You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin – the anonymous electronic currency-alternative that’s paving the way toward a new way of looking at money. While Bitcoin is gradually meandering toward broader acceptance, as a recent court case suggests, many people still wonder what the point of the whole effort is.
The fact that Bitcoin transactions are anonymous and irreversible pricks the ears of crooks and other suspicious characters around the globe. A money laundering tool? Perhaps a better way to pay for child porn? The possibilities are endless.
Pshaw, say the less nefarious proponents of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is an open source, peer-to-peer approach for executing financial transactions that cuts the big banks out of the loop. It’s the big banks that are evil, after all, and Bitcoin is the lone knight poking the titans of finance with a stick.
Perhaps. But an event took place this week that shows Bitcoin’s true purpose – not its intended purpose, mind you, but its true purpose, at least at this point in time. An anonymous hacker, perhaps in the Czech Republic, leveraged a flaw in the random number generation function in Google’s Android operating system to steal about 55 Bitcoins from a handful of people (worth almost $6,000). Since Bitcoin transactions are irreversible (no credit card-like chargebacks here!), the hacker has made off with the Bitcoin scot-free.
Now the true purpose of Bitcoin becomes clear. It’s a cybersecurity bug hunting tool. If you have any piece of software that is supposed to keep something secure and you want to test it, make it part of the Bitcoin infrastructure. Now hackers around the world can securely and anonymously cash in on any bug they are able to exploit. Cha-ching!
If you believe, however, that Bitcoin is good for anything other than paying hackers to find weaknesses, then you’re in for a rude awakening.