Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet
Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots. A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC). Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea. When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust. However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:
Is Bitcoin money?
No. Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves: 1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own. As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get. You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there? 2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile. If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point: 3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away. For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast. On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad. One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy. If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due. Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.
BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in
Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense. Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run. See here Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well. Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money. Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand. Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control. It's also a national security risk... The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca. He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade. This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.
Currencies are based on trust
Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged? The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president. People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all. It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board. For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government." The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.
BTC is not gold
Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value. How do we know that? Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan. Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well. Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties: First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment. Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials. Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans. It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods. To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that. On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.
BTC is really risky
One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds. But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.
Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient
Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science. That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale. The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
A complete list of everything our PMC has to do in Tarkov
Have you ever wondered the insane amount of suffering our PMC has to endure to complete every quest in the game and have the Hideout maxed out? Well, wonder no longer, because I've done the math. Disclaimer: Long post ahead. I've used guides, data and analysis by other content creators, like Pestily, Europino and Questalace, as well as the all-mighty Tarkov Wiki to make this list. The resulting data should reflect the almost-perfect 100% Tarkov Speedrun starting with a Standard Account at the end of 12.7. I don't know if this has been done before, so cut me some slack for any inconsistencies, as I did this for fun. Killing: The PMCs character arc will take our poor USECs and BEARs from battle-tested veterans to blood-thirsty killing machines the likes of Atila, with an indescribable amount of mental and physical trauma. This is all on the traders, who force us to commit genocide just to gain a standing with them. Here is the ranking:
Mechanic: He just wants to farm bitcoins and assemble weapons in peace. He is responsible for the lowest bodycount of all the traders, at 0 Scavs and 12 PMCs /12 total
Therapist: In a OSHA-violating effort to overwork the hospital's mortician, this twisted practitioner will make us take the lives of 45 Scavs and 0 PMCs /45 total
Skier: Turns out the most notorious mobster of the Tarkov underworld isn't as bad as we all imagined. His quests will grant him a seat at the Hague, nontheless, after ordering the execution of 20 Scavs and 40 PMCs /60 total
Peacekeeper: There is no better way of keeping peace than eliminating all the warring factions I guess. This war criminal will taint the UNTAR reputation for decades, after demanding the scalps of 75 Scavs and 0 PMCs /75 total
Ragman: This American-psycho wannabe deserves life without parole at Russia's most dangerous prison. 125 Scavs and 0 PMCs weight on his conscience / 125 total
Jaeger: It seems the Huntsman Path leads to a mass grave. This old man wants organic compost for his garden, so he demands the corpses of 116 Scavs and 32 PMCs to be laid on his doorstep / 148 total
Prapor: The Russian military hasn't had such a prolific enemy combatant-squanching commander since Georgy Zhukov. 107 Scavs and 82 PMCs. Dozens upon dozens of unmarked graves will litter the wasteland of Tarkov / 189 total
This totals to a staggering 488 Scavs and 166 PMCs.654 mothers will mourn the deaths of their sons, as you long surpass Simo Häyhä as the most effective soldier in recorded history. Use, place, find in raid or deliver: Apart from sustaining irreparable psychological damage as the bringer of so much death, your PMC is also expected to retrieve a back-breaking amount of loot for his Hideout and the 7 Traders of the Apocalypse. From life-saving devices to mere cigarettes, your PMC will have to.
Deliver 12 special items (the bronze pocket watch, gilded zibbo lighter...)
Deliver 27 secure cases, books, letters and the likes
Place 71 GPS markers, WIFI cameras, Jammers and Multitools
Find 47 different locations
Collect 66 medical or food items
Collect 49 clothing items and armor pieces
Deliver 55 weapons
Deliver 21 dogtags
Deliver and Collect a truckload of loose loot, with an ever-expanding shopping list of 652 items
Pay 13,867,000 roubles, 27,500 dollars and 215,000 euros of full-on extortion
Skills: After all this Devil wears Prada reenactment, your PMC is faced with a Sisyphus-like destiny. You need to improve your skills until you get to Health level 9, Stress Resistance level 6, Sniper level 9, Memory level 8, Searching level 9, Charisma level 10, Vitality level 5, Endurance level 2, Attention level 3, Metabolism level 3 and Strength level 2. Some of this skills improve others, so let's start by the independent ones and asume you can completely avoid the deminishing returns mechanic.
Metabolism: You can gain around 3 skill points for a complete dehydration-hydration cycle: 100-0-100. The fastest way to achieve this is to gulp down 20 full jars of mayonnaise, that would be 10Kg of mayo, followed by 20 litres of water.
Sniper: To please your quest-giving overlords, your PMC will have to topload over 4,500 rounds on a sniper rifle. That would be over 100kg of LPS Gzh ammo, at a 401k-destroying price of 1,280,00 roubles in the flea market.
Memory, Search, Charisma and Attention: This 4 skills improve at the same time, by searching bodies and looting containers. As far as I know, you can actively get points in all of them except for Memory, that derives the XP points from the other 3. Long story short, with an average of 0.1 skill points per object found and looted, and 550 total points to get, your PMC will have to loot everything that is not bolted to the floor, ransack and leave stripped clean over 5.500 containers and bodies. A one-man locust plague.
Endurance: You gain XP for sprinting while not-overencumbered. Based on the data I checked, you need to run for roughly 30km. Usain Bolt ran at 44km/h, so let's asume our battle-hardened PMC can run at a 30km/h max for the sake of simplicity. That means an hour of non-stop full-sprint.
Stress Resistance: The fastest way to increase this skill is by receiving damage, and the most consistent way of receiving damage is by placing yourself over a fire, like the ones on Shoreline. At roughly 3 skill points every 30 seconds of flame-induced agony, and a goal of 210 points, you will need to withstand this torture for 34 minutes like a rotisserie chicken. Nothing will stress you after that!
