Weekly Roundup, August 17: Wild Ride
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If you like roller coasters, you’ll love cryptocurrency. On this week’s ride, guests were treated to the whole gamut of thrill factors: terrifying plunges, nauseating lows, and vertical ascents.
We’ve tried to keep our minds off the markets with thoughtful coverage, like the SEC’s evolving position on cryptocurrencies or the new Coinbase wallet. We’ve even paged through the archives to look back on last year’s headlines.
But it’s hard to cover every story, especially when your finances are going through a zero-gravity plunge followed by a high-G loop-the-loop and a sudden and unexpected brake. Don’t worry, that’s just part of the ride….we think.
While we wait to catch our breaths, here are some of the other stories you may have missed:
Volatile Fiat Declines
Experts blame the currency crisis on four years of debt-fueled economic expansion, causing prices to rise. President Erdogan, who has previously used short-term policies to appease voters, attributed the crisis to a sparking trade war with the United States.
Economists predict that the crisis may spread to the country’s trading partners, which may mean further crises down the road in Europe and Asia. Citizens of those countries might soon find themselves desperately in need of a sound, government-proof international store of value, but we can’t imagine how that would work. Perhaps Paul Krugman has some ideas.
Vitalik Fuels Debate
If you measure your age in double digits, you’ve probably avoided the catfight between the two Bitcoins. But sometimes it’s hard not to look—like when a careless reporter forces the argument into public view.
Vitalik Buterin, the Patron Saint of Ethereum, recently outed himself as a Bcash shill in the pay of Roger Ver. An article in Forbes discovered his secret desire to “walk into a convenience store, get a card and start paying a small fee to start using Bitcoin Cash.” The story quickly went viral in pro-BCH news sites, and bounced back from the BTC echo chamber.
Except for the part where it was, well, wrong. On a second listen to the audio, Vitalik was clearly naming several top cryptocurrencies. It was one of many transcription errors in the Forbes article, which has since been corrected. One would expect that to be enough—but some old-school hodlers still haven’t forgiven Vitalik for calling it “Bitcoin Cash.”
— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) August 16, 2018
Bitcoin Used For Bail
Cryptocurrencies have a new adopter: the criminal justice system. An accused hacker was ordered by a San Francisco court to post his bail in cryptocurrency, according to Palo Alto’s Daily Post.
Martin Marsich, 25, was ordered to post $750,000 in “Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency” as a condition for his release into a halfway house. Marsich is charged with hacking into Electronic Arts, which is considered a crime outside of the PC Gaming community.
The Post reports mixed feelings from within the legal community, with some professionals skeptical and others unsurprised. “The judge could order just about anything,” US District Attorney Abraham Simmons told the Post. “What the objective is is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later.”
But this raises big question about the wisdom, or otherwise, of trusting a court bond officer with very technical instruments. What if the court sends your bail to a Bitcoin Cash address, or they fail to use 2FA and lose everything?
AT&T Sued For a Quarter Billion
Speaking of two-factor authentication, one investor learned the hard way that Google is the way to go. Michael Terpin is suing AT&T, his mobile service provider, after an identity theft that allowed unknown hackers to make off with $24 million in cryptocurrency.
“AT&T does not improve its protections even though it knows from numerous incidents that some of its employees actively cooperate with hackers in SIM swap frauds by giving hackers direct access to customer information and by overriding AT&T’s security procedures,” Terpin’s lawyers wrote in the 69-page complaint. Terpin is pursuing $24 million in compensation, and $200 million in punitive damages.
The theft appears to be a version of SIM swapping, in which criminals trick phone providers into porting the victims’ phone numbers to new SIM cards.
These attacks appear to be on the rise among sophisticated hackers. Last month, police arrested a 20-year old college student for SIM hijacks that stole $5 million in cryptocurrency.
The best way to avoid such hacks is by using in-device authentication, like Authy, and hardening your mobile phone accounts.
The author is invested in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum.