Competitors and Amy Castor: a tale on reputation usage and a campaign to discredit IOTA - The Tangler

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Disclaimer. I’m invested in IOTA, Ethereum, and Bitcoin. I’m not connected to the IOTA foundation and the following post is my own work and opinion. This is not meant to deter the collaboration of legitimate scientists. The IOTA Foundation is always grateful if thinkers help IOTAs adoption and vision. Bells and Whistles

This is my response to the “responsible disclosure” of would-be neutral scientists that are destroying the reputation of IOTA, but also of the MIT (media lab), the Boston University (one associated developer), and Forbes.

In these times, fake-news and tinfoil stories can be found everywhere. The following post could be just a big coincidence, but if we allow ourselves in connecting some dots, maybe we get a better picture of “cryptoland”.

I’ll say it upfront: Competing projects try to harm IOTA as much as possible.

Let me start with this tweet of “fnord” because this pretty much sums up my motivation to write this summary.

No, cryptographers looking at it is awesome. Writing a hit piece and going around bragging about how the price tanked afterwards not so much — fnord (@fnord2) September 12, 2017

On this blog, I usually try to stick to straight facts and relevant, legit news about IOTA. No Bells and whistles, Just information. 

We also expect straight facts and objective information when we visit pages like Forbes or when we read peer-reviews from MIT and BU scientists, but apparently, this is not the case.

Therefore, I decided to leave the path of tech news around IOTA for a moment, in order to draw a picture of how competition in this sphere works.

Recently we witnessed a misinformation campaign of highest magnitude in order to harm IOTA’s reputation. And I’m going to explain why.

It is vital to understand that some innovators in this innovative field of cryptocurrencies act in their own best interest. As rational deciding homo oeconomicus in this game of blockchains.

You may have seen the big headlines about IOTA: “MIT And BU Researchers Uncover Critical Security Flaw In $2B Cryptocurrency IOTA” following the “vulnerability report”

The report was done by:

Ethan Heilman (Boston University, DAGlabs, Paragon Foundation – joint collaboration with Spectre, another DAG project, Commonwealth Crypto, Dev of a Bitcoin anonymity transaction Hub), Neha Narula (MIT Media Lab), Thaddeus Dryja (MIT Media Lab, Lightning Network Dev), Madars Virza (MIT Media Lab, co-founded Zerocoin Protocol that Zcash is using, advising Zcash.)

The Forbes Article was written by: Amy Castor (Independent writer at Bitcoin Magazine and Forbes)

Sergey Ivancheglo, main developer of the Tangle and creator of proof of stake, known as Come-from-Beyond, responded on several channels and closed the case.

The IOTA foundation also published an answer.

Unwinding all the details becomes unnecessary, but I’ll highlight the important ones:

IOTA has never been hacked. CURL was tested under ludicrous conditions. The victim’s system would be running malicious code. In those conditions, stealing the key is trivial and much easier and effective. (custom wallet) The discussed signing algorithm CURL was in an old version of IOTA, that was patched weeks ago. IOTA is using SHA-3/Keccak right now, there was no vulnerability to start with, but even less of a chance after that change. the apparent flaw was, as revealed instead, an intended copy protection mechanism No funds were or are at risk. The Forbes headline, as well as the vulnerability report, suggested that the alleged flaw is still in play. Yesterday there was an attack on the network, effectively defended by the presence of the Coordinator function. The IOTA team will be posting all the details in a blog entry. IOTA’s valuation and price were directly and significantly affected by those actions, adding to the general value loss that has been affecting the whole crypto world this last week.

 

The headline takes effect

After IOTA supporters reminded the cryptographers that this is unethical and hardly a “responsible disclosure”, they reacted as if they were neutral and rather victims of an unjustified shitstorm:

I just give you the blank tweets.

Do you *want* to stop cryptographers from looking at your code? Because this is how you stop cryptographers from looking at your code. — Tadge Dryja (@tdryja) September 10, 2017

In the meantime, Ethan Heilmann retweets an incredible total of 49 defamatory and blatant tweets. These were clearly, important and necessary actions by any reputable, objective scientist, both in content and form.