Strength: The most common way of leveling this skill is by walking while overweight. With 0.1 skill points every 23 seconds, with no FP-100 filter and 50kg of shotgun shells in your backpack, this would take 1:55 hours of non-stop walking. Asuming the normal human walks at a 5km/h pace, that means our PMC has to walk the knee-shattering distance of 10km while carrying around 60% of their bodyweight.
Vitality: The most horrendous of them all. To increase vitality you need to suffer, scream and bleed. The most viable way to increase your Vitality is by crawling through barbed wire. This atrocity of a device makes around 10 damage per second. You level 1 point for every 100 points of damage taken. As we are aiming to get 150 points of XP, we will need to fillet ourselves for 1,500 seconds. That's 25 minutes of torture. At a crawling speed of 2km/h, that means our PMC will have to drag his balls over more than 800 meters of barbed wire.
Health: The 3 previous skills give 25% of their XP to this one, so by leveling all of them to their respective threshold, we would be sitting at around 50 Health skill points. As throwing 10 grenades gives us 0.5 skill points, and we are aiming for 500 skill points, we would need to throw over 10,000 nades. That's 76,000,000 roubles in Zarya stun grenades alone.
And that's it. You want to escape Tarkov? Pay the toll! Edit: Some pesky typos Edit 2: Fixed the results of the Vitality skill, thanks to Erkeric for the correction
There have been many recent posts about the blackmail email scam, so I have written this post and will keep it stickied until the posts about the scam die down. Blackmail email scams have that name because they started as an email spam campaign, however there have also been reports of these scams being sent via SMS and physical mail. If you are reading this because you have received one of these emails and you are worried, you can stop worrying. The blackmail email scam is a spam campaign that is sent out to thousands of addresses at a time. The threats are lies and you do not have anything to worry about. In many cases, the emails will contain some sort of privileged information about you such as your name, part or all of your phone number, and your password.The emails may also look like they were sent from your own email address. The data is gathered from data breaches, and if the email looks like it came from your account that is due to email spoofing. You can use the service Have I Been Pwned? to see if you are in any publicly known data breaches. If you receive an email that contains a password that you currently use, you should immediately change that. Current recommended password guidelines say that you should use a different, complex password for every account. You can generate and save passwords using a password manager for convenience. You should also be using two factor authentication using an app like Google Authenticator instead of receiving codes through SMS. Here are some news articles about this scam. Here is a story from Brian Krebs, and here is a story from the New York Times. Below are a few examples, but if you receive an email that is similar but not the same as the examples you see, that does not matter and does not mean that the email is real. The spammers constantly switch up their templates in order to bypass spam filters, so it's normal to receive an email that hasn't yet been posted online.
Hey, some time ago your computer was infected with my private malware, RAT (Remote Administration Tool). I know at the time of infection your passwords was: xxxxxxxxxxx My malware gave me full access to all your accounts, contacts and it also was possible to spy on you over your webcam. Sometimes when I was bored I was spying on you, then once you started to SATISFYING YOURSELF! At first I didn't knew how to react as I was shocked, then I decided to record you, I checked on google and found the software: Bandicam and it did the job. After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces and this email was sent from some hacked account. I can send the video of you to all your friends, contacts and publish it on social networks and the whole web. You can stop me and only I can help you out in this situation. Pay exactly 740$ in Bitcoin (BTC). It's easy to buy Bitcoin (BTC), for example here: https://paxful.com/buy-bitcoin , https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/ , https://www.kraken.com/ , or google another exchanger. My Bitcoin (BTC) wallet is: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Yes that's how the wallet looks like, copy and paste it, it's (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE) I give you 3 days time to pay. As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read, so the time is running. After receiving the payment, I will remove the video and you can life your live in peace like before. Learn from the mistake and update your browser before browsing the web next time! I know XXXX is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1004. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1GohL1jDz8BapZhohN2Xry6AKPq6PiJrjw [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. I know xxxxxxxxxxxx is one of your password on day of hack.. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1013. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1KzA7GYSyvXCmPpojZ4qTbZGmjjbbSfwBg [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Lets get directly to the point. Not one person has paid me to check about you. You do not know me and you're probably thinking why you are getting this email? in fact, i actually placed a malware on the adult vids (adult porn) website and you know what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your browser started out operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and web cam. immediately after that, my malware obtained every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, as well as email account. after that i created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your cam, and its you. Best solution would be to pay me $1002. We are going to refer to it as a donation. in this situation, i most certainly will without delay remove your video. My -BTC -address: 1JXvEapcRCvywymcrYZ1rcCfLfNZKri4LP [case SeNSiTiVe, copy & paste it] You could go on your life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back again from me. