Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential
/////Your Guide to Monero, and Why It Has Great Potential/////
Marketing. It's a dirty word for most members of the Monero community. It is also one of the most divisive words in the Monero community. Yet, the lack of marketing is one of the most frustrating things for many newcomers. This is what makes this an unusual post from a member of the Monero community. This post is an unabashed and unsolicited analyzation of why I believe Monero to have great potential. Below I have attempted to outline different reasons why Monero has great potential, beginning with upcoming developments and use cases, to broader economic motives, speculation, and key issues for it to overcome. I encourage you to discuss and criticise my musings, commenting below if you feel necessary to do so.
Bulletproofs - A Reduction in Transaction Sizes and Fees Since the introduction of Ring Confidential Transactions (Ring CT), transaction amounts have been hidden in Monero, albeit at the cost of increased transaction fees and sizes. In order to mitigate this issue, Bulletproofs will soon be added to reduce both fees and transaction size by 80% to 90%. This is great news for those transacting smaller USD amounts as people commonly complained Monero's fees were too high! Not any longer though! More information can be found here. Bulletproofs are already working on the Monero testnet, and developers were aiming to introduce them in March 2018, however it could be delayed in order to ensure everything is tried and tested. Multisig Multisig has recently been merged! Mulitsig, also called multisignature, is the requirement for a transaction to have two or more signatures before it can be executed. Multisig transactions and addresses are indistinguishable from normal transactions and addresses in Monero, and provide more security than single-signature transactions. It is believed this will lead to additional marketplaces and exchanges to supporting Monero. Kovri Kovri is an implementation of the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) network. Kovri uses both garlic encryption and garlic routing to create a private, protected overlay-network across the internet. This overlay-network provides users with the ability to effectively hide their geographical location and internet IP address. The good news is Kovri is under heavy development and will be available soon. Unlike other coins' false privacy claims, Kovri is a game changer as it will further elevate Monero as the king of privacy. Mobile Wallets There is already a working Android Wallet called Monerujo available in the Google Play Store. X Wallet is an IOS mobile wallet. One of the X Wallet developers recently announced they are very, very close to being listed in the Apple App Store, however are having some issues with getting it approved. The official Monero IOS and Android wallets, along with the MyMonero IOS and Android wallets, are also almost ready to be released, and can be expected very soon. Hardware Wallets Hardware wallets are currently being developed and nearing completion. Because Monero is based on the CryptoNote protocol, it means it requires unique development in order to allow hardware wallet integration. The Ledger Nano S will be adding Monero support by the end of Q1 2018. There is a recent update here too. Even better, for the first time ever in cryptocurrency history, the Monero community banded together to fund the development of an exclusive Monero Hardware Wallet, and will be available in Q2 2018, costing only about $20! In addition, the CEO of Trezor has offered a 10BTC bounty to whoever can provide the software to allow Monero integration. Someone can be seen to already be working on that here. TAILS Operating System Integration Monero is in the progress of being packaged in order for it to be integrated into TAILS and ready to use upon install. TAILS is the operating system popularised by Edward Snowden and is commonly used by those requiring privacy such as journalists wanting to protect themselves and sources, human-right defenders organizing in repressive contexts, citizens facing national emergencies, domestic violence survivors escaping from their abusers, and consequently, darknet market users. In the meantime, for those users who wish to use TAILS with Monero, u/Electric_sheep01 has provided Sheep's Noob guide to Monero GUI in Tails 3.2, which is a step-by-step guide with screenshots explaining how to setup Monero in TAILS, and is very easy to follow. Mandatory Hardforks Unlike other coins, Monero receives a protocol upgrade every 6 months in March and September. Think of it as a Consensus Protocol Update. Monero's hard forks ensure quality development takes place, while preventing political or ideological issues from hindering progress. When a hardfork occurs, you simply download and use the new daemon version, and your existing wallet files and copy of the blockchain remain compatible. This reddit post provides more information. Dynamic fees Many cryptocurrencies have an arbitrary block size limit. Although Monero has a limit, it is adaptive based on the past 100 blocks. Similarly, fees change based on transaction volume. As more transactions are processed on the Monero network, the block size limit slowly increases and the fees slowly decrease. The opposite effect also holds true. This means that the more transactions that take place, the cheaper the fees! Tail Emission and Inflation There will be around 18.4 million Monero mined at the end of May 2022. However, tail emission will kick in after that which is 0.6 XMR, so it has no fixed limit. Gundamlancer explains that Monero's "main emission curve will issue about 18.4 million coins to be mined in approximately 8 years. (more precisely 18.132 Million coins by ca. end of May 2022) After that, a constant "tail emission" of 0.6 XMR per 2-minutes block (modified from initially equivalent 0.3 XMR per 1-minute block) will create a sub-1% perpetual inflatio starting with 0.87% yearly inflation around May 2022) to prevent the lack of incentives for miners once a currency is not mineable anymore. Monero Research Lab Monero has a group of anonymous/pseudo-anonymous university academics actively researching, developing, and publishing academic papers in order to improve Monero. See here and here. The Monero Research Lab are acquainted with other members of cryptocurrency academic community to ensure when new research or technology is uncovered, it can be reviewed and decided upon whether it would be beneficial to Monero. This ensures Monero will always remain a leading cryptocurrency. A recent end of 2017 update from a MRL researcher can be found here.
///Monero's Technology - Rising Above The Rest///
Monero Has Already Proven Itself To Be Private, Secure, Untraceable, and Trustless Monero is the only private, untraceable, trustless, secure and fungible cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are TRACEABLE through the use of blockchain analytics, and has lead to the prosecution of numerous individuals, such as the alleged Alphabay administrator Alexandre Cazes. In the Forfeiture Complaint which detailed the asset seizure of Alexandre Cazes, the anonymity capabilities of Monero were self-demonstrated by the following statement of the officials after the AlphaBay shutdown: "In total, from CAZES' wallets and computer agents took control of approximately $8,800,000 in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero and Zcash, broken down as follows: 1,605.0503851 Bitcoin, 8,309.271639 Ethereum, 3,691.98 Zcash, and an unknown amount of Monero". Privacy CANNOT BE OPTIONAL and must be at a PROTOCOL LEVEL. With Monero, privacy is mandatory, so that everyone gets the benefits of privacy without any transactions standing out as suspicious. This is the reason Darknet Market places are moving to Monero, and will never use Verge, Zcash, Dash, Pivx, Sumo, Spectre, Hush or any other coins that lack good privacy. Peter Todd (who was involved in the Zcash trusted setup ceremony) recently reiterated his concerns of optional privacy after Jeffrey Quesnelle published his recent paper stating 31.5% of Zcash transactions may be traceable, and that only ~1% of the transactions are pure privacy transactions (i.e., z -> z transactions). When the attempted private transactions stand out like a sore thumb there is no privacy, hence why privacy cannot be optional. In addition, in order for a cryptocurrency to truly be private, it must not be controlled by a centralised body, such as a company or organisation, because it opens it up to government control and restrictions. This is no joke, but Zcash is supported by DARPA and the Israeli government!. Monero provides a stark contrast compared to other supposed privacy coins, in that Monero does not have a rich list! With all other coins, you can view wallet balances on the blockexplorers. You can view Monero's non-existent rich list here to see for yourself. I will reiterate here that Monero is TRUSTLESS. You don't need to rely on anyone else to protect your privacy, or worry about others colluding to learn more about you. No one can censor your transaction or decide to intervene. Monero is immutable, unlike Zcash, in which the lead developer Zooko publicly tweeted the possibility of providing a backdoor for authorities to trace transactions. To Zcash's demise, Zooko famously tweeted:
" And by the way, I think we can successfully make Zcash too traceable for criminals like WannaCry, but still completely private & fungible. …"
Ethereum's track record of immutability is also poor. Ethereum was supposed to be an immutable blockchain ledger, however after the DAO hack this proved to not be the case. A 2016 article on Saintly Law summarised the problematic nature of Ethereum's leadership and blockchain intervention:
" Many ethereum and blockchain advocates believe that the intervention was the wrong move to make in this situation. Smart contracts are meant to be self-executing, immutable and free from disturbance by organisations and intermediaries. Yet the building block of all smart contracts, the code, is inherently imperfect. This means that the technology is vulnerable to the same malicious hackers that are targeting businesses and governments. It is also clear that the large scale intervention after the DAO hack could not and would not likely be taken in smaller transactions, as they greatly undermine the viability of the cryptocurrency and the technology."
Monero provides Fungibility and Privacy in a Cashless World As outlined on GetMonero.org, fungibility is the property of a currency whereby two units can be substituted in place of one another. Fungibility means that two units of a currency can be mutually substituted and the substituted currency is equal to another unit of the same size. For example, two $10 bills can be exchanged and they are functionally identical to any other $10 bill in circulation (although $10 bills have unique ID numbers and are therefore not completely fungible). Gold is probably a closer example of true fungibility, where any 1 oz. of gold of the same grade is worth the same as another 1 oz. of gold. Monero is fungible due to the nature of the currency which provides no way to link transactions together nor trace the history of any particular XMR. 1 XMR is functionally identical to any other 1 XMR. Fungibility is an advantage Monero has over Bitcoin and almost every other cryptocurrency, due to the privacy inherent in the Monero blockchain and the permanently traceable nature of the Bitcoin blockchain. With Bitcoin, any BTC can be tracked by anyone back to its creation coinbase transaction. Therefore, if a coin has been used for an illegal purpose in the past, this history will be contained in the blockchain in perpetuity. A great example of Bitcoin's lack of fungibility was reposted by u/ViolentlyPeaceful:
"Imagine you sell cupcakes and receive Bitcoin as payment. It turns out that someone who owned that Bitcoin before you was involved in criminal activity. Now you are worried that you have become a suspect in a criminal case, because the movement of funds to you is a matter of public record. You are also worried that certain Bitcoins that you thought you owned will be considered ‘tainted’ and that others will refuse to accept them as payment."
