"bitcoin" entries

Bitcoin is an open network that exhibits resilience and anti-fragility

Over time, crypto-currency networks such as bitcoin will get stronger

If a crook gets access to the credit card or wire transfer networks, it’s a disaster. That’s because, as I explained in my recent article about security models, these traditional financial networks achieve trust by excluding bad actors through access control. Effective access control requires exclusivity and strict vetting, only a small carefully vetted group of “trusted actors” are granted control.

Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies based on the blockchain invention are different. Trust is based on computation, not access control. On the bitcoin network you trust math so everyone can have access. That also means that there will be bad actors, arguably just as there are on access control networks, and nuisance attacks. Fortunately, these types of attacks cannot affect the distributed asset ledger, the blockchain, because to achieve the level of trust to write into the ledger you must apply enormous distributed computation. The root of trust is in the majority of computing power, not individual actors or any central authority.

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Bitcoin security model: trust by computation

A shift from trusting people to trusting math.

Bitcoin is a distributed consensus network that maintains a secure and trusted distributed ledger through a process called “proof-of-work.”

Bitcoin fundamentally inverts the trust mechanism of a distributed system. Traditionally, as we see in payment and banking systems, trust is achieved through access control, by carefully vetting participants and excluding bad actors. This method of trust requires encryption, firewalls, strong authentication and careful vetting. The network requires investing trust in those gaining access.

The result is that such systems tend to be closed and small networks by necessity. By contrast, bitcoin implements a trust model of trust by computation. Trust in the network is ensured by requiring participants to demonstrate proof-of-work, by solving a computationally difficult problem. The cumulative computing power of thousands of participants, accumulated over time in a chain of increasing-difficulty proofs, ensures that no actor or even collection of actors can cheat, as they lack the computation to override the trust. As proof-of-work accumulates on the chain of highest difficulty (the blockchain), it becomes harder and harder to dispute. In bitcoin, a new proof-of-work is added every 10 minutes, with each subsequent proof making it exponentially more difficult to invalidate the previous results.

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Four short links: 14 February 2014

Four short links: 14 February 2014

Bitcoin Analysis, 3D Crime Scenes, 3D Display, and Cloud API

  1. Bitcoin: Understanding and Assessing Potential Opportunities (Slideshare) — VC deck on Bitcoin market and opportunities, long-term and short-term. Interesting lens on the development and gaps.
  2. Queensland Police Map Crime Scenes with 3D Scanner (ComputerWorld) — can’t wait for the 3D printed merchandise from famous trials.
  3. Atheer LabsAn immersive 3D display, over a million apps, sub-mm 3D hand interaction, all in 75 grams.
  4. libcloudPython library for interacting with many of the popular cloud service providers using a unified API.
Comments: 2
Four short links: 13 February 2014

Four short links: 13 February 2014

Open Web Ranking, Quantified Self Gadgets, Armband Input, and Bitcoin Exchanges Threatened

  1. The Common Crawl WWW Ranking — open data, open methodology, behind an open ranking of the top sites on the web. Preprint paper available. (via Slashdot)
  2. Felton’s Sensors (Quartz) — inside the gadgets Nicholas Felton uses to quantify himself.
  3. Myo Armband (IEEE Spectrum) — armband input device with eight EMG (electromyography) muscle activity sensors along with a nine-axis inertial measurement unit (that’s three axes each for accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer), meaning that you get forearm gesture sensing along with relative motion sensing (as opposed to absolute position). The EMG sensors pick up on the electrical potential generated by muscle cells, and with the Myo on your forearm, the sensors can read all of the muscles that control your fingers, letting them spy on finger position as well as grip strength.
  4. Bitcoin Exchanges Under Massive and Concerted Attack — he who lives by the network dies by the network. a DDoS attack is taking Bitcoin’s transaction malleability problem and applying it to many transactions in the network, simultaneously. “So as transactions are being created, malformed/parallel transactions are also being created so as to create a fog of confusion over the entire network, which then affects almost every single implementation out there,” he added. Antonopoulos went on to say that Blockchain.info’s implementation is not affected, but some exchanges have been affected – their internal accounting systems are gradually going out of sync with the network.
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Four short links: 31 December 2013

Four short links: 31 December 2013

Augmentation, Decentralised Platforms, CC0'd Legalware, and Greenwald Keynote Transcript

  1. Toyota Manufacturing Principles (Joseph Cohen) — Jidoka: Automation with a Human Touch. The idea of jidoka is that humans should work with machines to produce the best possible outcome, leveraging the execution ability of a machine and the judgement of a human. We at O’R Radar have been saying for years that there’s gold in the collaboration between people and machines, about augmenting people and not simply replacing them.
  2. Twisterthe fully decentralized P2P microblogging platform leveraging from the free software implementations of Bitcoin and BitTorrent protocols. Interesting to see BT and BC reused as platforms for app development, though if eventual consistency and threading Heisenbugs gave you headaches then just wait for the world of Bitcoin-meets-BitTorrent….
  3. Free Uncopyrighted NDA and Employment Contracts — CC0’d legalware.
  4. Transcript of Glenn Greenwald’s Speech to CCC — the relationship of privacy to security, and the transparency of governmental positions on that relationship, remain unaddressed. NSA’s actions are being used to establish local governmental control of the Internet, which will destroy the multistakeholder model that has kept net architecture and policy largely separate from the whims of elected officials. The fallout of Snowden’s revelations will shape 2014. Happy New Year.
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Four short links: 19 December 2013

