Are DDoS attacks a sign of maturity?

Posted on October 17, 2012

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Bitstamp is the latest Bitcoin-related service to come under a DDoS-for-ransom attack, following other similar attacks recently on WalletBit and BitPay (at least).

DDoS attacks on Bitcoin sites aren’t anything new (here’s one from over a year ago), but what does their sustained re-emergence mean for Bitcoin adoption?

On the plus side, there’s clearly a “value” to Bitcoin if people think targeting them is worthwhile. OK, script kiddies have DDoS tools sitting around in their garden shed these days, and firing one up for a bit of extra income might be low risk, low effort – but if people didn’t believe BTC didn’t have a future, why bother?

It also means a lot of the sites being targeted are being forced to “mature” – in terms of hardware/infrastructure upgrades, API changes, etc.

In fact, “maturation” is something we’re seeing a lot more of – this interview with Nefario on the recent closure of Bitcoin stock market GLBSE  hits on similar “growing pains” without being related to DDoS activity:

“For a long time GLBSE itself was very much a toy. We didn’t reach any sort of success until Feb/March this year. I’ve heard people asking why didn’t we involve a lawyer when the whole thing started, but the truth of the fact is that this was just a fun cool project, and it only became an issue when we became successful.”

Hiring lawyers, upgrading servers, etc. The interview also notes that the FSA moved from considering Bitcoin as a non-currency, to not being sure about it. These all sound like real-world issues starting to “get in the way”, which is irritating, but surely an inveitable thing in the long-term.

On the downside, does this start to raise the barrier for entry into what has been, up to now, a hobbyist project? Will new businesses and projects be dissuaded at all by the recent attacks?

Or will new, curious (“bitcurious”?) users be put off by any “interesting” sites being randomly unavailable? Mentally separating out the BTC protocol from the ecosystem (i.e. what it can do, vs what it does do) is a moot point – newbies will adopt something if they can use it, and drop it if they can’t. Many users don’t blame the service getting DDoSed, but at the end of the day it’s still not a great experience.

 

The speed at which sites are getting round the attacks is the most encouraging thing IMHO. There is a willingness to mature which bodes well.

And from that, I hope there’s also a lot of knowledge and expertise doing the community rounds. Bitcoin is a social gathering after all, and those pushing the bounds of it now clearly have a lot to gain from working with each other.

What do you think – is Bitcoin able to push past its growing pains and reach maturity?

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