A "modern miracle" full of bugs

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

Cryptocurrency has been an exciting phenomenon for both engineers and investors. Since the beginning of the blockchain hype in 2016, many promises have been made on its behalf. A report published by the IMF claims blockchain will "revolutionize finance by making transactions faster and more secure..." (see report below). US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Rostin Behnam has called cryptocurrency a "modern miracle." Ironically, Bitcoin futures, a market regulated by CFTC, is now under investigation for price manipulation. Meanwhile, more exploits have been discovered on Ethereum network. A security research lab found hackers have stolen over $20 million from misconfigured Ethereum clients (see story below).

The long and short of The Digital Revolution
(IMF, by Martin Mühleisen)

"Even with short-term dislocations, reorganizing the economy around revolutionary technologies generates huge long-term benefits."

Bitcoin futures price manipulation investigation opens in US
(Toshi Times, by Alex Rathod)

"Price manipulation in the bitcoin futures market emerged as one of the main concerns in the run-up to their release; clearly, this fear has not abated. Manipulation strategies include spoofing: a practice which entails institutional investors buying huge amounts of crypto so that the market interprets this move as a signal of some change in the demand level – other investors then pile in, hoping to catch the wave, pushing the price higher at which point the spoofer sells for an artificially high profit."

Technical & Updates

Hackers stole over $20 million from misconfigured Ethereum clients
(Bleeping Computer, by Catalin Cimpanu)

"Revisiting that research today, the Netlab team says scans for port 8545 never stopped, but intensified as multiple groups joined the scanning activity, with one group alone being more successful than most, after managing to siphon over $20 million worth of Ether funds from exposed applications."

Ethereum ERC20 contracts rise from 5,000 to 90,000 in just a year
(Trustnodes)

"They have proliferated in months from 5,000 to now nearly 100,000 as cat tokens, dog tokens, bot tokens, silly tokens, amazing tokens, all sorts of tokens launch."

The truth about Smart Contracts
(Jimmy Song)

"Execution in a Turing-complete context is extremely tricky and hard to analyze. Securing a Turing-complete smart contract becomes the equivalent of proving that a computer program does not have bugs. We know this is very difficult, as nearly every computer program in existence has bugs."

Discussion thread on the BetterHash BIP

News & Commentary

Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail suffers $40 million theft
(CCN, by Samburaj Das)

"The hacker has since dipped into some of the 2.6 billion NPXS tokens in an attempt to sell 26 million coins at decentralized ERC-20 exchange IDEX, transaction data reveals. IDEX froze those coins before they were liquidated, Pundi X confirmed, adding it had also instigated its own ‘emergency security protocol’ to halt all NPSX transactions at midday Sunday to investigate the theft of coins that equaled 3 percent of its entire current supply."

Crypto giant Binance to offer Euro trading pairs this year
(Bloomberg, by Cindy Wang and Benjamin Robertson)

"The venue will allow euro trading later this year from its Malta operations, Zhao said by phone on Monday. He plans to add other fiat currencies, he said, without providing details. Binance said in March it would set up a base in Malta."

Apple's App Store bans on-device cryptocurrency mining on iOS and macOS
(The Verge, by Shannon Liao)

"The new rules should change the Apple cryptocurrency app landscape quite drastically, given how third-party apps for initial coin offerings or sending and receiving cryptocurrency are essentially banned. It will also be interesting to see how many apps get removed for having secret miners that might have been added through hacks by cybercriminals."

History of Bitcoin 2009-2018 (Git visualization)

Commentary on venture capitalist approach to blockchain