Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash

This has been one of the most controversial issues in cryptocurrency.  The Bitcoin Cash Hardfork emanates from this issue of what amounts to basically a setting in a config file.

The issue was real back then with Bitcoin only having a 1MB (megabyte) blocksize.  You would think 1MB could store a lot of transactions and this was fine until Bitcoin exploded and began to be used by millions worldwide (something not exactly expected or planned for by the original devs).  Bitcoin can only do 7 transactions per second which is way too slow and what was happening is that the entire block was already fully utilized as soon as it was mined.  It would be like your banks ATM or POS machine crashing before you could do a transaction.  In other words Bitcoin was overloaded and couldn’t keep up with the transactions that were being demanded causing slow processing that could take days to send some Bitcoin!

Some of the devs felt that this wasn’t an issue and wanted to keep things the same as Satoshi created them (with the 1MB blocksize). They felt Bitcoin was never meant to be used for payments such as a cup of coffee and that very slow transactions weren’t an issue.  They also voiced concerns that a larger blocksize would stop people from running full nodes and increase centralization since a larger blocksize requires more computing power.

The Bitcoin Cash team disagreed and did a hardfork which is essentially a copy and counterfeit of the original Bitcoin.   The only real change they made was the blocksize to 8MB which means faster and cheaper transactions than the original Bitcoin.

There were problems initially with potential reply attacks since to get this Bitcoin Cash you have to use your real Bitcoin wallet/private keys to receive it.  This meant that nefarious wallet creators could steal your coins from the real Bitcoin network if you didn’t move your original coins to another wallet first.  There is also the threat of a replay attack.  Replay attacks work on the fact that both chains are identical.  If you send a transaction on one chain, an attacker could see it and then broadcast the transaction on the other chain to their own address.

This is one big reason I don’t like hardforks aside from the confusion, scams and devaluation, it’s one more huge problem to have a reply attack.

These issues are why I believe hardforks shouldn’t be possible.  If it means the blockchain is not 100% open source and permissionless then this is acceptable.  Open Source is currently what makes most currencies vulnerable.  Let’s take it back to the secure, traditional IT methods of a secure server vs client model (where the secure server should be Bitcoin or whatever currency we are talking about).

My money is on the real Bitcoin.  Bitcoin Cash could have been interesting if they did more than just increase the blocksize and didn’t copy the blockchain.  I pick the original Bitcoin for the long run.

BitPay Accepts Bitcoin Cash

Although we have used Bitpay I didn’t realize it was available for brick and mortar physical transactions since we’ve never done any.   On that end it puzzles me how on earth anyone would ever use them?

Bitcoin can take minutes and even hours to confirm!  Can you imagine waiting at the restaurant held hostage because “your transaction is unconfirmed?”.  This is the advantage fiat processing still has.

But, really I think Bitpay should rebrand to use currencies that are actually usable for instantaneous transactions at retail or restaurant.

They should be using a currency like Ripple or Lumens which is nearly instant.  There are a few currencies that have these properties but any Bitcoin or Ethereum derivative is simply not going to cut it in my opinion.

Personally I don’t know a single person who has or would use any of these coins for payments, we all reach for the cash, debit or credit.  These are people like me, who are crypto enthusiasts but we also value convenience and what works.  And I think a lot of the cryptoworld is stuck in a dream world that simply doesn’t exist.  Now, for us in IT we and the customer can often wait over night for the transaction to be confirmed, but at a grocery store or restaurant neither the seller or customer would be impressed.

 

Bitcoin Private and Cloak Cryptocurrencies

There is a huge emphasis on privacy with a lot of new coins but I do feel that a lot of coins focus on a single issue and leave the overall business and usability aspect out.  How do these newer coins fare?

Cloak

My first impression is why doesn’t the non-www version work while the www version does?  Does their team not know how to properly configure nginx or is it just a simple mistake and oversight?

Cloakcoin.com-Forbidden-ConfigError

They call their encryption ENIGMA which I am not sure is a joke or if they aren’t aware of the ENIGMA encryption box in Germany that was compromised during WWII?  I would more so be worried that it is a read between the lines joke or a hint that the team is doing something more than they claim?  Sorry but I just can’t get over the fact that they would not know about the Enigma box from Germany that was decoded.

For my second point I do like the privacy aspects but this is where I have concerns.  On one head they tout privacy, but then to have more privacy they obfuscate transactions by using other clients wallets?  Why would you allow a third-party and random strange to process or handle any part of the transaction?  I do realize they say it is fully encrypted and obfuscated so the random third party stranger on the network shouldn’t know anything about you or your transaction, but to me it violates the principle of privacy and security.  It reminds me of how everyone believed the TOR network is a good idea and secure, but in reality whoever runs an exit node can spy on other users, including the NSA.  This architecture of Cloak makes me worried that a vulnerability could be found and that privacy could be worse than most other Bitcoin-style coins.  Even if a simple vulnerability was not found, you are essentially passing private information to random strangers on the network, the NSA or other large funded organizations could use this to spy on other users or even perhaps modify transactions and create chaos on the network.

