Everyone knows that when you give your assets to someone else, they always keep them safe. If this is true for individuals, it is certainly true for businesses.
Custodians always tell the truth and manage funds properly. They won't have any interest in taking the assets as an exchange operator would. Auditors tell the truth and can't be misled. That's because organizations that are regulated are incapable of lying and don't make mistakes.
First, some background. Here is a summary of how custodians make us more secure:
Previously, we might give Alice our crypto assets to hold. There were risks:
- Alice might take the assets and disappear.
- Alice might spend the assets and pretend that she still has them (fractional model).
- Alice might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
- Alice might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
- Alice might lose access to the assets.
But "no worries", Alice has a custodian named Bob. Bob is dressed in a nice suit. He knows some politicians. And he drives a Porsche. "So you have nothing to worry about!". And look at all the benefits we get:
- Alice can't take the assets and disappear (unless she asks Bob or never gives them to Bob).
- Alice can't spend the assets and pretend that she still has them. (Unless she didn't give them to Bob or asks him for them.)
- Alice can't store the assets insecurely so they get stolen. (After all - she doesn't have any control over the withdrawal process from any of Bob's systems, right?)
- Alice can't give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force. (Bob will stop her, right Bob?)
- Alice can't lose access to the funds. (She'll always be present, sane, and remember all secrets, right?)
See - all problems are solved! All we have to worry about now is:
- Bob might take the assets and disappear.
- Bob might spend the assets and pretend that he still has them (fractional model).
- Bob might store the assets insecurely and they'll get stolen.
- Bob might give the assets to someone else by mistake or by force.
- Bob might lose access to the assets.
It's pretty simple. Before we had to trust Alice. Now we only have to trust Alice, Bob, and all the ways in which they communicate. Just think of how much more secure we are!
"On top of that", Bob assures us, "we're using a special wallet structure". Bob shows Alice a diagram. "We've broken the balance up and store it in lots of smaller wallets. That way", he assures her, "a thief can't take it all at once". And he points to a historic case where a large sum was taken "because it was stored in a single wallet... how stupid".
"Very early on, we used to have all the crypto in one wallet", he said, "and then one Christmas a hacker came and took it all. We call him the Grinch. Now we individually wrap each crypto and stick it under a binary search tree. The Grinch has never been back since."
"As well", Bob continues, "even if someone were to get in, we've got insurance. It covers all thefts and even coercion, collusion, and misplaced keys - only subject to the policy terms and conditions." And with that, he pulls out a phone-book sized contract and slams it on the desk with a thud. "Yep", he continues, "we're paying top dollar for one of the best policies in the country!"
"Can I read it?' Alice asks. "Sure," Bob says, "just as soon as our legal team is done with it. They're almost through the first chapter." He pauses, then continues. "And can you believe that sales guy Mike? He has the same year Porsche as me. I mean, what are the odds?"
"Do you use multi-sig?", Alice asks. "Absolutely!" Bob replies. "All our engineers are fully trained in multi-sig. Whenever we want to set up a new wallet, we generate 2 separate keys in an air-gapped process and store them in this proprietary system here. Look, it even requires the biometric signature from one of our team members to initiate any withdrawal." He demonstrates by pressing his thumb into the display. "We use a third-party cloud validation API to match the thumbprint and authorize each withdrawal. The keys are also backed up daily to an off-site third-party."
"Wow that's really impressive," Alice says, "but what if we need access for a withdrawal outside of office hours?" "Well that's no issue", Bob says, "just send us an email, call, or text message and we always have someone on staff to help out. Just another part of our strong commitment to all our customers!"
"What about Proof of Reserve?", Alice asks. "Of course", Bob replies, "though rather than publish any blockchain addresses or signed transaction, for privacy we just do a SHA256 refactoring of the inverse hash modulus for each UTXO nonce and combine the smart contract coefficient consensus in our hyperledger lightning node. But it's really simple to use." He pushes a button and a large green checkmark appears on a screen. "See - the algorithm ran through and reserves are proven."
"Wow", Alice says, "you really know your stuff! And that is easy to use! What about fiat balances?" "Yeah, we have an auditor too", Bob replies, "Been using him for a long time so we have quite a strong relationship going! We have special books we give him every year and he's very efficient! Checks the fiat, crypto, and everything all at once!"
"We used to have a nice offline multi-sig setup we've been using without issue for the past 5 years, but I think we'll move all our funds over to your facility," Alice says. "Awesome", Bob replies, "Thanks so much! This is perfect timing too - my Porsche got a dent on it this morning. We have the paperwork right over here." "Great!", Alice replies.
And with that, Alice gets out her pen and Bob gets the contract. "Don't worry", he says, "you can take your crypto-assets back anytime you like - just subject to our cancellation policy. Our annual management fees are also super low and we don't adjust them often".
How many holes have to exist for your funds to get stolen? Just one.
Why are we taking a powerful offline multi-sig setup, widely used globally in hundreds of different/lacking regulatory environments with 0 breaches to date, and circumventing it by a demonstrably weak third party layer? And paying a great expense to do so?
If you go through the list of breaches in the past 2 years to highly credible organizations
, you go through the list of major corporate frauds (only the ones we know about)
, you go through the list of all the times platforms have lost funds
, you go through the list of times and ways that people have lost their crypto from identity theft, hot wallet exploits, extortion, etc... and then you go through this custodian with a fine-tooth comb and truly believe they have value to add far beyond what you could, sticking your funds in a wallet (or set of wallets) they control exclusively is the absolute worst possible way to take advantage of that security.
The best way to add security for crypto-assets is to make a stronger multi-sig. With one custodian, what you are doing is giving them your cryptocurrency and hoping they're honest, competent, and flawlessly secure. It's no different than storing it on a really secure exchange. Maybe the insurance will cover you. Didn't work for Bitpay in 2015. Didn't work for Yapizon in 2017. Insurance has never paid a claim in the entire history of cryptocurrency. But maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe your exact scenario will buck the trend and be what they're willing to cover. After the large deductible and hopefully without a long and expensive court battle.
