Blockchain bandits hit crypto startups

A landfall hurricane is never welcome, but it looked like it was going to hit Ms. Kent’s Florida home at the worst possible time.

Back then, Ms Kent was battling hackers looking to take over her digital cash startup Krypton, a service company based on a variant of Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain. Kent and her coding team had just recovered from one attack and had seen the first signs that another was taking place. We were hit by the hurricane during the second attack she says. Then the wild storm cut off the power supply. That really didn’t help she says.

Undeterred, Ms. Kent moved to a local convenience store, plugged in her laptop, and went back to work fighting hackers. Krypton defeated them by taking advantage of some little-used features in the blockchain code that helped thwart the takeover attempt. But that wasn’t before the bad guys had their way with virtual Kryptonian cash worth around $ 6,000 (£ 4,900). Kent wasn’t the only one to get hit. A similar attack.

probably from the same group, was used against a crypto startup called Swift. There are a lot of malicious actors in cryptocurrencies right now,” says Ms. Kent. “It is the era of the gunman.” That’s concerning given the current rush for blockchain interest. Many see it as the element of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency that will have a lasting influence. Visa has announced plans to launch a blockchain payments service in 2017.

Central banks are researching the technology, and many financial firms are eager to use it to keep track of the deals they make. The blockchain is the open accounting system that underpins Bitcoin. It involves large networks of computers working together to do the complicated crypto-based math that checks who spent what bitcoins and where they spent them. an economic historian at the University of Cambridge.

For a well-established virtual currency like Bitcoin, there are a lot of people helping to calculate the numbers through the server farms that they own and operate. The large size of the processing pool means that there is little chance that any one individual can amass enough computing power to subvert the blockchain and effectively print its own money. That’s not the case for fledgling cryptocurrencies, says Garrick Hileman.

Many of those attacks are targeting the wallets where digital cash is kept, but others have gone after the blockchains they use to track transactions. By their nature, Dr. Hileman says, these startups don’t have many servers that check who’s spending or using what, leaving them vulnerable to an attacker with processing power at their fingertips. he said. he says he, adding that there are well-known defenses against cyber thieves trying to hijack the system.

 

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