This lack of fungibility means that certain businesses will be obligated to avoid accepting BTC that have been previously used for purposes which are illegal, or simply run afoul of their Terms of Service. Currently some large Bitcoin companies are blocking, suspending, or closing accounts that have received Bitcoin used in online gambling or other purposes deemed unsavory by said companies. Monero has been built specifically to address the problem of traceability and non-fungibility inherent in other cryptocurrencies. By having completely private transactions Monero is truly fungible and there can be no blacklisting of certain XMR, while at the same time providing all the benefits of a secure, decentralized, permanent blockchain. The world is moving cashless. Fact. The ramifications of this are enormous as we move into a cashless world in which transactions will be tracked and there is a potential for data to be used by third parties for adverse purposes. While most new cryptocurrency investors speculate upon vaporware ICO tokens in the hope of generating wealth, Monero provides salvation for those in which financial privacy is paramount. Too often people equate Monero's features with criminal endeavors. Privacy is not a crime, and is necessary for good money. Transparency in Monero is possible OFF-CHAIN, which offers greater transparency and flexibility. For example, a Monero user may share their Private View Key with their accountant for tax purposes. Monero aims to be adopted by more than just those with nefarious use cases. For example, if you lived in an oppressive religious regime and wanted to buy a certain item, using Monero would allow you to exchange value privately and across borders if needed. Another example is that if everybody can see how much cryptocurrency you have in your wallet, then a certain service might decide to charge you more, and bad actors could even use knowledge of your wallet balance to target you for extortion purposes. For example, a Russian cryptocurrency blogger was recently beaten and robbed of $425k. This is why FUNGIBILITY IS ESSENTIAL. To summarise this in a nutshell:
"A lack of fungibility means that when sending or receiving funds, if the other person personally knows you during a transaction, or can get any sort of information on you, or if you provide a residential address for shipping etc. – you could quite potentially have them use this against you for personal gain"
Major Investors And Crypto Figureheads Are Interested Ari Paul is the co-founder and CIO of BlockTower Capital. He was previously a portfolio manager for the University of Chicago's $8 billion endowment, and a derivatives market maker and proprietary trader for Susquehanna International Group. Paul was interviewed on CNBC on the 26th of December and when asked what was his favourite coin was, he stated "One that has real fundamental value besides from Bitcoin is Monero" and said it has "very strong engineering". In addition, when he was asked if that was the one used by criminals, he replied "Everything is used by criminals including the US dollar and the Euro". Paul later supported these claims on Twitter, recommending only Bitcoin and Monero as long-term investments. There are reports that "Roger Ver, earlier known as 'Bitcoin Jesus' for his evangelical support of the Bitcoin during its early years, said his investment in Monero is 'substantial' and his biggest in any virtual currency since Bitcoin. Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, has publicly stated his appreciation of Monero. In a September 2017 tweet directed to Edward Snowden explaining why Monero is superior to Zcash, Charlie Lee tweeted:
All private transactions, More tested privacy tech, No tax on miners to pay investors, No high inflation... better investment.
John McAfee, arguably cryptocurrency's most controversial character at the moment, has publicly supported Monero numerous times over the last twelve months(before he started shilling ICOs), and has even claimed it will overtake Bitcoin. Playboy instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is a Monero investor, with 15% of his portfolio made up of Monero. Finally, while he may not be considered a major investor or figurehead, Erik Finman, a young early Bitcoin investor and multimillionaire, recently appeared in a CNBC Crypto video interview, explaining why he isn't entirely sold on Bitcoin anymore, and expresses his interest in Monero, stating:
"Monero is a really good one. Monero is an incredible currency, it's completely private."
There is a common belief that most of the money in cryptocurrency is still chasing the quick pump and dumps, however as the market matures, more money will flow into legitimate projects such as Monero. Monero's organic growth in price is evidence smart money is aware of Monero and gradually filtering in. The Bitcoin Flaw A relatively unknown blogger named CryptoIzzy posted three poignant pieces regarding Monero and its place in the world. The Bitcoin Flaw: Monero Rising provides an intellectual comparison of Monero to other cryptocurrencies, and Valuing Cryptocurrencies: An Approach outlines methods of valuing different coins. CryptoIzzy's most recent blog published only yesterday titled Monero Valuation - Update and Refocus is a highly recommended read. It touches on why Monero is much more than just a coin for the Darknet Markets, and provides a calculated future price of Monero. CryptoIzzy also published The Power of Money: A Case for Bitcoin, which is an exploration of our monetary system, and the impact decentralised cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero will have on the world. In the epilogue the author also provides a positive and detailed future valuation based on empirical evidence. CryptoIzzy predicts Monero to easily progress well into the four figure range. Monero Has a Relatively Small Marketcap Recently we have witnessed many newcomers to cryptocurrency neglecting to take into account coins' marketcap and circulating supply, blindly throwing money at coins under $5 with inflated marketcaps and large circulating supplies, and then believing it's possible for them to reach $100 because someone posted about it on Facebook or Reddit. Compared to other cryptocurrencies, Monero still has a low marketcap, which means there is great potential for the price to multiply. At the time of writing, according to CoinMarketCap, Monero's marketcap is only a little over $5 billion, with a circulating supply of 15.6 million Monero, at a price of $322 per coin. For this reason, I would argue that this is evidence Monero is grossly undervalued. Just a few billion dollars of new money invested in Monero can cause significant price increases. Monero's marketcap only needs to increase to ~$16 billion and the price will triple to over $1000. If Monero's marketcap simply reached ~$35 billion (just over half of Ripple's $55 billion marketcap), Monero's price will increase 600% to over $2000 per coin. Another way of looking at this is Monero's marketcap only requires ~$30 billion of new investor money to see the price per Monero reach $2000, while for Ethereum to reach $2000, Ethereum's marketcap requires a whopping ~$100 billion of new investor money. Technical Analysis There are numerous Monero technical analysts, however none more eerily on point than the crowd-pleasing Ero23. Ero23's charts and analysis can be found on Trading View. Ero23 gained notoriety for his long-term Bitcoin bull chart published in February, which is still in play today. Head over to his Trading View page to see his chart: Monero's dwindling supply. $10k in 2019 scenario, in which Ero23 predicts Monero to reach $10,000 in 2019. There is also this chart which appears to be freakishly accurate and is tracking along perfectly today. Coinbase Rumours Over the past 12 months there have been ongoing rumours that Monero will be one of the next cryptocurrencies to be added to Coinbase. In January 2017, Monero Core team member Riccardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni presented a talk at Coinbase HQ. In addition, in November 2017 GDAX announced the GDAX Digit Asset Framework outlining specific parameters cryptocurrencies must meet in order to be added to the exchange. There is speculation that when Monero has numerous mobile and hardware wallets available, and multisig is working, then it will be added. This would enable public accessibility to Monero to increase dramatically as Coinbase had in excess of 13 million users as of December, and is only going to grow as demand for cryptocurrencies increases. Many users argue that due to KYC/AML regulations, Coinbase will never be able to add Monero, however the Kraken exchange already operates in the US and has XMfiat pairs, so this is unlikely to be the reason Coinbase is yet to implement XMfiat trading. Monero Is Not an ICO Scam It is likely most of the ICOs which newcomers invest in, hoping to get rich quick, won't even be in the Top 100 cryptocurrencies next year. A large portion are most likely to be pumps and dumps, and we have already seen numerous instances of ICO exit scams. Once an ICO raises millions of dollars, the developers or CEO of the company have little incentive to bother rolling out their product or service when they can just cash out and leave. The majority of people who create a company to provide a service or product, do so in order to generate wealth. Unless these developers and CEOs are committed and believed in their product or service, it's likely that the funds raised during the ICO will far exceed any revenue generated from real world use cases. Monero is a Working Currency, Today Monero is a working currency, here today. The majority of so called cryptocurrencies that exist today are not true currencies, and do not aim to be. They are a token of exchange. They are like a share in a start-up company hoping to use blockchain technology to succeed in business. A crypto-assest is a more accurate name for coins such as Ethereum, Neo, Cardano, Vechain, etc. Monero isn't just a vaporware ICO token that promises to provide a blockchain service in the future. It is not a platform for apps. It is not a pump and dump coin. Monero is the only coin with all the necessary properties to be called true money. Monero is private internet money. Some even describe Monero as an online Swiss Bank Account or Bitcoin 2.0, and it is here to continue on from Bitcoin's legacy. Monero is alleviating the public from the grips of banks, and protests the monetary system forced upon us. Monero only achieved this because it is the heart and soul, and blood, sweat, and tears of the contributors to this project. Monero supporters are passionate, and Monero has gotten to where it is today thanks to its contributors and users.