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). if you are planning on going to the law, surely, this e-mail can not be traced back to me, because it's hacked too. I have taken care of my actions. i am not looking to ask you for a lot, i simply want to be paid. if i do not receive the bitcoin;, i definitely will send out your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i do get paid, i will destroy the recording immediately. If you need proof, reply with Yeah then i will send out your video recording to your 8 friends. it's a nonnegotiable offer and thus please don't waste mine time & yours by replying to this message. Hello! I'm the software engineer who hacked into your device's OS. I've been observing you for months now. The thing is, you've been infected with malware through the adult website you visited. In case you're not familiar with it, I'll explain. The Trojan infection gives me full access and control over your computer or any other device on your local. It means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on my camera and microphone, but you do not know about it. I also have access to all your contacts, social networking data and all your correspondence. Why didn't your antivirus detect any malware? A: My malware uses a driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours to keep your antivirus silent. I have made a video showing how you satisfy yourself on the left side of the screen, and on the right side you see the video you have been watching. With one click, I can send this video to all your contacts in the email and social networks. I can also publish access to all your emails and messaging apps that you use. If you want to prevent this, at that point: Transfer $400(USD) to my bitcoin wallet (if you do not know how to do it, then type in to Google: "Purchase a bitcoin"). My Bitcoin Wallet:1EGBGBptS9yKNPYYU9qUEoPNLptee8CEq9 After getting the payment, I will destroy the video and you won't hear from me again. I will provide you 50 hours (more than two days) to pay. I have a notice that you read this email and the timer started you opened it. Don't attempt to answer me. It doesn't make any sense (the sender's address is generated by random). Filing a complaint somewhere doesn't make sense, because this email cannot be tracked, and neither can my bitcoin address. I don't make mistakes. If I find that you shared this message with someone else, the video will be distributed immediately. Good luck with that. And here are some common keywords used in the email so that this thread can be found by people Googling the email: "Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, .br, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material""Marlware, international hacker group, No person has compensated, very own video clip, software on the adult, porno sitio, one of your pass word, specific pixel, sexual content web portal, a malware on the adult, a malware on the, double-screen, is a reasonable price tag for our little secret, you have a good taste lmao, I placed a malware on the adult vids, your browser began operating as a RDP, had been abusing yourself in front of computer display, you are one of those people that downloaded the malicious, I made a split-screen video, While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as, malware on the porn website and guess what, an unique pixel, you jerked off while watching an online video, When you pressed the play button the virus begins saving all the things thru, ja.scr, My malicious soft started your front cam, and also send the video link to all of yourfriends, I infected your gadget with a malware and now, AnywaysI downloaded all contacts, my program quickly got into your system, To a time where you jerk off watching","For the present moment I have at my disposal all, When you arouse sexually watching porno, In such a way all needed compromising material and contact, All information to yours SNSs user accounts, You watched sexual content portal and toss","Hello! WannaCry is back! All your, in front of the screen browsing adult stuff, As you flog the dummy watching, U are going to be offered 5 days after checking this notice, RAT 68006, the damnific malware, pastime and entertainment there, not my single victim, beat the dummy, buff the muffin, choke a chicken, front camera capturing video, with you frigging, with you chaturbating, with you masturbating, web digicam, U are going to have 5 dayss, i utilize just hacked wi, pressured this trojan to, glue a pair of videos, glue two videos, the RAT, if you want me to destroy this whole video, downloaded all contacts from your computer, your list of contacts or relatives will, I made a video that shows how you masturbate, hacked you through a virus in an ad on a porn website, my illiteracy, nоt mind on my illiterаcy, I рilfered all рrivy bаckground, videоtaре with yоur masturbаtion, my delеtеrious soft, cаmеra shооt the videоtaрe, you sеlf-аbusing, Differently I will send the video to all your colleagues and friends, your front-camera made the videotape with you self-abusing, RAT 98390 malware, the minute you went to one adult page, information to contact info I discovered on your devices and remember there is a lot of these, not including Double VPN As a result, I forced my malware to hook up to a mic, web camera and catch the video from it, poisoned a number of adult sites, video clip to fit on a single tv screen, This letter has invisible monitoring program inside and i will be aware of when you are going to check, doing ur stuff and a clip u jerked to, the investigation will last, I uploaded our malicious program on your device, furthermore malware saved exactly the video you chose, its a record with your wanking, friends will see u taking proper care of yourself, Your system is controlled by the malicious program, If you were more careful while playing with yourself, that whacking off to adult web-sites is, adult website which was poisoned with my malware, nor i think that jerking off to porn sites is really a gross thing, so I dgf lmao, proof just reply to this email with, if you want me to destroy all this compromising evidence, will send your video to 5 contacts, amount in Usd that can cope with this scenario, You are welcome to contact your local authorities, If you want proof, reply with, i pride myself in being apart of an internet group, so i dgf, I take good care of my being anonymous, information related to the RAT virus, been able get in to all ur units, to all of your contacts including, search engines like goo, case sensitive, so copy,, and at this moment I, It is a non-nego, don't waste my perso, thi s mes, back while visiting, showe ring, what should you do ?, porno webpage, this embarrassing situation, navigated to the page, bare-assed, on well-known websites and publications, I got an order from someone to kill you and your family, immediately kill your family, is an explosive device, My mercenary is, explosive device detonates, triggered your webcam, piquant websites, my exploit downloaded, replenish btc wallet, instantaneously erase, actual recorded material, neglect this email, my RAT trojan, video you jerked, I used keylogger, your disk dump, malware intercepts, installed a malware, remove your video footage, RAT onto your computer, greasy stimulating actions, excentric preferrables, porn web-page, to your Tax Department, network will be DDoS, friends, WannaCry, building a protection policy, in Tax Departament, Yours service going, we pass CloudFlare, hear fake-experts, backuped phone, -1663, of your joys, digits your phone, (porno), BIG pervert, both files and scale, naughty video clips, Soy un hacker, I installed spyware, n website with teen, malware on the porn website, very own recorded material, ιs yοur ραssρhrαse, after seeing the video of you jerking off, τhιηκ οf ιτ αs α dοηατιοη, split-screen video, 𝐄𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐩 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐫𝐚𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞, 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭"
I've been sharing conspiracies on reddit longer than this sub has been around. I have a story to tell.
