lightning. Moving transactions off the main chain and on to the lightning network should mean less fees for miners, more for lightning network hubs. Hopefully it will also mean lower fees for users, which will make Bitcoin more popular, drive up the price, and make up for the lower transaction fees paid to miners. Q: 5) The concept of lighting network and sidechains have been out of one or two years already, when do you think they will be fully deployed. A: 5) Sidechains are already “fully deployed” (unless you mean the version of sidechains that doesn’t rely on some trusted gateways to move bitcoin on and off the sidechain, which won’t be fully deployed for at least a couple of years). I haven’t seen any reports of how successful they have been. I think Lightning will take longer than people estimate. Seven months ago Adam Back said that the lightning network might be ready “as soon as six months from now” … but I would be surprised if there was a robust, ready-for-everybody-to-use lightning-capable wallet before 2018. Q: 6)Regarding the hard fork, Core team has assumed that it will cause a chain-split. (Chinese miners are very intimitated by this assumption, I think this is the major reason why most of the Chinese mining pools are not switching to Classic). Do you think Bitcoin will have a chain-split? A: 6) No, there will not be a chain split. I have not talked to a single mining pool operator, miner, exchange, or major bitcoin business who would be willing to mine a minority branch of the chain or accept bitcoins from a minority branch of the main chain. Q: 7) From your point of view, do you think there is more Classic supporters or Core supporters in the U.S.? A: 7) All of the online opinion pools that have been done show that a majority of people worldwide support raising the block size limit.
Q: Which is more in line with the Satoshi’s original roadmap, Bitcoin Classic or Bitcoin Core? How to make mining pools support and adopt Bitcoin Classic? A: Bitcoin Classic is more in line with Satoshi’s original roadmap. We can’t make the mining pools do anything they don’t want to do, but they are run by smart people who will do what they think is best for their businesses and Bitcoin.
Q: Do you have any solution for mining centralization? What do you think about the hard fork of changing mining algorithms? A: I have a lot of thoughts on mining centralization; it would probably take ten or twenty pages to write them all down. I am much less worried about mining centralization than most of the other developers, because Satoshi designed Bitcoin so miners make the most profit when they do what is best for Bitcoin. I have also seen how quickly mining pools come and go; people were worried that the DeepBit mining pool would become too big, then it was GHash.io… And if a centralized mining pool does become too big and does something bad, the simplest solution is for businesses or people to get together and create or fund a competitor. Some of the big Bitcoin exchanges have been seriously considering doing exactly that to support raising the block size limit, and that is exactly the way the system is supposed to work-- if you don’t like what the miners are doing, then compete with them! I think changing the mining algorithm is a complicated solution to a simple problem, and is not necessary.
Q: Last time you came to China, you said you want to "make a different". I know that in USA the opposition political party often hold this concept, in order to prevent the other party being totally dominant. Bitcoin is born with a deep "make a different" nature inside. But in Chinese culture, it is often interpreted as split “just for the sake of splitting”, can you speak your mind on what is your meaning of "make a different"? A: I started my career in Silicon Valley, where there is a lot of competition but also a lot of cooperation. The most successful companies find a way to be different than their competitors; it is not a coincidence that perhaps the most successful company in the world (Apple Computer) had the slogan “think different.” As Bitcoin gets bigger (and I think we all agree we want Bitcoin to get bigger!) it is natural for it to split and specialize; we have already seen that happening, with lots of choices for different wallets, different exchanges, different mining chips, different mining pool software.
