The Shadow Brokers, a previously unknown hacker group, has announced that it has stolen a trove of ready-to-use cyber weapons from The Equation Group (previously), an advanced cyberweapons dealer believed to be operating on behalf of, or within, the NSA.
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Arriving in my inbox at a steady clip this morning: a series of phishing emails aimed at Bitcoiners, promising that the sender has found a bug in "the Bitcoin client" and promising "Pay 0.07 BTC today, get 10 BTC for 15 hours."
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Craig Wright's latest effort to prove himself the creator of bitcoin ended in farce, but some commentators are tired of the whole saga, saying that it doesn't matter who invented Bitcoin because its decentralized nature renders the creator irrelevant. Adrian Chen disagrees: "the idea that Nakamoto’s identity is irrelevant is wishful thinking."
Most obviously, Nakamoto’s identity matters because he is estimated to control four hundred and forty-eight million dollars’ worth of bitcoin, which, if it were unloaded quickly, could seriously depress the value of the notoriously volatile currency.
The real Nakamoto could have a more fundamental impact as well: as The Economist pointed out, this latest saga unfolded during a heated “civil war” that has broken out among bitcoin developers over how to deal with an increase in transaction volume in the bitcoin network. The network processes transactions in batches known as “blocks.” As the number of blocks has increased, the network has become in danger of being overloaded. One side in the dispute wants to change the bitcoin code, increasing the block size to allow the system to process transactions more quickly. The other side sees this as a betrayal of the integrity of the original code, arguing that a change would lead to more centralization in the system (the greatest sin for a bitcoin believer) and consequent problems.
Vanity's murky pond, inch-deep yet thick as tar.
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Aussie entrepreneur Craig Wright backed off from his offer to produce more evidence that he is Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. He's also wiped his website, except for a final, rather ominous message.
The BBC reports that he regards himself as the victim of false allegations after security researchers revealed his earlier "proof" was no such thing.
Craig Wright had pledged to move some of the virtual currency from one of its early address blocks, an act many believe can only be done by the tech's creator.
This would have addressed complaints that earlier evidence he had published online was misleading.
Dr Wright said that he was "sorry".
"I believed that I could put years of anonymity and hiding behind me," he blogged.
"But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.
"When the rumours began, my qualifications and character were attacked. When those allegations were proven false, new allegations have already begun. I know now that I am not strong enough for this."
This doesn't prove that he isn't Satoshi. But the evidence being requested would be no big deal were he the real Satoshi, as he claims, and wanted to convince people of it, which he does. It's all very odd. At this point, he looks like Uri Geller smiling helplessly in front of Johnny Carson, explaining that he can't bend the spoons because something bad is in the air. Read the rest
I'm a research director at Institute for the Future, and I interviewed author Douglas Rushkoff about his latest book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. It's a terrific look at the way the current system of wealth creation is rigged against everyone but the financial gatekeepers at the top of the food chain. More importantly, he offers some great suggestions for ways to make the system more fair for everybody.
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As you approach whatever it is you’re doing, you have to think “do I want to be like a traditional corporation, a shareholder owned corporation, where the object of the game is to earn and extract enough money from this business, so my grandchildren can inherit enough cash to live their lives? Or do I want to create a business that’s healthy and sustainable enough that it can generate revenue and opportunities for my grandchildren who hopefully will want to join that business?” The latter is the sort of approach that creates a business that wants to befriend communities. It’s your name on the thing. You don’t want people to hate you the way they hate Uber because that’s you, that’s your kids, that’s your family name, that’s your legacy. You have such a different relationship to it that you start to think of your neighborhood as a legacy and the planet as a legacy and your grandchildren as a legacy and your workers as a legacy. That is who you are. It’s so much more integral than this fractious and abstracted business landscape that we’re seeing die today.
Infosec consultant Nik Cubrilovic summarizes the evidence for and against Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright's claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the legendary creator of Bitcoin. Cubrilovic comes down hard on Wright.
