One of the known security vulnerabilities in cryptocurrency is the human being and his or her capacity for foolish acts. If a transaction hasn’t cleared at least once on any blockchain, including Bitcoin, it’s not secure.
No Means No in Blockchain Confirmations
On faster blockchains like Tron or EOS, you can wait even longer. The point isn’t always to be sure the transaction is legitimate. Sometimes it’s to be sure you received it on the right chain.
Earlier this year, CCN reported on a string of bitcoin ATM robberies in Canada that resulted in the loss of over $100,000.
All of these attacks seem to have been possible due to long waits for Bitcoin transactions. The attackers were able to use software which allowed them to spend the same coins and pay the miner a higher fee.
Authorities never released many details on the mechanics of the thefts, but anyone familiar with Bitcoin can tell you a thing or two about how it might be done.
Cornell’s Professor Emin Gün Sirer cited later reporting of the same events in a controversial Twitter thread yesterday, a conversation that has continued to today.
Scammers steal £113k from Bitcoin ATMs by exploiting the incredibly slow confirmation times and replace by fee feature. https://t.co/x8IVMR6Tx9
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) July 4, 2019
Sirer, who recently joined the long list of polyglots who want to found blockchains (alongside Chia and Bram Cohen), then engaged a number of critics.
Udi, since when is a factual summary of the article “intellectually dishonest”???
I literally summarized what actually happened, with zero commentary. The fact that even the intelligent members of the BTC community turn hostile when faced with reality should tell us something.
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) July 5, 2019
There are competing narratives about the speed of Bitcoin.
Why would these ATMs accept RBF txs and not expect this to happen? So stupid
— Harry Barber (@hlb2449110) July 4, 2019
Even if they don’t accept RBF, the longer a tx stays in mempool the more vulnerable it becomes.
They should just drop BTC and tell users to go to exchanges if they really want it.
— imaginary_username (@im_uname) July 4, 2019
A vocal portion says that if you want convenience, you’ll have to pay the fee.
Another group says that fees shouldn’t be so high at such an early stage. Bitcoin inherently loses its value proposition when it costs more for people to use.
Hadn’t We Settled This?
Eventually, the two groups split into two wider “communities,” with everybody’s coins in the game via the nature of a fork.
The market has ruled, for now, that Bitcoin is king compared to Bitcoin Cash.
It’s always recommended to keep in mind just how volatile a market we’re talking about.
Therefore, the “hold” mentality may be forced on people who otherwise might use the thing more.
The advent of Lightning Network decentralized applications is exciting but still vastly nascent by comparison to Ethereum or EOS, for example.
Bitcoin ATM Pops Up
Bitcoin ATM in Bethesda. pic.twitter.com/5kZiiwe7Q3
— Palley (@stephendpalley) July 5, 2019
Meanwhile, in real life, lawyer Stephen Palley cited one of Coinstar’s long-ago promised Bitcoin-enhanced coin exchanging machines – in the wild.