And you want to advertise this increase in risk, the lapse of judgement, an accident waiting to happen, as though it's some kind of benefit to customers ("Free institutional-grade storage for your digital assets.")? And then some people are writing to the OSC that custodians should be mandatory for all funds on every exchange platform? That this somehow will make Canadians as a whole more secure or better protected compared with standard air-gapped multi-sig? On what planet?
Most of the problems in Canada stemmed from one thing - a lack of transparency. If Canadians had known what a joke Quadriga was - it wouldn't have grown to lose $400m from hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. And Gerald Cotten would be in jail, not wherever he is now (at best, rotting peacefully). EZ-BTC and mister Dave Smilie would have been a tiny little scam to his friends, not a multi-million dollar fraud. Einstein would have got their act together or been shut down BEFORE losing millions and millions more in people's funds generously donated to criminals. MapleChange wouldn't have even been a thing. And maybe we'd know a little more about CoinTradeNewNote - like how much was lost in there. Almost all of the major losses with cryptocurrency exchanges involve deception with unbacked funds.
So it's great to see transparency reports from BitBuy and ShakePay where someone independently verified the backing. The only thing we don't have is:
- ANY CERTAINTY BALANCES WEREN'T EXCLUDED. Quadriga's largest account was $70m. 80% of funds are in 20% of accounts (Pareto principle). All it takes is excluding a few really large accounts - and nobody's the wiser. A fractional platform can easily pass any audit this way.
- ANY VISIBILITY WHATSOEVER INTO THE CUSTODIANS. BitBuy put out their report before moving all the funds to their custodian and ShakePay apparently can't even tell us who the custodian is. That's pretty important considering that basically all of the funds are now stored there.
- ANY IDEA ABOUT THE OTHER EXCHANGES. In order for this to be effective, it has to be the norm. It needs to be "unusual" not to know. If obscurity is the norm, then it's super easy for people like Gerald Cotten and Dave Smilie to blend right in.
It's not complicated to validate cryptocurrency assets. They need to exist, they need to be spendable, and they need to cover the total balances. There are plenty of credible people and firms across the country that have the capacity to reasonably perform this validation. Having more frequent checks by different, independent, parties who publish transparent reports is far more valuable than an annual check by a single "more credible/official" party who does the exact same basic checks and may or may not publish anything. Here's an example set of requirements that could be mandated:
- First report within 1 month of launching, another within 3 months, and further reports at minimum every 6 months thereafter.
- No auditor can be repeated within a 12 month period.
- All reports must be public, identifying the auditor and the full methodology used.
- All auditors must be independent of the firm being audited with no conflict of interest.
- Reports must include the percentage of each asset backed, and how it's backed.
- The auditor publishes a hash list, which lists a hash of each customer's information and balances that were included. Hash is one-way encryption so privacy is fully preserved. Every customer can use this to have 100% confidence they were included.
- If we want more extensive requirements on audits, these should scale upward based on the total assets at risk on the platform, and whether the platform has loaned their assets out.
There are ways to structure audits such that neither crypto assets nor customer information are ever put at risk, and both can still be properly validated and publicly verifiable. There are also ways to structure audits such that they are completely reasonable for small platforms and don't inhibit innovation in any way. By making the process as reasonable as possible, we can completely eliminate any reason/excuse that an honest platform would have for not being audited. That is arguable far more important than any incremental improvement we might get from mandating "the best of the best" accountants. Right now we have nothing mandated and tons of Canadians using offshore exchanges with no oversight whatsoever.
Transparency does not prove crypto assets are safe. CoinTradeNewNote, Flexcoin ($600k), and Canadian Bitcoins ($100k) are examples where crypto-assets were breached from platforms in Canada. All of them were online wallets and used no multi-sig as far as any records show. This is consistent with what we see globally - air-gapped multi-sig wallets have an impeccable record, while other schemes tend to suffer breach after breach. We don't actually know how much CoinTrader lost because there was no visibility. Rather than publishing details of what happened, the co-founder of CoinTrader silently moved on to found another platform - the "most trusted way to buy and sell crypto" - a site that has no information whatsoever (that I could find) on the storage practices and a FAQ advising that “[t]rading cryptocurrency is completely safe” and that having your own wallet is “entirely up to you! You can certainly keep cryptocurrency, or fiat, or both, on the app.” Doesn't sound like much was learned here, which is really sad to see.
It's not that complicated or unreasonable to set up a proper hardware wallet. Multi-sig can be learned in a single course. Something the equivalent complexity of a driver's license test could prevent all the cold storage exploits we've seen to date - even globally. Platform operators have a key advantage in detecting and preventing fraud - they know their customers far better than any custodian ever would. The best job that custodians can do is to find high integrity individuals and train them to form even better wallet signatories. Rather than mandating that all platforms expose themselves to arbitrary third party risks, regulations should center around ensuring that all signatories are background-checked, properly trained, and using proper procedures. We also need to make sure that signatories are empowered with rights and responsibilities to reject and report fraud. They need to know that they can safely challenge and delay a transaction - even if it turns out they made a mistake. We need to have an environment where mistakes are brought to the surface and dealt with. Not one where firms and people feel the need to hide what happened. In addition to a knowledge-based test, an auditor can privately interview each signatory to make sure they're not in coercive situations, and we should make sure they can freely and anonymously report any issues without threat of retaliation.
A proper multi-sig has each signature held by a separate person and is governed by policies and mutual decisions instead of a hierarchy. It includes at least one redundant signature. For best results, 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.