I also find it confusing how they say it is private but you have to enable “ENIGMA” on top of “Cloak Shield” to truly make it private?

Here are the parts I’ve picked on from their website:

Alice’s Cloak wallet then automatically sends a request to the network for other Cloak wallets who have elected to become ENIGMA mixer nodes to obfuscate her transaction. All of this is done privately and securely throughout with no identities or true IP addresses revealed.

Bob has cloaking mode enabled in his wallet and the wallet generates a secure CloakShield encryption channel for communications with Alice’s wallet. Bob’s wallet sends Alice a secure connection, containing encrypted inputs and outputs to commence the transaction.

With this confirmed, Alice, with full anonymity, creates an encrypted ENIGMA transaction containing her true inputs and outputs and Bob’s cloaking (obscured) inputs and outputs. Bob and Alice both sign the ENIGMA transaction before it is submitted to the network for inclusion into a PoS block.

Going back to the concerns I have above, I really don’t like how Alice’s wallet would ever communicate with anyone other than the receiver or the Cloak network.  By introducing Bob, there is the chance that Bob could decipher and identify what Alice is doing.  Of course that’s not what should happen, but I believe it is a huge security whole to involve random third parties in confirming or obfuscating transactions.  The situation reminds me a lot of the vulnerabilities in the TOR network.  Essentially Bob is like an exit node, running transactions for Alice.  Bob shouldn’t know who Alice is or what she is doing, but what if there is an implementation error or other issue?  This could be avoided by not using any random third party.

I think Cloak does a great job but they’ve actually introduced a huge security hole by doing the random, third party, processes the transaction part.  It would be like saying “my data is encrypted so I’ll send encrypted copies to everyone”.  Sure it is encrypted but if someone can ever hack your encrypted data either through bruteforce or an algorithm/implementation error then you are done for.  The best solution is to never send private and sensitive data to an extra, third party.

I do think the Cloak project has worked hard and it has some great ideas but aside from privacy and what I believe are security holes in how they implement it, they have done a great job but it is not a coin that does everything right.

Bitcoin Private

For those who know me, I am very much against forks.  As I’ve stated before they decrease, value, lead to scams and confusion.  This can be evidenced with Bitcoin Gold regardless of who you believe was responsible.  Right off the bat Bitcoin Private is warning of scammers trying to confuse you with a warning on their website.

BitcoinPrivate-BTCP-Scam-Private-Keys

The problem with these types of coins, hardforks or what I think are really counterfeits is that you need to give up the very “private keys” of your real, valuable Bitcoin to claim the “new counterfeit coin”.  This is a huge security problem, regardless of who made the wallet what if the wallet is designed or hacked to maliciously steal your real Bitcoins?  There is no easy and secure way to claim your coins from these counterfeits.   Once you give up your private keys to Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Private they could steal your real Bitcoins.

Now there is a way around it, you could transfer your coins to another wallet but it’s a huge pain and a mistake could cost a novice user all of their Bitcoin.

Now in all fairness I appreciate this team at least has official wallets ready for download, unlike Bitcoin Cash.

Users who have the currency called “ZClassic” are also involved here, which is also another confusing fork of ZCash.

This is what I mean about all of the confusion.  It creates an environment where holders and buyers are easily confused about which is the real “Bitcoin”, which is the real ZCash.  And really, I can’t see any reason why people are forking except as a cash grab and counterfeiting spree.

For this reason I don’t trust Bitcoin Private anymore than I trust the other forks (although I trust Bitcoin Gold the least).  I personally feel there is no good reason to trust any of them.  If they want to make a new or better currency they should really just make their own, or at least copy it under a new name.  But of course forking, creates unwilling participants and owners of the new currency, while enriching and rewarding the hardforkers for their counterfeiting.

For those reason if I had to pick between the two, I think Cloak has our best interests at heart and hardforked coins are just a scam, counterfeit and cash grab by unscrupulous people.

Trezor Hardware Wallet to Support Bitcoin Cash

A maker of hardware wallets for cryptocurrency has recently confirmed they will add support for Bitcoin Cash.  I’ve also been an advocate of not using these even before the Ledger Nano hack came out.

I suspect that some will lose their currency or at least have to try to recover it based on confusion over the two.  I really think it’s a bad idea since most currencies have no built-in protection to sending into the abyss to a non-existent address of another blockchain.

 

Hardforks Are Scams Says Charlie Lee LTC Creator

Charlie has been saying exactly what I’ve been.  Hardforks are essentially scams that devalue the original coin and cause confusion.  At the same time, I’m sure he meant well but it never helped that he announced he sold all of his LTC.  It’s akin to a CEO selling all of their stock and saying “I still believe in the company”.  Granted this happened well before this scam hardfork so the hardfork is surely what caused the latest drop.