This story is mostly crafted from my own experiences, my conversations with some of the people involved, and the rest is my own guesswork as I try to fill in the gaps...so bear with me! That's why I wanted to share with this community, which I've watched grow over the years. I remember posting about the death of Barry Jennings (who witnessed explosions in the WTC on 9/11) the day after it happened. This was before /conspiracy (or right around when it was formed), and I remember thinking "we really need a sub for conspiracies on reddit!" And here we are, 12 years later and over 1.3 million subscribers...incredible! So... My story starts with a young man. We'll call him Andrew. Andrew grew up in the 90's in a coastal US town and quickly blossomed into a tech whiz at a young age. He began building his own computers, and after a brief stint using Windows, he decided that Bill Gates was everything wrong with technology (and the world), and he made it his mission to make sure folks like Gates were NOT the future of computers. He really believed that the use of technology was a fundamental human right, and that charging people for "proprietary" OS's that hid their source code was a violation of these rights. He saw a possible Deus Ex-like future, with a technocracy literally around the corner if we didn't act now. Andrew soon joined the Free Software Foundation and began rubbing elbows with the likes of Richard Stallman. He begun exclusively using GNU/Linux and was the type to correct you if you called it just "Linux". He also began visiting tech-savvy forums like slashdot and started networking in earnest. By 2006 (his senior year of high school) Andrew was completely over his "education" and decided to just drop out completely. Shockingly, a college accepted him anyway. A small East Coast school had been actively courting Andrew, and when they learned he had failed to get his HS diploma, they accepted him anyway! Now sometime during this period Andrew went to Iceland and stayed in Reykjavik for several months. This trip may have happened during the summer, fall, or early winter of 2006. The reason for his trip had something to do with his efforts in the FSF or similar group. The possible significance of this trip will become clear as we go on. What is clear is that Andrew started college in the fall of 2006, and that the circumstances were unusual. Andrew soon met several like-minded individuals and began building a social and technological network at his school. Two individuals in particular would become key players in his life (one more prominently in this story, but the other was significant as well), and eventually the 3 would live together in town for several years. But for now let's stick with Andrew. Andrew had an idea to build a social network for his college. Except, it wasn't just a network, it was a wiki for information about the school...and beyond. Soon, it began to morph into something much bigger in Andrew's mind. He saw his project as being one of many data "hubs" for leaks of important documents and otherwise sensitive information. So yeah, he saw the opportunity for a wiki for leaks (see where this is going yet...?). As his ambitions grew, his behavior started to become increasingly erratic. He was caught with drugs and arrested. Strangely, the charges were pretty much dropped and he was given a slap on the wrist. Eventually he decided to leave the school, but still lived in town and had access to the servers on campus. By 2010 Andrew was still living in the small town with his two "hacker" buddies, who were still enrolled at the school. This house was in some ways legendary. It appears that many "interesting" people spent time at or visited the residence. Indeed, some of the early movers and shakers of /conspiracy itself passed through. There was usually a full NO2 tank for anyone who was into that kinda thing, and they were stocked with every hallucinogen and research chemical known to man. It was also likely under surveillance by multiple intelligence agencies (NSA/Mossad/etc). Over time, the mental state of Andrew was slowly starting to deteriorate, which wasn't helped by his abuse of drugs. Still, Andrew decided to move his base of operations to Europe, spending time in Belgium, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. One of his housemates was soon to join him on his adventures in Europe and elsewhere abroad. We'll call him "Aaron." Aaron had a very similar story and upbringing as Andrew. Aaron was also from a coastal US town and was born into privilege. He was also, supposedly, born into a family with some serious connections to intelligence agencies, including an uncle with ties to the NSA, and both parents connected to military brass. By 2015, Andrew and Aaron were living together in the Czech Republic. During this time they were working directly and/or indirectly for the NSA (via Cisco and other companies). You see, the "college" they met at was actually a front for the recruitment of kids into the IC. Apparently, many "schools" in the US function that way. Go figure. Their intelligence and valuable skill set (hacking etc) made them valuable assets. They were also possibly involved with the distribution of certain "research chemicals" (of the 2C* variety) to dignitaries and their entourages (in one example, they provided 2CB to a group with David Cameron). In addition, Andrew was allegedly involved with, or stumbled upon, an NSA-linked surveillance project directed at the entire country of Malaysia, while Aaron was involved with Cisco. Aaron himself had gotten into hot water for releasing damaging information about the NSA, and even claimed to be an NSA whistleblower, and was also possibly the individual who leaked the 2014 (or 2015) Bilderberg meeting list. And then things went bad. Andrew quit the Malaysia project and Aaron left Cisco. It seems Andrew and Aaron were "set up" during a fiery false flag event in the Czech Republic in 2015. It may have happened at an embassy, but it's unclear which. There is no information on the web about anything like this (afaik). Aaron was immediately targeted and spent several years on the run. Allegedly, he was added to the list of victims in the so-called "Great Game". The Great Game is the term used for an international assassination program where intelligence agencies share a list of targets to be neutralized. The German BND and Mossad are heavily involved, as other networks. Individuals targeted by the Great Game may be offed by actual assassins, or by NPC-like humans whose minds will be influenced by mind control tech (a la Matrix...say influencing someone to ram your car unwittingly ie). As Aaron went on the lam, Andrew soon returned to the US, shell-shocked by his experience. Both Andrew and Aaron continue to suffer from some sort of PTSD from these series of events, rendering Andrew largely incapacitated and Aaron scattered and discombobulated. The Meat of the Matter OK...where does that leave us? Why am I sharing all of this? I think there's much more to this story. So let's start speculating! Everything I'm about to say is stuff that was told to me personally. I can't vouch for any of this information, though obviously I thought it was compelling enough to share. Here's the gist: The so-called whistleblowers you see in the media are almost all fake. This includes: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Thomas Drake and William Binney (hey look, his AMA is pinned on this sub right now...no comment!). These individuals, and others, are controlled opposition. The real whistleblowers are severely punished. For example, Bradley Manning was punished with chemical castration in jail. His "transformation" was chemically induced torture. Andrew was not alone in his passion. There were lots of other young visionaries like him who dreamed of a freer and more transparent world. In this story, Julian Assange was an intelligence asset...a psyop meant to steal the thunder from real activists like Andrew. In this story, a small college-based "wiki" for government leaks was used as the model for an intelligence operation known as "wikileaks". In this story, Andrew traveled to Iceland at some point in 2006. When was Wikileaks founded? Wikileaks was founded by Julian Assange in December 2006, in Iceland. Aaron discovered (legally, like Manning who had clearance to access all the data he leaked) damning information about surveillance happening by the NSA, specifically against recruits entering the US army and elsewhere. In this story, the "Andrew" identity was co-opted and turned into "Julian Assange", and "Aaron" became "Edward Snowden". Granted, there were probably other people that these whistleblower imposters were modeled after, but Andrew and Aaron seem like very strong contenders for some of this inspiration. Now, much of the following may be gobbledygook (lol I spelled that right first try!) for all I know, but since I'm having a really hard time making sense of it all, I'll just include everything I can and let you guys run with it. Here are some phrases, ideas, terms and people of note that may be involved with this story...MODS: None of this is doxing! All of the links of people are wikipedia pages or published interviews/articles. So yeah. Not dox!
