The advent of Blockchain 2.0 and Blockchain 3.0 has given rise to new ways of automation using Bitcoin’s underlying technology. There are special cryptocurrency platforms like Ethereum, Rootstock, Counterparty, Lisk and more that allows people to create smart contracts on the blockchain. These smart contracts enable automation by allowing developers to set trigger conditions. These trigger conditions are certain prerequisites, when met, will execute the function programmed on the smart contracts.
The smart contracts are now being implemented (in experimental stages) by some of the major banking and financial institutions including stock exchanges. Apart from the financial sector, there are numerous applications of smart contracts as well, like crypto-will which is a self-executing will and last testament on blockchain that is triggered once its creator is dead, or land registry, rights management and more. As more and more operations lean towards automation using smart contracts, it becomes necessary to ensure the integrity of these smart contracts as well as the platform on which these contracts are created.
Hackers Are the New Lawyers
Until now the agreements and other important documents were drafted and verified by lawyers, but with smart contracts, the lawyers may not be able to do much. Verifying the authenticity and reliability of smart contracts will be left to a different breed of experts known as blockchain architects or smart contract engineers. However, the responsibility of reviewing the smart contracts for loopholes and plugging them will fall on the hackers. Yes, you read it right! Hackers will soon be the new lawyers.
“In the future, we are going to hire hackers to look over a smart contract just like we hire lawyers to look over a contract today.”
We can say with some certainty that Charlie was not referring to black hat hackers in his tweet. White hat hacking is an important aspect of cyber security. The role of white hat hackers is to find loopholes in the security of any platform or software by hacking into it in controlled conditions and then finding solutions to fix those loopholes so that someone else with malicious intent doesn’t misuse it on a later date.
The recent attack (in the absence of a better word) on Ethereum DAO where the ‘attacker’ managed to siphon off 3.6 million ether on to a child DAO has shown the world that the blockchain based smart contracts and DAOs are still vulnerable. This has also presented the need for extensive testing of all these blockchain based platforms and smart contracts for security flaws and vulnerabilities, which is the standard job profile of a white hat hacker.
Once smart contracts become the norm, every smart contract will have to be passed along to a hacker, just like the way contracts are passed on to the legal team in companies before execution, making hackers the new lawyers in the decentralized world.