Four short links: 19 December 2013

Audio Key Extraction, Die Bitcoin, Keep Dying Bitcoin, Firmware Hacks

  1. RSA Key Extraction via Low-Bandwidth Acoustic Cryptanalysis (PDF) — research uses audio from CPU to break GnuPG’s implementation of RSA. The attack can extract full 4096-bit RSA decryption keys from laptop computers (of various models), within an hour, using the sound generated by the computer during the decryption of some chosen ciphertexts. We experimentally demonstrate that such attacks can be carried out, using either a plain mobile phone placed next to the computer, or a more sensitive microphone placed 4 meters away.
  2. Bitcoin, Magic Thinking, and Political Ideology (Alex Payne) — In other words: Bitcoin represents more of the same short-sighted hypercapitalism that got us into this mess, minus the accountability. No wonder that many of the same culprits are diving eagerly into the mining pool.
  3. Why I Want Bitcoin to Die in a Fire (Charlie Stross) — Like all currency systems, Bitcoin comes with an implicit political agenda attached. Decisions we take about how to manage money, taxation, and the economy have consequences: by its consequences you may judge a finance system. Our current global system is pretty crap, but I submit that Bitcoin is worst. With a list of reasons why Bitcoin is bad, like Stolen electricity will drive out honest mining. (So the greatest benefits accrue to the most ruthless criminals.)
  4. iSeeYou: Disabling the MacBook Webcam Indicator LED — your computer is made up of many computers, each of which can be a threat. This enables video to be captured without any visual indication to the user and can be accomplished entirely in user space by an unprivileged (non-root) application. The same technique that allows us to disable the LED, namely reprogramming the firmware that runs on the iSight, enables a virtual machine escape whereby malware running inside a virtual machine reprograms the camera to act as a USB Human Interface Device (HID) keyboard which executes code in the host operating system. We build two proofs-of-concept: (1) an OS X application, iSeeYou, which demonstrates capturing video with the LED disabled; and (2) a virtual machine escape that launches Terminal.app and runs shell commands. (via Washington Post)
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Four short links: 5 December 2013

Four short links: 5 December 2013

R GUI, Drone Regulations, Bitcoin Stats, and Android/iOS Money Shootout

  1. DeducerAn R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
  2. Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF, FAA) — first pass at regulatory framework for drones. (via Anil Dash)
  3. Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
  4. iOS vs Android Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — roundup comparing Android to iOS in recent commerce writeups. More Android handsets, but less revenue per download/impression/etc.
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Four short links: 29 August 2013

Four short links: 29 August 2013

Semi-Structured Text, Bitcoin Built On, Cryptic C++, Kickstarter Wins

  1. textfsmPython module which implements a template based state machine for parsing semi-formatted text. Originally developed to allow programmatic access to information returned from the command line interface (CLI) of networking devices. TextFSM was developed internally at Google and released under the Apache 2.0 licence for the benefit of the wider community.
  2. The Money is in the Bitcoin Protocol (Vikram Kumar) — some of the basics in this post as well as how people are thinking about using the Bitcoin protocol to do some very innovative things. MUST. READ.
  3. Parsing C++ is Literally Undecidable — any system with enough moving parts will generate eddies of chaotic behaviour, where the interactions between the components are unpredictable. (via Pete Warden)
  4. Kickstarter Raises 6x Indiegogo Money (Medium) — a reminder of the importance of network effects. Crowdfunding is the online auction side of the 2010s.
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Four short links: 10 July 2013

Four short links: 10 July 2013

Technical Bitcoin, Tracking News Flow, Science Advice, and Gov Web Sites

  1. 6 Technical Things I Learned About Bitcoin (Rusty Russell) — Anonymity is hard, but I was surprised to see blockchain.info’s page about my donation to Unfilter correctly geolocated to my home town! Perhaps it’s a fluke, but I was taken aback by how clear it was. Interesting collection of technical observations about the workings of Bitcoin.
  2. NIFTY: News Information Flow Tracking, Yay! — watch how news stories mutate and change over time. (via Stijn Debrouwere
  3. EO Wilson’s Advice for Future Scientists (NPR) — the ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper. (via Courtney Johnston)
  4. Healthcare.gov New Web Model for Government (The Atlantic) — The new site has been built in public for months, iteratively created on Github using cutting edge open-source technologies. Healthcare.gov is the rarest of birds: a next-generation website that also happens to be a .gov.
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Four short links: 5 July 2013

Four short links: 5 July 2013

Tracking Bitcoin, Gaming Deflation, Bloat-Aware Design, and Mapping Entity Relationships

  1. Quantitative Analysis of the Full Bitcoin Transaction Graph (PDF) — We analyzed all these large transactions by following in detail the way these sums were accumulated and the way they were dispersed, and realized that almost all these large transactions were descendants of a single transaction which was carried out in November 2010. Finally, we noted that the subgraph which contains these large transactions along with their neighborhood has many strange looking structures which could be an attempt to conceal the existence and relationship between these transactions, but such an attempt can be foiled by following the money trail in a succinctly persistent way. (via Alex Dong)
  2. Majority of Gamers Today Can’t Finish Level 1 of Super Mario Bros — Nintendo test, and the President of Nintendo said in a talk, We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment. (via Beta Knowledge)
  3. Bloat-Aware Design for Big Data Applications (PDF) — (1) merging and organizing related small data record objects into few large objects (e.g., byte buffers) instead of representing them explicitly as one-object-per-record, and (2) manipulating data by directly accessing buffers (e.g., at the byte chunk level as opposed to the object level). The central goal of this design paradigm is to bound the number of objects in the application, instead of making it grow proportionally with the cardinality of the input data. (via Ben Lorica)
  4. Poderopedia (Github) — originally designed for investigative journalists, the open src software allows you to create and manage entity profile pages that include: short bio or summary, sheet of connections, long newsworthy profiles, maps of connections of an entity, documents related to the entity, sources of all the information and news river with external news about the entity. See the announcement and website.
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