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5 Responses

  1. COINCHECK

    The plunder of more than $500 million worth of digital coins from the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck last week has added to a growing perception that cryptocurrencies are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

    It’s an expensive reminder that like many things in the cryptocurrency world, security technologies—and the norms, best practices, and rules for using them—are still emerging. Not least because of its enormous size, the Coincheck hack could go down as a seminal moment in that process.

    First, hackers laid bare the fact that Coincheck had opted not to implement some basic security measures. The company’s executives told news reporters that the stolen coins had been stored in an internet-connected “hot” wallet. It’s far more secure to keep funds offline, in “cold” storage—often hardware specially designed for the task. Many exchanges already claim in their marketing material that they hold the vast majority of their users’ funds offline. Going forward, this will presumably become standard practice.

    With that taken care of, there’s a more weighty question on the table. Every public cryptocurrency address is associated with a private key; without it, money can’t be moved from that address. If someone does acquire your private key, though, they can send your money away. That’s what happened in the Coincheck heist. So, how do we make the private cryptographic keys owners need to access their coins more secure?

    One answer, known as a multisignature address, is conceptually simple: a “multisig” requires more than one cryptographic key in order execute a transaction. It’s a bit like the multi-factor authentication process you may use to access your email account. Business partners can use multisig technology to, for example, create a wallet that requires each of them to sign off on transactions. That would make it substantially more difficult for hackers to access funds.

    Of course, multisig is not a silver bullet. In 2016, for example, hackers defeated a multisig system to steal $65 million from Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest exchanges. How exactly the perpetrators managed the feat isn’t clear, but it’s possible there was a flaw in the specific implementation.

    Should financial regulators require exchanges to use multisig technology to secure any funds they keep in a hot wallet? Japanese officials are conducting an emergency review of the security of the country’s exchanges, and that might be a measure they consider.

    Either way, a broader discussion about blockchain security is just beginning. Some say blockchains can revolutionize how we track a host of assets beyond just money, like land titles. Such a system may look different than the blockchain networks running today’s cryptocurrencies, but it would still rely on cryptographic keys that could fall into the wrong hands. The techniques and processes we adopt for securing them will be crucial for keeping hackers from running off with land that isn’t theirs.

    Beverly

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  2. 20% of Consumers Have Used AI-Powered Healthcare Services

    Accenture recently released results from a survey on consumer demand for digital health services. Here are some key findings from the report:

    • 1 in 5 consumers said they have already used AI-powered healthcare services.
    • 61% of consumers said they would use virtual health assistants.
    • 2 in 3 would use AI-enabled clinical services like home-based diagnostics.
    • 55% would use virtual nurses that monitor health conditions at home.
    • One quarter of respondents said they received virtual care in the past year.
    • 14% of respondents are currently participating in remote monitoring.

    Source: Accenture, March 6, 2018

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  3. Oh! The Irony

    Satoshi Nakamoto invented the Bitcoin blockchain as a way for people to make financial transactions without the need for banks or governments. So it’s ironic that one of the world’s biggest boosters of blockchains—shared cryptographic ledgers inspired by the one that underlies Nakamoto’s invention—is the World Bank, which is owned by governments. It makes sense, though, argues Prema Shrikrishna, who works in the bank’s Technology Innovation Lab. That’s because her organization’s goal for its recently launched blockchain lab is to “put power back in the hands of the people.”

    It’s still very early in the process, but the lab’s experiments in education, financial services, and efforts to trace agricultural and pharmaceutical supply chains are already providing valuable lessons, Shrikrishna said recently at a MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.

    This year, the World Bank partnered with Consensys, a company focused on developing applications using Ethereum, to explore how blockchain technology can help improve a pilot-stage educational platform called Evoke. The first goal is to give the project’s donors more transparency into how their money is being used, Shrikrishna explained. The next step will be finding ways to use crypto-tokens to incentivize students to participate and complete certain tasks.

    Shrikrishna also explained how the bank is experimenting with a mix of information technologies, including blockchains, to figure out how to bring more transparency to the palm oil industry’s supply chain. Blockchains may provide an opportunity to use crypto-tokens to encourage palm fruit farmers and the middlemen that stand between farms and mills to enter higher-quality data about fruit as it moves through the chain, she said.

    The most concrete blockchain-based application the World Bank has developed so far is a bond it recently issued with the help of an Australian bank that uses a private version of Ethereum. Bonds are a huge part of the bank’s operations—it issues more than $50 billion in bonds each year to raise money for sustainable development. So far, the blockchain-based bond has raised around $80 million. Shrikrishna said the goal of the project is to explore how blockchain technology can make it easier for investors to access the market while also increasing transparency around financing. The bond has an unusually short two-year lifetime, which Shrikrishna says will give the bank the opportunity to quickly learn from the experience, adapt to technological innovations that may emerge in the meantime, and “issue the next bond with a much higher level of confidence.”

    Mitsaki

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  4. In 2019, blockchains will be boring (and that’s good)

    After the Great Crypto Bull Run of 2017 and the monumental crash of 2018, blockchain technology won’t make as much noise in 2019. But it will become more useful, MikeOrcutt writes.

    His prediction: This will be the year blockchain tech finally becomes normal. Many of the projects launched in 2017 are getting close to bearing fruit, and several big corporations planto launch blockchain projects in 2019.

    Some examples: Walmart’s blockchain foodsupply tracker is set to go live in the coming months. Meanwhile, Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, plans to launch its own digital asset exchange in early 2019.

    Smart contracts: Smartcontracts are bits of code that execute an agreement between two parties, and they could, in theory, eliminate the need for all sorts of costly intermediaries. A practical use that’s likely to appear in 2019 is in legal technology.

    And finally…Even governments are getting in on the action. At least 15 countries’ central banks are taking a serious look at launching national digital currencies.

    Shram
    MIT Technology Review

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  5. Blockchain

    This is probably the most balanced and non-hyperbolic essay I’ve read, to date:

    https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/blockchains-occam-problem.

    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA

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