Game theory and black-hat hacking in crypto

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts fancy themselves game theory experts, so it should be expected that black-hat, or malicious, hacking is widespread. Psychological tricks, not technical skills, are the most-often used tools. The stories below recount different approaches to digital pick-pocketing: from phone number hijacking, to social engineering, to Ponzi schemes. As more economic activities shift from physical world to the digital world, privacy and security will be paramount concerns for everyone.

Hacker find creative way to steal $7.7 million without being detected
(ars Technica, by Dan Goodin)

"The technique evaded KICKICO’s security measures because it didn't change the number of KICK tokens issued on the network. Such security measures are generally designed to spot thefts and other malicious actions by detecting sudden shifts in total cryptocurrency funds available on the market."

'TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US BITCOIN:' How a hacker allegedly stole millions by hijacking phone numbers
(Motherboard, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai)

"This is the first reported case against someone who allegedly used the increasingly popular technique known as SIM swapping or SIM hijacking to steal bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and social media accounts. Ortiz and his associates specifically targeted people involved in the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain, allegedly hacking several people during the high-profile Consensus conference in New York City in May."

Commentary thread on the "Game Theory as a Dark Arts"

Crypto mining CEO said to disappear with $35 million in funds
(CoinDesk, by Nikhilesh De)

"Le Minh Tam, head of Vietnam-based Sky Mining, has been missing since July 26, according to the report. The startup, which claimed it would rent crypto miners to investors for between $100 and $5,000, received funds from roughly 5,000 individuals prior to Tam's disappearance last week. Each miner would promise a 300 percent return over a year, with investors keeping the machines for at least 15 and up to as many as 18 months."

Bluetooth hacking: cheating in Elliptic Curve billiards
(Tal Be'ery)

"Recently, Israeli researchers from the Technion published a paper about a smart attack on vulnerable Bluetooth devices’ pairing process. This vulnerability allows attackers to bypass Bluetooth security measures and be a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) to eavesdrop or even change the contents of a Bluetooth connection."

Dark pattern design- it's downright unethical & irresponsible
(UX Planet, by Ainsley Yeung)

"Dark patterns are tricks on a website or application that mislead the users so they do something they have no intention to do. For instance, sharing their data and upgrading their account. Apart from these, tech companies design their product in a way that its users easily become addicted to it."

Technical Updates

De-risking multisig wallets
(Misthos)

"Essentially we are simulating the experience of one continuous logical wallet over time even though the custodians of the wallet may change. This works due to the fact that it is best practice in Bitcoin to generate a new address every time someone intends to receive income. Doing so not only has benefits such as better privacy and security but allows us to change the underlying wallet configuration every time a new custodian joins or leaves. When a new address is generated it will always be backed by the keys representing the current configuration of custodian."

EOS latest update

Argument against utility tokens

Commentary thread on Bitcoin Cash 0-conf

News & Commentary

Visions of Bitcoin
(Nic Carter and Hasufly)

"We put together the changing narratives chart through an analysis of BitcoinTalk posts, a set of discussions with Bitcoiners who had been there from the very start, a healthy respect for Bitcoin history, and a recollection of major attitudes over the years. Anyone who has been around Bitcoin long enough should be able to perform a similar analysis."

Scoop: Bitcoin mining company Bitmain hit $1.1 billion in profit in Q1 2018
(Fortune, by Polina Marinova)

"Bitmain is raising further cash in addition to a $400M round reported in early June. The new funding would value Bitmain at approximately $14 billion, implying a 10 to 11x earnings multiple, according to the email. This is a 16.6% increase from the company’s most recently reported $12 billion valuation."

Commentary on the value of forks

Minimum Viable Economy
(Nick Grossman)

"In other words, the economy is strong enough to support its own currency. Whereas other, weaker nations just adopt USD/Euro etc – they don’t have the critical mass to support their own currency. I think of this as Minimum Viable Economy."

Stock exchanges eye internal efficiencies with blockchain trials
(diar)

"While for the most part, stock exchanges all have varying interests as to what they want to achieve with the use of the technology, the focus, it seems, is heavily on addressing internal bureaucracy, sharing and reconciliation. Clients would benefit from faster clearing."