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Bitcoin and Cyber Security: Digital Frenemies

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By: Olivia

January 23, 2018

It’s no secret that cryptocurrency has been taking the world by storm, with fast food chains leveraging Bitcoin as part of marketing campaigns to attract customers. Just this week, KFC unveiled the ‘Bitcoin Bucket’ in Canada, which sold out almost instantly. This ploy, while a clever tactic, points at the pervasiveness of the growing cryptocurrency trend, which has many cyber security experts worried.KFC itself admitted via Twitter that they didn’t have a full understanding of Bitcoin, saying "Sure, we don't know exactly what bitcoins are, or how they work, but that shouldn't come between you and some finger lickin' good chicken."Like them, many of us may be unfamiliar with how cryptocurrency works, so first, we’ll offer some guidance there.Cryptocurrency: a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Some of the most well-known cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Monero, Ripple, Litecoin, and Etherum.Blockchain: a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.Blockchain has been touted as one of the most secure transaction methods due to its’ strong encryption and the randomness of the data. “Its security stems from the financial transactions being broken down into unique “blocks” that are nearly impossible to infiltrate or duplicate, and these blocks form a chain between users to securely deliver Bitcoin funds. No two blocks are alike, which also means that there is a finite number of Bitcoins circulating at any given time,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) explains.So why the concern? For starters, there is over $175 million worth of stolen cryptocurrency and counting. The anonymity and lack of regulation serves as both a strength and a weakness in the digital world.From the perspective of Lexology, “if the information at one end of the chain is fraudulent or incorrect, you end up with fraud or error for which the other party has no means of override, unlike wire transfers or card transactions that can be stopped while pending if malfeasance is quickly detected. In a nutshell, a white-collar criminal could take advantage of his or her peers’ excitement about blockchain to commit entirely secure acts of fraud that might not be discovered for days or more.”Cryptocurrency has offered a new attack vector for cyber criminals and they have only gotten more creative with their old methods in wake of this trend. Perhaps most popular is a new tactic known as cryptojacking.Cryptojacking: the secret use of a computing device to mine cryptocurrency. This method has been seen on thousands of video-streaming and file-sharing websites among others, which host cryptomining software like Coinhive that do not inherently ask for user permission.Traditional hacking methods such as social engineering and ransomware have giving attackers a new ploy for targeting their victims, praying on those eager to join the cryptocurrency trend. Unfortunately, blockchain cannot prevent against the human element of security.These attack tactics directly targeting individuals, coupled with the threat to coin wallets such as NiceHash, leave many vulnerable to being hacked. Often, those coin mining  sites state in their terms of use that they are not financially responsible in the case that users are hacked, meaning those who invest must consider risk vs reward.While it seems many are willing to take the risk, the security implications are clear. “Despite the widespread notion that the blockchain technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is safer and more trustworthy than that underlying other kinds of digital financial transactions, startups in the industry have struggled to secure their sites and software against hackers.”Interestingly enough, cryptocurrency’s popularity has had an unexpected effect on cyber security, specifically, the job market. Many are aware that the cybersecurity skills gap has continued to widen, but Upwork has reported that blockchain is its fastest-growing skills category, with 2,200 blokchain-related job posting in 2017 compared to 96 the year before.This means that recruiters face even more pressure to find qualified candidates in a talent pool that cannot keep up with the market. The struggle for employers is “finding people with the right skills and ensuring candidates can actually deliver what's on their resume.”It seems that the problem of bitcoin security will continue without a workforce to assist in implementing the right controls.For hiring managers and recruiters, the answer could lie in leveraging assessments, which test the job-readiness of a given candidate against industry standards, eliminating the struggle between "they say they have these skills, but do they actually?" The answers are in the data.Assessments like those offered by InterviewMocha use powerful reporting, providing a detailed analysis to help you gauge an individual’s readiness for a position. The reports show a measure of your strengths and weaknesses among learning objectives and recognized competencies, simplifying the hiring process.Explore the assessments InterviewMocha offers, like the Data Science and Analytics Assessment.Olivia Lynch (@Cybrary_Olivia) is the Marketing Manager at Cybrary. Like many of you, she is just getting her toes wet in the field of cyber security. A firm believer that the pen is mightier than the sword, Olivia considers corny puns and an honest voice essential to any worthwhile blog.
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