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6th December 2021 > > Couple of hacks.


There is an endless supply of hack stories in the crypto world. Keep vigilant.

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Despite news that Omicron can pass between two unconnected and vaccinated people who were in isolation in a quarantine hotel, stocks seem to have gotten over their initial shock at governments’ reactions to the new variant.

Occasional Series – COVID (for real)

Overnight on Saturday a new rule was brought in that to travel into the UK you must have a negative test result 48 hours before arrival, regardless of your vaccination status.

I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of this new ruling – that would be an utterly pointless exercise given the deeply entrenched feelings about the appropriate response to COVID.

But there are two issues on which we should all be able to agree upon.

The first is that restrictions placed on our liberties at short notice on an increasingly regular basis without parliamentary approval cannot be acceptable in a mature, Western liberal democracy.

The second is more practical than philosophical.

Randomly changing rules and regulations at short notice, with or without justification, can only ever result in a material diminishing of economic activity.

Some people may think that an ever lower economic base is a good thing, some may disagree.

Again I am not getting into that argument because of the entrenched positions on either side. It is a pointless discussion.

But we do know that the tax dollars required to pay for ever expanding public services can only be sourced from a growing, vibrant economy.

Occasional Series – COVID (for fun only)

Omicron is an anagram of moronic.

Delta Omicron is an anagram of media control.

Curious Cryptos’ Commentary – Another exchange hack

Bitmart has been hacked for a total of $200mm worth of various coins including ETH and BNB.

Bitmart is an online centralised crypto exchange catering for retail and institutional clients (or so they claim). I have never used it, and I don’t know a great deal about them. I think it is a private company, so visibility on revenues, activity, insurance etc. is somewhat limited, but I might be wrong about that.

The theft was from their online hot wallet. The exchange has currently suspended all withdrawals, which is always a bad sign.

No comment has yet been made as to whether clients who were storing cryptos on the site will be made whole or not. If not, it is likely to be years before the remaining cryptos will be released.

I have always been a big fan of self-storing the vast majority of my cryptos (95% or so) using a Ledger Nano. The remainder I have on two exchanges – Coinbase and Binance. I would not trust any other exchange to look after any of my cryptos.

Curious Cryptos’ Commentary – And the hack/exploit that was missed

Six months ago, a bug in the Solana Protocol Library (SPL - a set of reference documents for projects developed on Solana, a Layer 1 blockchain) was identified and reported, though it went largely unnoticed.

The basic problem was a simple one.

The smallest unit of reference on Solana is a Lamport, in a similar fashion that a Satoshi is the smallest unit of BTC, and that the penny is the smallest unit of reference for sterling and the dollar.

When transactions are recorded on the Solana blockchain, fractions of Lamport were either rounded up or down as one would expect. Each individual rounding was a miniscule amount per transaction and would net out over any extended period for any individual actor.

The bug was that the SPL could allow someone to steal the rounding for each transaction in a block.

The researchers attempted to exploit this vulnerability across several transactions in one block and came away with a mighty haul of half a cent. Which is not much to write home about.

However, apparently this exploit could be executed 200 times per block making $1 per block or thereabouts. With a block time of 800ms (milliseconds) that’s over a dollar a second, or $110k per day with almost zero chance of the exploit being noticed.

That isn’t a bad day rate, even for Lewis Hamilton (*).

I seem to recall a tale (probably apocryphal) from my childhood about a high street bank that suffered a similar exploit when it first introduced computer systems sometime in the ‘70s to manage retail accounts.

The bug has now been fixed, but again, this a reminder that the crypto world can be a dangerous place in which to operate.

(*) It isn’t universally recognised, but anyone who comes from Stevenage is a good egg.

Reserve Treasury Protocols (before they all go to zero

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