The Blockchain Code: Decrypt the Jungle of Complexity to Win the Crypto-Anarchy Game is a book about Crypto-Anarchy, Blockchain, and cryptocurrency. Crypto-Anarchy is a real thing and the Crypto-Anarchy Game is a historical event. I believe you will find the truth about the technology and the history to be fascinating and important. Included in the technical background about Blockchain is something called a side-channel.
Permissionless Blockchain applications, such as most cryptocurrencies, are designed to facilitate untraceable transactions between anonymous parties. While the technology is very good at accomplishing this task, it is not flawlessly anonymous. There is always the chance that certain side-channels might reveal some information and the book discusses this in detail, including how Bitcoin transactions may possibly be traced under certain circumstances. A side channel is a way of seeing something that you are not designed to see. It’s a safe-cracker using a stethoscope to listen to the clicks.
Side channels were also in the news at the beginning of 2018 due to the Spectre and Meltdown CPU flaws that allowed the leaking of information on a massive scale via side-channel exploits. However, the Meltdown bug, which affects Intel, but not AMD, is far more interesting than the Spectre bug and this story was not accurately reported in news stories. In the Appendix to The Blockchain Code, the hidden truth about Intel’s Meltdown bug is accurately explained.
The story is important in its own right because:
- In August 2018, another Intel-only vulnerability was announced (Foreshadow). Understanding Meltdown is helpful to understand other CPU data breach risks.
- Several months after Intel knew about the Meltdown bug, but before it was announced, Intel’s then CEO, Brian Krzanich sold all the Intel stock that he could within the constraints of the company’s by-laws. Concerns about this trade were raised by Motley Fool’s Ashraf Eassa, Forbes’ Ken Kam, as well as Mike Murphy, Alicia Ritcey, Melvin Anders, Ted Greenwald, Bret Kenwell, Sean Gallagher, Renae Merle, Troy Wolverton, and others. The list of journalists that raised the concern is extensive. A source from Bloomberg News indicated that an investigation was inevitable. Yet, there has been no SEC investigation into possible insider trading even one year later. Reports from Alicia Ritcey, Anders Melin, and Ken Kam appear to indicate that Krzanich changed his schedule of planned Intel stock sale in October 2017. This would have been in the midst of what should have been the largest crisis in Intel’s history and a couple of months before Intel’s Meltdown flaw was disclosed:
Data compiled from www.nasdaq.com/symbol/intc/insider-trades
The story is important to Blockchain for several reasons:
- Regarding the Krzanich stock sale, the manner in which government regulations work and are enforced (or are not enforced) is important to the story of cryptoanarchy and Blockchain.
- Data leaks threaten to expose sensitive information, and this includes information from cryptocurrency wallets. Leaky wallets can allow others to spend your cryptocurrency.
- The Meltdown story is a story about side-channel vulnerabilities. While cryptocurrencies are designed to be anonymous and untraceable, the technology is made by imperfect human hands. There will always be potential side-channels that threaten to de-anonymize cryptocurrency actors. Gaining a better understanding of the largest side-channel exposure to date is instructive when considering Blockchain’s side-channel risks.
- The full story of Meltdown has been largely encrypted (hidden) by a jungle of complexity much like the truth about Blockchain. The Meltdown story is recent, yet the truth has already been heavily spun and hidden. There is much more spin and misinformation about Blockchain and it has been spun for a much longer time.
This is a brief sample of some of the information contained in the Appendix to The Blockchain Code, to learn the full crypto-story of Meltdown (and Blockchain, of course), buy the book. Now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.