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November 28, 2022

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digital daily: Long-term Survival

Long-term Survival: Technical risk, or "hacks," are uncertainty, the hidden left tail risk of blockchains. These vulnerabilities come from small, deeply technical differences in the way a decentralized protocol operates versus how the designers intended. "Hackers" are curious computer scientists that hunt these subtle differences, occasionally stumbling across an inconsistency powerful enough to unravel the economic reality of a protocol. Nefarious hackers, "Black hats", exploit for personal gain. "White hats" apply the same skills in service of the protocol, surfacing security weaknesses privately, so they can be repaired before an exploit occurs. The white hat security team at Jump Crypto recently published details of a security vulnerability in Binance's BNB Chain. The bug is subtle. The function that sends and receives BNB tokens from multiple addresses can be fooled by certain large numbers, causing a safety check to fail. The result? A nearly unlimited ability to mint BNB tokens from thin air. One of the most critical bugs. The test case published by Jump creates over $25 trillion of BNB tokens, just to prove the point. It is a near miss of economic collapse on the Binance Chain. Given the scope of potential damage, we should reflect on why it hasn't received more attention. It is a classic problem in risk management. Humans respond to pain, not near misses. So, wherever possible, we must elevate the efforts of white hats who expose and repair cracks before the foundation crumbles. Long-term success is built on survival. Survival depends on preventive measures.