History has demonstrated over and over again the risk of hot wallets even to highly credible organizations. Nonetheless, many platforms have hot wallets for convenience. While such losses are generally compensated by platforms without issue (for example Poloniex, Bitstamp, Bitfinex, Gatecoin, Coincheck, Bithumb, Zaif, CoinBene, Binance, Bitrue, Bitpoint, Upbit, VinDAX, and now KuCoin), the public tends to focus more on cases that didn't end well. Regardless of what systems are employed, there is always some level of risk. For that reason, most members of the public would prefer to see third party insurance.
Rather than trying to convince third party profit-seekers to provide comprehensive insurance and then relying on an expensive and slow legal system to enforce against whatever legal loopholes they manage to find each and every time something goes wrong, insurance could be run through multiple exchange operators and regulators, with the shared interest of having a reputable industry, keeping costs down, and taking care of Canadians. For example, a 4 of 7 multi-sig insurance fund held between 5 independent exchange operators and 2 regulatory bodies. All Canadian exchanges could pay premiums at a set rate based on their needed coverage, with a higher price paid for hot wallet coverage (anything not an air-gapped multi-sig cold wallet). Such a model would be much cheaper to manage, offer better coverage, and be much more reliable to payout when needed. The kind of coverage you could have under this model is unheard of. You could even create something like the CDIC to protect Canadians who get their trading accounts hacked if they can sufficiently prove the loss is legitimate. In cases of fraud, gross negligence, or insolvency, the fund can be used to pay affected users directly (utilizing the last transparent balance report in the worst case), something which private insurance would never touch. While it's recommended to have official policies for coverage, a model where members vote would fully cover edge cases. (Could be similar to the Supreme Court where justices vote based on case law.)
Such a model could fully protect all Canadians across all platforms. You can have a fiat coverage governed by legal agreements, and crypto-asset coverage governed by both multi-sig and legal agreements. It could be practical, affordable, and inclusive.
Now, we are at a crossroads. We can happily give up our freedom, our innovation, and our money. We can pay hefty expenses to auditors, lawyers, and regulators year after year (and make no mistake - this cost will grow to many millions or even billions as the industry grows - and it will be borne by all Canadians on every platform because platforms are not going to eat up these costs at a loss). We can make it nearly impossible for any new platform to enter the marketplace, forcing Canadians to use the same stagnant platforms year after year. We can centralize and consolidate the entire industry into 2 or 3 big players and have everyone else fail (possibly to heavy losses of users of those platforms). And when a flawed security model doesn't work and gets breached, we can make it even more complicated with even more people in suits making big money doing the job that blockchain was supposed to do in the first place. We can build a system which is so intertwined and dependent on big government, traditional finance, and central bankers that it's future depends entirely on that of the fiat system, of fractional banking, and of government bail-outs. If we choose this path, as history has shown us over and over again, we can not go back, save for revolution. Our children and grandchildren will still be paying the consequences of what we decided today.
Or, we can find solutions that work. We can maintain an open and innovative environment while making the adjustments we need to make to fully protect Canadian investors and cryptocurrency users, giving easy and affordable access to cryptocurrency for all Canadians on the platform of their choice, and creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and problem solvers can bring those solutions forward easily. None of the above precludes innovation in any way, or adds any unreasonable cost - and these three policies would demonstrably eliminate or resolve all 109 historic cases as studied here
- that's every single case researched so far going back to 2011. It includes every loss that was studied so far not just in Canada but globally as well.
Unfortunately, finding answers is the least challenging part. Far more challenging is to get platform operators and regulators to agree on anything. My last post
got no response whatsoever, and while the OSC has told me they're happy for industry feedback, I believe my opinion alone is fairly meaningless. This takes the whole community working together to solve. So please let me know your thoughts. Please take the time to upvote and share this with people. Please - let's get this solved and not leave it up to other people to do.
Facts/background/sources (skip if you like):
- The inspiration for the paragraph about splitting wallets was an actual quote from a Canadian company providing custodial services in response to the OSC consultation paper: "We believe that it will be in the in best interests of investors to prohibit pooled crypto assets or ‘floats’. Most Platforms pool assets, citing reasons of practicality and expense. The recent hack of the world’s largest Platform – Binance – demonstrates the vulnerability of participants’ assets when such concessions are made. In this instance, the Platform’s entire hot wallet of Bitcoins, worth over $40 million, was stolen, facilitated in part by the pooling of client crypto assets." "the maintenance of participants (and Platform) crypto assets across multiple wallets distributes the related risk and responsibility of security - reducing the amount of insurance coverage required and making insurance coverage more readily obtainable". For the record, their reply also said nothing whatsoever about multi-sig or offline storage.
- In addition to the fact that the $40m hack represented only one "hot wallet" of Binance, and they actually had the vast majority of assets in other wallets (including mostly cold wallets), multiple real cases have clearly demonstrated that risk is still present with multiple wallets. Bitfinex, VinDAX, Bithumb, Altsbit, BitPoint, Cryptopia, and just recently KuCoin all had multiple wallets breached all at the same time, and may represent a significantly larger impact on customers than the Binance breach which was fully covered by Binance. To represent that simply having multiple separate wallets under the same security scheme is a comprehensive way to reduce risk is just not true.
- Private insurance has historically never covered a single loss in the cryptocurrency space (at least, not one that I was able to find), and there are notable cases where massive losses were not covered by insurance. Bitpay in 2015 and Yapizon in 2017 both had insurance policies that didn't pay out during the breach, even after a lengthly court process. The same insurance that ShakePay is presently using (and announced to much fanfare) was describe by their CEO himself as covering “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held,” which is something that has never historically happened. As was said with regard to the same policy in 2018 - “I don’t find it surprising that Lloyd’s is in this space,” said Johnson, adding that to his mind the challenge for everybody is figuring out how to structure these policies so that they are actually protective. “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
- The most profitable policy for a private insurance company is one with the most expensive premiums that they never have to pay a claim on. They have no inherent incentive to take care of people who lost funds. It's "cheaper" to take the reputational hit and fight the claim in court. The more money at stake, the more the insurance provider is incentivized to avoid payout. They're not going to insure the assets unless they have reasonable certainty to make a profit by doing so, and they're not going to pay out a massive sum unless it's legally forced. Private insurance is always structured to be maximally profitable to the insurance provider.
