In the Wake of the WannaCry Attack, News Sites Almost Get Bitcoin Right

In the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack, it’s instructive to note that although mentioned, Bitcoin is not typically being blamed or associated with the attack. Rather, it is rightly being described as a payment method the hackers are demanding.

This is a far cry from the way Bitcoin would have been portrayed just a few years ago – a sign that the money of the darknet is graduated to being at least somewhat respectable.

That isn’t to say that news sites are getting their facts right, however. News.com.au is currently running an explainer article that is laudable in its neutral tone, but falls a bit short in its accuracy.

It’s worth more than an ounce of gold right now.

False. This is a claim that gets made when the price of Bitcoin rises above the price of an ounce of gold – but that’s a false comparison. With market cap of 30ish billion dollars, one bitcoin would have to be worth on the order of 350,000 dollars to be at true parity with gold. As a Bitcoin advocate who hopes it will one day rise to be the world reserve currency, a role once played by gold, I can dream, but we’re nowhere near there yet.

Bitcoin allows users to spend money anonymously.

**Get started with Bitcoin at Coinbase.**

Not exactly true. The proper term is pseudonymous. The actual transaction addresses and amounts are permanently, publicly available for view by anyone with a computer. The reason it’s pseudonymous and not anonymous is that  we do have information about the transaction, we just lack that final bit of information – the name of the transactor. And, it is is often possible to associate Bitcoin addresses with actual people and organizations. The donation address I have on this site, for example, links that address to this site and, finally, to me.

There are methods of obscuring this link which the hackers will no doubt use, but it is not true that people can just use Bitcoin and feel that their identities and transaction histories are forever inscrutable.

(T)the currency (is) popular with libertarians as well as tech enthusiasts, speculators — and criminals.

Kind of true. Bitcoin used to have a hardcore libertarian base, but that faction has been diluted a lot by new people entering the space. I personally have libertarian tendencies, but in general am a left-of-center progressive. The failings of the political elite and financial institutions, however, have made me believe that things are not going to be able to continue as they have, and Bitcoin, as a stateless, trust-in-the-math protocol strikes me as a far better bet for the future of finance than institutions run by oligarchic elites.

But the real exception I’ll take to this quote is the mdashed comment that Bitcoin is beloved by criminals. –So is cash–  Much more so actually, as at Bitcoin’s current level, cash is far safer and easier. If I were a drug-cartel accountant, Bitcoin wouldn’t have the liquidity to allow me to really handle my finances. Eventually I would have to move those Bitcoins through an exchange where large movements would spike or crash price and AML/KYC laws would bring the authorities a-knockin on my door.

Even for the WannaCry hackers, the Bitcoin addresses their malware is making its ransomees send their bitcoins to are being monitored the the extent that we know exactly, to the penny, how much they have successfully extorted.
All told, this is a fairly short list of corrections for the article -which also provides a fairly good amount of easy-to-understand information about Bitcoin.