Can Blockchains Turn Blackhats Into Whitehats?

This morning’s Coin Sheet linked to a post on how to economically deincentivize hackers.

(If you’re interested in blockchain and its coinage, and you don’t yet get Coin Sheet from Dmitiry, you should. It’s dialed in.)

This post on hacking caught my eye because of my post yesterday on the original Bitcoin white paper, which (in the white paper itself, not my post) explains how it’s both technically difficult for dishonest nodes (or miners) to hack the blockchain, but they are also economically deincentiivized to do so.

Hackers are likely to make more money doing a great job securing and extending the Bitcoin blockchain like everyone else.

Mohit Mamoria is suggesting the same principles can work when it comes to denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

He points to a company called Gladius that is using the blockchain so that “thousands of computers across the globe can share their excess bandwidth, storage, and resources, in order to fight back against DDoS.”

And he asks essentially the same question as the Bitcoin paper addresses:

If users could earn from DDoS protection, and if it becomes more expensive for attackers to execute their botnet attacks, will it stop DDoS at its tracks eventually?

In other words, can we create blockchain systems and apps that make it technically hard and expensive to hack and create havoc and, as intriguingly, incentivize at least some of the blackhats to help strengthen the system?

(Photo source)

Defining Ethereum

How’s this for a simple definition of Ethereum in today’s New York Times:

“Ethereum is a global computing network operating according to rules defined by Ethereum software.”

Maybe that’s a little too simple.

But the article follows that up with a description giving you a better feel for it, which is “a¬†global smartphone that can be programmed to operate according to the apps built on top of it.”

If you want to jump into the deep end of the genesis of Ethereum, I highly recommend this Wired piece titled “The Uncanny Mind that Built Ethereum,” profiling its founder Vitalk Buterin.

It has a really straightforward description of the blockchain and Bitcoin, which was to remove third parties from both the creation and transfer of currency. This was accomplished by recording payments (Bitcoin) on a new type of open ledger (blockchain).

The success of the Bitcoin blockchain made it obvious to Vitalik Buterin, and others, that you could use the blockchain to facilitate transactions and complex agreegments for anything (e.g., deeds to houses).

He realized the right type of blockchain network¬†“could deliver every imaginable digital service, right out of the box,” and this idea eventually became Ethereum.

Vitalik recently spoke at Disrupt SF 2017 and this is how he described Ethereum:

Where Ethereum comes from is basically you take the idea of crypto economics and the kinds of economic incentives that keeps things like bitcoin going to create decentralized networks with memory for a whole bunch of applications.

In other words, Ethereum uses incentives in a decentralized network with shared memory to run diverse applications. Pretty simple.

(Photo: source)