Cryptocurrency security: Spectre and Meltdown

Cryptocurrency security: Spectre and Meltdown

Recently Google disclosed a new class of vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown. Folks in the Decred community have been asking questions about the implications of these bugs for Decred. This post delineates implications of these exploits and possible countermeasures. These bugs are akin to traders issuing cancels without back pressure to manipulate the market.

TL;DR

Run your wallet on physical hardware you control and DON’T share with others and DO NOT run a web browser on the same machine. Hardware wallets do not seem to be affected by these bugs but great care should be taken where they are accessed.

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Politeia Platform Challenge

Politeia Platform Challenge

Decred’s Politeia, a proposal system that is part of Decred’s governance system, has a vast amount of potential uses. As such, Decred can only reasonably explore a few of these use cases on their own.

The Politeia Platform Challenge is a competition designed to discover alternate uses for the Politeia codebase. Competitors will use Politeia source code to address alternate use cases besides a public proposal system and then demonstrate how they work. Decred will choose the best of these on February 10th, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, TX. The event starts at 8 PM CST, ends at 12 AM CST, and is free to attend. Drinks and food will be available for purchase.

Competitors are encouraged to work in teams but may work independently. National competitors will be able to demonstrate their projects remotely through video conferencing. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place:

  • 1st Place - USD 10,000
  • 2nd Place - USD 5,000
  • 3rd Place - USD 2,000

All prizes are equivalent to USD and payable in Decred.

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Politeia: Proposals in a Timestamped Filesystem

Politeia: Proposals in a Timestamped Filesystem

Rather than settling for governance infrastructure that is just good enough to get the job done, we opted to create what we consider to be the ideal infrastructure for self-governance of a cryptocurrency. We call our system for storing governance data Politeia, which is based on the ancient Greek term, meaning “a system of government”. Politeia is a system for storing off-chain data that is both versioned and timestamped, essentially “git, a popular revision control system, plus timestamping”. Instead of attempting to store all the data related to Decred’s governance on-chain, we have opted to create an off-chain store of data that is anchored into Decred’s blockchain, minimizing its on-chain footprint. While we will use it first as the basis for our proposal system, it has been developed as a generic tool that allows its users to create and maintain arbitrary data in a version-controlled and timestamped environment. Politeia can be used without holding any decred, although it does depend on using a dcrtime server for creating timestamps. In addition to making the initial release of Politeia, we are excited to announce a competition for projects based on Politeia, with winners announced at an event in Austin, Texas on December 1st, 2017. The prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be the equivalent of USD 10,000, USD 5,000 and USD 2,000, respectively, paid in decred.

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On-Chain Atomic Swaps

On-Chain Atomic Swaps

As many of you know, yesterday marked the first cross-chain atomic swap between Decred and Litecoin. This is an important step in a direction that allows users to conduct trustless, cross-chain, over-the-counter (“OTC”) trades without a third party. This disintermediates the exchange process between cryptocurrencies that support these swap transactions. We have created some simple prototype tools under the atomicswap repository, dcratomicswap, btcatomicswap and ltcatomicswap, to allow Decred, Bitcoin and Litecoin users to swap between DCR, BTC and LTC using on-chain atomic swaps. These tools were built for those who we have the means at hand to disintermediate the exchange process: transaction script and OP_CLTV support. It is worth noting that these tools do not address the issue of order book management that is typically performed with full-featured exchanges. There are some privacy and transparency consequences related to on-chain atomic swaps that are not present with centralized exchanges. As of this announcement, the tools are text-based, but we will be integrating this into the Decrediton GUI wallet in a future release. The process for on-chain atomic swaps is described in more detail below.

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2017 Roadmap Update 1

2017 Roadmap Update 1

A lot has happened since we announced our 2017 Roadmap on January 9th, so we figure a progress update is in order. We expect to complete the majority of what was laid out in the roadmap before the end of 2017. Here is a very brief summary of our progress on the roadmap:

  • Convert Decred into a stakeholder-directed DAO
    • Hard fork voting - Complete, In production
    • Public proposal system - Work-in-progress, ETA late Q3 2017
    • Decentralized control of DHG funds - Work-in-progress, ETA early Q1 2018
  • Lightning Network support - Work-in-progress, ETA Q4 2017
  • Improved GUI wallets - Work-in-progress, ETA early Q4 2017
  • RFP process change - Complete, In production
  • Presence at events - Work-in-progress, talks in Q3 and Q4 2017
  • Enhanced privacy - Delayed, ETA Q4 2017
  • Payment integration support - Work-in-progress, ETA Q4 2017 Each of these roadmap items is discussed in greater detail below.

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