Cryptocurrency and blockchain is a world filled with excitement and new technology, but like your Mother always warned, if something seems too good to be true then it probably is.
According to recent research by ICO advisory firm Statis Group, over 80% of initial coin offerings (ICOs) were revealed to be scams in 2017. In a market where cautiousness leaves you behind, how can you trust in new offerings that your money is going to safe place?
One such victim of a scam, Patrick Kim, decided to use his decade of experience in network security and system architecture to found the Uppsala Foundation. Now the CEO has enlisted the help of some ethical hackers, his sentinels, to launch a blockchain based verification service conveniently available in your browser.
It comes after research conducted by cybersecurity company Carbon Black in June that roughly $1.1 billion of digital currency was stolen in the first half of the year. The security firm highlighted that criminals take advantage of the dark web to facilitate large-scale cryptocurrency theft and that’s exactly what happened to Kim.
Despite taking precautions with his own money, a little known fault in Ethereum’s own official wallet Mist led to him losing 7.218ETH as hackers took advantage of a 2-minute security breach to transfer out the currency.
Investigating further, Kim came to the conclusion that with some honest protectors, the blockchain could fight back against potential scams, hacks and thefts, and so Sentinel Protocol was created.
Launching today, Sentinel’s Uppward browser is available on Chrome and will monitor all visited websites, flagging a warning to the user if they seem suspicious.
You can also verify information from other addresses and social media channels, such as Telegram, wallets and URLs.
Telegram (Wikimedia Commons)
The Sentinel Portal will record all hacking incidents and crowdsource security news, advice and tips. Or alternatively you can ask one of the ‘Sentinels’ to investigate and validate the threat. Right now there are seven people pre-chosen by the Uppsala Foundation, but in the future it is hoped that this inner circle will be crowd-chosen and lead to a real community of validators.
These ‘ethical hackers’ have the ability to alter the blockchain on rare occasions when something malicious has been uncovered but only once a consensus has been reached with other sentinels. But really, the backbone of the of the system is the Threat Reputation Database (TRD) that allows the database to become truly global based on individual experiences. And of course, any data fed into the system will be rewarded in the UPP Points currency by gaining Sentinel Points.
How does it work?
The Sentinel Protocol is designed to work in two ways, both reactive and proactive, with an integral piece of kit in the middle- the sandbox.
There are a lot of ways for people to get hacked, whether it’s through a phishing website, malware infection or password compromise, our aim is to collect and provide these malicious addresses as well as scams, frauds, impersonation and other threat data in an accessible database so that funds won’t disappear. Instead, individuals from the comfort of their browser can double check if the destination address is the intended address and if all is exactly what it seems.
If suspicious, we provide sandboxing technology to test any suspicious files and links via a segregated virtual environment. This can prevent phishing and malware infection in the first place.
A sandbox is a well-known term in software development that isolates untested codes and allows experimentation. This facility will hopefully weed out the scammers from the hackers and feed in to the community code.
Saving your transactions
With this decentralized approach and team of sentinel’s, Kim hopes that the software will be able to pick up any suspicious crypto exchanges, wallets and payments and not only flag them up, but prevent the deposit and withdrawal of any malicious transactions. Through the browser, the technology will be able to block the address and subaddress, potentially saving your transactions from falling into the hands of a hacker.
Over the next few months Sentinel Protocol intends to collaborate with crypto exchanges, wallets and payment services to stop the use of stolen cryptocurrencies. The Singapore based business has already announced partnerships crypto wallet Ginco and Policypal Network, looking at providing insurance to crypto exchange partners. Plus, in a pretty successful ICO they raised $8million alone and another $27million through VCs.
Sadly, Kim has never been able to recover his stolen ETH, and with a recent report from TechCrunch finding that more than a thousand crypto projects were already ‘dead’, it will be interesting to see if Sentinel Protect and the Uppward browser can increase the viability of reputable ICOs.