- The circumvention of multi-sig was a key factor in the massive Bitfinex hack of over $60m of bitcoin, which today still sits being slowly used and is worth over $3b. While Bitfinex used a qualified custodian Bitgo, which was and still is active and one of the industry leaders of custodians, and they set up 2 of 3 multi-sig wallets, the entire system was routed through Bitfinex, such that Bitfinex customers could initiate the withdrawals in a "hot" fashion. This feature was also a hit with the hacker. The multi-sig was fully circumvented.
- Bitpay in 2015 was another example of a breach that stole 5,000 bitcoins. This happened not through the exploit of any system in Bitpay, but because the CEO of a company they worked with got their computer hacked and the hackers were able to request multiple bitcoin purchases, which Bitpay honoured because they came from the customer's computer legitimately. Impersonation is a very common tactic used by fraudsters, and methods get more extreme all the time.
- A notable case in Canada was the Canadian Bitcoins exploit. Funds were stored on a server in a Rogers Data Center, and the attendee was successfully convinced to reboot the server "in safe mode" with a simple phone call, thus bypassing the extensive security and enabling the theft.
- Over $200m has been stolen impersonating users of cryptocurrency platforms by one group alone. Here's a list of 10 social engineering attacks against corporate companies. Here's an even larger case. While verification methods are improving, so are methods of identity theft and social engineering. We now have sim swapping and deep fake videos to contend with. Hackers have massive database sets of personal information they can utilize. As the sums at stake increase, so to will the level of effort criminals are willing to undertake. Obscurity for an insecure system will only postpone an attack until the "jackpot" is large enough.
- The very nature of custodians circumvents multi-sig. This is because custodians are not just having to secure the assets against some sort of physical breach but against any form of social engineering, modification of orders, fraudulent withdrawal attempts, etc... If the security practices of signatories in a multi-sig arrangement are such that the breach risk of one signatory is 1 in 100, the requirement of 3 independent signatures makes the risk of theft 1 in 1,000,000. Since hackers tend to exploit the weakest link, a comparable custodian has to make the entry and exit points of their platform 10,000 times more secure than one of those signatories to provide equivalent protection. And if the signatories beef up their security by only 10x, the risk is now 1 in 1,000,000,000. The custodian has to be 1,000,000 times more secure. The larger and more complex a system is, the more potential vulnerabilities exist in it, and the fewer people can understand how the system works when performing upgrades. Even if a system is completely secure today, one has to also consider how that system might evolve over time or work with different members.
- By contrast, offline multi-signature solutions have an extremely solid record, and in the entire history of cryptocurrency exchange incidents which I've studied (listed here), there has only been one incident (796 exchange in 2015) involving an offline multi-signature wallet. It happened because the customer's bitcoin address was modified by hackers, and the amount that was stolen ($230k) was immediately covered by the exchange operators. Basically, the platform operators were tricked into sending a legitimate withdrawal request to the wrong address because hackers exploited their platform to change that address. Such an issue would not be prevented in any way by the use of a custodian, as that custodian has no oversight whatsoever to the exchange platform. It's practical for all exchange operators to test large withdrawal transactions as a general policy, regardless of what model is used, and general best practice is to diagnose and fix such an exploit as soon as it occurs.
- False promises on the backing of funds played a huge role in the downfall of Quadriga, and it's been exposed over and over again (MyCoin, PlusToken, Bitsane, Bitmarket, EZBTC, IDAX). Even today, customers have extremely limited certainty on whether their funds in exchanges are actually being backed or how they're being backed. While this issue is not unique to cryptocurrency exchanges, the complexity of the technology and the lack of any regulation or standards makes problems more widespread, and there is no "central bank" to come to the rescue as in the 2008 financial crisis or during the great depression when "9,000 banks failed".
- In addition to fraudulent operations, the industry is full of cases where operators have suffered breaches and not reported them. Most recently, Einstein was the largest case in Canada, where ongoing breaches and fraud were perpetrated against the platform for multiple years and nobody found out until the platform collapsed completely. While fraud and breaches suck to deal with, they suck even more when not dealt with. Lack of visibility played a role in the largest downfalls of Mt. Gox, Cryptsy, and Bitgrail. In some cases, platforms are alleged to have suffered a hack and keep operating without admitting it at all, such as CoinBene.
- It surprises some to learn that a cryptographic solution has already existed since 2013, and gained widespread support in 2014 after Mt. Gox. Proof of Reserves is a full cryptographic proof that allows any customer using an exchange to have complete certainty that their crypto-assets are fully backed by the platform in real-time. This is accomplished by proving that assets exist on the blockchain, are spendable, and fully cover customer deposits. It does not prove safety of assets or backing of fiat assets.
- If we didn't care about privacy at all, a platform could publish their wallet addresses, sign a partial transaction, and put the full list of customer information and balances out publicly. Customers can each check that they are on the list, that the balances are accurate, that the total adds up, and that it's backed and spendable on the blockchain. Platforms who exclude any customer take a risk because that customer can easily check and see they were excluded. So together with all customers checking, this forms a full proof of backing of all crypto assets.
- However, obviously customers care about their private information being published. Therefore, a hash of the information can be provided instead. Hash is one-way encryption. The hash allows the customer to validate inclusion (by hashing their own known information), while anyone looking at the list of hashes cannot determine the private information of any other user. All other parts of the scheme remain fully intact. A model like this is in use on the exchange CoinFloor in the UK.
