Blockchain-powered computer programs promise to revolutionize the digital economy, but new research suggests they’re far from secure.
Computer programs that run on blockchains are shaking up the financial system. But much of the hype around what are called smart contracts is just that. It’s a brand new field. Technologists are just beginning to figure out how to design them so they can be relied on not to lose people’s money, and—as a new survey of Ethereum smart contracts illustrates—security researchers are only now coming to terms with what a smart contract vulnerability even looks like.
Digital vending machines: The term “smart contract” comes from digital currency pioneer Nick Szabo, who coined it more than 20 years ago (and who may or may not be Satoshi Nakamoto). The basic idea, he wrote, is that “many kinds of contractual clauses (such as collateral, bonding, delineation of property rights, etc.) can be embedded in the hardware and software we deal with, in such a way as to make a breach of contract expensive (if desired, sometimes prohibitively so) for the breacher.” Szabo called physical vending machines a “primitive ancestor of smart contracts,” since they take coins and dispense a product and the correct change according to the displayed price…
Article Source: MIT Technology Review