Rootkit: These are currency and the weapons of the intelligence agencies that allow access to any computer or OS on the planet.
"schizo-affective disorder" doesn't exist, it's cover for EM warfare. For those they can't attack chemically (like Manning), they punish via EM. This technology has been used for decades. Both Andrew and Aaron were likely subjected to this punishment after they stopped playing ball. It likely continues for them both as well.
IN CONCLUSION I don't know how these terms, theories and individuals fit into this story, but that they may be somehow related. Hopefully there are enough bread crumbs in here to keep some of you busy! Any help/insight would be appreciated. I confess I'm not so tech-minded so I can't offer any more explanation about some of the more techy terms. Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks for continuing to stimulate after all these years! It's really nice to see this place continuing to thrive after all of this time!
Why Osana takes so long? (Programmer's point of view on current situation)
I decided to write a comment about «Why Osana takes so long?» somewhere and what can be done to shorten this time. It turned into a long essay. Here's TL;DR of it:
The cost of never paying down this technical debt is clear; eventually the cost to deliver functionality will become so slow that it is easy for a well-designed competitive software product to overtake the badly-designed software in terms of features. In my experience, badly designed software can also lead to a more stressed engineering workforce, in turn leading higher staff churn (which in turn affects costs and productivity when delivering features). Additionally, due to the complexity in a given codebase, the ability to accurately estimate work will also disappear. Junade Ali, Mastering PHP Design Patterns (2016)
Longer version: I am not sure if people here wanted an explanation from a real developer who works with C and with relatively large projects, but I am going to do it nonetheless. I am not much interested in Yandere Simulator nor in this genre in general, but this particular development has a lot to learn from for any fellow programmers and software engineers to ensure that they'll never end up in Alex's situation, especially considering that he is definitely not the first one to got himself knee-deep in the development hell (do you remember Star Citizen?) and he is definitely not the last one. On the one hand, people see that Alex works incredibly slowly, equivalent of, like, one hour per day, comparing it with, say, Papers, Please, the game that was developed in nine months from start to finish by one guy. On the other hand, Alex himself most likely thinks that he works until complete exhaustion each day. In fact, I highly suspect that both those sentences are correct! Because of the mistakes made during early development stages, which are highly unlikely to be fixed due to the pressure put on the developer right now and due to his overall approach to coding, cost to add any relatively large feature (e.g. Osana) can be pretty much comparable to the cost of creating a fan game from start to finish. Trust me, I've seen his leaked source code (don't tell anybody about that) and I know what I am talking about. The largest problem in Yandere Simulator right now is its super slow development. So, without further ado, let's talk about how «implementing the low hanging fruit» crippled the development and, more importantly, what would have been an ideal course of action from my point of view to get out. I'll try to explain things in the easiest terms possible.
else if's and lack any sort of refactoring in general
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This is why refactoring — activity of rewriting your old code so it does the same thing, but does it quicker, in a more generic way, in less lines or simpler — is so powerful. In my experience, you can only keep one module/class/whatever in your brain if it does not exceed ~1000 lines, maybe ~1500. Splitting 17000-line-long class into smaller classes probably won't improve performance at all, but it will make working with parts of this class way easier. Is it too late now to start refactoring? Of course NO: better late than never.
If you think that you wrote this code, so you'll always easily remember it, I have some bad news for you: you won't. In my experience, one week and that's it. That's why comments are so crucial. It is not necessary to put a ton of comments everywhere, but just a general idea will help you out in the future. Even if you think that It Just Works™ and you'll never ever need to fix it. Time spent to write and debug one line of code almost always exceeds time to write one comment in large-scale projects. Moreover, the best code is the code that is self-evident. In the example above, what the hell does (float) 6 mean? Why not wrap it around into the constant with a good, self-descriptive name? Again, it won't affect performance, since C# compiler is smart enough to silently remove this constant from the real code and place its value into the method invocation directly. Such constants are here for you. I rewrote my code above a little bit to illustrate this. With those comments, you don't have to remember your code at all, since its functionality is outlined in two tiny lines of comments above it. Moreover, even a person with zero knowledge in programming will figure out the purpose of this code. It took me less than half a minute to write those comments, but it'll probably save me quite a lot of time of figuring out «what was I thinking back then» one day. Is it too late now to start adding comments? Again, of course NO. Don't be lazy and redirect all your typing from «debunk» page (which pretty much does the opposite of debunking, but who am I to judge you here?) into some useful comments.
This is often neglected, but consider the following. You wrote some code, you ran your game, you saw a new bug. Was it introduced right now? Is it a problem in your older code which has shown up just because you have never actually used it until now? Where should you search for it? You have no idea, and you have one painful debugging session ahead. Just imagine how easier it would be if you've had some routines which automatically execute after each build and check that environment is still sane and nothing broke on a fundamental level. This is called unit testing, and yes, unit tests won't be able to catch all your bugs, but even getting 20% of bugs identified at the earlier stage is a huge boon to development speed. Is it too late now to start adding unit tests? Kinda YES and NO at the same time. Unit testing works best if it covers the majority of project's code. On the other side, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you decide to start refactoring your code, writing a unit test before refactoring will help you to prove to yourself that you have not broken anything without the need of running the game at all.
