The major story of this last week was of course the ransomware attack that sent shock waves all around the world, especially in Asia and Europe. If you are not familiar with ransom ware, it’s basically malware that gets onto your computer and encrypts all or most of your hard drive and then extorts you for some sort of payment which is usually bitcoin. While some rushed to blame bitcoin for this attack, others pointed out the fact that this particular attack would have not been possible if it had not been for the NSA. Shadow Brokers broke the story a while back that the NSA had been sitting on exploits that they have been using for some time to get access to Windows machines with a windows exploit known as Eternal Blue. This is the particular exploit that this instance of ransomware used to carry out this attack. There is a great technical analysis of this attack being dubbed “WannaCry” here. Here are the 3 known BTC addresses that the attackers have been using 12t9YDPgwueZ9NyMgw519p7AA8isjr6SMw, 13AM4VW2dhxYgXeQepoHkHSQuy6NgaEb94, 115p7UMMngoj1pMvkpHijcRdfJNXj6LrLn. If you take any of these BTC address and go to blockchain.info and paste then into the search bar, you can see all the funds they have been able to collect. The url that acted as a kill switch for this attack is iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea.com. I like what Andreas M Antonopoulos had to say on this matter,”blaming bitcoin for this ransomware attack is like blaming a duffle bag full of cash for a kid napping”. Just something to keep in mind. Bitcoin’s price seemed to dip on this news but has since bounced back to around the $1800 range.
Is Bitcoin broken? It may seem so if you have tried to use bitcoin in the last few weeks or days. Bitcoin is certainly not broken, but what is happening is a real big backlog of unconfirmed transactions waiting to be confirmed and wed into the ledger. This has happened because of two things. 1st bitcoin is becoming more and more popular, which is great news! Secondly there is currently a cap on how much data or transactions that can be put into each 10 minute block, which is only 1mb. When you put these 2 things together you get a huge backlog. Currently at the time of this writing the backlog is sitting at around 200,000 transactions! You can view this in real time here. Because of this a fee market has sprung up with fees running anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars. If you want to send BTC right now, I advise you attach the higher fee with whatever wallet you are using. Otherwise your transaction might get stuck in limbo for a while. But don’t worry there is an ongoing debate of how they will fix this problem. There are solutions ready, we just need to reach consensus for them to become part of the protocol. They will fix this problem in time and fees will come back down.