Hacks’ Little ‘Good’ in Crypto Space
To many, there are no two ways to the role hackers play in the crypto ecosystem. Most hacks tend to be negative in their approach. They are carried out without any legal obligation and victims are usually caught unaware. Until, and unless, the awakening call the perpetration of these acts are making gets taken seriously by the industry, a strand of positivity could then be said to have come out of hacks for the ecosystem.
Cryptocurrency wallet Electrum is the latest to be reportedly hacked by a malicious party. About 250 Bitcoin are said to have been stolen. While it is not unheard of that hackers strike in the well-established corporate sector especially for identity theft, cryptocurrencies’ nascency and the trust issues beclouding their existence make hacks an additional complication. Recently, the demand for Bitcoin as the form of ransom payment in an hack on corporate organisations is becoming common – in the particular case of WannaCry, it spread to various parts of the world.
Then comes the mainstream media handling of such instances, blowing it up for the threat to reach far and wide. Though it has been argued that using fiat to commit crimes online are far worse but the media’s sensationalisation for clicks coupled with their responsibility to pass the information across get in the way. The fact that the unknown individuals commit these crimes to, among other things, enrich themselves at the expense of the popularity of Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies comes to fore. It awakens the inner mistrust that many people still have for the evolving asset class.
The other perspective is where the hackers and their acts could be considered useful: to help speed up security developments in the space. Most crypto-related infrastructure including exchanges and wallets are not completely safe. This is evident in the series of hacks on some of these platforms even of late. Yet, while Bitcoin as the top cryptocurrency, seeks to gain adoption through the introduction of more ease of use designs, its security features are not strong enough to sustain mainstream adoption. The trust is still lacking because many people do not know and understand Bitcoin.
Hacks are not helpful in making people embrace Bitcoin and crytpocurrencies in general. However, they are forcing – or they will force – crypto software and infrastructure developers to work better to ensure a secure and dependable industry which – in the long run – could absorb the many doubts exhibited by people.