- A Merkle tree can provide even greater privacy. Instead of a list of balances, the balances are arranged into a binary tree. A customer starts from their node, and works their way to the top of the tree. For example, they know they have 5 BTC, they plus 1 other customer hold 7 BTC, they plus 2-3 other customers hold 17 BTC, etc... until they reach the root where all the BTC are represented. Thus, there is no way to find the balances of other individual customers aside from one unidentified customer in this case.
- Proposals such as this had the backing of leaders in the community including Nic Carter, Greg Maxwell, and Zak Wilcox. Substantial and significant effort started back in 2013, with massive popularity in 2014. But what became of that effort? Very little. Exchange operators continue to refuse to give visibility. Despite the fact this information can often be obtained through trivial blockchain analysis, no Canadian platform has ever provided any wallet addresses publicly. As described by the CEO of Newton "For us to implement some kind of realtime Proof of Reserves solution, which I'm not opposed to, it would have to ... Preserve our users' privacy, as well as our own. Some kind of zero-knowledge proof". Kraken describes here in more detail why they haven't implemented such a scheme. According to professor Eli Ben-Sasson, when he spoke with exchanges, none were interested in implementing Proof of Reserves.
- And yet, Kraken's places their reasoning on a page called "Proof of Reserves". More recently, both BitBuy and ShakePay have released reports titled "Proof of Reserves and Security Audit". Both reports contain disclaimers against being audits. Both reports trust the customer list provided by the platform, leaving the open possibility that multiple large accounts could have been excluded from the process. Proof of Reserves is a blockchain validation where customers see the wallets on the blockchain. The report from Kraken is 5 years old, but they leave it described as though it was just done a few weeks ago. And look at what they expect customers to do for validation. When firms represent something being "Proof of Reserve" when it's not, this is like a farmer growing fruit with pesticides and selling it in a farmers market as organic produce - except that these are people's hard-earned life savings at risk here. Platforms are misrepresenting the level of visibility in place and deceiving the public by their misuse of this term. They haven't proven anything.
- Fraud isn't a problem that is unique to cryptocurrency. Fraud happens all the time. Enron, WorldCom, Nortel, Bear Stearns, Wells Fargo, Moser Baer, Wirecard, Bre-X, and Nicola are just some of the cases where frauds became large enough to become a big deal (and there are so many countless others). These all happened on 100% reversible assets despite regulations being in place. In many of these cases, the problems happened due to the over-complexity of the financial instruments. For example, Enron had "complex financial statements [which] were confusing to shareholders and analysts", creating "off-balance-sheet vehicles, complex financing structures, and deals so bewildering that few people could understand them". In cryptocurrency, we are often combining complex financial products with complex technologies and verification processes. We are naïve if we think problems like this won't happen. It is awkward and uncomfortable for many people to admit that they don't know how something works. If we want "money of the people" to work, the solutions have to be simple enough that "the people" can understand them, not so confusing that financial professionals and technology experts struggle to use or understand them.
- For those who question the extent to which an organization can fool their way into a security consultancy role, HB Gary should be a great example to look at. Prior to trying to out anonymous, HB Gary was being actively hired by multiple US government agencies and others in the private sector (with glowing testimonials). The published articles and hosted professional security conferences. One should also look at this list of data breaches from the past 2 years. Many of them are large corporations, government entities, and technology companies. These are the ones we know about. Undoubtedly, there are many more that we do not know about. If HB Gary hadn't been "outted" by anonymous, would we have known they were insecure? If the same breach had happened outside of the public spotlight, would it even have been reported? Or would HB Gary have just deleted the Twitter posts, brought their site back up, done a couple patches, and kept on operating as though nothing had happened?
- In the case of Quadriga, the facts are clear. Despite past experience with platforms such as MapleChange in Canada and others around the world, no guidance or even the most basic of a framework was put in place by regulators. By not clarifying any sort of legal framework, regulators enabled a situation where a platform could be run by former criminal Mike Dhanini/Omar Patryn, and where funds could be held fully unchecked by one person. At the same time, the lack of regulation deterred legitimate entities from running competing platforms and Quadriga was granted a money services business license for multiple years of operation, which gave the firm the appearance of legitimacy. Regulators did little to protect Canadians despite Quadriga failing to file taxes from 2016 onward. The entire administrative team had resigned and this was public knowledge. Many people had suspicions of what was going on, including Ryan Mueller, who forwarded complaints to the authorities. These were ignored, giving Gerald Cotten the opportunity to escape without justice.
- There are multiple issues with the SOC II model including the prohibitive cost (you have to find a third party accounting firm and the prices are not even listed publicly on any sites), the requirement of operating for a year (impossible for new platforms), and lack of any public visibility (SOC II are private reports that aren't shared outside the people in suits).
- Securities frameworks are expensive. Sarbanes-Oxley is estimated to cost $5.1 million USD/yr for the average Fortune 500 company in the United States. Since "Fortune 500" represents the top 500 companies, that means well over $2.55 billion USD (~$3.4 billion CAD) is going to people in suits. Isn't the problem of trust and verification the exact problem that the blockchain is supposed to solve?
- To use Quadriga as justification for why custodians or SOC II or other advanced schemes are needed for platforms is rather silly, when any framework or visibility at all, or even the most basic of storage policies, would have prevented the whole thing. It's just an embarrassment.
- We are now seeing regulators take strong action. CoinSquare in Canada with multi-million dollar fines. BitMex from the US, criminal charges and arrests. OkEx, with full disregard of withdrawals and no communication. Who's next?
- We have a unique window today where we can solve these problems, and not permanently destroy innovation with unreasonable expectations, but we need to act quickly. This is a unique historic time that will never come again.