///Key Issues for Monero to Overcome///
Scalability While Bulletproofs are soon to be implemented in order to improve Monero's transaction sizes and fees, scalability is an issue for Monero that is continuously being assessed by Monero's researchers and developers to find the most appropriate solution. Ricardo 'Fluffypony' Spagni recently appeared on CNBC's Crypto Trader, and when asked whether Monero is scalable as it stands today, Spagni stated that presently, Monero's on-chain scaling is horrible and transactions are larger than Bitcoin's (because of Monero's privacy features), so side-chain scaling may be more efficient. Spagni elaborated that the Monero team is, and will always be, looking for solutions to an array of different on-chain and off-chain scaling options, such as developing a Mimblewimble side-chain, exploring the possibility of Lightning Network so atomic swaps can be performed, and Tumblebit. In a post on the Monero subreddit from roughly a month ago, monero moderator u/dEBRUYNE_1 supports Spagni's statements. dEBRUYNE_1 clarifies the issue of scalability:
"In Bitcoin, the main chain is constrained and fees are ludicrous. This results in users being pushed to second layer stuff (e.g. sidechains, lightning network). Users do not have optionality in Bitcoin. In Monero, the goal is to make the main-chain accessible to everyone by keeping fees reasonable. We want users to have optionality, i.e., let them choose whether they'd like to use the main chain or second layer stuff. We don't want to take that optionality away from them."
"Monero has all the mechanisms it needs to find the balance between transaction load, and offsetting the costs of miner infrastructure/profits, while making sure the network is useful for users. But like the interviewer said, the question is directed at "right now", and Fluffys right to a certain extent, Monero's transactions are huge, and compromises in blockchain security will help facilitate less burdensome transactional activity in the future. But to compare Monero to Bitcoin's transaction sizes is somewhat silly as Bitcoin is nowhere near as useful as monero, and utility will facilitate infrastructure building that may eventually utterly dwarf Bitcoin. And to equate scaling based on a node being run on a desktop being the only option for what classifies as "scalable" is also an incredibly narrow interpretation of the network being able to scale, or not. Given the extremely narrow definition of scaling people love to (incorrectly) use, I consider that a pretty crap question to put to Fluffy in the first place, but... ¯_(ツ)_/¯"
u/xmrusher also contributed to the discussion, comparing Bitcoin to Monero using this analogous description:
"While John is much heavier than Henry, he's still able to run faster, because, unlike Henry, he didn't chop off his own legs just so the local wheelchair manufacturer can make money. While Morono has much larger transactions then Bitcoin, it still scales better, because, unlike Bitcoin, it hasn't limited itself to a cripplingly tiny blocksize just to allow Blockstream to make money."
Setting up a wallet can still be time consuming It's time consuming and can be somewhat difficult for new cryptocurrency users to set up their own wallet using the GUI wallet or the Command Line Wallet. In order to strengthen and further decentralize the Monero network, users are encouraged to run a full node for their wallet, however this can be an issue because it can take up to 24-48 hours for some users depending on their hard-drive and internet speeds. To mitigate this issue, users can run a remote node, meaning they can remotely connect their wallet to another node in order to perform transactions, and in the meantime continue to sync the daemon so in the future they can then use their own node. For users that do run into wallet setup issues, or any other problems for that matter, there is an extremely helpful troubleshooting thread on the Monero subreddit which can be found here. And not only that, unlike some other cryptocurrency subreddits, if you ask a question, there is always a friendly community member who will happily assist you. Monero.how is a fantastic resource too! Despite still being difficult to use, the user-base and price may increase dramatically once it is easier to use. In addition, others believe that when hardware wallets are available more users will shift to Monero.
I actually still feel a little shameful for promoting Monero here, but feel a sense of duty to do so. Monero is transitioning into an unstoppable altruistic beast. This year offers the implementation of many great developments, accompanied by the likelihood of a dramatic increase in price. I request you discuss this post, point out any errors I have made, or any information I may have neglected to include. Also, if you believe in the Monero project, I encourage you to join your local Facebook or Reddit cryptocurrency group and spread the word of Monero. You could even link this post there to bring awareness to new cryptocurrency users and investors. I will leave you with an old on-going joke within the Monero community - Don't buy Monero - unless you have a use case for it of course :-) Just think to yourself though - Do I have a use case for Monero in our unpredictable Huxleyan society? Hint: The answer is ? Edit: Added in the Tail Emission section, and noted Dan Bilzerian as a Monero investor. Also added information regarding the XMR.TO payment service. Added info about hardfork
The importance of being mindful of security at all times - nearly everyone is one breach away from total disaster
This is a long one - TL;DR at the end!
If you haven't heard yet: BlankMediaGames, makers of Town of Salem, have been breached which resulted in almost 8 million accounts being leaked. For most people, the first reaction is "lol so what it's just a game, why should I really care?" and that is the wrong way to look at it. I'd like to explain why everyone should always care whenever they are part of a breach. I'd also like to talk about some ways game developers - whether they work solo or on a team - can take easy steps to help protect themselves and their customers/players. First I'd like to state that there is no practical way to achieve 100% solid security to guarantee you'll never be breached or part of a breach. The goal here will be to get as close as possible, or comfortable, so that you can rest easy knowing you can deal with problems when they occur (not if, when).
Why You Should Care About Breaches
The sad reality is most people re-use the same password everywhere. Your email account, your bank account, your steam account, your reddit account, random forums and game websites - you get the idea. If you haven't pieced it together yet the implication is that if anyone gets your one password you use everywhere, it's game over for you - they now own all of your accounts (whether or not they know it yet). Keep in mind that your email account is basically the holy grail of passwords to have. Most websites handle password changes/resets through your email; thus anyone who can login to your email account can get access to pretty much any of your accounts anywhere. Game over, you lose.
But wait, why would anyone want to use my password? I'm nobody!
It doesn't matter, the bad guys sell this information to other bad guys. Bots are used to make as much use of these passwords as possible. If they can get into your bank they might try money transfers. If they get into your Amazon account they might spin up $80,000 worth of servers to mine Bitcoin (or whatever coin is popular at the time). They don't care who you are; it's all automated. By the way, according to this post (which looks believable enough to be real) this is pretty much how they got into the BMG servers initially. They checked for usernames/emails of admins on the BMG website(s) in previous breach dumps (of which there are many) and found at least one that used the same password on other sites - for their admin account! If you want to see how many of your accounts are already breached check out Have I Been Pwned - I recommend registering all of your email addresses as well so you get notified of future breaches. This is how I found out about the Town of Salem breach, myself.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Before I go into all the steps you can (and should) take to protect yourself I should note that security is in a constant tug of war with convenience. What this means is that the more security measures you apply the more inconvenienced you become for many tasks. It's up to you to decide how much is too much either way. First of all I strongly recommend registering your email(s) on https://haveibeenpwned.com/ - this is especially important if your email address is associated to important things like AWS, Steam developer account, bank accounts, social media, etc. You want to know ASAP when an account of yours is compromised so you can take steps to prevent or undo damage. Note that the bad guys have a head start on this!
You probably need to have better password hygiene. If you don't already, you need to make sure every account you have uses a different, unique, secure password. You should change these passwords at least once a year. Depending on how many accounts you have and how good your memory is, this is your first big security vs convenience trade-off battle. That's easily solved, though, by using a password manager. You can find a list of password managers on Wikipedia here or you can search around for some comparison articles. Some notable choices to consider:
1Password - recommend by Troy Hunt, creator of Have I Been Pwned
LastPass - I use this at work and it's generally good
BitWarden - free and open source! I use this at home and in some ways it's better than LastPass
KeePass (and forks) - free, open source, and totally offline; if you don't trust "the cloud" you can trade away some more convenience in exchange for taking full responsibility of your password security (and backups)
Regardless of which one you choose, any of them is 100x better than not using one at all.
The problem with all these passwords is that someone can still use them if they are found in a breach. Your passwords are only as strong as the website you use them on. In the case of the BMG breach mentioned above - all passwords were stored in an ancient format which has been insecure for years. It's likely that every single password in the breach can be reversed/cracked, or already have been. The next step you need to take is to make it harder for someone else to login with your password. This is done using Multi-Factor Authentication (or Two-Factor Authentication). Unfortunately not every website/service supports MFA/2FA, but you should still use it on every single one that does support it. You can check which sites support MFA/2FA here or dig around in account options on any particular site. You should setup MFA/2FA on your email account ASAP! If it's not supported, you need to switch to a provider that does support it. This is more important than your bank account! All of the big email providers support it: GMail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, etc. The type of MFA/2FA you use depends on what is supported by each site/service, but there is a common approach that is compatible on many of them. Most of them involve phone apps because a phone is the most common and convenient "thing you have" that bad guys (or anyone, really) can't access easily. Time-based One-time Password or TOTP is probably the most commonly used method because it's easy to implement and can be used with many different apps. Google Authenticator was the first popular one, but it has some limitations which continue the security vs convenience battle - namely that getting a new phone is a super huge chore (no backup/restore option - you have to disable and setup each site all over again). Many alternatives support cloud backup which is really convenient, though obviously less secure by some measure. Notable choices to consider:
Authy - probably the first big/popular one after Google Authenticator came out (I think) - NOTE: They let you use it on your desktop/browser, too, but this is TOO much convenience! Don't fall for that trap.