Q: 1) The development of XT and Classic confirmed my thoughts that it is nearly impossible to use a new version of bitcoin to replace the current bitcoin Core controlled by Blockstream. I think we will have to live with the power of Blockstream for a sufficient long time. It means we will see the deployment of SegWit and Lighting network. If it really comes to that point, what will you do? Will you also leave like Mike Hearn? A: 1) With the development of Blockchain, bitcoin will grow bigger and bigger without any doubts, And also there will be more and more companies related to the bitcoin network. When it comes to money, there will be a lot of fights between these companies. Is it possible to form some kind of committee to avoid harmful fights between these companies and also the situation that a single company controlling the direction of the bitcoin development? Is there any one doing this kind of job right now? Q: 2) My final question would be, do you really think it is possible that we can have a decentralized currency? Learning from the history, it seems like every thing will become centralized as long as it involves human. Do you have any picture for a decentralized currency or even a society? Thanks. A: 2) I think you might be surprised at what most people are running a year or three from now. Perhaps it will be a future version of Bitcoin Core, but I think there is a very good chance another project will be more successful. I remember when “everybody” was running Internet Explorer or Firefox, and people thought Google was crazy to think that Chrome would ever be a popular web browser. It took four years for Chrome to become the most popular web browser. In any case, I plan on working on Bitcoin related projects for at least another few years. Eventually it will become boring or I will decide I need to take a couple of years of and think about what I want to do next. As for fights between companies: there are always fights between companies, in every technology. There are organizations like the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that try to create committees so engineers at companies can spend more time cooperating and less time fighting; I’m told by people who participate in IETF meetings that they are usually helpful and create useful standards more often than not. Finally, yes, I do think we can have a “decentralized-enough” currency. A currency that might be controlled at particular times by a small set of people or companies, but that gives everybody else the ability to take control if those people or businesses misbehave.
Hi Gavin, I have some questions: Q: 1) I noticed there are some new names added to the classic team list. Most people here only know you and Jeff. Can you briefly introduce some others to the Chinese community? A: 1) Tom Zander has been acting as lead developer, and is an experienced C++ developer who worked previously on the Qt and Debian open source projects. Pedro Pinheiro is on loan from Blockchain.info, and has mostly worked on continuous integration and testing for Classic. Jon Rumion joined recently, and has been working on things that will make life for developers more pleasant (I don’t want to be more specific, I don’t want to announce things before they are finished in case they don’t work out). Jeff has been very busy starting up Bloq, so he hasn’t been very active with Classic recently. I’ve also been very busy traveling (Barbados, Idaho, London and a very quick trip to Beijing) so haven’t been writing much code recently. Q: 2) if bitcoin classic succeeded (>75% threshold), what role would you play in the team after the 2MB upgrade finished, as a leader, a code contributor, a consultant, or something else? A: 2)Contributor and consultant-- I am trying not to be leader of any software project right now, I want to leave that to other people who are better at managing and scheduling and recruiting and all of the other things that need to be done to lead a software project. Q: 3) if bitcoin classic end up failed to achieve mainstream adoption (<75% 2018), will you continue the endeavor of encouraging on-chain scaling and garden-style growth of bitcoin? A: 3) Yes. If BIP109 does not happen, I will still be pushing to get a good on-chain solution to happen as soon as possible. Q: 4) Have you encountered any threat in your life, because people would think you obviously have many bitcoins, like what happened to Hal Finney (RIP), or because some people have different ideas about what bitcoin's future should be? A: 4) No, I don’t think I have received any death threats. It upsets me that other people have. Somebody did threaten to release my and my wife’s social security numbers and other identity information if I did not pay them some bitcoins a couple of years ago. I didn’t pay, they did release our information, and that has been a little inconvenient at times. Q: 5) Roger Ver (Bitcoin Jesus) said bitcoin would worth thousands of dollars. Do you have similar thoughts? If not, what is your opinion on bitcoin price in future? A: 5) I learned long ago to give up trying to predict the price of stocks, currencies, or Bitcoin. I think the price of Bitcoin will be higher in ten years, but I might be wrong. Q: 6) You've been to China. What's your impression about the country, people, and the culture here? Thank you! A: 6) I had a very quick trip to Beijing a few weeks ago-- not nearly long enough to get a good impression of the country or the culture. I had just enough time to walk around a little bit one morning, past the Forbidden City and walk around Tianmen Square. There are a LOT of people in China, I think the line to go into the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall was the longest I have ever seen! Beijing reminded me a little bit of London, with an interesting mix of the very old with the very new. The next time I am in China I hope I can spend at least a few weeks and see much more of the country; I like to be in a place long enough so that I really can start to understand the people and cultures.
Q: Dear Gavin, How could I contact you, we have an excellent team and good plans. please confirm your linkedin. A: Best contact for me is [email protected] : but I get lots of email, please excuse me if your messages get lost in the flood. 15. satoshi Q: Gavin, you've been both core and classic code contributor. Are there any major differences between the two teams, concerning code testing (quality control) and the release process of new versions? A: Testing and release processes are the same; a release candidate is created and tested, and once sufficiently tested, a final release is created, cryptographically signed by several developers, and then made available for download. The development process for Classic will be a little bit different, with a ‘develop’ branch where code will be pulled more quickly and then either fixed or reverted based on how testing goes. The goal is to create a more developer-friendly process, with pull requests either accepted or rejected fairly quickly.
