A spate of bomb threats in which businesses have been pressured to pay large bitcoin ransoms has prompted the U.S. National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a cybersecurity enforcement agency, to offer some friendly advice: don’t respond to the sender and contact 911.
For some days now, the would-be attackers, who are all—obviously—anonymous, have been targeting businesses as far flung as Australia and New Zealand with detailed, albeit poorly constructed, instructions as to how to avoid being blown up. One wrote:
“My man carried a bomb (Hexogen) into the building where your company is located. … I can withdraw my mercenary if you pay. You pay me 20.000 $ in Bitcoin and the bomb will not explode, but don’t try to cheat – I warrant you that I will withdraw my mercenary only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.”
Another miscreant, rather disingenuously, wrote as a postscript to his/her missive, “We are not a terrorist society and don’t take responsibility for explosions in other places.” (Also: note the circling media vultures in the comments on that one.)
They could have at least waited until the market picked up.
PayPal’s OUTRAGEOUS use case
PayPal, the payment company that hasn’t been crypto’s biggest fan, has quietly built its own wee blockchain for its employees to play around in. More specifically, it’s created a blockchain-based incentive platform that people can buy into and trade either with each other, or for experiences. What are those experiences, we hear you say with baited breath.
According to Cheddar, poker tournaments with a couple of PayPal’s vice presidents, a trail run and coffee with CFO John Rainey, and morning martial arts with CEO Dan Schulman. Gabrielle Scheibe Rabinovitch, the company’s head of investor relations, has even offered to let employees borrow her dog for a day.
That’s right. Actual PayPal, historically blockchain’s oldest and most influential rival, is finally leveraging the might of the distributed ledger for itself, but instead of, say, using it for instant cross-border transactions or Web 3.0, or something even distantly related to its money transmission business, PayPal has settled for an immutable dog-sitting service.
The dumbest use case of all time?
For the second time in recent history, a top politician has meaninglessly proposed “blockchain” as a means of resolving an actually quite contentious and nuanced geopolitical situation. Republican Congressman Warren Davidson declared on NPR that Trump’s proposed #borderwall could be crowdfunded using a crypto token—changeable for dollars or pesos, because, you know it’s important to be inclusive with these sorts of things—perhaps with a catchy name like “WallCoin.”
Here’s the quote:
“You could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins, but you could raise the money and frankly if we get it right at the Treasury you could even pay with Mexican pesos.”
As Bloomberg’s Matt Levine points out, there is zero need for a decentralized crowdfunding effort for something as blatantly centralised as a WALL. If a wall crowdfund truly is the way to go, just use…dollars. Duh.
Davidson’s momentary intellectual lapse makes sense on one level, at least—the buzzwordification of political discourse. Indeed, it comes as something of a surprise that the Trump administration, which banks on the confusing, but essentially meaningless daily splatter hasn’t deployed the so-vague-it-can-mean-anything fix-all term that is “blockchain” way, way more. Watch this space.