A few examples:

 

 

 

Madars Virza follows the crowd and tweets funny stuff about the legitimacy of the whole idea of IOTA:

Unclear how to parse https://t.co/qaIVhi1GlW … Weak hash function is a "copy-protection measure" now? pic.twitter.com/GCcLTKHh72 — Madars Virza (@MadarsV) September 8, 2017

David Sønstebø offers an open debate because the claims are wrong, but he gets no response:

 

Matthew Green, Co-worker of Madars Virza, ZCash, starts to attack IOTA and Sergey Ivancheglo. People from Zcash stepping in? Coincidence:

This paragraph is literally the most bonkers thing I've read all week. What are these people smoking. pic.twitter.com/eZkJ2iied5 — Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) September 12, 2017

Another ZCash Co-Founder and developer tweets against IOTA, coincidence:

I swear the next attack someone finds in a crypto currency should be published anonymously at first. Harder to shoot the messenger — Ian Miers (@secparam) September 11, 2017

Bitcoin Core Developer Peter Todd reacts:

This is actually a really clever explanation. Plausible to the uneducated, and drives away the competent – textbook Nigerian Scam Strategy. https://t.co/UMbnAtqWnU — Peter Todd (@petertoddbtc) September 12, 2017

One of many Twitter-reactions by Amy Castor, that already blocked me, and many other accounts that expressed criticism:

 

Amy Castor is already convinced that IOTA is a scam. She is working for Bitcoin Magazine and she’s a member of the Bitcoin Core Slack. Again, just another coincidence. Her agenda “don’t roll your own crypto” seems like a general campaign against former or recent initial coin offerings ( ICO’s)

Numerous tweets show her biased stance against IOTA. Some of which are pointing to sources on Bitcointalk and weird websites, that obviously try to discredit IOTA. Some others are just asking to know what are David Sønstebø’s benefits, what his incentive is for creating IOTA. – this is something that he explained more than once in a very clear way.

On top of that, Bitcoin Evangelist Andreas M. Antonopoulos tweets misinformation to justify the smear campaign:

BullshitShooting messenger to cover their own lack of [email protected] used responsible disclosure practices. @iotatoken had shoddy crypto — Andreas M. Antonopoulos (@aantonop) September 10, 2017

Meltem Demirors – Director at DCG (Investor of ZCash) coincidence:

if you invest in crypto, please read this analysis of @iotatoken and it's flaws by @neha – kind of scary https://t.co/tbKTQiUyvI — Meltem Demirors (@Melt_Dem) September 7, 2017 Responsible disclosure

Now, apart from this little list of tweets against IOTA, I’m going to look at the definition of “responsible disclosure“. it says:

Responsible disclosure is a computer security term describing a vulnerability disclosure model. It is like full disclosure, with the addition that all stakeholders agree to allow a period of time for the vulnerability to be patched before publishing the details. Developers of hardware and software often require time and resources to repair their mistakes. Hackers and computer security scientists have the opinion that it is their social responsibility to make the public aware of vulnerabilities with a high impact. Hiding these problems could cause a feeling of false security. To avoid this, the involved parties join forces and agree on a period of time for repairing the vulnerability and preventing any future damage.

As we already know, the report of the Zcash, DAGlabs and Lighting Network devs was written as if there was a problem in effect, although the issue was already corrected.

Also, the Forbes article, that is written in present tense followed by the meetup title.

I conclude that in this case there is no “social responsibility to make the public aware of vulnerabilities with a high impact” because there is neither a vulnerability nor high impact.

Apparently, however, they seem to have the need to showcase IOTA’s alleged vulnerability, because the cryptographer decided to set up a live stream meetup to break CURL, the signing algorithm of IOTA.

They write:

“Now that all parties are out of stealth mode, I can formally announce that Ethan Heilman will be demonstrating how he, along with three researchers from MIT Digital Currency Initiative (DCI), broke IOTA’s nonstandard “Curl” hash function.

By doing so, they revealed in a $2B cryptocurrency a serious security flaw that could have allowed a hacker to steal user funds. (IOTA has since lost about 25 percent of its value, according to Coin Market Cap.)”

And they seem to also assume that when all cryptos are taking a plunge, IOTA shouldn’t have been affected. Even more interesting.

Now, to draw a conclusion

In theory, IOTA is a technology that is able to outperform almost every other cryptocurrency.

Especially the Lightning Network, that is trying to address Bitcoins scaling problems, and Zcash, that is possibly threatened by Masked Authenticated Messaging are in a direct competition with IOTA, let alone DAGlabs.

If independent scientists of a renowned faculty like the MIT or Boston University claim to be able to break IOTA, people listen, the market reacts immediately.

In order to make the public aware of vulnerabilities with a high impact, and to save people from losing money, they did disclose information in an unethical and wrong way, which added significantly to the loss of valuation. If that is not irony, I don’t know what is.

But these guys are not just rational, independent scientists. These people are investors and developers of competing projects, so no wonder that the tweets were written accordingly. Coincidental of course.

Direct conflicts of interest:

To support my thesis that this is a coordinated effort I point out the blatant and obvious conflicts of interest.