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. However, as this article
explains, you won’t notice much of a difference unless the AMP library is served using the AMP cache, but more on that later. The controversies with cached AMP pages
The AMP format is itself not much of a problem. In fact, we should applaud search engines that give ranking preference to fast-loading pages like AMP, but four aspects of its implementation are flawed:
- Google mobile Search’s Top Stories carousel has a premium position above of all other results, which is only accessible for AMP pages. These pages have to use a technology that was build and maintained mostly by Google (of the top 10 contributors to the AMP project on GitHub, 9 are Google employees), are then served by Google from their infrastructure and placed within a Google controlled user experience. And since this carousel generates a lot of clicks and revenue, publishers are left no choice but to embrace AMP. This has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web. Fortunately, Google has announced that it's working on opening up the Top Stories carousel to non-AMP pages in 2021.
- The biggest performance boost doesn’t come from the AMP framework, but from preloading the page. It begs the question: Should preloading really be exclusive to AMP? They could introduce a way for publishers to allow or disallow preloading and if Google sees fit, they could preload those pages too, alongside AMP.
- When a user navigates from Google to a piece of content Google has recommended (or when a user clicks on a shared cached AMP link), they are, unwittingly, remaining within Google’s ecosystem and the publisher’s domain is obscured by the google.com/amp prefix. To work around this Google introduced Signed HTTP Exchanges ([Draft], , ), a web-standard that allows the browser to display the original site's URL, instead of the actual one (the one with the google.com/prefix). This would solve the original issue, but while doing so it introduced new ones (e.g. it obfuscates the fact that they're delivering the AMP page you're visiting). Interestingly enough, Google's Chrome already has support for this technology, but parties not involved with AMP are not so enthusiastic: Mozilla has deemed it a harmful web standard , and Apple has taken a similar stance.
- Google’s entire business model is about collecting as much personal data as possible, AMP is just another tool to do so. As described in Google’s Support article:
“When you use the Google AMP Viewer, Google and the publisher that made the AMP page may each collect data about you.” The controversies with non-cached AMP pages
To be clear, the above flaws are only with AMP pages cached by Google (or another party like Bing or Cloudflare) but there are also plenty of pages simply utilizing the AMP framework, recognized by URLs such as bbc.com/news/amp
/. However, these are also problematic
, mainly because there's only a small performance improvement when AMP pages aren't cached
and AMP pages tend to be less feature-rich and less diverse than their originals. And in some edge cases, it breaks stuff.
One could argue that the more popular the AMP framework becomes, the more AMP threatens the open web. That said, it should be clear that the biggest problem lies with the cached AMP pages. AMP is open source, but that doesn't make it holy.
Or as Ferdy Christant puts it quite nicely in his blog
Google’s main defense is that AMP is open source. Which isn’t just a weak defense, it’s no defense at all. I can open source a plan for genocide. The term “open source” is meaningless if the thing that is open source is harmful.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not claiming Google or the AMP project is evil (hell, they might even have good intentions!), but the fact is that AMP and it's implementation have some major flaws that threaten the Open Web. And as long as that's the case, AmputatorBot will be there to remove AMP from your URLs. AmputatorBot scans for AMP pages on Reddit and replies with the canonical version Learn more Up next for the nerds among us:
- Automatic working subreddits
- Non-working subreddits
- Opt-out & opt-back-in
- Browser extension
- Support the project by donating, giving feedback, summoning the bot or spreading the word
AmputatorBot.com Remove AMP in just one click with www.AmputatorBot.com
! This is a free online tool (no ads) to remove AMP from your URLs. All you have to do is to copy paste an AMP URL, click the conversion-button and that's all! For more (background) info, check out this post
. Here's a quick (no but literally) demo: A demo of the AMP-removal process over at AmputatorBot.com Alternatively, you can do it even quicker by doing this:
It's build up like this:
https://amputatorbot.com + /? + https://www.google.com/amp/s/electrek.co/2018/06/19/tesla-model-3-assembly-line-inside-tent-elon-musk/amp/
Automatic working subreddits u/amputatorbot
currently works automatically in a select number of subreddits: Afghanistan
Feel free to hit me up
with suggestions for subreddits to add! You can summon the bot almost everywhere else by typing: u/AmputatorBot
, more info here.
AmputatorBot doesn't work in these subreddits android
and almost all subreddits moderated by u/BotDefense
for diverse reasons. When you summon the bot there, you'll receive a DM with the canonical URL instead.p
If you're moderating a subreddit that is incorrectly listed here or if you would like AmputatorBot to work in your subreddit that's using u/BotDefense
please contact me
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. Latest update: 22/08/2020
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Check out this browser-extension by Daniel Aleksandersen: 'Redirect AMP to HTML
', it makes it that every time you click an AMP page, you will be redirected to the canonical page instead. In other words, it does the the same as u/AmputatorBot
, but fully automatic. I can't recommend this one enough!
Support the project .. By summoning the bot
: If you've spotted an AMP URL on Reddit and u/AmputatorBot
seems absent, you can summon the bot by mentioning u/AmputatorBot
in a reply to the comment or submission containing the AMP URL. You'll receive a confirmation through PM. For more details, check out this post
! .. By giving feedback
: Most of the new features were made after suggestions from you guys, so hit me up if you have any feedback! You can contact me on Reddit, fill an issue
or make a pull request
. .. By sponsoring
: The bot and website cost approximately €8.26 a month to host and while that might not seem like much, it adds up. All donations will be used ONLY to pay for hosting. You can specify any amount you want, but please keep in mind that I only want to try to cover some of the costs. Thank you so much! - https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=EU6ZFKTVT9VH2 .. By spreading the word
: In the end, the only goal of AmputatorBot is to allow people to have an informed choice. You can help by spreading the word in whatever way you deem the most appropriate.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for the tremendous support you've given me and AmputatorBot <3
The Matrix has you…
The cultural overview over "The Matrix Trilogy" and how it foresaw the social trends.