LastPass Authenticator - conveniently links up with a LastPass account, some sites support extra features (like not needing to type a code, just answer a phone notification)
Yubikey - A real physical MFA device! Some models are compatible with phones, too.
Duo - this one is more geared towards enterprise, but they have a free option
Some sites/services use their own app, like Blizzard (battle.net) and Steam, and don't allow you to use other ones. You will probably have a few apps on your phone when all your accounts are setup, but it's worth it. You'll definitely want to enable it on your password manager as well if you chose a cloud-based one. Don't forget to save backup codes in an actual secure location! If you lose your backup codes and your auth app/physical key you will be locked out of accounts. It's really not fun recovering in that situation. Most recommendations are to print them and put in a fireproof safe, but using some other secure encrypted storage is fine. There is such a thing as bad MFA/2FA! However, anything is at least better than nothing. A lot of places still use SMS (text messaging) or e-mail for their MFA/2FA implementation. The e-mail one has the most obvious flaw: If someone gets into your email account they have defeated that security measure. The SMS flaws are less obvious and much less likely to affect you, but still a risk: SMS is trivial to intercept (capture data over the air (literally), clone your SIM card data, and some other methods). Still, if you're not a person of interest already, it's still better than nothing.
What Does This Have To Do With GameDev?
Yeah, I do know which subreddit I'm posting in! Here's the section that gets more into things specific to game development (or software development in general).
Secure Your Code
Securing your code actually has multiple meanings here: Securing access to your code, and ensuring your code itself is secure against exploitation. Let's start with access since that's the easier topic to cover! If you're not already using some form of Source Control Management (SCM) you really need to get on board! I'm not going to go in depth on that as it's a whole other topic to itself, but I'll assume you are using Git or Mercurial (hg) already and hosting it on one of these sites (or a similar one):
First, ensure that you have locked down who can access this code already. If you are using private repositories you need to make sure that the only people who have access are the people who need access (i.e. yourself and your team). Second, everyone should have strong passwords and MFA/2FA enabled on their accounts. If 1 person on the team does not follow good security practices it puts your whole project at risk! So make sure everyone on the team is following along. You can also look into tools to do some auditing and even automate it so that if anyone's account becomes less secure over time (say they turned off MFA one day) they would automatically lose their access. Additionally you should never commit secrets (passwords, API keys, tokens, social security numbers, etc) to your code repository. Probably 90% of cases where people have their AWS/Google Cloud/Azure accounts compromised and racking up huge bills for bitcoin mining is due to having their passwords/keys stored in their git repo. They either accidentally made it public or someone got access to the private repo through a compromised account. Never store sensitive information in your code repository! Next topic: Securing your code from vulnerabilities. This one is harder to talk about for game dev as most engines/frameworks are not as susceptible (for lack of a better word) to these situations as others. In a nutshell, you need to keep track of the following:
Is my code doing anything "dangerous"? (system-level stuff, memory access, saving passwords anywhere)
Could someone get the keys to the kingdom (API key, server password, etc) by just opening Cheat Engine and looking at memory values? Or doing a strings/hex edit/decompile/etc on my game executable?
Am I using outdated libraries/framework/engine? Do they have any known security bugs?
Secure Your Computer
I'm not going to go in depth on this one because at this point everyone should have a handle on this; if not there are limitless articles, blogs, and videos about the how/what/why. In summary: Keep everything updated, and don't open suspicious links.
Lock your computer when idle - use a password (or PIN or face unlock or whatever your OS uses) - no one should ever be able to walk up to your computer and use it if you're not looking, nor should they be able to get in if they grabbed your closed laptop off the table at starbucks (thanks u/3tt07kjt for reminding me of this one)
Use full disk encryption (especially on laptops)
Update your OS for security updates ASAP
Use anti-virus (yes, Windows Defender is fine) and keep it updated
Update your web browser ALWAYS (this is your 99% chance attack vector, so don't postpone it!)
Don't install browser extensions that you don't need - a LOT of extensions are either malware from the start or become malware later (my favorite emoji extension started mining bitcoins, FFS!) - check reviews regularly after extensions update
DO use adblock and privacy extensions - ads are a common attack vector - I recommend uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger at a minimum (note that some legit sites can break and so you'll have to fiddle with settings or whitelist)
Don't open suspicious or unknown links on e-mail, social media, discord, etc (be sure to hover over the links in this post before clicking them)
Don't open attachments, ever - unless you were expecting it from that person at that time
Don't fill out ANY forms (comments, login, registration, etc) on websites that don't have HTTPS (secure) connection - your browser will show this in the address bar, usually
In general, be suspicious of everything that comes from people you don't know - and even from people you do know if it was unexpected
E-Mail is (probably) the least secure form of communications ever invented - so try not to use it for sensitive things
Secure Your Website
I will have to add more to this later probably, but again there are tons of good articles, blogs, and videos on these topics. Hopefully the information in this section is enough to get you on the right track - if not feel free to ask for more info. Lots of guides can be found on Digital Ocean's site and they are relevant even if you don't use DO for your servers.
Use HTTPS (SSL/TLS) secure connections - it's FREE and EASY thanks to Let's Encrypt
KEEP EVERYTHING UPDATED - automate as much as you can
If you have control over the server, you MUST update the OS, the web server, and any backend application servers/languages/frameworks involved. Equifax breach was due to having out of date server software. BMG breach was worsened by having out of date server software. YOU MUST STAY UPDATED, ALWAYS
Don't store sensitive personal information - it's a huge pain to be PCI compliant, it's a huge fine if you mess it up - avoid storing any customer information that you don't actually need (see also: GDPR )
Do not allow access to SSH/Remote desktop/Database services from the whole world; the general public should only ever be able to reach ports 80 and 443 on your web server (and 80 should permanently redirect to HTTPS)
Use SSH keys instead of passwords on Linux servers
Don't run your own email server - it's just not worth it; use google apps for business, office 365, zoho, or something else for business email
Secure your domain registrar account! Don't lose your domain to a bad password or lack of MFA/2FA or an old email address! If your registrar doesn't support actual security then transfer to one that does. (namecheap, namesilo, google domains, amazon aws route53, even godaddy, the absolutely worst web company, has good security options)
A lot of this will apply to your game servers as well - really any kind of server you expect to setup.
That's it, for now
I ran out of steam while typing this all up after a couple hours, but I may revisit it later to add more info. Feel free to ask any questions about any of these topics and I'll do my best to answer them all.
TL;DR (y u words so much??)
Use a password manager so you can have different, random, secure passwords on every account on every website/service/game
Use MFA/2FA on every account, if possible
Lock your computer when idle/away
Use full disk encryption on laptops
Update your operating system (we all hate Windows Update, but it really is for our own good)
Use anti-virus (Windows Defender is fine)
Update your browser
Use good adblockeprivacy blocker browsers extensions
Don't use browser extensions that you don't really need (they could be a trojan horse of bitcoin mining later)
Don't trust anything sent by anyone, unless you were expecting it and know it's safe
E-mail is the least secure form of communications in use these days; don't trust it for sensitive things
Use source control for your game code (git, mercurial, etc)
Lock down access to your source code
Don't put secrets (passwords, API keys/tokens, social security numbers, credit card numbers) in your code repository
Don't do dumb things like store your AWS keys in your game for players to just find with simple tools
Check your code dependencies for security bugs, update them when needed
Use HTTPS on your website
Update your web server OS and software
Use secure password storage (don't reinvent this wheel, it's been solved by way smarter people)
Use SSH keys instead of passwords for Linux servers
Use a firewall to block the world from getting in with SSH/Remote desktop/database direct connections
Only allow your own IP address (which can change!) into the server for admin tasks
Don't run your own email server, let someone who knows what they are doing handle that for you
Secure your domain registrar account, keep email address up to date
... in general... in general... in general... I sure wrote those 2 words a lot.
Why Should I Trust This Post?
Hopefully I have provided enough information and good links in this post that you can trust the contents to be accurate (or mostly accurate). There is certainly enough information to do some searches on your own to find out how right or wrong I might be about these things. If you want my appeal to authority answer: I've been working at a major (network/computer) security company for almost 7 years as a software developer, and I've had to put up with pretty much every inconvenience brought on by security. I've also witnessed the aftermath of nearly every type of security failure covered in this post, via customers and the industry at large. None of the links I used are related to my employer or its products. Edit: Fixed some typos and added some more links More edit: added a few more points and links
Why Verge Needs DigiShield NOW! And Why DigiByte Is SAFE!
Hello everyone, I’m back! Someone asked a question recently on what exactly happened to XVG – Verge and if this could be a problem for DGB – DigiByte - Here: DigiByte vs Verge It was a great question and there have been people stating that this cannot be a problem for us because of DigiShield etc… with not much explanation after that. I was curious and did a bit more investigating to figure out what happened and why exactly it is that we are safe. So take a read.
Some Information on Verge
Verge was founded in 2014 with code based on DogeCoin, it was initially named DogeCoinDark, it later was renamed Verge XVG in 2016. Verge has 5 mining algorithms as does DigiByte. Those being:
However, unlike DigiByte those algorithms do not run side by side. On Verge one block can only be mined by a single algorithm at any time. This means that each algorithm takes turns mining the chain.