This is basically pretty self-explanatory. You set this thing once, you forget about it. Static code analyzer is another «free estate» to speed up the development process by finding tiny little errors, mostly silly typos (do you think that you are good enough in finding them? Well, good luck catching x << 4; in place of x <<= 4; buried deep in C code by eye!). Again, this is not a silver bullet, it is another tool which will help you out with debugging a little bit along with the debugger, unit tests and other things. You need every little bit of help here. Is it too late now to hook up static code analyzer? Obviously NO.
Say, you want to build Osana, but then you decided to implement some feature, e.g. Snap Mode. By doing this you have maybe made your game a little bit better, but what you have just essentially done is complicated your life, because now you should also write Osana code for Snap Mode. The way game architecture is done right now, easter eggs code is deeply interleaved with game logic, which leads to code «spaghettifying», which in turn slows down the addition of new features, because one has to consider how this feature would work alongside each and every old feature and easter egg. Even if it is just gazing over one line per easter egg, it adds up to the mess, slowly but surely. A lot of people mention that developer should have been doing it in object-oritented way. However, there is no silver bullet in programming. It does not matter that much if you are doing it object-oriented way or usual procedural way; you can theoretically write, say, AI routines on functional (e.g. LISP)) or even logical language if you are brave enough (e.g. Prolog). You can even invent your own tiny programming language! The only thing that matters is code quality and avoiding the so-called shotgun surgery situation, which plagues Yandere Simulator from top to bottom right now. Is there a way of adding a new feature without interfering with your older code (e.g. by creating a child class which will encapsulate all the things you need, for example)? Go for it, this feature is basically «free» for you. Otherwise you'd better think twice before doing this, because you are going into the «technical debt» territory, borrowing your time from the future by saying «I'll maybe optimize it later» and «a thousand more lines probably won't slow me down in the future that much, right?». Technical debt will incur interest on its own that you'll have to pay. Basically, the entire situation around Osana right now is just a huge tale about how just «interest» incurred by technical debt can control the entire project, like the tail wiggling the dog. I won't elaborate here further, since it'll take me an even larger post to fully describe what's wrong about Yandere Simulator's code architecture. Is it too late to rebuild code architecture? Sadly, YES, although it should be possible to split Student class into descendants by using hooks for individual students. However, code architecture can be improved by a vast margin if you start removing easter eggs and features like Snap Mode that currently bloat Yandere Simulator. I know it is going to be painful, but it is the only way to improve code quality here and now. This will simplify the code, and this will make it easier for you to add the «real» features, like Osana or whatever you'd like to accomplish. If you'll ever want them back, you can track them down in Git history and re-implement them one by one, hopefully without performing the shotgun surgery this time.
Again, I won't be talking about the performance, since you can debug your game on 20 FPS as well as on 60 FPS, but this is a very different story. Yandere Simulator is huge. Once you fixed a bug, you want to test it, right? And your workflow right now probably looks like this:
Fix the code (unavoidable time loss)
Rebuild the project (can take a loooong time)
Load your game (can take a loooong time)
Test it (unavoidable time loss, unless another bug has popped up via unit testing, code analyzer etc.)
And you can fix it. For instance, I know that Yandere Simulator makes all the students' photos during loading. Why should that be done there? Why not either move it to project building stage by adding build hook so Unity does that for you during full project rebuild, or, even better, why not disable it completely or replace with «PLACEHOLDER» text for debug builds? Each second spent watching the loading screen will be rightfully interpreted as «son is not coding» by the community. Is it too late to reduce loading times? Hell NO.
Or any other continuous integration tool. «Rebuild a project» can take a long time too, and what can we do about that? Let me give you an idea. Buy a new PC. Get a 32-core Threadripper, 32 GB of fastest RAM you can afford and a cool motherboard which would support all of that (of course, Ryzen/i5/Celeron/i386/Raspberry Pi is fine too, but the faster, the better). The rest is not necessary, e.g. a barely functional second hand video card burned out by bitcoin mining is fine. You set up another PC in your room. You connect it to your network. You set up ramdisk to speed things up even more. You properly set up Jenkins) on this PC. From now on, Jenkins cares about the rest: tracking your Git repository, (re)building process, large and time-consuming unit tests, invoking static code analyzer, profiling, generating reports and whatever else you can and want to hook up. More importantly, you can fix another bug while Jenkins is rebuilding the project for the previous one et cetera. In general, continuous integration is a great technology to quickly track down errors that were introduced in previous versions, attempting to avoid those kinds of bug hunting sessions. I am highly unsure if continuous integration is needed for 10000-20000 source lines long projects, but things can be different as soon as we step into the 100k+ territory, and Yandere Simulator by now has approximately 150k+ source lines of code. I think that probably continuous integration might be well worth it for Yandere Simulator. Is it too late to add continuous integration?NO, albeit it is going to take some time and skills to set up.
Stop caring about the criticism
Stop comparing Alex to Scott Cawton. IMO Alex is very similar to the person known as SgtMarkIV, the developer of Brutal Doom, who is also a notorious edgelord who, for example, also once told somebody to kill himself, just like… However, being a horrible person, SgtMarkIV does his job. He simply does not care much about public opinion. That's the difference.
Eth 2.0 vs Polkadot and other musings by a fundamental investor
Spent about two hours on this post and I decided it would help the community if I made it more visible. Comment was made as a response to this
I’m trying to avoid falling into a maximalist mindset over time. This isn’t a 100% ETH question, but I’m trying to stay educated about emerging tech. Can someone help me see the downsides of diversifying into DOTs? I know Polkadot is more centralized, VC backed, and generally against our ethos here. On chain governance might introduce some unknown risks. What else am I missing? I see a bunch of posts about how Ethereum and Polkadot can thrive together, but are they not both L1 competitors?
What else am I missing?
