Intelligent Design

Jonathan Bartlett: Is Lack of Human Trust Bitcoin’s Biggest Security Threat?

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Cryptic characters in neon, a password or curse word

Get a load of this story, as Bartlett tells it:

In a previous article, I noted that Bitcoin’s security features actually work against the users, rather than for them. The “anonymizing” features don’t actually make you anonymous unless you are already a super-geek. And the fact that transactions can’t be overridden by a third party actually winds up benefitting the criminals more than the users.

This week, it has been reported that there is a Bitcoin exchange with $190 million dollars worth of assets which are no longer accessible by the users.

What happened? Were they misspent? Misinvested? Laundered? Stolen?

Nope. None of the above.

In some ways, it’s worse than that: Gerald Cotton, founder of Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, reportedly died of Crohn disease in India December 9, 2018, taking the secret password to a reported $190 million with him to the grave, according to his widow Jennifer Robertson …

In fact, if the reports are true, the $190 million hasn’t moved at all. And it never will. The problem is that they can’t unlock the wallet that contains the assets without the deceased’s password. More.

Some think it’s a scam. Anyhow, intelligent trust is a uniquely human thing. Maybe it can’t be imported to an environment run by machines.

Jonathan Bartlett

Jonathan Bartlett is the Research and Education Director of the Blyth Institute. See also: Also by Jonathan Bartlett on cryptocurrencies: How Bitcoin works: The social value of trust

Is bitcoin safe? Why the human side of security is critical

Also: How do bitcoins work anyway?

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