Wright has a history of fabricating evidence in support of his claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. Despite his claims of not wanting the notoriety or the attention, he is going to a lot of trouble to construct a reality of himself as Satoshi Nakamoto. In the almost 6 months since the first Wired and Gizmodo stories were published he has had ample opportunity to prove conclusively that he is Satoshi, and the protocol and requirements for doing so are well understood and not onerous. They do not require a 10 page blog post with notepad screenshots of shell scripts explaining Linux commands, file formats or OpenSSL. They also do not involve tightly controlled demonstrations in an environment completely under his control. The real creator of Bitcoin would know this.
The burden of proof for anybody claiming to be Nakamoto should be high. In the case of Wright, because of his previous fabrications, that burden is greater. His claims have to be treated with a great amount of skepticism, and his actions treated not as those of a sincere person, but rather as those of a person with a history and reputation for deception. Wright has yet to meet this burden, and until he does, Craig Wright is not Satoshi Nakamoto.
The key thing is that it should be easy for Satoshi to meet the evidentiary requirements and no big deal to do so under circumstances controlled by others. Read the rest
Long a prime suspect and claimant to the title, Australian entrepreneur and programmer Craig Wright outed himself Monday morning as the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. "Satoshi is dead," he writes, producing early cryptographic keys associated with Satoshi as evidence.
The BBC reports that Wright has provided it other proof to back up his claim, such as using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin's creator.
Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team have also confirmed Mr Wright's claim.
Renowned cryptographer Hal Finney was one of the engineers who helped turn Mr Wright's ideas into the Bitcoin protocol, he said.
"I was the main part of it, but other people helped me," he said.
Mr Wright said he planned to release information that would allow others to cryptographically verify that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Soon after Mr Wright went public, Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, published a blog backing his claim.
"I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin," he wrote.
Jon Matonis, an economist and one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, said he was convinced that Mr Wright was who he claimed to be.
The Economist, however, reports that skepticism will prevail for a little while yet. And Reddit's r/BitCoin subreddit appears to be mostly unimpressed by the claim, with one rather technical post that purports to debunk the cryptographic evidence Wright offered.
Wired thought it was Wright last year, but later decided he was probably part of long con to get people to think he was the brain behind bitcoin. Read the rest
You’ve heard of bitcoin. It’s a form of digital cash you can send to anyone, even a complete stranger. You may not have heard about bitcoin's digital ledger, called the blockchain, tracks and validates bitcoin transactions. Blockchain technology has enormous potential beyond bitcoin to automate every type of online transaction that requires a degree of trust. In this short video, produced by Institute for the Future (where I am a research director), Olivia Olson (the voice of Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time) explains how blockchain technology can be used to launch companies that are entirely run by algorithms, make self-driving cars safer, help people manage and protect their online identities, and track the billions of devices on the Internet of Things. Read the rest
The numbers in this study are very back-of-the-envelope and assume a worst case: widespread adoption of Bitcoin and not much improvement in Bitcoin mining activity, along with long replacement cycles for older, less efficient mining rigs. Even the best case scenario has Bitcoin consuming a shocking amount of electricity.
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A blockchain is an online database that stores information across a network of personal computers, making it not just decentralized but distributed. This means no central company or person owns the database, yet everyone in the network can use and help run it, but not tamper with it.
The most popular use of blockchain technology today is bitcoin. The bitcoin blockchain manages around 200,000 bitcoin transactions a day, moving the equivalent of US$150 million around the world without the need of banks or other financial intermediaries.
Bitcoin is just the beginning for blockchains. In the future, blockchains that manage and verify online data will launch companies entirely run by algorithms, make self-driving cars safer, help us protect our online identities, and track the billions of devices on the Internet of Things.
The Blockchain Futures Lab at Institute for the Future has an excerpt from Bitcoin for the Befuddled, (2014, No Starch Press), in which authors Conrad Barski and Chris Wilmer imagine a whimsical but entirely possible snapshot of a chock-a-blockchain world 15 years in the future.