The upsides. Most of the guys responding to you here are full Eth maxis who drank the Parity is bad koolaid. They are married to their investment and basically emotional / tribal in an area where you should have a cool head. Sure, you might get more upvotes on Reddit if you do and say what the crowd wants, but do you want upvotes and fleeting validation or do you want returns on your investment? Do you want to be these guys or do you want to be the shareholder making bank off of those guys? Disclaimer: I'm both an Eth whale and a Dot whale, and have been in crypto for close to a decade now. I originally bought ether sub $10 after researching it for at least a thousand hours. Rode to $1500 and down to $60. Iron hands - my intent has always been to reconsider my Eth position after proof of stake is out. I invested in the 2017 Dot public sale with the plan of flipping profits back to Eth but keeping Dots looks like the right short and long term play now. I am not a trader, I just take a deep tech dive every couple of years and invest in fundamentals. Now as for your concerns:
I know Polkadot is more centralized
The sad truth is that the market doesn't really care about this. At all. There is no real statistic to show at what point a coin is "decentralized" or "too centralized". For example, bitcoin has been completely taken over by Chinese mining farms for about five years now. Last I checked, they control above 85% of the hashing power, they just spread it among different mining pools to make it look decentralized. They have had the ability to fake or block transactions for all this time but it has never been in their best interest to do so: messing with bitcoin in that way would crash its price, therefore their bitcoin holdings, their mining equipment, and their company stock (some of them worth billions) would evaporate. So they won't do it due to economics, but not because they can't. That is the major point I want to get across; originally Bitcoin couldn't be messed with because it was decentralized, but now Bitcoin is centralized but it's still not messed with due to economics. It is basically ChinaCoin at this point, but the market doesn't care, and it still enjoys over 50% of the total crypto market cap. So how does this relate to Polkadot? Well fortunately most chains - Ethereum included - are working towards proof of stake. This is obviously better for the environment, but it also has a massive benefit for token holders. If a hostile party wanted to take over a proof of stake chain they'd have to buy up a massive share of the network. The moment they force through a malicious transaction a proof of stake blockchain has the option to fork them off. It would be messy for a few days, but by the end of the week the hostile party would have a large amount of now worthless tokens, and the proof of stake community would have moved on to a version of the blockchain where the hostile party's tokens have been slashed to zero. So not only does the market not care about centralization (Bitcoin example), but proof of stake makes token holders even safer. That being said, Polkadot's "centralization" is not that far off to Ethereum. The Web3 foundation kept 30% of the Dots while the Ethereum Foundation kept 17%. There are whales in Polkadot but Ethereum has them too - 40% of all genesis Ether went to 100 wallets, and many suspect that the original Ethereum ICO was sybiled to make it look more popular and decentralized than it really was. But you don't really care about that do you? Neither do I. Whales are a fact of life.
VCs are part of the crypto game now. There is no way to get rid of them, and there is no real reason why you should want to get rid of them. They put their capital at risk (same as you and me) and seek returns on their investment (same as you and me). They are both in Polkadot and Ethereum, and have been for years now. I have no issue with them as long as they don't play around with insider information, but that is another topic. To be honest, I would be worried if VCs did not endorse chains I'm researching, but maybe that's because my investing style isn't chasing hype and buying SUSHI style tokens from anonymous (at the time) developers. That's just playing hot potato. But hey, some people are good at that. As to the amount of wallets that participated in the Polkadot ICO: a little known fact is that more individual wallets participated in Polkadot's ICO than Ethereum's, even though Polkadot never marketed their ICO rounds due to regulatory reasons.
generally against our ethos here
Kool aid. Some guy that works(ed?) at Parity (who employs what, 200+ people?) correctly said that Ethereum is losing its tech lead and that offended the Ethereum hivemind. Oh no. So controversial. I'm so personally hurt by that. Some guy that has been working for free on Ethereum basically forever correctly said that Polkadot is taking the blockchain tech crown. Do we A) Reflect on why he said that? or B) Rally the mob to chase him off?
Also Parity locked their funds (and about 500+ other wallets not owned by them) and proposed a solution to recover them. When the community voted no they backed off and did not fork the chain, even if they had the influence to do so. For some reason this subreddit hates them for that, even if Parity did the 100% moral thing to do. Remember, 500+ other teams or people had their funds locked, so Parity was morally bound to try its best to recover them. Its just lame drama to be honest. Nothing to do with ethos, everything to do with emotional tribalism. Now for the missing upsides (I'll also respond to random fragments scattered in the thread):
This isn’t a 100% ETH question, but I’m trying to stay educated about emerging tech.
A good quick intro to Eth's tech vs Polkadot's tech can be found on this thread, especially this reply. That thread is basically mandatory reading if you care about your investment. Eth 2.0's features will not really kick in for end users until about 2023. That means every dapp (except DeFI, where the fees make sense due to returns and is leading the fee market) who built on Eth's layer 1 are dead for three years. Remember the trading card games... Gods Unchained? How many players do you think are going to buy and sell cards when the transaction fee is worth more than the cards? All that development is now practically worthless until it can migrate to its own shard. This story repeats for hundreds of other dapp teams who's projects are now priced out for three years. So now they either have to migrate to a one of the many unpopulated L2 options (which have their own list of problems and risks, but that's another topic) or they look for another platform, preferably one interoperable with Ethereum. Hence Polkadot's massive growth in developer activity. If you check out https://polkaproject.com/ you'll see 205 projects listed at the time of this post. About a week ago they had 202 listed. That means about one team migrated from another tech stack to build on Polkadot every two days, and trust me, many more will come in when parachains are finally activated, and it will be a complete no brainer when Polkadot 2.0 is released. Another huge upside for Polkadot is the Initial Parachain Offerings. Polkadot's version of ICOs. The biggest difference is that you can vote for parachains using your Dots to bind them to the relay chain, and you get some of the parachain's tokens in exchange. After a certain amount of time you get your Dots back. The tokenomics here are impressive: Dots are locked (reduced supply) instead of sold (sell pressure) and you still earn your staking rewards. There's no risk of scammers running away with your Ether and the governance mechanism allows for the community to defund incompetent devs who did not deliver what was promised.