Ethan Heilmann and developer of DAGlabs.com, a direct competitor to IOTA (also Bitcoin Core developers involved). Due to almost 50 anti-IOTA tweets, I assume that he wants to change the sentiment or just coincidence His project DAGlabs is in a fundraising right now. A direct competitor developing their own DAG solution and currently trying to acquire Series A funding partners. Coincidence. Madars Virza is Zcash Co-founder, a direct competitor to IOTA (is heavily supported by Matthew Green and Ian Miers, both ZCash). Coincidence Amy Castor is working for Bitcoin Magazin and is postulating questionable insults against the IOTA Founder while she is a member of the Bitcoin Core Slack and following an anti-ICO agenda. Bitcoin Magazine. Coincidence To Cite Satoshiwatch: “Amy Castor – who propagated MIT’s malicious report/attack in the Forbes, is a writer for CoinDesk, Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group (DCG) -“DCG ownership and crypto-investments include Zcash, Ripple, Rootstock, and etc.” Coincidence Tadge Dryja is working for the Bitcoin Lightning Network, a direct competitor of IOTA. Coincidence

All in all 4 people of ZCash involved. Madars Virza, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Meltem Demirors Coincidence.

Centralization of the Coordinator:

Concerning the coordinator(Coo), it seems like no one is missing an opportunity to point out that the Coo centralizes IOTA. The Coo is a special node in the hands of the IOTA Foundation that sets milestones in order to prevent Sybil attacks.

If people want to attack the network, they try to become an omnipresence in order to conduct doublespends.

This protection is necessary as long as the network is in its infancy. The transparency compendium pointed this out and it’s common knowledge, that it’s solely for the purpose of protection. The developers cannot alter transaction or access seeds.

Just the day before yesterday, an attacker tried to take over the Tangle.

To make it clear what’s happening, he added a tag to the transaction: “BZWFL99FUCK9CORE99LETS9FORK”

The coordinator prevented a takeover from happening, everything is safe and sound.

But its purpose to protect the users of IOTA is of low significance, as it seems. People rather point out that due to the Coordinator, the whole system, idea, network is worthless. What a hypocrisy considering their biased stance.

At this point, I’m asking myself, why are these people insisting that the coordinator is a bad component? Obviously, the term centralization is undefined, because looking at this definition I could just claim that IOTA is still decentralized, especially because there are no blocks, no miners, the validation of transaction is not decoupled but in the hand of the users, unlike Consensus at Bitcoin. The comparison between blockchains and the Tangle looks therefore wrong, because of the “centralized part”, the coordinator has no participation in the consensus model.

 

When I look at Bitcoin, the true centralization happens due to the power of miners, where five of the biggest mining farms set 51% of the global Bitcoin hashpower.

Furthermore the centralization of developers, one can easily recognize when you look how many Bitcoin Core developers are connected with side projects or react in unison when a shitstorm is formed.

An incestuous innovation ivory tower, if you ask me.

If this was only about following science ethics, why would they fabricate a lurid headline, that clearly suggests that IOTA is still vulnerable? Why would objective scientists talk about a crashing price and retweet dozens of tweets with an anti-IOTA sentiment? Why would they decide to make a live-stream to showcase how to break CURL, although it’s not used anymore?

As a side note: The IOTA devs have not been invited to defend themselves or to talk about their point of view.

Since none of the mentioned persons kept a neutral stance, I can only conclude that this is a coordinated effort to destroy IOTAs reputation as ultima ratio because IOTA threatens their own projects.

Neha Narula, as the director of the MIT Media Labs, missed the chance to provide an independent peer-review of IOTAs -not in use- signing algorithm CURL. Instead, she allowed that her team used its personal bias for their own purposes.

Amy Castor abandoned the ethics of journalism: “The duty of the journalist is to further those ends (justice and the foundation of democracy) by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” when she started ranting her personal agenda like a bulldozer and furthermore acted highly unprofessional against IOTA Founder David Sønstebø.

Her lacking ethics may be motivated by the fact that she has written about Zcash, at this point I can only assume that she owns Zcash, or it’s just another coincidence:

This “responsible disclosure” is not the work of objective, competent scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the Boston University as proclaimed. This is the epitome of a conflict of interest, where people use the names of big institutes.

In the game-theory, there are only rational agents. It seems these scientists are rational in that sense.

To cite Prof. Dr. Harald Lesch: “The economization of science is a problem: performance instead of position.” -Especially in the field of crypto currencies.

Interesting to see that Zcash, DAGlabs and Bitcoin enthusiasts develop the same habits when they talk about IOTA, the same kind of habits that banks used to, when they talked about Bitcoin back in the days.

So if this is the business conduct of the MIT Media Lab, the Boston University or Forbes, I wonder where we can still find unbiased science and information.

What a great coincidence.

Casus ubique valet! Semper tibi pendeat hamus! Quo minime credis gurgite, piscis erit!