"The Matrix" trilogy by the Wachowski brothers is the most iconic and groundbreaking movie trilogies in cinema history. Terms like "The red pill", "Dessert of the real", "There is no spoon", "Follow the white rabbit", "Why, Mr. Anderson? Why?" and many other phrases from the film became the golden quotes of the new millennium, shaping the entire culture of the "generation Y"… also known as "the millennials". "The bullet time" effect with fancy acrobatic moves and bullet waves turned into the most quoted gimmick for decades in action films, parodies and video games. The slow motion has never been so cool and slick, as it was after "The Matrix", not to mention sunglasses at night and dark looks
with fashionable black leather tailored coats.
Its been 21 years since the theatrical release of the first "The Matrix" film. It came out in November of 1999 (the most revolutionary year in cinema history, since it is the release year of such groundbreaking hit titles like "Star Wars: Episode I. The Phantom Menace" by George Lucas, "Fight Club" by David Fincher, and "The Matrix", of course, by the Wachowski brothers). Four years after the great success of the film, "The Matrix" was reloaded with two worthy sequels: "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions" — turning a movie franchise into a full-time trilogy. There was also "The Animatrix" — an anthology of animated short films set in "The Matrix Universe" directed by highly acclaimed Japanese animators, and a video-game "Enter the Matrix" which told a story that went parallel to the story of sequels, explaining some of the unanswered questions in the films. Thus "The Matrix" franchise has become one of the first inter-media franchises where all available storytelling formats told one epic story from different angles and points of view. And unlike other attempts of creating such inter-media franchise around movies (like it was with "Star Wars Expended Universe" or "The Terminator" franchise) it wasn't just pure merchandising and cash-grabbing schemes with questionable product quality having a famous brand logo on it… no, '"The Matrix" franchise was one well thought out project and story from the very beginning, created and curated by the Wachowski brothers. Nothing more or less.
In the year of 2020 "The Matrix" is being reloaded once again with its new instalment being in production. Internet is filled with shaky mobile phone behind the scenes footage of "The Matrix 4". We see Neo, played by actor Keanu Reeves and his stunt double, jumping of high buildings and riding fancy motorcycle with Trinity, played by Carrie Ann-Moss, while the streets of San-Francisco are being turned into a chaotic war zone with explosions, car chases, extras running all over the streets and helicopters flying.
Usually such big blockbuster film productions are being held in secret in order to prevent unnecessary leaks and story spoilers… most of the extras and crew members don't even know what movie they are filming up until the very end. During such big productions fake movie titles are made. But this time, as it seams, filmmakers don't really care about production secrecy, as actor Keanu Reeves and film director Lana Wachowski keep on hanging out with random people on a street during the filmmaking process. What is it? A new viral social media format of film advertising? Or the new way of entire filmmaking approach? Or maybe both?
Either way — Lana Wachowski is the visionary artist that is going to bring something fresh and unexpected into the cinema format and into the new "Generation Z" culture. The Wachowski brothers have foreseen the future with "The Matrix" film almost in every way possible… and I'm pretty sure they are going to do so again. They spoke of cyber-crimes, data privacy and internet control long before Edward Snowden incident, WikiLeaks, Anonymous group, social medias and etc. They showed aircraft controlled by so called "terrorists" hitting skyscrapers years before 9/11. "The Matrix" also tried to warn us about the dangers of virtual realities, and here we are 20 years later using VR systems and spending our lives in endless MMO RPG games (by the way, "The Matrix" franchise even had its own MMO RPG video game "The Matrix Online"). The virtual values have become much more valuable that the material ones. Bitcoins and Facebook likes are considered to be much more precious then real money and even gold by many. Instagram pages are viewed as the only true portraits of their users, however bright filters, happy faces, flattering camera lenses and photoshop have nothing to do with reality. It is merely a "Residual self-image", as it was named in the film, "A mental projection of your digital self". The person sees himself whom he wants him to be, not whom he really is.
And I think that this topic is the most overlooked topic by critics and contemporary culture scholars.
Just think about it — the Wachowski brothers are the physical manifestation of their own concept of "Residual self-image", as both of them saw themselves as someone different. Both brothers were men, but they considered themselves to be women. Their physical reality didn't match with their mental projection of virtual self. Thus they had to do surgeries and go through sex change procedures. The Wachowski brothers are officially sisters. Nowadays in 2020 it is a common practice that can't surprise anyone, however in 1990s during the production of the first "The Matrix" film it was a big deal… so big that Wachowski brothers had to rewrite the screenplay. In the earlier drafts of the script there was a fully flashed out transgender character. She is still present in the final film, but her role and concept has been reduced. Character Switch — portrayed by Belinda McClory — was a transgender, and her name "Switch" meant too illustrate her constant transitions from one form into another, as she was a female in the real world, but in the Matrix her personal "Residual self-image" switched her into a masculine male. For Wachowski brothers it was a very important topic to explore, since both of them dedicated their lives to transgender worldview, but in 1990's the film studio and producers thought that such concepts would be too confusing for average film viewers and difficult to follow, thus it was all cut out during pre-production. Even their first film "Bound" that featured lesbian love story was met with numerous misunderstandings during pre-production, during its filming and, of course, during its release, since such themes were considered too risky… almost taboo, as they could easily put off many unprepared audiences.
But now… look how the world and culture has changed?! In 21 years everything is upside down. It is almost impossible to find a big blockbuster film or franchise or T.V. series or even a video-game that has no lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, pansexual or any other "something"-sexual character. It is true for both "rated R" and "rated M" media and for media oriented for children. Disney's life adaptation of animated classic "Beauty and the Beast" is the prime example… not to mention more.