Wouldn’t an ETH shard on Polkadot gain a bunch of scaling benefits that we won’t see natively for a couple years?
Yes. That is correct. Both Edgeware and Moonbeam are EVM compatible. And if the original dapp teams don't migrate their projects someone else will fork them, exactly like SUSHI did to Uniswap, and how Acala is doing to MakerDao.
Although realistically Ethereum has a 5 yr headstart and devs haven't slowed down at all
Just because it's "EVM Compatible" doesn't mean you can just plug Ethereum into Polkadot or vica versa, it just means they both understand Ethereum bytecode and you can potentially copy/paste contracts from Ethereum to Polkadot, but you'd still need to add a "bridge" between the 2 chains, so it adds additional complexity and extra steps compared to using any of the existing L2 scaling solutions
That only applies of you are thinking from an Eth maximalist perspective. But if you think from Polkadot's side, why would you need to use the bridge back to Ethereum at all? Everything will be seamless, cheaper, and quicker once the ecosystem starts to flourish.
I see a bunch of posts about how Ethereum and Polkadot can thrive together, but are they not both L1 competitors?
They are competitors. Both have their strategies, and both have their strengths (tech vs time on the market) but they are clearly competing in my eyes. Which is a good thing, Apple and Samsung competing in the cell phone market just leads to more innovation for consumers. You can still invest in both if you like. Edit - link to post and the rest of the conversation: https://www.reddit.com/ethfinance/comments/iooew6/daily_general_discussion_september_8_2020/g4h5yyq/ Edit 2 - one day later PolkaProject count is 210. Devs are getting the hint :)
Hello visitors and subscribers of scams! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Caller ID spoofing It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams
The fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part) The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
General fraudulent funds scams If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Cartel scam You will be threatened by scammers who claim to be affiliated with a cartel. They may send you gory pictures and threaten your life and the lives of your family. Usually the victim will have attempted to contact an escort prior to the scam, but sometimes the scammers target people randomly. If you are targeted by a cartel scam all you need to do is ignore the scammers as their threats are clearly empty. Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. Craigslist Carfax/vehicle history scam You'll encounter a scammer on Craigslist who wants to buy the vehicle you have listed, but they will ask for a VIN report from a random site that they have created and they will expect you to pay for it. Double dip/recovery scammers This is a scam aimed at people who have already fallen for a scam previously. Scammers will reach out to the victim and claim to be able to help the victim recover funds they lost in the scam. General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer. What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam part 5: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5/ PSA: you did not win a giftcard: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/fffmle/psa_you_did_not_win_a_gift_card/ Sugar scams Sugar scammers operate all over the internet and usually come in two varieties: advance-fee scams where the scammer will ask for a payment from you before sending you lots of money, and fake check style scams where the scammer will either pull a classic fake check scam, or will do a "bill pay" style scam that involves them paying your bills, or them giving you banking information to pay your bills. If you encounter these scammers, report their accounts and move on. Google Hangouts Google Hangouts is a messaging platform used extensively by all kinds of scammers. If you are talking with someone online and they want you to switch to Hangouts, they are likely a scammer and you should proceed with caution. Publishers Clearing House scams PCH scams are often advance-fee scams, where you will be promised lots of money after you make an initial payment. You will never need to pay if you win money from the real PCH. Pet scams You are looking for a specific breed of puppy, bird, or other pet. You come across a nice-looking website that claims to be breeding them and has some available right now - they may even be on sale! The breeders are not local to your area (and may not even list a physical location) but they assure you they can safely ship the pet to you after a deposit or full payment. If you go through with the payment, you will likely be contacted by the "shipper" who will inform you about an unexpected shipping/customs/processing fee required to deliver your new pet. But there was never any pet, both the "breeder" and the "shipper" are scammers, typically operating out of Africa. These sites are rampant and account for a large percentage of online pet seller websites - they typically have a similar layout/template (screenshot - example) If you are considering buying a pet online, some easy things to check are: (1) The registration date of the domain (if it was created recently it is likely a scam website) (2) Reverse image search the pictures of available pets - you will usually find other scam websites using the same photos. (3) Copy a sentence/section of the text from the "about us" page and put it into google (in quotes) - these scammers often copy large parts of their website's text from other places. (4) Search for the domain name and look for entries on petscams.com or other scam-tracking sites. (5) Strongly consider buying/adopting your pet from a local shelter or breeder where you can see the animal in person before putting any money down. Thanks to djscsi for this entry. Fake shipping company scams These scams usually start when you try to buy something illegal online. You will be scammed for the initial payment, and then you will receive an email from the fake shipping company telling you that you need to pay them some sort of fee or bribe. If you pay this, they will keep trying to scam you with increasingly absurd stories until you stop paying, at which point they will blackmail you. If you are involved in this scam, all you can do is ignore the scammers and move on, and try to dispute your payments if possible. Chinese Upwork scam Someone will ask you to create an Upwork or other freelancer site account for them and will offer money in return. You will not be paid, and they want to use the accounts to scam people. Quickbooks invoice scam This is a fake check style scam that takes advantage of Quickbooks. The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam. The blackmail mail scam This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Digit wallet scam A variation of the fake check scam, the scammer sends you money through a digital wallet (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, Zelle, Cash App) along with a message claiming they've sent the money to the wrong person and a request to send the money back. Customer service for these digital wallets may even suggest that you send the money back. However, the money sent is from a stolen credit card and will be removed from your account after a few days. Your transfer is not reversed since it came from your own funds. Cam girl voting/viewer scam You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to. This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls] Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same. Mexican family scam This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams
THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Chinese Brushing / direct shipping If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Summary: 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.
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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