Prior to the latest fork there was not a single line of code that forced any algo rotation. They all run in parallel but of course in the end only one block can be accepted at given height which is obvious. After the fork algo rotation is forced so only 6 blocks with the same algo out of any 10 blocks can be accepted. - srgn_
Mining Verge and The Exploit
What happened then was not a 51% attack per say, but the attacker did end up mining 99% of all new blocks so in fact he did have power of over 51% of the chain. The way that Verge is mined allowed for a timestamp exploit. Every block that is mined is dependent on the previous blocks for determining the algorithm to be used (this is part of the exploit). Also, their mining difficulty is adjusted every block (which last 30 seconds also part of the exploit). Algorithms are not picked but in fact as stated previously compete with one another. As for difficulty:
Difficulty is calculated by a version of DGW which is based on timestamps of last 12 blocks mined by the same algo. - srgn_
This kind of bug is very serious and at the foundation of Verge’s codebase. In fact, in order to fix it a fork is needed, either hard fork or soft fork! What happened was that the hacker managed to change the time stamps on his blocks. He introduced a pair of false blocks. One which showed that the scrypt mining algorithm had been previously used, about 26 mins before, and then a second block which was mined with scrypt. The chain is set up so that it goes through the 5 different algorithms. So, the first false block shows the chain that the scrypt algorithm had been used in the recent past. This tricks it into thinking that the next algorithm to be used is scrypt. In this way, he was essentially able to mine 99% of all blocks.
Pairs of blocks are used to lower the difficulty but they need to be mined in certain order so they can pass the check of median timestamp of last 11 blocks which is performed in CBlock::AcceptBlock(). There is no tricking anything into thinking that the next algo should be x because there is no algo picking. They all just run and mine blocks constantly. There is only lowering the difficulty, passing the checks so the chain is valid and accepting this chain over chains mined by other algos. - segn_
Here is a snippet of code for what the time stamps on the blocks would look like:
SetBestChain: new best=00000000049c2d3329a3 height=2009406 trust=2009407 date=04/04/18 13:50:09 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=000000000a307b54dfcf height=2009407 trust=2009408 date=04/04/18 12:16:51 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=00000000196f03f5727e height=2009408 trust=2009409 date=04/04/18 13:50:10 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=0000000010b42973b6ec height=2009409 trust=2009410 date=04/04/18 12:16:52 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt) SetBestChain: new best=000000000e0655294c73 height=2009410 trust=2009411 date=04/04/18 12:16:53 ProcessBlock: ACCEPTED (scrypt)
Here’s the first falsified block that was introduced into the XVG chain – Verge-Blockchain.info As you can see there is the first fake block with a time stamp of 13:50:09 for example and the next is set to 12:15:51, the following two blocks are also a fraudulent pair and note that the next block is set to 12:16:52. So essentially, he was able to mine whole blocks - 1 second per block!
This exploit was brought to public attention by ocminer on the bitcointalk forums. It seems the person was a mining pool administrator and noticed the problem after miners on the pool started to complain about a potential bug. What happened next was that Verge developers pushed out a “fix” but in fact did not really fix the issue. What they did was simply diminish the time frame in which the blocks can be mined. The attack still was exploitable and the attacker even went on to try it again! “The background is that the "fix" promoted by the devs simply won't fix the problem. It will just make the timeframe smaller in which the blocks can be mined / spoofed and the attack will still work, just be a bit slower.” - ocminer Ocminer then cited DigiShield as a real fix to the issue! Stating that the fix should also stipulate that a single algo can only be used X amount of times and not be dependent on when the algo was last used. He even said that DigiByte and Myriad had the same problems and we fixed them! He cited this github repo for DigiByte:
It seems that the reason that this exploit was so lucrative was because the difficulty adjustment parameters were not enough to reduce the rewards the attacker recieved. Had the rewards per block adjusted at reasonable rate like we do in DGB then at least the rewards would have dropped significantly per block. The attacker was able to make off with around 60 million Verge which equals about 3.6 million dollars per today’s prices. The exploit used by the attacker depended on the fact that time stamps could be falsified firstly and secondly that the difficulty retargeting parameters were inadequate. Let’s cover how DigiShield works more in detail. One of the DigiByte devs gave us this post about 4 years ago now, and the topic deserves revisiting and updates! I had a hard time finding good new resources and information on the details of DigiShield so I hope you’ll appreciate this review! This is everything I found for now that I could understand hopefully I get more information later and I’ll update this post. Let’s go over some stuff on difficulty first then I’ll try giving you a way to visualise the way these systems work. First you have to understand that mining difficulty changes over time; it has to! Look at Bitcoin’s difficulty for example – Bitcoin difficulty over the past five months. As I covered in another post (An Introduction to DigiByte Difficulty in Bitcoin is readjusted every 2016 blocks which each last about 10 mins each. This can play out over a span of 2 weeks, and that’s why you see Bitcoin’s difficulty graph as a step graph. In general, the hash power in the network increases over time as more people want to mine Bitcoin and thus the difficulty must also increase so that rewards are proportional. The problem with non-dynamic difficulty adjustment is that it allows for pools of miners and or single entities to come into smaller coins and mine them continuously, they essentially get “free” or easily mined coins as the difficulty has not had time to adjust. This is not really a problem for Bitcoin or other large coins as they always have a lot of miners running on their chains but for smaller coins and a few years ago in crypto basically any coin other than Bitcoin was vulnerable. Once the miners had gotten their “free coins” they could then dump the chain and go mine something else – because the difficulty had adjusted. Often chains were left frozen or with very high fees and slow processing times as there was not enough hash power to mine the transactions. This was a big problem in the beginning with DigiByte and almost even killed DogeCoin. This is where our brilliant developers came in and created DigiShield (first known as MultiShield). These three articles are where most of my information came from for DigiShield I had to reread a the first one a few times to understand so please correct me if I make any mistakes! They are in order from most recent to oldest and also in order of relevance.
DigiShield is a system whereby the difficulty for mining DigiByte is adjusted dynamically. Every single block each at 15 seconds has difficulty adjusted for the available hashing power. This means that difficulty in DigiByte is as close as we can get to real time! There are other methods for adjusting difficulty, the first being the Bitcoin/Litecoin method (a moving average calculated every X number of blocks) then the Kimoto Gravity Well is another. The reason that DigiShield is so great is because the parameters are just right for the difficulty to be able to rise and fall in proportion to the amount of hash power available. Note that Verge used a difficulty adjustment protocol more similar to that of DigiByte than Bitcoin. Difficulty was adjusted every block at 30 seconds. So why was Verge vulnerable to this attack? As I stated before Verge had a bug that allowed for firstly the manipulation of time stamps, and secondly did not adjust difficulty ideally. You have to try to imagine that difficulty adjustment chases hashing power. This is because the hashing power on a chain can be seen as the “input” and the difficulty adjustment as the corresponding output. The adjustment or output created is thus dependent on the amount of hashing power input. DigiShield was designed so that increases in mining difficulty are slightly harder to result than decreases in mining difficulty. This asymmetrical approach allows for mining to be more stable on DigiByte than other coins who use a symmetrical approach. It is a very delicate balancing act which requires the right approach or else the system breaks! Either the chain may freeze if hash power increases and then dumps or mining rewards are too high because the difficulty is not set high enough! If you’ve ever taken any physics courses maybe one way you can understand DigiShield is if I were to define it as a dynamic asymmetrical oscillation dampener. What does this mean? Let’s cover it in simple terms, it’s difficult to understand and for me it was easier to visualise. Imagine something like this, click on it it’s a video: Caravan Weight Distribution – made easy. This is not a perfect analogy to what DigiShield does but I’ll explain my idea. The input (hashing power) and the output (difficulty adjustment) both result in oscillations of the mining reward. These two variables are what controls mining rewards! So that caravan shaking violently back and forth imagine those are mining rewards, the weights are the parameters used for difficulty adjustment and the man’s hand pushing on the system is the hashing power. Mining rewards move back and forth (up and down) depending on the weight distribution (difficulty adjustment parameters) and the strength of the push (the amount of hashing power input to the system). Here is a quote from the dev’s article. “The secret to DigiShield is an asymmetrical approach to difficulty re-targeting. With DigiShield, the difficulty is allowed to decrease in larger movements than it is allowed to increase from block to block. This keeps a blockchain from getting "stuck" i.e., not finding the next block for several hours following a major drop in the net hash of coin. It is all a balancing act. You need to allow the difficulty to increase enough between blocks to catch up to a sudden spike in net hash, but not enough to accidentally send the difficulty sky high when two miners get lucky and find blocks back to back.” AND to top it all off the solution to Verge’s time stamp manipulation bug is RIGHT HERE in DigiShield again! This was patched and in Digishield v3 problems #7 Here’s a direct quote: “Most DigiShield v3 implementations do not get data from the most recent blocks, but begin the averaging at the MTP, which is typically 6 blocks in the past. This is ostensibly done to prevent timestamp manipulation of the difficulty.” Moreover, DigiShield does not allow for one algorithm to mine more than 5 blocks in a row. If the next block comes in on the same algorithm then it would be blocked and would be handed off to the next algorithm. DigiShield is a beautiful delicate yet robust system designed to prevent abuse and allow stability in mining! Many coins have adopted out technology!
Verge Needs DigiShield NOW!
