Ethereum Classic has been 51% attacked
The mechanics of this are fairly technical
, but practically this means that a single party has gained enough hashpower to rewrite a chain's history, thereby rendering the core benefits of decentralization and immutability null. In the case of Ethereum Classic, this attack meant swindling a lot of centralized exchanges by making it look like they were sent coins only to rewrite the blocks later.
Ethereum Classic has a market cap of half a billion dollars and is listed on Coinbase. This isn't a random coin someone spun up out of a dorm room. It's a well known network with a non-trivial community. And it was successfully 51% attacked, cheating several exchanges out of millions of dollars. It's amazing that the hashpower to 51% attack Ethereum Classic for an hour only cost $4,000
but potentially yields millions of dollars!Ethereum Classic's attack is a reminder to all of us that blockchains are vulnerable to attacks and we need to be thinking about the security of our implementations.
Private blockchains are popular in healthcare and entail different security risks, but it's striking to me that in all of the conferences I've been to in the past two years I can't remember a single conversation about blockchain security. This absolutely needs to be a bigger part of our conversations.
Right now the stakes are pretty low. No private blockchain in healthcare is critical infrastructure or has serious economic activity on top of it. But when hundreds of thousands of patients manage access to their health data with a blockchain and billions of dollars in claims payments through a blockchain then there are huge incentives
to attack a chain. And people will try.
If we want blockchain in healthcare to succeed then we need to be more thoughtful about security. I expect this to be a more prominent narrative in 2019 as more public blockchains are attacked.Blockchain Can Wrest the Internet From Corporations' Grasp
Chris Dixon argues that blockchains can provide an alternative to the highly centralized Internet dominated by tech giants we have today. The core idea here is that blockchains are open and maintained by the community, allowing them to stay neutral over time and for governance decisions to be made by the community as well.
The idea of community governed, neutral, and open networks resonates with me a lot, and I think is a winning message within healthcare. Look for a blog post about this from me soon. Strong and weak technologies
Another thought provoking post from Chrix Dixon. In this he defined strong and weak technologies. Strong technologies
adapt the world to themselves. Examples are the iPhone, the Internet, and public permissionless blockchains.Weak technologies
adapt to the world as it currently exists. Examples are Blackberry, private Intranets, and private permissioned blockchains.
Chris argues that while weak technologies can be successful, it is strong technologies that end up "defining eras." The task for us then, is to identify strong technologies early on and stick with them through their adoption curve.