I must say that unorthodox sexual orientation of characters were always present in cinema, they were never the subject of prohibition and never will be, however before "Wachowski era" their orientation always played some sort of narrative purpose. No character was supposed to be gay or transexual just for that sake of being such. But nowadays we see LGBT characters all over visual media… and the fact of their orientation rarely enhance the story or add anything to it. For the most part it is just being there for no reason other then being there. No wonder we have so many poorly written stories today. "Chekhov's gun" is the key to good storytelling, isn't it? If you put something into a story, it must heave a purpose, because without purpose it's just a filler, a white noise… this means it shouldn't be there at all. And here I'd like to quote Agent Smith from "The Matrix" films:
"But, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving…" — even here Wachowski brothers point out the previous "Residual self-image" topic. "…which brings me back to the reason why we're here. We're not here because we're free. We're here because we're not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist."
Curious… Wachowski brothers were pioneers in LGBT mass-media, yet even they were smart enough to exclude these themes from "The Matrix trilogy", even having a total creative freedom over the sequels, as they knew that it would serve no purpose in their story. Yet they used much more sophisticated tricks to pinpoint their agenda and worldview. Get ready for some hard drugs! Wachowski brothers urged the protagonist and film viewers to take "The red pill" and "Free our minds". They also urged us to fight against all rules and stereotypes, and young generation loved it. In the film it simply meant "rage against the machines", but in our world where this film was "The red pill" for young people, this fight against the established order had much deeper purpose.
Upon the quick view on the lives of the Wachowski brothers over these two decades we can tell that their "red pill" they were giving us, was simply a androgyne hormone for transgenders and their main "Matrix" they were fighting against, was the sexual orientation stereotypes. They succeeded in their revolution, as LGBT themes are no longer taboo in mass-media. But there were also other important cultural topics Wachowski brothers presented with their trilogy: multiculturalism, racial diversity, feminism and even "toxic masculinity" and war against white men and patriarchy… long before these themes became mainstream in pop-culture.
"The Matrix" franchise had always a diverse cast, didn't it? It also has strong and independent female characters right from the start. And it wasn't just a copycat trend to appeal some social minorities, as it happens today. It was the personal philosophy of the authors. However, despite all their diversity and equality, one social group was shown deliberately one-sided. Just think about it. All evil characters in all three films were male and white. Agents are white middle aged men, Cypher — white middle aged man, Merovingian — white middle aged man, Architect — white man, Bane — white middle aged man, etc. Some can argue on this topic, since white men where also on the side of good guys. True, "but, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving…" says Smith. All white men on the good side of the story are… well, questionable. Whom can we name? Councillor Hamann — played by Anthony Zerbe — is a white man… a father figure in Zion, however he is shown to be an irrational and rhetorical weak old man. Comparing him to other leaders of Zion we can easily see his incompetence. Even Neo makes fun of him, pointing out on a fact that Hamann's solid age doesn't make him wiser (and it is the only time in the whole trilogy when the main protagonist ever trolls anyone). Then there is the Kid — played by Clayton Watson — another white man good guy, but he is just an immature naive boy… in "The Animatrix" he in the moment of danger finds no better way out then a suicide… a very questionable role model, don't you think? Who's next? Mouse — portrayed by Matt Doran — once again a young teenager full of sexual hormones and nothing more. There is also Captain Roland — played by David Roberts — and his ship crew, but a single black woman Niobe — played by Jada Pinkett Smith — turns out to be wiser and much more competent then any of them. Meanwhile all non-white and non-male characters are shown in the positive light. Wait… but what about Neo — the one himself — played by Keanu Reeves — he is a white man — the hero of the trilogy. True. However originally "The Matrix" creators wanted to cast Will Smith for the role of Neo, but Will Smith declined the role and chose to act in "Wild Wild West".
In other words Wachowski brothers brought up anti-white men SJW themes in their films long before such topics became mainstream and part of pop-culture. Thus they weren't even noticed by the time of film release. But it is worth mentioning that Wachowski brothers were depicting anti-white men subplots not because they were following some kind of fashion or social agenda like mass-media does today, but because brothers WERE white and men, and they wanted to do something about it. And they did. For real.
However next generation of filmmakers and artists took the Wachowski brothers' personal issues and turned it into a viral trend, changing the culture forever. It can be even said that the modern SJW and LGBT hysteria is the Matrix, created by Wachowski brothers. I wonder, will their new "The Matrix" film change the world once again?.. and how?
Text: Jurii Kirnev Omnifinery Editorial: Article 003
Still, the Bitcoin Wiki unconvincingly address the issue by asserting that Bitcoin is “No more so [harmful for ecology] than the wastefulness of mining gold out of the ground, melting it down and shaping it into bars, and then putting it back underground again. Not to mention the building of big fancy buildings, the waste of energy printing and minting all the various fiat currencies, the ... The Bitcoin network was launched in 2009 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, a developer who worked extensively on the project but only interacted with people on developer forums. At the end of 2010, Nakamoto disappeared from view, announcing his departure and handing off the project to the open source community. No one knows his (or her) true identity, but what is known is Nakamoto's wealth ... Bitcoin Weaknesses. So if Bitcoin is so great, why isn’t everyone using it? Well, obviously, it has some drawbacks too, especially at the current time. Possible Government Interference. Any time something new comes around and challenges the status quo, the government is going to get involved to make sure that things remain the way they are supposed to be. The fact is that the US government ... Bitcoin weaknesses: crippling slow transactions and accessibility loss. Bitcoin transactions aren’t as fast as they were a few years ago. This is one of the downsides of Blockchain: the more people use it, the more Blockchain limits your transactions speeds. Basically, the blocks get bigger the more it’s in use. Making the whole process clunky and slow. Until this problem is resolved, it ... The 15 weaknesses of Bitcoin and what is being done about it. January 7, 2014 4 Comments Michel Bauwens read. Excerpted from Jem Bendell: “My view on this field of currency innovation is that new innovations need to effectively address some of the limitations of the bitcoin system. There are many benefits from bitcoin as an innovation in payment technology. The ability for people to maintain ...
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