CharlieLee-LTC-Litecoin-Founder-Says-Forks-Scam-Confusing

As we can see after Litecoin Cash, the real and original Litecoin went down in value.

Charlie also correctly warns not to give your private keys to these scammers.  Whether Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Litcoin Cash and the many scam coins they require you to give your private keys to their wallets (if they even create one).  The risk there is that the developers or wallet creator will steal your original coins and this has happened already with the Bitcoin Gold Scam.

LitecoinSlide

I think exchanges should outright refuse to deal with these scam coins.

The underlying issue is simply that why are hardforks possible at all?  Counterfeiting is so easy with these opensource, public and permssionless blockchains.  To me it is a complete security and privacy flaw that was well-intentioned but simply doesn’t work.

Going forward, community maintained coins that cannot be forked, that are secure, private and are real time will be the long-term ones to invest in and the long-term winners.

Bitcoin’s Hard Fork of BCH Bitcoin Cash a milestone for cryptocurrency

The hard fork occurred on August 1st, 2017 with some nodes of the Bitcoin network implementing the “Segwit update”.  Although a lot of potential chaos could have happened, many in the industry called it correct that the most probable scenario is that the split would occur with the creation of BCH and Bitcoin users would not lose any coins and would be rewarded with an equal amount of BCH.  However, most exchanges and users were advised to backup their wallets and not do any transactions in the meantime.

Beyond this a lot of questions and issues need to be sorted out in the cryptocurrency world for things to stabilize and be universally accepted by businesses and individuals.  The key issues in my mind are “volatility”, “stability”, “security” and “regulation”. Really a serious issue with either of my three cores issues puts people and businesses at big risk although new updates and coins keep coming out with some promising the solution to these various issues.

Volatility

This is in reference to the extremely unpredictable nature of many currencies and Bitcoin is a core example with rapid swings.  Now people have often been warned that “don’t store your coins for the long-term” and this comes from the Bitcoin team itself as no one can be certain of the future of any coin at this moment.

Some have lamented that cash is the same, this is true but with the caveat that cash is backed by a government and central bank (all of who which do not really like cryptocurrency unless it is managed or under their control-more on regulations later).  Cash of course has had its issues whether run on banks, robberies, theft, fraud and other misuses of currency however cash is what most of us know and there is some safety and security in the “right cash” and at least often some predictability.

Take for example a record high of Bitcoin at the time in 2013 of approximately $1300 USD but sometime in 2015 trading was just at $267 USD.  The point here is that at this time cryptocurrency can be very volatile and unpredictable.  It can create chaos in everyday life for both business and individuals.  A risk that many businesses echo is the above scenario what if you accept payment based on USD in a cryptocurrency and the value plummets by 80% or some other high number suddenly?  It creates huge issues to say the least and time should address them but until there are more coins that have some consistency in their valuation without rapid descents there will be some reluctance.

Stability

There have been many instances on both the networks and exchanges for Bitcoin and Etherum where there are a ton of unconfirmed transactions.   I still have trouble understanding this but there are various numbers of “confirmations” before once can be comfortable they really have the currency that has been sent.  What if the network stops working or slows down creating massive fraud or inability to process transactions?

Fortunately there are new coins coming out which are instant that solve this issue but still there are many in the wild, common and highly valued that do not have these features.

There is also of course the concern that massive DDOS attacks could take out the network of a cryptocurrency or effectively shutting it down.

Security

The biggest threat is that there is the assumption that blockchain is secure and irreversible and it is impossible to play around in ways you shouldn’t.  However, this also relies on someone not finding a weakness or exploit against the blockchain, and what is more probable going forward is that an organization with massive computing power ultimately finds this and exploits this in various ways.

There are also other considerations such as people losing their coins to viruses or hackers, this has even happened to exchanges such as Coinbase executives.  One thing for sure is that it is not wise to leave your coins in an exchange if not for the risk that in the recent Bitcoin Fork the exchange refuses to give you the split/new currency.

Regulation

This is the biggest uncharted territory but governments and large financial institutions have made their position clear and my interpretation is that “we love blockchain” but “we hate that it is not under our control yet”.  This will have significant repercussions worldwide on how individuals and businesses deal with cryptocurrency.  Significant regulation and the introduction of state-run/central cryptocurrencies could potentially wipe out or make worthless some coins overnight. On another note it appears to be increasingly difficult to buy or sell out of the cryptocurrency markets with banks making it increasingly difficult for the coin exchanges to operate.

Conclusion

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have made it far beyond the naysayers and through many difficult and unpredictable times.  Ultimately I believe cryptocurrency will continue to evolve and improve but as with any tool there are always going to be some pitfalls and bottlenecks.