Don’t Trust Your Gut

Gut instinct is a thing apparently.  New research shows that our guts are our second brain with over 100 million more neurones.

So the old wives tale of trusting your gut instinct in other words, your intuition, may just have a grain of truth in it.

Some things are intuitive, others are counter intuitive. This much we know. The challenge is in knowing which is which BEFORE  taking action.

Often experience is a cruel mistress and you know when something is counter intuitive AFTER the event. This is usually given way when uttering or thinking the phrase;

“Wow! That’s much harder than it looks….”

– just before face planting….

Bitcoin & blockchains are counter intuitive. Let us explain.

Running is intuitive. It’s literally child’s play. You don’t need a running instructor.

Lots of other things are so well designed they are almost intuitive; texting, sending an email, watching TV, using a blender.

These are all pretty basic and simple tasks that (if well designed) are intuitive to use. The classic case of intuitive design is iPhone scrolling. You don’t need a lesson on scrolling.

Skiing on the other hand is counter intuitive. It looks easy, sliding and turning down a steep hill in powder snow in glorious sunshine; what could possibly go wrong? Well it turns out, quite alot.

The natural instinct with skiing is to lean back. But an instructor will help you to lean forwards,  get more grip,  gain control,  snow plough and eventually parallel turn. And that’s the point. You need an instructor.

Actually –  you don’t need an instructor but if you go solo, trust us there will be pain.  So why not take a short cut, save yourself from self inflicted injury (the worst kind) and enjoy the ride instead?

Here at BlockMark we offer corporate training on blockchains – precisely because blockchains are counterintuitive.

Pseudonymous accounts? What are those? Private keys for public ledgers?  Mining for nonces? Nobody  and everyone in charge at the same time. Confused? Will it disrupt my business? My career? Probably.

Take a look at our short BlockGames programmes – which will help you master blockchains in the blink of an eye.

  • Understand what blockchains are and are not.
  • How blockchains actually work.
  • Why speculators are going crazy for Bitcoin.
  • How blockchains may impact & disrupt your industry.

Bitcoin Hacked ! Read All About it.

(Just don’t check the facts)

Papers exist to sell papers. An editors job is an unenviable challenge ; if there’s lots of news or no news they need to fill 60 pages (half with the ad paying brands – the real customers) .

So is it any wonder that the media love the Crypto rollercoaster?  Bubble! Billionaire! Dark! Hacked! Sound familiar?

The reality is that the Bitcoin  has not been hacked since it’s genesis in 2009. Read on below to find out just why this crypto nut is just so hard to crack.

(What has been hacked however, are some of the exchanges and websites that link or use Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies or blockchains. This much is true. )

These are where the real security holes lie. As has been well documented in the Nakamoto Institute paper by Nick Szabo – Trusted Third Parties are Security Holes here.

But hang on a minute here – because banks get robbed doesn’t mean we should ban cash… It means we should challenge our bank’s security more ; and lets remember here that banks lose more money through internal white collar fraud than Point Break style hold ups…

Early days

People often forget that cryptocurrency and blockchains are in their innovative infancy – it’s early days.

And let’s not forget here that WD40 failed 39 times…before finding the magical 40th formula.

By comparison – looking at the history of early flight we can see that many of the early aeroplanes crashed, but that didn’t mean the principles of lift, aerodynamics and three axis control were bad… (what could possibly go wrong with the ‘Flying Sausage’?)

Here are the three most important hacks / daylight robberies   in the new frontier crypto-land so far:

  1. Mt.Gox was a good currency exchange back in the day (2014 – ancient history) handling just shy of 80% of Bitcoin exchanges –  but unfortunately got attacked by none other than…. it’s CEO… read more about embezzler Mark Karpeles from MtGox here 
  2. The DAO was an early hack on a loop hole in the Ethereum Smart Contract code.  It was pretty serious and involved the first hard fork and rollback of a blockchain to recover the cash. You can read more about the ATM that never stops giving experience here. 
  3. The Parity Multi Sig Fail. Recently (Nov 2017) there was a not insignificant $300M  hack into some poor multiple signature code over at Parity. Again, user (programmer) or pilot error . Investigations are still in progress… But learn more about what happens when you ‘find’ money and then burn it all (huh?) here

Tell me More about Blockchains

‘Media Hacks’ aside –  what are unhackable-so-far- Blockchains actually so good at?

Blockchains only a do a few things. But it turns out they do them really well.

Firstly blockchains create a consensus around ordered events. This-Then-That and definitely not That-Then-This. And everyone agrees. That’s what they do best.

It’s seems like such a small thing. But it’s a big deal.

Blockchains achieve this big thing by doing just two things.

1. They use asymmetric cryptography to authenticate signatures (and so permissions & identities).
2. They use Distributed Ledgers Technology (DLT) and in so doing create a consensus (a single shared truth).

DLT is a fancy way of using these signatures in cryptographically linked chains of hashes (blocks) and  using ‘miners’ to verify transactions – in the process creating consensus and replicating blocks.

The Hash Horse

The main thing is the hash. The hash is the shire horse of cryptography. And it’s been steadily ploughing the fields of cryptoland  since the 70’s.

What is new is the successful recombination of widgets; choosing what to leave out and what to include .

To create a successful digital currency you need to solve the Byzantium General’s problem AND the double-spend problem in a secure and easy to use way.