The attacker has been identified as IDCToken on the bitcointalk forums. He posted recently that there are two more exploits still available in Verge which would allow for similar attacks! He said this: “Can confirm it is still exploitable, will not abuse it futher myself but fix this problem immediately I'll give Verge some hours to solve this otherwise I'll make this public and another unpatchable problem.” - IDCToken DigiShield could have stopped the time stamp manipulation exploit, and stopped the attacker from getting unjust rewards! Maybe a look at Verge’s difficulty chart might give a good idea of what 1 single person was able to do to a coin worth about 1 billion dollars.
Edit - Made a few mistakes in understanding how Verge is mined I've updated the post and left the mistakes visible. Nothing else is changed and my point still stands Verge could stand to gain something from adopting DigiShield! Hi, I hope you’ve enjoyed my article! I tried to learn as much as I could on DigiShield because I thought it was an interesting question and to help put together our DGB paper! hopefully I made no mistakes and if I did please let me know. -Dereck de Mézquita I'm a student typing this stuff on my free time, help me pay for school? Thank you! D64fAFQvJMhrBUNYpqUKQjqKrMLu76j24g https://digiexplorer.info/address/D64fAFQvJMhrBUNYpqUKQjqKrMLu76j24g
Hey all! GoodShibe here! So, yesterday I started putting this thing together and WOW did you come out in droves to help! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and memories. And thank you kindly to the mods for stickying that post! In one day we reached 60% completion on a list of top 100 Memories and Achievements of Dogecoin! That's amazing! So many fantastic memories and accomplishments! Which leads me to share some developments. The title of this endeavor is now - unless someone comes up with something better: Such Memories: The First 100 Days of Dogecoin I'm going to be putting this together as a 100-ish paged commemorative book - for free in PDF, probably with some cost as a fancy, printed book (Sold as close to 'at cost' as I can get it -- slipstream- has recommended selling it at a small profit, with profits going toward charities or Dogecoin Foundation for charities, etc - thoughts?). Artists, if you've got Dogecoin-themed artwork you want to see in this, please, put forward some links to hi-res CMYK copies and I'll do my best to fit it in. Also! Let's find the funniest, best Dogecoin-related memes that we have put together so far and include them as well! :D) We're also going to need a cover. Any artists out there care to try their hand at designing a cover for this? We'll put it to the community to vote for the one they like the most, and we'll include the others in the book somewhere :D) If you're an artist who submits to the project, you'll get full credit and promotion for your site inside the book (probably in a credits section at the back). I also want to hear from the community - think up some interesting stories, maybe what got you into Dogecoin. What your fondest memories of Dogecoin are. These first 100 days have been an exciting rollercoaster of adventure... let's make that we never forget all the fun memories we've had together. If you have personal, fun pictures you'd like to share, fun, personal stories you want to see get into the book, then start working on them now, put them into the comments, keep them on hand!. Here's the list that I have right now - in no particular order: MOMENTS/ACHIEVEMENTS:
ummjackson's first 'joke' on Twitter about Dogecoin being 'the next big thing'
The original bitcointalk Dogecoin forum page
The first Dogecoin paperwallet design
Save Dogemas is put together by the community, to help out victims of the hack. (News articles?)
15 Million doge raised by the community to save dogemas
TOTAL: 100/100 Also: I was thinking we might have a pour-one-out for all the Orphans - a page dedicated to all the blocks we lost along the way... thoughts? What have I missed?! Let me know in the comments! It's 8:29AM EST and we're at 53.95% of DOGEs found. Our Global Hashrate is spiking from ~61 to ~98 Gigahashes per second and our Difficulty is down slightly from ~1024 to ~1014. Lots of fantastic things in store, let's keep this list growing! As always, I appreciate your support! GoodShibe TL;DR: 100/100!!!
Ethereum is almost certainly the number 2 coin in comedy gold. It will likely surpass Bitcoin in comedy gold long before it passes it in market cap. Thanks in large part to a spam-based marketing campaign on Reddit, it also has a dedicated base of critics. After its IPO, it was known as “Inthereum” for a while, infinitely powerful of course, as vaporware can do anything. It had a major version release, then another. Finally, a major smart contract, in terms of valuation, came along: The DAO. Not to be confused with other DAOs, before and after. The DAO was the biggest. It was going to be the best; it already was the best! Euphoria was off the charts. Until just a few months in, a bug was found. And the killer app became the flash point. What could they do? Well, hard fork and give the money back, of course! And so they did. “Code is Law”; but this is actually good for Ethereum because “[a]lthough some do question the analogy ‘code is law’. I do not. We just found out that we have a supreme court, the community!”  After the D'OH, Ethereum struggles to top its ATH comedy gold, but there is still a bright future for popcorn and comedy gold from Ethereum.
5 Largest Veins of Comedy Gold
Here are the largest comedy gold veins in Ethereum in potential reserves in our estimation in approximately descending order:
Cultlike euphoria - Now, this can certainly be said to be common to almost all cryptocurrencies. But Ethereum seems special here, even more than Bitcoin's community. There is a real belief here that this coin is going to change the world. This helps play into a "this is very good for Ethereum" mindset, wherein even the D'OH fork was a great success!
Vitalik Buterin - The best name in cryptocurrency! Young genius central to Ethereum and almost universally seen as the most important leader in the project. In our view, his endorsement and leadership during the D'OH fork led to that route being taken. That is, we believe if he had opposed it from the start, he may have been able to prevent it or at least have led to what is now called ETC being the dominant of the two.
And so in our view, Mr. Buterin runs a billion dollar cryptocurrency right now. He and his team seem to have done reasonably well so far; it seems likely they'll continue to thrive. To the best of my knowledge, confirmed on /ethereum, there hasn't been a drug market implemented in Ethereum or trading with ETH so far. But while it seems like a terrible idea, because of the lack of privacy and proven mutability of contracts, it seems like eventually there's going to be a major drug market accepting ETH just because it has such a high value. And, they point out, monero and zcoin’s core privacy feature will apparently be available on ETH after this next fork, so look forward to anonymous ETH fueling drug markets! And then the interesting question will be raised of how Chief Justice Buterin will rule on the case, whether it is worthy of an intervention or not. If not a drug market, then another buggy and hacked contract. Or a hacked exchange, and the question of whether to make it or its users whole, or "let the hacker win".
DAOs - From the beginning, it was proposed that Ethereum itself and its reserve fund would be turned into a DAO. How exactly this was going to happen would be figured out later of course. There was an initial estimate of 2016 for the transition.
Of course, in 2016, The DAO and the D'OH happened. I'm not aware of a current further push to put all of ETH's future funding into a DAO. But I'm sure the topic will resurface. And it will be hilarious on so many levels. The DAO actually collapsed too soon for peak comedy gold extraction. It had been predicted that there would be no consensus on any proposals and that nothing would be funded, and that there would be gold from that. But it was just a few months in when the bug was found. And while the D'OH fork was certainly a rich vein of comedy gold, it wasn't as rich as what the DAO could have been if it had floundered around for a year or so before the hack. Surprisingly, there's actually a running, apparently working DAO on ETH that was started even before The DAO: digixDAO. If it keeps on running, it will continue to be hilarious as other DAOs fail to learn from it. If it fails, there's all the more hilarity for Ethereum, making it the platform where anything complicated enough to look like an original use case will break. The very existence of digix is proof-of-comedy-gold.
Immutability - The whole central notion of immutability is going to be a recurring question for Ethereum after the D'OH. While there was a lot of sentiment of "just this once and never again" at the time, there will someday be another major issue, and the precedent will mean that at least a major debate among the community will be had. Ethereum is "mostly immutable". Bitcoin is far better protected here, because while it's true they've hard forked to fix a bug before, that was years ago and the community is far more fractured now. Ethereum has a demonstrated capacity to do both routine and controversial hard forks. This strength is also a challenge, as it will invite constant legal and ethical questions about when it's appropriate to modify the chain itself with a fork: that is, rolling back some or all transactions after major bugs, thefts, frauds, and so forth.
Concentration of funds - This one I'm just guessing at. Although rich lists do exist, obviously one entity like an exchange could pool funds in an address without one person owning that much, or one person could splits their coins among many accounts. But it gives a rough guide. In Bitcoin, the top 113 addresses, having more than 10,000 BTC, in total are 17.46% of the current supply [ 2 ]. And in Ethereum, it's true that the top two accounts are marked as exchange accounts [ 3 ]. Still, having lots of funds concentrated in a single exchange wallet seems to still have some potential for comedy gold. In Ethereum, the top 50 addresses have more than double the proportion of the top 113 in Bitcoin, a bit over 40% of the current supply. My guess would be there are still a lot of people who invested heavily in the initial ICO who have held onto a significant portion of their initial ETH. While some of these top addresses are exchanges, I think there are probably many individuals represented in here as well, and every one of them is a multimillionaire from this account alone.
Of course, so far, because ETH is still smaller than BTC in overall market cap, these top addresses aren't as huge as the top addresses in Bitcoin in current market value. But if ETH were to overtake BTC's current position with a relatively unchanged distribution, there would be some real comedy gold coming off this factor. Cribs could have a spin-off Ethereum series. This concentration was a part of making The D'OH what it was in my view as well: in Bitcoin, there would never have been so much of the coin tied up in one particular venture, at least not now. But in Ethereum, this concentration and groupthink can combine to hilarious effect.