I am a bitcoin enthusiast and a coin holder. I thank you for your great contribution to bitcoin. Please allow me to state some of my views before asking:
I'm on board with classic
I support the vision to make bitcoin a powerful currency that could compete with Visa
I support segwit, so I'll endorse whichever version of bitcoin implementation that upgrades to segwit, regardless of block size.
I disagree with those who argue bitcoin main blockchain should be a settlement network with small blocks. My view is that on the main chain btc should function properly as a currency, as well as a network for settlement.
I'm against the deployment of LN on top of small block sized blockchain. Rather, it should be built on a chain with bigger blocks.
I also won’t agree with the deployment of many sidechains on top of small size block chain. Rather, those sidechains should be on chain with bigger blocks.
With that said, below are my questions: Q: 1) If bitcoin is developed following core's vision, and after the 2020 halving which cuts block reward down to 6.125BTC, do you think the block transaction fee at that time will exceed 3BTC? A: 1) If the block limit is not raised, then no, I don’t think transaction fees will be that high. Q: 2) If bitcoin is developed following classic's vision, and after the 2020 halving which cuts block reward down to 6.125BTC, do you think the block transaction fee at that time will exceed 3BTC? A: 2) Yes, the vision is lots of transactions, each paying a very small fee, adding up to a big total for the miners. Q: 3) If bitcoin is developed following core's vision, do you think POW would fail in future, because the mining industry might be accounted too low value compared with that of the bitcoin total market, so that big miners could threaten btc market and gain profit by shorting? *The questioner further explained his concern. Currently, its about ~1.1 billion CNY worth of mining facilities protecting ~42 billion CNY worth (6.5 Billion USD) of bitcoin market. The ratio is ~3%. If bitcoin market cap continues to grow and we adopt layered development plan, the mining portion may decrease, pushing the ratio go even down to <1%, meaning we are using very small money protecting an huge expensive system. For example, in 2020 if bitcoin market cap is ~100 billion CNY, someone may attempt to spend ~1 billion CNY bribe/manipulate miners to attack the network, thus making a great fortune by shorting bitcoin and destroying the ecosystem. A: 3) Very good question, I have asked that myself. I have asked people if they know if there have been other cases where people destroyed a company or a market to make money by shorting it -- as far as I know, that does not happen. Maybe because it is impossible to take a large short position and remain anonymous, so even if you were successful, you would be arrested for doing whatever you did to destroy the company or market (e.g. blow up a factory to destroy a company, or double-spend fraud to try to destroy Bitcoin). Q: 4) If bitcoin is developed following classic's vision, will the blocks become too big that kill decentralization? A: 4) No, if you look at how many transactions the typical Internet connection can support, and how many transactions even a smart phone can validate per second, we can support many more transactions today with the hardware and network connections we have now. And hardware and network connections are getting faster all the time. Q: 5) In theory, even if we scale bitcoin with just LN and sidechains, the main chain still needs blocks with size over 100M, in order to process the trading volume matching Visa's network. So does core have any on-chain scaling plan other than 2MB? Or Core does not plan to evolve bitcoin into something capable of challenging visa? A: 5) Some of the Core developer talk about a “flexcap” solution to the block size limit, but there is no specific proposal. I think it would be best to eliminate the limit all together. That sounds crazy, but the most successful Internet protocols have no hard upper limits (there is no hard limit to how large a web page may be, for example), and no protocol limit is true to Satoshi’s original design. Q: 6) If (the majority of) hash rate managed to switch to Classic in 2018, will the bitcoin community witness the deployment of LN in two years (~2018)? A: 6) The bottleneck with Lightning Network will be wallet support, not support down at the Bitcoin protocol level. So I don’t think the deployment schedule of LN will be affected much whether Classic is adopted or not. Q: 7) If (majority) hash rate upgraded to blocks with segwit features in 2017 as specified in core's roadmap, would classic propose plans to work on top of that (blocks with segwit)? Or insist developing simplified segwit blocks as described in classic's roadmap? A: 7) Classic will follow majority hash rate. It doesn’t make sense to do anything else. Q: 8) If most hash rate is