Crypto: Not Dead, Just Resting?

The title of The New York TimesHard Fork podcast paints a grim picture of the crypto industry: “Everyone Pivots to AI, and Bad News for Crypto.”

The subhed is even worse: “Is crypto dead? Or only mostly dead.”

It’s not all bad news. While the price of Bitcoin has fallen 43% over the past year, it has risen almost 35% since January 1st.

Still, it was shocking to read last night that FTX believes it might be missing almost $9 billion in assets.

Now comes word that Tether might have skeletons in its closet, as well. 

Tether is an important linchpin in the crypto economy. It’s eponymous stablecoin is the most widely traded cryptocurrency and provides an important means of liquidity for holders of digital assets. Moreover, its sister company runs Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges

According to a Wall Street Journal review of emails and documents involving the company, however, both Tether and Bitfinex went to great lengths to mask their identities in order to stay connected to traditional banks and financial institutions. 

In addition to opening banking accounts under different pseudonyms, the companies urged customers to keep the details of these arrangements to themselves. “Divulging this information could damage not just yourself and Bitfinex, but the entire digital token ecosystem,” a client page on the Bitfinex website read. 

Certainly, the Journal’s analysis of Tether’s documents will only spur on legislators who are looking to treat cryptocurrencies as securities. 

And that would be bad news for the crypto world, indeed.

Is Your EV a Security Risk?

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Tesla stock is more popular than ever among individual investors, leading the stock to rise by over 60% so far this year. 

And, demand for EVs shows little sign of slacking off. According to JD Power, last year, EVs accounted for 5.8% of all new cars sold, an 81% increase over 2021, and the rollout of mainstream vehicles such as the Ford 150 Lightning should only cause EV penetration to increase. 

Given the popularity of electric vehicles, it is perhaps time to take their security more seriously. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal posted an interview with correspondent Bart Ziegler, who wrote an article two weeks ago about whether electric vehicles can be hacked. 

The short answer is, they can.

While internal combustion engine (aka ICE) vehicles may have 150 electronic control units, Syed Ali, a partner and cybersecurity expert at consulting firm Bain & Co., told Ziegler that an average EV could have as many as 3000 chips. Put another way, that’s 20X more opportunities for a hacker to infect an EV with malware than an ICE vehicle.

Hackers could also spread malicious software through public charging stations or home chargers. The latter are particularly vulnerable, as “ many home chargers are linked to the owner’s Wi-Fi network and a smartphone app, or to a cellular network, offering more potential attack vectors,” Ziegler writes.

Experts think that it might take a major cyberattack on the EV infrastructure before the industry and lawmakers take serious steps to help prevent them.

Stuart Madnick, a professor and cybersecurity expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, is one of them. “Sometimes we need a wake-up call,” he told the Journal.