A Brief History of Comedy Gold in Ethereum:
“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made” - John Godfrey Saxe In the beginning, there was an offering. The greatest coin the world had ever seen; step right up and buy it! There was even code; this is no vaporware! Sure, there was more work to be done, but the ICO would fund that work, the founders would get a little, and create a reserve for the future and the rest would be mineable. There was also some of the most vociferous objections on BCT, declaring that the stake allocated to the founders was too large, pointing to other coins which had done smaller or done without. Arguing against the reserve; arguing against having a presale at all. Some people, of course, completely failing to read the documentation accurately to see what was even being proposed. And an almost complete radio silence from this large team working around the clock on Ethereum. It took some months from when the initial ANN was made until the sale actually started, but by the time they had their sale, they had perhaps the best documentation at launch to-date. Of course, there were some areas which seemed to lack some detail, like the budgeting, but never mind that, it was finally launching! Launching the sale, at least. In July and August of 2014, Ether was first sold. It was described as “fuel” for the virtual machine they were going to build [ 4 ]. And then, a year later, Ethereum was released live. By July 2016, it had already had its first major crisis after The DAO was hacked and the D’OH fork introduced in response. But the fact that Ethereum was ever released, and that it was released so quickly, is truly incredible. There was more than one person who thought that the stated goals of Ethereum were not possible. And, of course, many initial goals and deadlines didn’t happen. But unlike the railbirds on BCT were convinced, the team did not fail nor did it run off with the money. They were given a blank check, and they actually delivered a working product which has been successful so far financially. Of course, having its flagship smart contract go belly-up quite so quickly after having finally gotten a “killer app” seems rather unfortunate. The oracle problem (the question of how to reliably relate smart contracts to the outside world) seems unresolved, but partial solutions are inevitable and can only serve to make increasingly complex and thus popcorn-loaded contracts possible. Right now, all seems relatively quiet. But rest assured, there remains plenty of euphoria and gas to drive many more cycles of comedy gold production. Ether huffers need something to throw their ETH at. The more complicated; the better! Given some of the creations that have been made in NXT, for instance, a few more years of creativity on ETH should yield some very complicated and pop-corn rich smart contracts.
I was relaxing in my office, waiting for business. It was a dingy little one-room affair, but it would serve for now. Particularly with no clients. I had poured myself a double shot, and was about to enjoy it, when suddenly the door opened. A man walked in, familiar somehow although I couldn't place him. I reached out my hand instinctively, and instead of shaking it, he handed me a dollar. "Hello?" He pointed at the sign in the window, advertising a promotional one dollar gold survey for the first client. Always astute, I quickly surmised he wished to hire me. "Of course, sir! What coin would you like?" "Ethereum." "Certainly! And may I have your name for the log?" "Tyler Durdan." And with that, my newest client left. I downed my double and poured a generous triple to follow it. This was going to be a long day. Ethereum was the ultimate prize in my line of work. The coin which proved the adage that truth is stranger than fiction; which had proved itself a lucrative source of comedy gold. And who am I? Guy Noir, private comedy gold surveyor. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Premined scamcoins crashing on noname exchanges. I watched popcorn glitter in the dark on forgotten the BCT threads. Popcorn junkies strung out on a high, and I've delivered them more comedy gold, popcorn, salt and butter. There is never enough. A dark night in a world that never sleeps and knows how to keep its secrets...But on the 12th Floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, private comedy gold surveyor. Thank you, Narrator. Now, as I was saying, Ethereum is overloaded with gold. But the core is pretty straightforward: Ethereum promised "smart contracts". Immutable. Turing-complete. This was what Bitcoin lacked. The bee's knees. Crypto 2.0. What could go wrong? We'll skip over the "Inthereum" period. Perhaps the vaporware criticism was never fair: from their version, they had Proof-of-Concept code; they went through some iterations and eventually got to release. Let's note clearly that there was plenty of time to determine some sort of official policy for what to do about a buggy or improperly written contract losing money. In Bitcoin, every hack has been a SFYL event, although it’s true that a bug in the coin itself was hard forked away before. Mt. Gox tried to blame malleability, but there was never a fork to try to recover funds. In Ethereum, immutability was often talked about. So far as I saw in skimming, “what if” scenarios to undo bugs wasn’t brought up front-and-center. Nor was immutability being debated that I saw. So Ethereum releases. A major contract is launched, The DAO, which gets an astonishing portion of ETH invested. The world's largest crowd sale as they ultimately called it. All the major players in ETH buy into it, including Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum and the best name in cryptocurrency. Just as they're starting to get into the comedy gold that The DAO doesn't really have a purpose, a bug is discovered. And just as its leader is assuring everyone that no funds are at risk, the funds start being drained out of the contract by an unknown party. And suddenly immutable means "immutable unless we screw up on the biggest contract which everyone important has invested in heavily". Ethereum ultimately hard-forks to return investor funds and basically unwind The DAO. After claiming that the bug was in the contract, the coin itself is hard forked to fix the issue. And the first Ethereum clone results, one which simply does not follow the new hard fork. So the natural question is: when can a contract be changed? In the first page of the Ethereum launch, this question was implied by asking about what would happen if there were an assassination market hosted by a smart contract on Ethereum. Of course, in reality, Ethereum is not really functional enough at present to enforce such a contract, but the question remains in case Ethereum were to actually attain a functioning smart contract platform. Attempted reference to Tears in rain monologue, credit to Rutger Hauer Guy Noir and narrator text lovingly stolen from Prairie Home Companion's Guy Noir, by Garrison B. Keillor.
Filed for psych eval Twenty pages into the BCT ANN, I believe I have contracted cancer, again. I’m reminded of why I don’t generally go on BCT. As bad as altcoin forums tend to be for their circlejerking, it’s almost better than the, well, there’s really no way to put it other than FUD that inevitably appears in response to anything. Of course, it’s not paid shilling so much as it is willful and vocal ignorance. For all the critiques in that thread, most of them are utter nonsense and simply are misreading the initial information. On the other hand, it’s January 27th in the thread by now, with February 1st and the pre-sale start, and they don’t have their “prospectus” up yet. I also haven’t seen the change in mining rate yet. Side note: eMunie; wtf? I guess I missed something? Either it’s gone through a namechange or it’s dead, because a quick coinmarketcap search didn’t find anything. A comedy gold mining project for another day. Great; spoiler alert: fundraiser delayed apparently, so even more cancer to read through in that thread on the way to getting to a prospectus! The first 44 pages of the thread was summarized thus: “I want to believe. Why are you not speaking to us? Throw me a bone. Just tell me what I want to hear, and I'll gladly throw my money in.” [ 5 ] Would that I had only had to read that quote rather than all 44 pages, and facing many more. Pages and comments dragged on as I waded through the low-grade popcorn. When would this prospectus be released, so my torment would end? Oh god: a side-thread shows that by the time they get to April, there’s still no prospectus or presale date or estimate of when there may be a date [ 6 ]. It’s time to give up on reading through the cancerous mainthread on BCT and start jumping ahead pages to find the pre-sale and prospectus. Okay, finally, in July, they release documents and start the sale [ 7 ]. Good enough. I have mountains of links on my desk. Comedy gold is overflowing, but this is a survey expedition, not a mining operation. But by the time it’s surveyed, there’s always so much gold lined up to mine it gets hard to leave it behind and leave with the samples. It’s time to hammer out some copy and close this file. Folks, we hope you’ve enjoyed this descent into madness and comedy gold brought to you by the Comedy Gold Survey Company and our patron Tyler Durden. Do you need more comedy gold in your life? Of course you do! So please donate today; every $1 helps! I’ve added a new special: $5 lets you choose the next coin to be surveyed! Thanks again to Tyler Durden, and I will now be re-watching Fight Club and questioning my sanity. Cheers y’all! Resources:
[ 6 ] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=448923.msg6438910#msg6438910 - April 28th, 2014; Ursium says “We won't issue further comments regarding the Ether Sale, until we have completely finalized the framework for it. In the meantime enjoy the free technology, people are already building apps on it, which is exciting Smiley” ; this official Q&A thread then abandoned; these guys clearly hates BCT as much as I do
[ ] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=412878.msg4497464#msg4497464 charleshoskinson, January 14th, 2014; “Current plans are for a 60 day fundraiser, starting from Miami on; however, we are still exploring this and thus will set something in stone closer to the conference.” - fundraiser launches in less than a month but date not even set yet; also “No, the rate of inflation is always decreasing and comparable with bitcoin.” and “In terms of ROI, this should be reflected with a positive ROI.” ; also “As for P2P exchange, we have a close relationship with Open Transactions and combined with a namecoin style contract provided in the whitepaper and bitmessage makes a significantly more efficient distributive exchange than is possible with BitShares. Trust is not required as auditing can be done on Ethereum blockchain and we wouldn't suffer any bloat. “
[ ] https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper - Accessed Feb 12, 2017; shows a different version of the issuance model, including the variable presale price modification and reduced future mining. But constant mining reward is still shown and fixed.
[ ] https://forum.ethereum.org/discussion/2007/whitepaper-pdf - Thread from April 2015 where Stephen Tual says changes in whitepaper were “as to how significant these were, probably not much”; “We had a hosted copy of the WP on our .org website, but that is now pointing to the github (as the pdf, by definition, was static).”
[ ] https://bitsharestalk.org/index.php/topic,1854.0.html Thread which goes into Bytemaster response to initial Ethereum proposal; points out that running something complicated like Bitshares on Ethereum would be cost prohibitive. Also predicts Ethereum becomes PoS.
