Where the money is… or was

fedcheckToday was Tax Day in the United States, when we file our federal income tax returns. This has been an odd tax season in America for reasons that aren’t at all clear, but I am developing a theory that cybersecurity failures may shortly bring certain aspects of the U.S. economy to its knees.

I have been writing about data security and hacking and malware and identity theft since the late 1990s. It is a raft of problems that taken together amount to tens of billions of dollars each year in lost funds, defensive IT spending, and law enforcement expenditures. Now with a 2014 U.S. Gross Domestic Product of $17.42 trillion, a few […]

Bitcoin quietly goes legit

bitcoin-logo-3dThe U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t normally make economic policy but this week they apparently did so by auctioning 30,000 Bitcoins, a crypto currency I have written about before. This auction effectively legitimizes Bitcoins as part of the world economy. Am I the only one to notice this?

My first column on this subject was a cautionary tale pointing out the two great areas of vulnerability for Bitcoin: 1) the US Government might declare Bitcoins illegal, and; 2) someone might gain control of a majority of Bitcoins in which case their value could be manipulated. While number two is still theoretically possible it becomes less likely every day. And number […]

Bitcoin is down but not out

bitcoin-logo-3dRegular readers will know that I’ve had my doubts about Bitcoin. Recent events in the Bitcoin world, especially the failure of Mt. Gox, the biggest Bitcoin exchange, have caused further problems for the crypto currency. But I’m oddly cheered by these events and am beginning to think Bitcoin may actually have a chance of surviving as a currency.

Willy Sutton, who made his career robbing banks, once explained that he robbed them “because that’s where the money is.” Well recent bad news in the world of Bitcoin follows a similar theme: yes there have been thefts, corruption, and a suicide, but all this is based not on Bitcoin’s failure but […]

I have my doubts about Bitcoin

bitcoin-logo-3dAlmost every week some reader asks me to write about Bitcoin, currently the most popular so-called crypto currency and the first one to possibly reach something like critical mass. I’ve come close to writing those columns, but just can’t get excited enough. So this week when yet another reader asked, it made sense to explain my nervousness. Bitcoin is clever, interesting, brilliant even, but I find it too troubling to support.

But first, why should you believe me? You shouldn’t. Though I’m year after year identified by the Kauffman Foundation as one of the top 50 economics bloggers in America, that only means I get to hang out occasionally with the real experts, eating Kansas City […]

Is cyber insurance AAA for data or another back door?

GMCtowA few days ago I promised “tomorrow” a column about the future of data security. Then, just as the electrons were flowing on that DefCon column, I bought on eBay a 1978 GMC Royale motorhome in Bismarck, North Dakota that Channing and I have been trying to bring home ever since. We’ve so far broken down in Fargo, North Dakota (air suspension leak) and Brookings, South Dakota (ignition failure), but are now back on the road headed for California. We met Rick, the tow truck driver who used to be a rodeo bull rider, and Wayne Westerberg, the RV mechanic who gave up his Friday night to get us back on the road. Try Googling […]