Let’s follow Crowley the Crocodile as he goes about his day in the year 2030, from the moment his bitcoin-powered bioalarm clock wakes him, until he eats his late night pizza ordered using a rating service that runs without human owners.
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Andreas Antonopoulos is one of the most respected experts in bitcoin and blockchain technology, and he regularly shares his expertise with businesses and organizations around the world. His 2014 book, Mastering Bitcoin, was called the “best technical reference available on bitcoin today,” by Balaji Srinivasan, the CEO of 21.co, and received high praise from Gavin Andresen, Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation.
In January 2016, Institute for the Future launched Blockchain Futures Lab, a research initiative and a community for “identifying the opportunities and limits of blockchain technologies and their social, economic, and political impacts on individuals, organizations, and communities over the coming decades.” I'm working with IFTF on Blockchain Futures Lab, and I interviewed Antonopoulos to get his thoughts on the current state of blockchain technology and where it’s headed. You can read the full interview on Medium.
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You cannot create global finance and economic inclusion on the back of a carefully controlled show-us-your-papers identity-based system where everything is tracked. What you create is a global surveillance dystopia. Our entire financial system is heading into this thing where everything is surveilled. Bitcoin is heading in exact opposite direction. No identity by default, from weak pseudonymity to a stronger and stronger anonymity as time goes by.
As a result, it doesn’t do borders. It doesn’t care about borders. It doesn’t do Know Your Customer. It doesn’t do Anti-Money Laundering. It doesn’t do those things because those things are bourgeois concepts of the privileged financial elite. Those bourgeois concepts have a four-billion-people-in-poverty price tag.
Gweek is back - at least for now! For those of you who are new to Gweek, it's a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about media, science, science fiction, video games, comic books, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
My is co-host Dean Putney, the first engineer at Glowforge and Boing Boing’s software developer. In this episode Dean and I talk about:
Christine Moran’s year in Antarctica -- an email newsletter written by a scientist who is spending a year in Antarctica working on their huge radio telescope. Lots of cool photos!
Bitcoin for the Befuddled - A fun book that uses analogies to explain the blockchain, cryptography, proof-of-work, mining, and other aspects of bitcoin. Highly recommended for non-technical people who want to understand bitcoin.
One Page Adventures - Brilliant RPG adventures for tabletop roleplaying, designed to fit all on a single (double-sided) page. Creative commons licensed and free to download, but easy to support on Patreon. Here’s one of Dean's favorites.
Boing Boing's other great podcasts! Flash Forward (a podcast about the future), Home: Stories from L.A., and You Are Not So Smart (about the way people's brains work and fail to work), and Incredibly Interesting Authors.
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Last week, hackers bricked Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, encrypting all the data on its devices and demanding 9,000 Bitcoin (~$3.6m) to give the hospital's IT staff the keys needed to reboot it.
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A cyberattack on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center's computer system has locked up access vital patient data, and the hackers responsible are demanding payment of over 9000 bitcoins ($3.6 million) to unlock the data.
An unnamed doctor has admitted that the hospital's computer system was hacked and is currently being held for ransom, adding that departments are now communicating through fax machines because they have no access to email. Furthermore, a number of patients have been transferred to other hospitals.
Meanwhile, a separate report by Fox (Los Angeles) reaffirmed that the cyberattack has directly affected the 'day-to-day' operations of the hospital.
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A hospital is a computer we put sick people into, so when ransomware creeps infected the hospital's IT systems and encrypted all their data, they asked for a whopping $3.6m to turn the data loose again.
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The Princeton Bitcoin Book by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten,
Andrew Miller and Steven Goldfeder is a free download -- it's over 300 pages and is intended for people "looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming."
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Bitcoin Savings & Trust founder Trendon Shavers pleaded guilty to fraud over his company's Ponzi scheme, whose victims believed they would earn one percent interest every three days -- an annual rate of 3,641 percent.
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