[ ] https://github.com/slockit/DAO “Our Standard DAO Framework allows people to create Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) governed by the code in this repository written immutably to the blockchain.”
[ ] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=428589.msg4690140#msg4690140 - “I think this whole project will get forced underground onto the Tor network in short order because the illegal stuff will be in the blockchain instead of externalized. It will have to directly compete with bitcoin with both hands tied behind its back because it will be hard for people to even find a safe copy of the program to download. Am I to understand that you will not have a legal opinion supporting what you are doing?” - Seth Otterstad
[ ] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=428589.msg4718951#msg4718951 “We will switch our PoW from Dagger to a hybrid PoW/PoS system to be developed via a bountied competition conducted by our university partners and open to the general community for participation. The terms will be announced in late february including judges, specifications and the university partners.” - jubalix quoting some Ethereum promotional document
[ ] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=428589.msg4740396#msg4740396 “Creating the platform with new features is one thing. Competing in the real world of hype, adoption, and social marketing with Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin is a completely different beast. Especially, when every coin is based on ever changing software. The software is secondary to the marketing and socialization at this stage in the ballgame.” - DieJohnny
Bitcoin enthuthiast has a meltdown after meme accuses him of being a pedophile and of cheating others out of what would be their money. (apparently unironic)
How it actually happened: This is Ann. Ann started her career at 16 when she blew the manager (a creepy pervert who forced her into it, she #MeToos to this day) at the local grocery store so she could immediately get a position as a cashier instead of having to start off in the storeroom stacking boxes "like some Chinese slave worker". Ann, who believed in "treating" herself for her hard work, did not save any of the money she earned, instead spending it on expensive clothing, fast food, movie tickets, smartphones, and nights out with "the girls" (as she never paid while on an actual date). Her parents took care of the bills anyway, so who cares? It's okay though, because Ann was able to get financial aid from the government to attend the university of her dreams and study sociology, because "I'm, like, just so interested in how society works and how white men oppress women and are so racist and stuff, you know?" It only put her $100K in debt too. "You can't put a price on the college experience," thought Ann. Ann did no research on what degrees were in high demand before deciding on her major and sadly, "due to the patriarchy undervaluing the so-called 'soft' sciences" Ann repeated (as her women's studies professor had told her), her sociology degree did not open up as many doors for her as she'd hoped. Luckily, however, one of Ann's old beta orbiters became the CEO of a new tech startup and, after finally hooking up with him a few times (her little secret from her then boyfriends Tyrone and Jamal), she was able to snag a position as their chief diversity counselor. "Good thing that fat black bitch who tried to steal MY job was too full of fried chicken and gravy for any man to want to fuck her," she tipsily joked about the only other applicant (always forgetting to squelch her offensive quips when drunk), eliciting howling guffaws of approval from the pack of thonged, dyed-hair hyenas that surrounded her at the local bar in celebration of her new job. "Bartender, get us another round of appletinis!" Ann boomed. Cheers abounded. Life was good, Ann's salary was high, and her mortgage for an $800K home in the Bay Area was approved. Unfortunately, it was eventually revealed that her company's "enterprise cloud blockchain solutions" were actually vaporware. It lost its VC funding and was forced to shut down. Poor Ann had to leave her dream home, accept a lower paid HR assistant position at a boring non-tech company ("They make plastic water filters or something. I don't even know."), and move into a mere 3 bedroom apartment. "We're told to save," wrote Ann on a piece of paper that she posed with in an image posted to her Instagram, "but Oreos and Netflix are the only comforts poor people like us have. Don't we deserve nice things too? I AM the 99%!" Ann's looks are already starting to fade due to ravages of a rough Haagen-Dazs by day/party slut by night lifestyle, and, though she'd never admit it to herself, she can tell that her "feminine charms" aren't as effective at creating opportunities for her as they used to be. Things have started to sag that never sagged before and even a Sephora warehouse couldn't get rid of the bags under her eyes. Strolling down the sidewalk, she takes a sip of her daily Starbucks triple pumpkin dessert cocoaccino latte (only $27 and 1500 calories, and don't even think about talking to her her in the morning until she's finished it). "I guess there's just no way to escape this male-dominated society where sexist techbros live in the lap of luxury while marginalized people like me subsist on crumbs," she thinks to herself as she steps over a homeless man. Meanwhile... This is Bob. Bob was bullied by the other kids at his school (like his first crush Ann) as a child for his slightly odd-looking face. This caused him to retreat into the more anonymous world of the Internet where nobody could know his appearance. The other kids mocked him for that too, and his parents didn't understand why he'd want to "waste" his time talking to people he "didn't even know", but he ignored them. It didn't entirely cure his loneliness, but it did expose him to ideas and opinions that he would not have otherwise explored. Sure, he went through an embarrassingly self-righteous atheist phase as a teenager, but ultimately he developed into a sharp free-thinker with nuanced opinions. Bob found out about Bitcoin in 2012 from a Linux forum he was browsing. Already a firm believer in privacy, cryptography, decentralization, and technological freedom in general, the idea of Bitcoin immediately excited him. After carefully considering the economic viability of the concept, he concluded that Bitcoin's deflationary issuance curve and the possible applications of an enforceably scarce digital asset made it a worthwhile and likely quite valuable investment. He thus resolved to accrue as many of them as possible in order to save for his future. He cut down on his favorite hobby of gaming, reserving his GPU cycles for Bitcoin mining and his Steam sale money for buying Bitcoins instead. His IT job didn't make much and his one bedroom apartment wasn't cheap but he always found a way to set some money aside to expand his growing cryptoasset portfolio. His enthusiasm for Bitcoin was endless, and he wanted to share the positive potential of it with the world too, so he wrote guides, created infographics, and made YouTube videos about how to buy, use, and mine Bitcoins. Due to his efforts, thousands of people were able to get in on the craze early like him. Parents created college funds for their children. Young adults his age secured their financial futures. Impoverished folks in oppressive shitholes learned how to transfer money via their smartphones to avoid their corrupt governments confiscating it. He even endured the eye-rolling and snickering of his family members at Christmas time to make sure that they were all gifted a bit too. "Gee... thanks." The 2013 crash crushed Bob. He considered recouping as much of his money as possible and exiting the Bitcoin world permanently, but ultimately decided against it on principle. He had taken a risk and was sticking to it. He still believed in Bitcoin. Bob's bet on Bitcoin has paid off. He is now a multimillionaire, at least on paper. Other than a few donations to various organizations, his Bitcoins have stayed in the original addresses they were first put into. After all, he is still prudently considering exactly how to spend and grow his newfound wealth, and since he's now the manager of his company's IT department, his salary more than supports his modest lifestyle by itself, so he's in no rush to "cash out". While trying to chat with Ann on a whim after running into her at a grocery store, Bob mentioned Bitcoin to her in 2012. It made her finally look up from her phone. "That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of!" she shrieked. She would know too, she thought, since she's a college-educated woman, unlike Bob who had skipped college because "government subsidies have distorted the higher education market and lowered the value of a college degree" (as if using fancy words made him smart like her). Nevertheless, he persisted, offering to show her how it worked and even set up a wallet for her. Bob's Bitcoin evangelism could certainly be a bit aggressive at times, but he meant well. He would gladly send 10 or 20 dollars worth to anybody who wanted to get started. She responded that he was creeping her out and needed to buzz off before she called security. Of course she wasn't really going to waste such an effort on this harmless loser, but she just couldn't stand hearing his nasally little voice anymore. He probably just wanted to creepshot her yoga pants anyway. Briskly sauntering away, she giggled to herself: "How could a file on a computer be worth anything? I could just copy and paste as many 'BitCoins' as I want," she concluded, forgetting about the idea as soon as she had first heard of it. Plus, her company was already working "with blockchain", which its CEO had told her was the only important part of "BitCoin" anyway. "He has actual money too and not just fake Internet coins so he clearly knows more than Bob." Ann took slight notice of the 2013 bubble, but she was too busy moving into her new home then to pay much attention to it. When Bitcoin was hacked and the government shut it down (as Ann interpreted events), popping the bubble, she texted Bob: "Told ya so." There was no response. She figured he had probably already killed himself or something. Oh well! She had to get out of her sweatpants and ready for the club anyway so she didn't have time to worry about it. In fact, she didn't have a single thought about Bob again until... In 2017, Bob once again crosses Ann's mind. The network miraculously revived, one Bitcoin is now worth over 10 thousand dollars, and Bob is almost certainly loaded. She stares at her phone, thinking of how to best break the ice with him. "Hey Bob I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for some of the things I said to you in the past and how I treated you when we were kids and all. I know this is out of nowhere but I'm just kind of feeling guilty lately soo.... maybe we could meet up sometime and talk about it?? You could tell me more about those bitcoin thingies you we're so excited about back in the day haha" Again no response comes and she whips her iPhone X on to the bed in frustration. Retrieving it, she switches over to Safari to look Bob up on social media, only to find that he's dating a shy 18 year old Finnish girl he met online. "That pervert!" she gasps as she glances over the girl's milky skin and youthful face. "She is WAY too young for him! He should want an ACCOMPLISHED, MATURE woman like me, not some little girl! I bet the freak looks at child porn too!" Her fingers drip with venom as she texts one of her remaining beta orbiters. "Hey," she begins, "you know how to draw funny cartoons right" She hits send.
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