Just 58 more failures than WD40 later (that’ll be 98)  in 2009, Bitcoin was born.

Not impossible. Unlikely.

You can of course hack blocks. But to do this you would need to reverse engineer with brute force 500,000 blocks of hashes on 8000 nodes simultaneously with over 51% agreement amongst Proof-of-Work miners … all within 10 minutes. (Continuous forking of Bitcoin does actually make this more probable).

We’re not saying it’s impossible. But we are  saying it’s unlikely.

For a start you’d need quite a bit of energy and computing power.  Computing at 10,000 hashes per second you’d need about an Octillion years (10 x 27  ) to crack just one 2128   hash.

Which is less likely to happen than the whole world being struck by a giant meteor in the next 2 seconds*.

As we say – not impossible. Just highly improbable. It might just happen with Quantum Computing. But since the dawn of computing that has always been ‘just 30 years away’ that too is unlikely.

BlockMark & BlockChain

Blockchains are hard to crack and fiddle with. BlockMark builds user friendly apps on Public Permissioned Blockchains that solve real world problems.

Like building secure, controllable certificates and tickets to defeat fraud and make the world a better place

In 2016 Fraud Costs the UK economy £6000 per second. That’s £193Bn per year. Or this much since you started reading this page


Read the full  Financial Fraud Action UK 2016 report here.

Hip or Square? The Future is Blocky

Blockchains have been described at the 5th computing paradigm after Mainframe, PC, Mobile & Social.

They bring the promise of trustless protocols and the possibility of a distributed world computer that is transparent and both democratic and secure.

Not all businesses will benefit from blockchains (or need blockchains) but it has huge potential not dissimilar to the potential The Information SuperHighway in 1995.

At BlockMark we believe the future is bright – the future is blocky.

Join us

*If you’re reading this we are still here..

Isambard & MaaS

If you want to feel like a chronic underachiever, you can do no better than learn about the Second Greatest Briton (after Darwin but Before Lady Di).

The fantastically named Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Even his name casts a shadow.

Brunel was a visionary.  He envisioned Mobility as a Service (MaaS) 182 years before the term was invented.

The dream lives on. BlockMark is working on MaaS today with our Ticketty Boo project in association with Go Ahead Group and LM Labs to provide ticketless ticketing.

One Ticket

In 1835 Brunel  wanted One Ticket to rule them all; a single ticket from London to New York.

In hindsight – the dream was the easy bit. But being clever and of firm resolve (Isambard means ‘Iron-Bright’) he then went on to build;

Paddington Station

The Great Western Railway

Bristol Docks

And The SS Great Britain

In between times he somehow found time to build the SS Great Western, The SS Great Eastern, The Clifton Suspension bridge, The Thames Tunnel and quite a bit more.

It is alleged that he kept his sandwiches under his hat to save time getting his packed lunch. He was that busy.

Brunel would have loved the HyperLoop. Without a doubt he was forward thinking and the greatest champion of public transport the UK has ever seen (or will ever see?).

He was also a big softie. On his death, his more comfortable broad gauge Great Western Railway was replaced by the more utilitarian Standard Gauge – to our everlasting regret.

Footnote. Mobility as a Service is improving, albeit at a glacial rate compared to Brunel’s vision. BlockMark is working with Go-Ahead Group and LM labs to improve frictionless travel by using blockchain based ticketless ticketing.

Check back soon to find out about our demo’s in October 2017.


Sandwich’s Sandwich

Urban myth has it that the Earl of Sandwich (aka The Baron of Montagu aka the Viscount of Hinchingbrooke)  in 1762 in a stroke of culinary genius, invented the lunchtime snack of a slice of meat between two bits of bread.

Fig 1. The Earl of Sandwich seen here clutching a Sandwich prototype (quite possibly a wrap).

Sandwich’s insight, in the UK alone, has led to a gut busting £7 Bn industry.


Given Sandwich’s contemporary Adam Smith & his division of labour ideas – That single industry is held together by thousands of quality standards embedded in supply chain contracts, retail contracts and consumer rights contracts.

And the contracts themselves are accredited, validated and displayed in the form of… certificates.

With certificates of Analysis (for ingredients), Insurance certificates (for manufacturing), HSE certificates (for employee protection), British Retail Consortium and HACCP certificates (for consumer protection).

At BlockMark we have identified the weaknesses of certificate architecture and reimagined it as a sandwich contract.

Fig 2. Current Weak Certificate Architecture

The current architecture is weak in that it leaks data, is not cyber secure, is easily replicated and often faked.

Blockchains offer cryptographic signatures of certificate data allowing attestation and verification with 100% guarantee.

Blockchain start ups like Provenance, BlockVerify and Everledger are offering new services to track and identify supply chains from fake goods to tuna fish and diamonds.

At BlockMark we are validating attestation of business certificates using our

Sandwich Model of Smart Contract Deployment 

                                   Fig 3. BlockMark Sandwich 

What you cannot see from Fig 3.  is the Verifying Entity or Relying party.  Because they are happily eating the sandwich. In the jargon, the are the ‘economic buyer’. BlockMark tech has effectively removed the proof and claim layer of the Accredited Entity. From now on there is no uncertainty – only attestation.

At BlockMark we are supporting companies to control their certificates, revoking when required, as well as reducing fraud and revenue loss.

Contact us for next generation certification with our ground breaking Certificator Service.