HP Security Briefing, episode 15 - Bitcoin and security

In this month’s Security Briefing, we look at Bitcoin, the most prominent of the emerging class of value-exchange mechanisms called digital currencies or cryptocurrencies. You can listen to this episode of the HP Security Briefing podcast on the Web or via iTunes, and you can read or download the detailed companion report here.

 

 

In the Briefing we first look at Bitcoin basics: how it works, where its security profile fits into the eternal confidentiality-integrity-availability triad, and why the underpinnings of the currency are a noteworthy attempt to solve some of Internet security’s thorniest security issues. 

 

bitcoinpic1.jpgDelving more deeply into the mechanics of Bitcoin, we examine how it tackles two potential problems – counterfeiting and the fair distribution of currency – through interesting architectural choices, and show how two potential “wrongs” not only make a right, but provide fundamental strength to the system. We make a brief but pointed detour to discuss the concept of what Bitcoin “mining” is and is not. (Hint: Please stop talking about prime numbers.)

 

Finally, we’ll look at the possibilities for cybercrime involving the cryptocurrency – as a target, as an exchange mechanism, and as a contributing element to criminal activity. We also take a peek at the guts of an ATM provisioned to buy and sell Bitcoin, reminding us that even virtual (digital, crypto) currencies touch the “real” world eventually.

 

Readers who followed our recent series of blog posts will find some of the same information in this Briefing, but with expanded analysis and new information on the current legislative climate. We also conduct a thought experiment: How might Bitcoin be used to fight crime?

 

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