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Blockchain open source project
Leaders of the open-source virtual currency project known as Bitcoin say they have no way to verify one user's claim that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of digital coins were plucked from his computer earlier this week. Allinvain speculated the thieves made off with the windfall after using malware to compromise his Windows-based computer.
More than posts later, it's still not clear if the claims are part of an elaborate hoax. Because Bitcoin is built on a peer-to-peer foundation that completely bypasses any sort of centralized database, it's impossible for even the architects of the digital currency to verify if a theft took place. Still, the claims highlight the darker side of a completely decentralized digital currency that's built from the ground up to be as anonymous as cash.
Long considered the Holy Grail of futurist libertarians because it can't be traced by marketers or governments, the system has no mechanism to trace the types of digital heists that are becoming a common occurrence these days. One can say many of the same things about cash, but there are a few caveats: It's typically not possible to store hundreds of thousands of dollars in a "wallet," digital or otherwise, and traditional wallets aren't protected by anything like the Windows operating system, which is notoriously susceptible to online criminals.
Cash also can't be stolen remotely by someone who's physically located half-way around the world from the victim. What's more, cash stored in bank accounts or paid using credit cards is often protected by guarantees from government agencies, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or card issuers, such as Visa. Those, of course, are the same boogeymen virtual cash-loving libertarians want to bypass in the first place.
So the loss is in terms of USD is more a theoretical value. The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing. Join our daily or weekly newsletters, subscribe to a specific section or set News alerts.
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