still on core's side before 2018, will you be disappointed with bitcoin, and announce that bitcoin has failed like what Mike did, and sell all your stashed coins at some acceptable price? A: 8) No-- I have said that I think if the block size limit takes longer to resolve, that is bad for Bitcoin in the short term, but smart engineers will work around whatever road blocks you put in front of them. I see Bitcoin as a long-term project. Q: 9) If we have most hash rate switched to classic's side before 2018, what do you think will be the fate of Blockstream company? A: 9) I think Blockstream might lose some employees, but otherwise I don’t think it will matter much. They are still producing interesting technology that might become a successful business. Q: 10) If we have most hash rate still on core's side before 2018, what do you think will be the fate of Blockstream company? A: 10) I don’t think Blockstream’s fate depends on whether or not BIP109 is adopted. It depends much more on whether or not they find customers willing to pay for the technology that they are developing. Q: 11) If we have most hash rate still on core's side before 2018, what do you think will be the fate of companies that support classic, such as Coinbse, bitpay, and Blockchain.info? A: 11) We have already seen companies like Kraken support alternative currencies (Kraken supports Litecoin and Ether); if there is no on-chain scaling solution accepted by the network, I think we will see more companies “hedging their bets” by supporting other currencies that have a simpler road map for supporting more transactions. Q: 12) If we have most hash rate switched to classic's side before 2018, will that hinder the development of sidechain tech? What will happen to companies like Rockroot(Rootstock?) ? A: 12) No, I think the best use of sidechains is for things that might be too risky for the main network (like Rootstock) or are narrowly focused on a small number of Bitcoin users. I don’t think hash rate supporting Classic will have any effect on that. Q: 13) Between the two versions of bitcoin client, which one is more conducive to mining industry, classic or core? A: 13) I have been working to make Classic better for the mining industry, but right now they are almost identical so it would be dishonest to say one is significantly better than the other.
Q: Gavin, can you describe what was in your mind when you first learned bitcoin? A: I was skeptical that it could actually work! I had to read everything I could about it, and then read the source code before I started to think that maybe it could actually be successful and was not a scam.
7 posts published by Bitcoin Babe during August 2015. This week, the Commonwealth Virtual Currencies Working Group made up of Australia, Barbados, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore and Tonga, together with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, concluded a three-day conference in London with a consensus: “Member states should consider the applicability of their existing legal frameworks to ... Bitcoin.org is a community funded project, donations are appreciated and used to improve the website. Make a donation Check out all of our speakers for Bitcoin 2020! Bitcoin 2020 is coming back to San Francisco, this time with more attendees, more fun and more Bitcoin. Register for Bitcoin 2020 today! Follow @bitcoin2020conf on Twitter for updates. In 2015, we launched the first Blockchain Conference in London. Our aim was to bring senior figures in finance, tech, government, venture capital and start-ups into a room and discuss Blockchain/DLT beyond Bitcoin. Shortly after that, we took the show on the road to New York, Hong Kong, Dublin, Amsterdam, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Tel Aviv. Things have come a long way since and we ... Bitcoin News Jun 30, 2015 0. London becoming the Hub for Bitcoin Advancement London is quickly gaining traction in becoming a global h... Bitcoin Now in the Music Industry Too. Bitcoin News Jun 26, 2015 0. Bitcoin Now in the Music Industry Too Bitcoin is sure making a lot of headway recently. The final convict... Partnership between Quinone and Econtext Brings Bitcoins to 20,000 Retailers in ...
Tauchain - (Ohad Asor) - Israel Bitcoin conference 2015
2015 Texas Bitcoin Conference in Austin, Texas. http://TexasBitcoinConference.com Tomorrow's Transactions Conference - London 19th March 2015 World Crypto Network. Loading... Unsubscribe from World Crypto Network? Cancel Unsubscribe. Working... Subscribe Subscribed Unsubscribe ... Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube. Learn the basics about the invention of bitcoin and the litany of projects that have been built in its wake including ripple, stellar, hyperledger, ethereum, eris, and tendermint. Speakers: Vlad ... Ohad Asor on Tauchain - Israel Bitcoin conference 2015 Pastebin link for text transcript: http://pastebin.com/qZavrT03